16 Aug 2012

When You Think a Lot About Liberty, Your Hair Falls Out

Economics, Humor, Krugman, Religious, Shameless Self-Promotion 44 Comments

This is Stefan Molyneux, who for some inexplicable reason is a bigger star in the libertarian community than me…so far.

In all seriousness, this was a very pleasant interview. At the end we even dabble in religion, and no one is smited (though perhaps smitten).

44 Responses to “When You Think a Lot About Liberty, Your Hair Falls Out”

  1. Christopher says:

    who […] is a bigger star…

    There is an ‘even’ missing.

  2. zee says:

    If this was on LRC, the title of this post would be like “M&M expose evil Keynesian Fascist Propaganda”

  3. Daniel Hewitt says:

    OT – Glenn Greenwald has left Salon (time to update your link o the left Bob). Unfortunately (or fortunately?) not frequenting that site means we will be missing gems like this “Krugman for Treasury!” article.


  4. Sam Geoghegan says:

    Between Stefan’s point on established religion being in collusion with political power, and Bob’s one that totalitarian regimes aim to abrogate religion, here’s something from left field: a christian leftist who apposes established religion. Personally I think he politicises his faith, which is somewhat antithetical to the implied conclusion that there should be separation of church and state. Regardless though, I like figures who mix it up. You guys are doubtless familiar with him but I’m from the southern hemisphere, so, you know.

  5. Sam Geoghegan says:

    I think inexact science lends itself to specious reasoning and self fulfilling prophecies. Economics being one example,, climate models another. Conveniently, cause and correlation can be interposed, while ideology remains intact..

  6. Major_Freedom says:

    Well that was a nice, jovial interaction.

  7. Ken B says:

    Wait Bob. Wait, wait. You stopped the one thing you weren’t a jerk about?


  8. Christopher says:

    Can’t you debate some other Keynesian, kind of as a training. Just saying, isn’t it kind of boring to begin every answer with “Well yeah, you’re exactly right…”?

    • Dan says:

      He already did. See him vs Karl Smith

  9. joeftansey says:

    So, can anyone explain why half of the libertarian loves Molyneux, and the other half ridicules him without mercy?

    • Ken B says:

      He makes Bob look good.

      (Wait for it …)

    • Bob Murphy says:

      The two are related Joe. Same phenomenon with Milton Friedman. If someone isn’t the pinnacle of awesomeness, that’s fine, but if a bunch of other people say he is, then people start to point out flaws.

      • Ken B says:

        I’ve never seen him before, and only watched snippets, but he seemd OK, far from the pinnacle of awesomeness (where Milton Friedman belongs.)

        • Dyspeptic says:

          I’m not particularly a Milton Friedman basher but no one who ever shilled for income tax withholding and a national minimum income can possibly qualify as the pinnacle of awesomeness. Just sayin’.

          • Ken B says:

            What a coincidence. I was just citing Miltie’s support for that — as a ggod thing — on another blog.

            Miltie being dead I nominate Thomas Sowell for the pinnacle of awesomeness.

    • Egoist says:


      So, can anyone explain why half of the libertarian loves Molyneux, and the other half ridicules him without mercy?

      The elders at the Mises Institute go after Molyneux because Molyneux attacks religion.

      Those atheists who publish articles and books through the Mises Institute, who don’t attack religion, are not targeted the way Molyneux is targeted.

      It’s bleedingly and excessively obvious. What’s hilarious is the denial. It’s almost as if they’re too embarrassed to just come out and put Jesus on their sleeves and stop prancing around and pretending that Molyneux’s arguments are so incredibly fallacious and wrong that he deserves ridicule and mocking.

      • Dan says:

        The people at the Mises Institute must not read Stephan Kinsella’s facebook page then.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Egoist, you hit the nail on the head. It also explains why so many Mises Institute people have been bashing Adam Kokesh…oh wait.

        • Egoist says:

          What serious publications has Kokesh written? Diatribes on the radio and on youtube is one thing. Writing philosophical texts and garnering a large atheist libertarian following is quite another.

          Until Kokesh has the influence that Molyneux has, I don’t see how not touching Kokesh is strong evidence against my theory. After all, it took many years for the MI to start bashing Molyneux, and that was only after many on the Mises blogs cited Molyneux’s writings.

          Just wait for Kokesh to write essays and books, with serious attacks on religion like Molyneux, and you’ll probably see the Kokesh bashers coming out of the woodwork.

          • Dan says:

            That’s pretty selective atheist bashing coming from the LVMI. So they only attack atheists that have serious publications and are as famous as Stefan Molyneux? And when they attack him they mention nothing about his atheist beliefs and instead attack some of his philosophical and economic arguments? Well, you’ve got me convinced.

      • JFF says:

        Funny, David Gordon’s recent book review says nothing about religion. I seem to remember the overall theme being the arguments were poorly reasoned and the logic bad.

      • Carrie says:

        Egoist, I think you are on the right track, but it is not atheism as such that many LvMI scholars resent– it is the heroic Randian-style vision of humanity. Walter Block, for example, is an atheist, and he is well accepted in the Austrian circle. Observe that in his moral defense of slumlords, he writes, “That [the slumlord] continues in his thankless task, amidst all the abuse and vilification, can only be evidence of his basically heroic nature.” Link1 He likewise praises the blackmailer as someone who “sets the truth free, very often without intent…”, link2 as though an unplanned outcome signifies value-laden behavior.

        Butler Shaffer is another LvMI atheist. But he wrote “In praise of hoaxsters: […] the boy-in-a-balloon family and other heroes.” Link3 You may recall Balloon Boy, the kid whose deranged father developed an elaborate hoax claiming 6-year-old Falcon had flown off in a homemade weather balloon. In reality the entire spectacle was a disgusting scam and an example of horrible parenting; but Shaffer praised the father for successfully fooling the media and law enforcement.

        Stephan Kinsella is also an atheist. A fair segment of his website is dedicated to mocking Objectivists and displaying smugness when he thinks he’s found an inconsistency that will rip Objectivism to shreds (such as Dagny whistling “Halley’s 5th Concerto” being a breach of IP). Link4

        With some notable exceptions—Bob Murphy being one of them—much of the LvMI circle derides true virtue. They hate the view of man promoted by atheists of the humanist persuasion—those who view a human being as a capable producer with the certainty of his convictions, and with the drive to rise to his highest potential. From what I have read of Molyneux he holds this type of vision, which makes him a target. Time and again I see LvMI writers degrading man’s possibilities, praising slumlords, blackmailers, hoaxsters, or Rebecca Black as the real “heroes.” A self-confident person who builds skyscrapers (or even who achieves magnificent physical feats in the Olympics) and inspires the world is scorned; anything depraved is seen as a positive so long as it somehow is “anti-state.”

        As for Adam Kokesh, I don’t think he’ll be on the radar anytime soon… he’s behaving like an ideal libertarian. He promotes psychedelic drug use and scoffs at alcohol because it is a “government-approved slave-drug.” Link5 He is obnoxious and confrontational during protests and political gatherings. Most importantly, he has a beard.

        Anyway, I don’t think atheism is the issue; I think it’s uncompromising dedication to the view of man as heroic.

        And I hope you don’t think I’m holding “heroic view of man” as my unacknowledged ego! Notice I didn’t refer to reason or rationality at all today. Since our last conversation a couple of months ago I started writing a lengthy response. Then I became busy with family things, travel, personal projects, etc. After deep conversations with several acquaintances I nearly became a fatalist determinist existential nihilist. After surviving one week of that misery I came away with a new view of human nature and myself—along the lines of humans as self-creating, self-reflecting systems whose seeming “free will” actually comes from being as aware and conscious as possible of the environment so as to give our brains the most possible information from which to make a choice. During this time I finally came to understand to a large degree what you mean by Ego. A main reason I was so resistant to the idea was that I did not like your attitude (which I interpreted to be confrontational). But I see now that it is too difficult to explain what “I” am. When you were saying you were Unique or Undefinable, you were not being flippant, and I am sorry for interpreting it as such. Still, I do not like all of the conclusions that have followed from your Egoism. I find that the Randian virtues and sense of life suit me the best—and I don’t believe that their opposite (humility, laziness, cowardice, hedonism) could possibly bring anyone happiness. Anyway, I find that I also feel much better when I spend time on my personal projects rather than on lengthy blog discussions, so I likely will not post much here anymore. But thank you for the introduction to these new ideas.

        • Christopher says:

          Unfortunately, I have the same feeling from time to time with some of my libertarian friends – and note that I tend to call myself a libertarian.

          This year in May, the European Song Contest took place in Azerbaijan, a country that had come under international criticism for its undemocratic system and lack of basic human rights such as freedom of speech. Also, the treatment of homosexuals and free media had been criticized.
          The way the contest works is, that every European county is represented by one act and they all sing their songs in a tv show that is broadcasted all over Europe. The countries then dial in and award points to the act they liked best. However, they are not allowed to award points to their own country. When the German jury, that was represented by a famous German actress, dialed in, she said this:
          (it’s partly in German but the important part is in English)

          After that, the libertarian community in Germany bashed her for being patronizing and even argued that taxes in Azerbaijan were only half of what they are in Germany. They ridiculed her for idealism and said the next step would be for her to tell them how to recycle their waste and so on.

          I mean, it’s one thing to think that her statement was neither necessary nor helpful. I’d probably agree. But sometimes, arguing for a good cause seems to antagonize libertarians and really provokes strong animosity.

          • Sam Geoghegan says:

            I think you’ll find a sardonic subset of people in any group, particularly those who embrace unorthodox ideas such as Marxism and anarchism. I often find myself directing unnecessarily criticism at the mass media and popular culture, at which point, I quickly correct my internal dialogue, reminding myself that it’s illegitimate power that I oppose, not the establishment per se.
            The reasons for this could be due to an inferiority complex, or the vicarious satisfaction received in seeing even immoral characters defy authority. Whatever it is, I think it’s human, not a libertarian thing.

        • Dave says:

          I found that post pretty enlightening & appreciate that you went to the trouble to write it. Gives me some things to think about. One thing that’s always bothered me about Christianity is the promotion of the view that we’re all ‘fallen’.

    • integral says:

      Wait, who’s bashing on Molyneux except Robert Wenzel, David Gordon (if you mean 2 articles criticizing parts of Molyneux’ work to be bashing him) and some of the commenters at the LvMI forum? (And possibly in the comments for the David Gordon articles)

      • Bharat says:

        This. Honestly, you guys are speculating way too much with too little knowledge. It was annoying the first time and it’s still annoying now. If you believe they have poor arguments, call them out for their poor arguments. Calling them out because you believe they have biases against atheism/objectivism just makes you look silly and further erodes any legitimacy people think you have.

  10. Joseph Fetz says:

    No comment. I need to stay out of trouble.

  11. Slywalker says:

    Did I hear Stefan say you were working on a new book Bob? Any more detail you can share?

    • Ken B says:

      I just bought a Kindle book with Bob’s name on it (One Lesson). It was 6.66, which appeals. I hope Bob gets royalties.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Revelation 16:17…

        16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.



        The Greek version of the name “Nerōn”, and title “Kaisar”, to refer to the Roman Emperor Nero, transliterates into Hebrew as

        נ ר ו נ ק ס ר

        Resh (ר) + Samekh (ס) + Qoph (ק) + Nun (נ) + Vav (ו) + Resh (ר) + Nun (נ)

        = 200 + 60 + 100 + 50 + 6 + 200 + 50

        = 666

  12. Ken B says:

    Actually I had to pay up because the sign said ©

    Interesting. I did not know that derivation.

  13. MarcosP says:

    Hey Bob,

    He mentioned you were writing a book. What book are you writing?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      A shorter, less intimidating version of Human Action.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Make sure you put in pictures, so that MMTers can follow along.

        • Ken B says:

          And conversations. For what use is a book without pictures or conversations?

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