I am disappointed that would take this approach to "rebutting" the article in question.. Rather than addressing the points made head on, he attacks the rhetoric and style of the authors, without addressing the underlying reasons for their criticisms. Here are a few examples of this:
Note:* While the following 44-point breakdown is intended to be objective, not taking a side either way, it might appear to be supporting statism because it is almost entirely composed of criticisms of Stefan Molyneux’s so-called “debunking”, and aims for a pragmatic and centrist approach to achieve a high degree of neutrality on the issue of libertarianism vs. statism.
1. The claim libertarianism doesn't glorify personal freedom: While I'm sure libertarians (or at least, many libertarians) believe personal freedom to be not only a pragmatic virtue in society, but a natural right, there are those (including the authors of the post) who
understand freedom as a threat to society, a radical ideal at odds with civilized behavior, and more conservatively speaking, an irresponsible paradigm.
Rather than addressing this point, Stefan expects the authors of the article to go along with his assumption that freedom is inherently just, and good, and a natural right, and upon that assumption makes the claim that because they are pretending to think freedom isn't a natural law, they are using sophistry to bypass that "fact". It is not a fact, because he hasn't been proven, Stefan. Just because they don't agree with your view of freedom, doesn't mean they are
in denial of the obvious. If you wish to effectively argue against their attacks on freedom, you should understand why they feel freedom is such a radical, socio-politically irresponsible ideal.
2. He then implies that less personal freedom necessarily results in more freedom for other entities or constructs. This is not true. A healthy society is one in which freedom is restricted for all, and even in complete anarchism, for society to function, all members must
willfully restrict their personal freedom sufficiently to coexist and cooperate with other members peacefully and productively.
3. He attacks their use of the word "ideology" by stated that ideology always has a negative connotation, and ideology implies it is not fact-based. Both are untrue:
a. Definition of ideology:
a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
b. visionary speculation, esp. of an unrealistic or idealistic nature.
c. the science of ideas; the study of their origin and nature.
a. nowhere in those definitions is the claim ideologies are inaccurate or factually incorrect,
b. that one some definitions carry an (arguably) negative connotation [and incidentally, one that Stefan didn't address, from point (1)], and
c. The third definition of ideology explicitly defines ideology as scientific (fact-based).
Additionally, Stefan, since the self-affirmed values of libertarianism are considered ideological by definition, according to the scientifically well-evidenced interpretations of sociology (and society generally) utilized by the authors of this article, the burden of proof is on you to either show that freedom is a natural and necessary part of a healthy, functional society as you claim, or demonstrate that the freedom of libertarianism and the freedom criticized by its detractors, are different.
One last note before moving on: Stefan, stop with the endless examples, they distract from the core points, and more important, they make it seem that you are deliberately using diversionary tactics to avoid actually addressing your detractors.
4. He claims communism was not adopted, but in fact, it was adopted by some, and those that adopted it imposed it upon the rest.
[I am here using "communism" as commonly defined- the original communism actually was adopted by everyone who subscribed to it voluntarily; Marxism was inspired by, though it is largely antithetical to the original (utopian) communism.]
5. He claims that "extremism" is meaningless, when it carries a very strong connotation of uncompromising conviction and belief, coupled with the aggressive drive to impose these convictions and beliefs on others. How is that meaningless?
6. Contrary to what Stefan claims, Individual Liberty, while not necessarily the most important principle for all libertarians, is the only universally held principle of libertarianism. Many libertarians disagree with the non-aggression principle, holding that (among other arguments) a degree of aggression is necessary to uphold liberty.
6b. Additionally, not all libertarians believe in property rights, and some libertarians even find the concept of "property" to be antithetical to libertarianism.
[Another side note: Stefan- making hyperbolic assumptions about the so-claimed framing of words by your detractors, is not a rebuttal. Donald Trump is not in the article, and neither are card games. Unless there is some evidence of such a metaphor in play, you should understand and address the words as they are commonly defined.
7. The use of "radical" libertarian does not refer to all libertarian, as Stefan implies. There are radical proponents of just about anything that attracts zealotry. This isn't framing, this is zeroing in on a particular demographic of the libertarian movement.
8. Fan is derived from "fanatic", and considering we are talking about radicals (see point 7), it's natural for them to be "fans" of whatever they are proponents of, due to the nature of a zealot (extremist).
9. He claims that because divisions of groups/people/etc. are rational, they are not made up. This goes contrary to scientific understanding of perception, which is "the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment."
Perceptions are cognitively developed by individuals, and while they are generally compatible with each other sufficiently to not become a barrier to meaningful interaction, they are not "natural" in the sense of being innate, but developed overtime as part of the development of
consciousness made possible by interactions of the individual with the environment, and the cumulative adaptations to facilitate more efficient and meaningful future interactions.
10. Especially in a socio-economic system such as we see in the world today, where money really can buy power, an economic vacuum (created by the deregulation that libertarians advocate) could theoretically increase the power of the 1% (the economic "royalists"), and this is a legitimate concern, particularly for progressive liberals. Rather than addressing this concern, Stefan simply contradicts it, saying "libertarianism isn't like that".
11. A lot of libertarians endorsed the trickle-down economic policies of Ronald Reagan (Reaganomics), most notably Ron Paul, so again, ignoring a legitimate concern that modern-day
libertarians are trying to repackage a system that does little for the people besides create more inequality. Libertarians already have a track record for promoting such policies, so it's understandable for critics to be wary of a possible "repackaging".
12. Stefan, when they appealed to the need for a moderate amount of liberty, that is something called "diplomacy" or "willingness to compromise". When you frame liberty as "only good", and suggest that your detractors are saying "yes, freedom is a good thing, but too much good is bad". You are creating a straw man, attacking an argument they never made.
They are saying that liberty, like all values, are only good in moderation. We need to regulate our principles to ensure they are beneficial instead of detrimental to us; this is particularly true in society, where the diversity of opinions makes any kind of absolutism, even be it of liberty, morality, or happiness, incompatible with society, and even destructive and destabilizing.
13a. "The argument for moderation is...just nonsense": Yet you refuse to explain what is nonsense about it. Is this a rebuttal, or just a libertarian vanity show?
13b. The axe-murdering/rape analogy is a clear-cut straw man. ANY axe murdering is already extremism, making your "argument" invalid to begin with.
13c. Drawing from point (12), YES, that's what it's about: diplomacy, negotiation. Social democracy is a result of the compromising of different views of what works best for everyone. It's not "a little bit of axe-murdering", it's a synthesis of opposing views. Just because you
don't agree with the synthesis or don't think compromise is a good thing, doesn't change the fact that this is how the present system came about.
14. "Self described or not, what does it matter"? People often describe themselves differently than they actually are, for various reasons, and many people who describe themselves as libertarians, hold values generally considered incompatible with libertarianism. But here's a more vivid example: Rick Santorum was a self-described conservative, yet Ron Paul attacked him for being a "fake conservative". So yes, "self described" draws an important
15. The reason they feel libertarianism is nihilist is likely because the absence of government removes a great deal of existing social structure, and as structure is the means that we generate and preserve meaning, a promotion of "meaninglessness", while definitely a hyperbole, is not an entirely unwarranted concern.
16a. The following points, which note "misunderstandings of how societies work, and utter failure to adapt", underlines the fact that point (15) was indeed their concern, and the reason why they referred to libertarians as "nihilists".
17. When they say "the free market has an utter failure to adapt to changing circumstances", they are referring to laissez faire, which is the system in which the market has little to no regulation. This is generally true; historically, the absence of regulation has led to economic inequality, instability, and even insolvency. A moderate degree of regulation has proven to be the most economically efficient means of maintaining a healthy economy.
18a. How do I understand their point of view without my head exploding? Hmm, maybe because I'm objectively analyzing both points of view to develop reasonably accurate and balanced
18b. It's amazing how people locked inside some ideological bigotry (in your case, Stefan, of regulation and a state-structured economy) can say the most absurd things.
19a. Claiming they are assuming is an argument, specifically, an argument for the lack of evidence supporting (in this case) that humans are wired only to be selfish.
19b. Incidentally, the philosophy upon which this assumption is based (Ayn Rand's Objectivism) has been universally rejected by the scientific community as pseudoscience, and there is an
immense body of work demonstrating biological altruism as naturally occuring, and a natural survival instinct evolved to adapt to a social environment.
20a. Stefan: "The free market...fundamentally relies on cooperation" NO. The free market fundamentally relies on the psycho-social inverse of cooperation, competion.
20b. "small amount of competition" you'd better provide some kind of proof for this bold assertion. I look forward to it, should you respond to it here, because I'm certain you won't respond to it in this video.
20c. Yes, you can argue that people cooperate with others to compete against others. That is coopetition. But this is not cooperative in principle, it is the limited use of cooperation to augment competitive ability.
20d. If you were to make the argument that "the free market is competitive, but has cooperative elements", that is defensible. To argue the inverse, that the free market is cooperative with
some competition, would require some kind of evidence to be credible.
20e. Purchasing products or services from people is neither cooperative or competing with, but exchanging with.
21. Do you really need selfishness to be defined to understand their arguments? Really?
22a. "Cooperation requires voluntaryism". Generally, but not necessarily. A person could choose to cooperate simply because they don't like the alternative, and that is how most governments
coerce the cooperation of its citizens.
22b. Raising your voice doesn't make your arguments more objectively accurate.
22c. You seem to be drawing a distinction between "cooperation" and "coercion", arguing that if a person has the choice to either cooperate or suffer the consequences, it's not cooperation, it's coercion. I think this is a bit simplistic and idealistic distinction (there are consequences to everything, so this distinction feels a bit too much like "credit card companies are coercing me to pay my debts, because if I don't I won't even have the credit to buy a house or have a cell phone contract".
While the distinction is essential to libertarianism, taking for granted that the distinction is obviously important in general, makes for a weak argument against the rejection thereof.
22d. Libertarianism can be considered anti-cooperative because government laws, regulations, and taxes are in place to coerce state cooperation in national issues. In the absence of government structure, there are no clear protocols and standard for cooperation, making it more fragmented and difficult.
23. Democracy, if implemented correctly, is the most efficient known form of socio-political cooperation. This has been demonstrated through extensive historical analysis of government paradigms and their overall impact on the well-being of society and advancement of
24."When there are no rulers, there are no rules". I'm not sure if I should attack this silly assertion, or just leave it alone. Stefan, have you taken a good look at history? Every ruler in existence had rules. The most obvious and universal rule: they (the ruler) are the ruler- that is, their authority to rule cannot be questioned.
Often, the rules didn't apply to the rulers, but that doesn't make the rules any less real. Also, even for rulers that didn't follow their own laws, they could only do so to the extent that public favorability permitted it.
25. Actually, the most stable form of governments recognized are (in this order) the Republic and the Democracy; the current form of government for most modern nations is a hybrid of these two. The longest the most successful anarchist/libertarian society, the "Free Territory"(Makhnovia), lasted 3 years.
26. "The state is the biggest single enactor of rape, theft, assault, and murder".
STOP. Stefan, weren't you just saying several minutes ago, that arguments which anthropomorphize non-living constructs are [fallacious] and sophistic? The state is a construct, it doesn't exist any more than a forest exists without the trees. I agreed with you
on that point, but now that you're directly contradicting that fact to support your arguments...
Argumentum ad absurdum.
Let's just try to ignore your clear lapse of judgement with that comment, and stick with the original idea: The state is a non-living construct. The state does not rape, steal, assault, or murder anyone. People use the state to do that. The state is a nonliving construct, so while it's easy to scapegoat the state for these problems, these problems are a function of people, not the state. One could theoretically say that without the state it would be more difficult to commit these crimes, but even then, that would be a difficult argument to prove, considering there's also religion, society, human instinct, brainwashing, etc. to take its place,
27a. Ireland was not stateless for 1000 years. Their state may have been primitive by today's standards, but not stateless. It was dominated by Gallic tribal confederations:
"The fundamental unit of Gallic politics was the tribe, which itself consisted of one or more of what Caesar called pagi. Each tribe had a council of elders, and initially a king. Later, the executive was an annually-elected magistrate. Among the Aedui, a tribe of Gaul, the
executive held the title of Vergobret, a position much like a king, but his powers were held in check by rules laid down by the council.
The tribal groups, or pagi as the Romans called them (singular: pagus; the French word pays, "region", comes from this term), were organized into larger super-tribal groups the Romans called civitates. These administrative groupings would be taken over by the Romans in their
system of local control, and these civitates would also be the basis of France's eventual division into ecclesiastical bishoprics and dioceses, which would remain in place—with slight changes—until the French Revolution."
28b. Somalia is not stateless, it was a failed state- that is, an unstable state that is constantly in a state of temporary anarchy due to political volatility. Presently Somalia has a state, known as the "Federal Republic of Somalia", though it remains to be seen if this state will be able to maintain its power.
29. "Slavery is a holdover from...tribalism". But just a minute ago, you were claiming in the defense of libertarianism that the Gallic tribes lasted for a thousand years. Well, to be fair they weren't stateless, but these are your arguments we're addressing here, not mine.
30a. Nowhere in the article does it suggest that "you can use violence to solve complex social problems". Another straw man neutralized!
30b. "This is the logic of statism" No, there is nothing about the existence of the state that necessitates violence or any of the other problems you unwittingly have anthropomorphized it
31. They already made the arguments of why removing the Internal Revenue Service would be bad. It's because it interferes with the universal cooperation/coercion regarding the funding of
32a. You just admitted that the problems with pollution are being solved by environmental regulations, coerced by the government. That's another argumentum ad absurdum!
32b. Just because existing regulations solve some problems, doesn't mean it solves all of them. To ensure our environment is in optimal health, we need to ensure that the approach we take
addresses the issues as comprehensively as is practical.
33. First you used Somalia as a bright and shining example of how Somalia's so-called stateless society was one of the best in African (even though technically it wasn't stateless, but a
failed state), with comparably better life expectancy, quality of life, health, etc.--
Then you claim Somalia is a horrible example of libertarian stateless policies, that it's like judging atheism based on Nazism.
Which is it? Bordering on another argumentum ad absurdum, and it hasn't even been 30 seconds!
34. Actually, I would claim that you've been arguing against a lot of straw men, many of which I'm passing over to avoid too much repetition in this critique.
35.No, the government laws don't debate with individuals about how to deal with the complexities of poverty, because that's inefficient. They instead debate with each other, and the people who debate these issues are elected by the people through the democratic process. It's a more effective (if far less direct) means of solving the same issues in a manner that the people can agree upon most.
36.There's no gunpoint, Stefan. If you don't like being taxed, you can go to court, and appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Even if you lose, no one's going to shoot you. They might imprison you for failure to cooperate with tax system, but this whole gunpoint hyperbole is getting a bit old.
37.Again with the straw man. No reasonable person is debating whether or not we should rape each other, or how many to rape. Government politicians/officials/etc. debate universal issues
for which there are widespread differences of opinion about.
38. "Why are we introducing communitarianism here?" That's the whole premise of the article, to show how libertarianism is a repacked communism.
39.The first point "you only get to vote for who will boss you around" is a valid, albeit a contentious point". However, the claim that the state's politicians are necessarily "bought and sold by special interests groups". While it is true that most states are driven to some
extent by special interest groups, many states have very little special interest influence, and special interests are not inherently a function of the state. Libertarianism is a special interest group itself, and it advocates statelessness/the lessening of state power.
40. The single largest funding of Barack Obama came from unions, and Wall Street funded both Republican and Democratic candidates equally.
41. "Bought and paid for, you don't get to choose-" While special interests groups influencing elections and government policies are a major issue, to throw out choice entirely is a hyperbole.
42. They weren't saying "sometimes government is good, and sometimes it's not". They were saying some issues are best resolved by government intervention/influence, and some issues are best resolved without state intervention.
43. If you were arguing against the illegality of marijuana, then you would have a good point. But the state isn't what makes marijuana illegal- there are actually a few countries where marijuana is legal, and it's likely that in a few years, given the current state-level support for it, the federal government of the U.S. will be forced to legalize it as well.
44. The paradigm that individualism should be balanced by collectivism is not an endorsement of rape, theft, or murder.
For all of you reading this, this is not a criticism of libertarianism, but of Stefan Molyneux's "arguments", which are probably some of the most pseudo-intellectual defenses of libertarianism I've seen. His half-assed, self-contradictory, fallacy-ridden, hyperbolic arguments are even more sophistry-ridden than those of the detractors he mocks, and are as much of a disgrace to libertarianism as the arguments of Richard Dawkins are to atheism and evolutionary theory.