In Defense of Cantwell, Kokesh and Molyneux

In a recent article, MK Lords accuses Stefan Molyneux, Adam Kokesh and Christopher Cantwell of being libertarian “welfare queens” because they solicit donations from their supporters.

Her piece boils down to a coarse ‘get a job, loser, because I don’t like you.’ If Stefan Kinsella could harness his pointless rage for just a moment, he could have written this article. It’s reactionary, it’s a personal attack and, worst of all, it has statist undertones. Here’s the gist of the piece:

  • Soliciting donations is creepy, especially if you do it aggressively;
  • MK Lords doesn’t like these guys;
  • Libertarians should just get a job and do activism in their spare time;
  • Building a business out of media production is not ‘a real job’; and
  • To be a ‘productive libertarian’ you must have a job.

What She Got Wrong

I’m not a fan of Kokesh, Cantwell or Molyneux, either, but Lords is dead wrong on the rest of her points.

  • Soliciting donations is absolutely essential in order to sustain activism, be it the on-the-street type or the digital kind. And make no mistake that activism, especially through community building, is essential to building a more libertarian future. For those who produce libertarian media – articles, books, podcasts, videos, slideshows, etc. – a donation-based business model enables you to reach the maximum audience possible with a libertarian message. This is a pay-what-you-want model, a capitalistic innovation of most use to those with the fewest means. This is admirable because the media producer takes a personal risk to produce a good that could be of use to all libertarians as well as to the public.
  • The idea that you can hold down a full-time job and care for a family today while also putting, say, 20 hours per week into your activism is unquestionably ludicrous. It can not be done. It’s ignorant to suggest otherwise.

    Activism requires an enormous mental and physical energy commitment in order to be effective on a regular basis. Activism requires taking risks. You could lose your job and/or encounter difficulty getting a new one because people associate you with controversial activism. In fact, you could be arrested, even framed, miss work, get fired and face thousands of dollars in legal bills.

    Some activism, such as jury rights pamphleting, requires your presence during normal business hours. Few people with a ‘real job’ can do that.

    Let’s say you spark a mini-revolution like Jim Babb, some other folks and I did in 2010 with the (anti-TSA) We Won’t Fly campaign for traveler dignity. You finally have the attention of millions of people through mainstream media outlets at the international, national and local levels. People want to schedule interviews, ask you questions, find out how to plug into your effort, etc. Want to do a CNN interview at 9AM? Sorry, I have to go to work. You would never have gotten that far because your ‘real job’ didn’t permit you the time required to develop the media production skills to do so.

  • In fact, a ‘real job’ means plugging into the system and having taxes automatically sent to the local, state and federal governments on a regular basis. This is something a consistent libertarian should be avoiding, not embracing.

    Media production can be a solid income. Ask the big YouTubers, the big bloggers and podcasters. Some of them make millions. Forget ‘real jobs’ – they’re nothing to look up to. Media production is a business, or at least self-employment. That’s way better than holding down a ‘real job.’

What She Got Right

MK Lords did get a couple of things right, though. These need to be acknowledged and remedied because they’re cancerous. Here are the quotes:

  • “Libertarians also have an aversion to critiquing fellow libertarians because of the small scope and influence the philosophy currently has and because many of them feel it would harm the movement. Any movement worth its salt can stand criticism of its members, and if it can’t then it’s not worth being a part of to begin with.”
  • “Dissidence is not allowed and any half-assed attempt at activism by a ‘celebritarian’ is venerated as groundbreaking.”

I think she is also correct that these three men are not good spokespeople or representatives for the libertarian communities.

  • Adam Kokesh is an embezzler and liar. He doesn’t have good employees because he constantly drives good people away from him. He’s as much a conservative as he is an anarchist. He’s power-hungry. He’s reckless and cares about no one but himself. He’s another one of these voices, together with Christopher Cantwell and Larken Rose, that hypocritically condones, or even advocates, violence against cops without engaging in it himself. His most notable activism was possessing a firearm inside Washington DC. This self-destructive act led to multiple felony convictions in multiple jurisdiction and the ultimate loss of his ability to legally keep and bear firearms. (N.B. He and I have a pending dispute for which he refuses to respond.)
  • Christopher Cantwell gets drunk and goes online to insult people; in one bender calling me a ‘clown’ without any kind of provocation on my part. He says and does the stupidest, most self-destructive things in a misguided bid to gain mindshare, never mind the damage that causes to community institutions such as the Free State Project. He displayed the worst kind of firearm irresponsibility in an online video that was featured by the Colbert Report, an outlet that ridiculed him in front of millions. He hypocritically and irresponsibly advocates that lone wolves randomly shoot cops, something he himself refuses to do. He’s surly, has no significant accomplishments to his name (other than a rapidly declining Klout score) and is more likely to give you the middle finger than anything else.
  • Stefan Molyneux is a pretentious know-it-all who loves the sound of his own voice. He’s a smug hypocrite who inappropriately used copyright law to shut down the YouTube channel of someone who had compiled his most embarrassing statements all in one convenient location. His infinite stream of content exhibits a mix of narrow, self-serving thinking and insanely useful information. My lone encounter with him was at PorcFest 2010 when, just days after being released from 6 weeks of house arrest and still facing 8 years in federal prison, his only act of support was to pick excess fur off of my dog. I’m sure it came from a good place but, at a vulnerable moment, it just made me feel inferior.

The Principle

But there is a principle involved here. MK Lords says these three are welfare queens because they solicit donations for their activism. This is complete nonsense.

Soliciting donations is a market activity. Libertarians are, practically by definition, in favor of all market activity.

Welfare queens are people who receive money from the government simply by the condition of being poor. They do not earn this money. This money is forcibly taken from those who do. A percentage is taken out of these funds by the government to pay bureaucrats. Welfare queens are not bothered by this morally questionable situation and are content to siphon off as much as they can for as long as they can.

Molyneux, Cantwell and Kokesh offer media to the public. They are attempting to educate, entertain and inspire. Any donations they receive are voluntary and consensual in nature. There is nothing wrong with this.

The difference between welfare queens and these three men is the same one between aggressive violence and defensive violence. The former is repugnant, the latter not just legit but necessary and admirable.

If any are engaged in fraud, that should be outed and the word should be spread. I have done my part but if people want to continue donating to Kokesh, even after I showed them where their money went, then that is their decision.

More, it’s a sign that, for some people, there are no better leaders than these three. If you don’t like them, your challenge is to either be a better leader/spokesperson than them or to support one who is. That’s it. That’s how we build better libertarian communities – not by vilifying market exchange but by offering better products.

My Pitch

No, I don’t live off of libertarian donations. I sure would like to, though, so that I can be a more effective advocate for liberty. Maybe that’s a conflict of interest that renders null and void everything I wrote above. You be the judge.

Since 2007, my focus has been on supporting my fellow libertarians. I have rendered aid to activists in cages. I have supported Libertarian candidates for office. I have organized conferences. I’ve also had an impact outside the libertarian community, through jury rights pamphleting, videos of jury rights pamphleting that have gained tens of thousands of views, the We Won’t Fly campaign which reached millions of people both online and through local, national and international media and through blog posts, such as this one, which received 55,000 unique visits in the immediate aftermath of the Boston lockdown.

I’m currently organizing a campaign to end victimless crimes prosecution in NYC in 2015 that happens to run simultaneously with Ross Ulbricht’s trial.

If you want to support me, buy my libertarian novel (it’s better than it sounds), Lando Cruz and the Coup Conspiracy or my libertarian science fiction anthology, Defiant, She Advanced: Legends of Future Resistance. Donate to the Jury Rights NYC campaign at Indiegogo and get a nice perk.

If you want to support me personally, tip me (see below). I’m a highly-skilled and -educated single dad living on $900 per month in a third-world country with a track record of proven effectiveness. The bang to statism for your buck is unmatched with me. I am currently working on the following projects:

1. Jury Rights Project

We’re reaching people who have just been called to jury duty and are searching for information online. It’s almost entirely automated and will not require putting activists into danger in front of courthouses. This is completely different from what FIJA or any other jury rights organization is doing.

I need $5,420 to get this project started. The business plan includes a strategy for making it financially self-sustaining. I plan to run a kickstarter for this soon. The funding target includes a $500 per month stipend for me so I can dedicate enough time to developing the copious amounts of media required. Feel free to email [email protected] for advance details. Or give me your email address in the yellow box below to get an update when it’s ready.

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My projects aren’t as sexy as showing off your muscles while smoking DMT on YouTube. They aren’t as brutal as machine-gunning American flags. They’re not as eloquent as the “Against Me” argument. But they’re effective. They’re focused on building up libertarians and on practical ways of advancing liberty. And I’m taking them to new heights in 2015. Be a part of it.

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