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.
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.
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.
2. Shield Mutual
I’m evolving Shield Mutual for the fourth time into a peer-to-peer social defense platform that is free to join.
3. More Liberty Now
I’m focusing on media that inspires and informs people on the practical steps we can all take right now to gain more liberty and freedom in our own lives. I have not made progress recently because I have been writing fiction. Here are some examples of the kind of videos I’m currently capable of producing.
4. Libertarian Fiction
I released two works this year. Lando Cruz and the Coup Conspiracy is a full-length dystopian agorist novel. Defiant, She Advanced: Legends of Future Resistance is the first libertarian science fiction anthology in more than a decade. Eight authors wrote 10 stories, all of them with a theme of defiance.
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.
Send it to [email protected]
18 replies on “In Defense of Cantwell, Kokesh and Molyneux”
I agree that there is nothing wrong with asking for donations. I agree with a lot of what Lords stated about those individuals. I don’t agree that there is a lack of criticism of libertarians by libertarians. I have heard and read a lot of libertarians criticize and criticism of other libertarians.
I think it’s gotten a little better since last year.
You accuse MKs article of being a personal attack but it seems your article is far more of one. While MK for the most part stuck to stating facts, you drew conclusions and labeled these people as liars, drunks, and hypocrites. FWIW I agree with the analysis of these people but why attack someone for something you are doing yourself?
It’s true that I did level some personal attacks here, which I try to avoid. But I think it needs to be said. Also, this article is only partly ad hominem. There is plenty of meat other than that. I think my criticism of MK’s article is that there was no meat, just ad hominem. Thanks for your comment.
I’m surprised that you said: “MK Lords doesn’t like these guys… I’m not a fan of Kokesh, Cantwell, or Molyneux either.”
Especially Molyneux. Someone at Molyneux’s level probably had little to nothing to do to whatever happened with Tru Shibes account. I understand a statist would say he’s responsible for whatever he’s delegated, but I would expect our guys to be more thoughtful.
Often times, when you’re operating on a shoestring, you end up leaving a lot of things in the hands of someone who isn’t really qualified, or doesn’t have the maturity to avoid making enemies.
What does the site Molyneux Revealed, or Tru Shibes bring to the world. These Againstists are sometimes good for a fresh look on things. But if you look at Tru’s work, it’s entirely about being against Stefan Molyneux and his conduct. She has nothing of her own at all to offer.
He has no authority over anyone. He just some wordy house husband who’s almost gotten his wife fired over his internet hobby.
I know Stef’s an actor, but there’s a lot of substance behind the lines that he transcribes into video format.
I’m sorry you were ripped off by Kokesh in some way, but I don’t think slander as a tactic is the way forward for becoming free.
Even if you make every effort to ensure your slander is 100% factual, it’s still beneath the pale of a movement who ideally is about ideas, and not about individual men.
Molyneux subsequently endorsed the action. Even if he didn’t do it, he is responsible for it and he later confirmed his support of it.
It’s about the principle, not the people or involved or what they were saying.
Actually Kokesh libeled and slandered me. All I have done is tell the truth about him. I have documented it, too, so it’s not slander.
Ideas have expression in men. Men who do bad things must be called out. This is a question of principle that I refuse to step back from.
Thanks for your comment.
There something about men calling people out that just seems feminine to me.
Honesty is an important value for women, I’m not so sure its necessary for men. Why do I owe strangers a duty of honesty and to help expose bad things. Seems witch doctery to me. Maybe I’m a sociopath tho. Thank Crom I can be one without too much internal distress.
Honesty (Ayn Rand’s Take)
Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud—that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee—that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling—that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others.
Self-esteem is reliance on one’s power to think. It cannot be replaced by one’s power to deceive. The self-confidence of a scientist and the self-confidence of a con man are not interchangeable states, and do not come from the same psychological universe. The success of a man who deals with reality augments his self-confidence. The success of a con man augments his panic.
The intellectual con man has only one defense against panic: the momentary relief he finds by succeeding at further and further frauds.
The mark of an honest man . . . is that he means what he says and knows what he means.
Intellectual honesty consists in taking ideas seriously. To take ideas seriously means that you intend to live by, to practice, any idea you accept as true.
Intellectual honesty [involves] knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one’s knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.
– I’d say the mark of an honest man, is an inability to unshackle himself from the statist depredators, because we live in a fundamentally dishonest society.
Lack of honesty is fraud, which is an act of aggression.
Rand is crystal clear on this point.
Honesty is an act of honor, a very masculine value.
I refuse to be a witness to fraud and then remain silent because to do so is another separate act of fraud that implicates me in the original act.
I do not engage in fraud and I will fight tooth and nail to defend my reputation on that point.
Rand is crystal clear. I give great weight to her words, but have my own differing take on the matter. Perhaps I will find myself in error at some point, but this is where I am right now.
Saying lack of honesty is fraud, which is an act of aggression. This is clearly package dealing, the NAP is about violence and existential threats to your person.
To say the used car salesman’s puffery and glittering generalities and even little white deceptions is the same as the state initiating violent force against you seems far fetched to say the least.
To say my use of made up names on facebook which others may take to be real names is fraud. Is statist in the extreme. It is only the state which enforces our having a single identifier.
A freeman might have several identities. He might tell one person one thing and another person something else. This is destabilizing and risky, as Ayn Rand points out. But saying this is similar to robbery or violent rapaciousness is incorrect.
Adhering to an external definition of honesty requires one to be a disciplinarian. A disciplinarian is an authoritarian.
In the real world of the agora, only a fool trusts anyone who says “I do not engage in fraud…”
Words are not existents. Trust but verify. An ounce of gold in your hand with your own means of verification method is an ounce of gold. Neither Bernie Madoff nor Ron Paul assertions that something is an ounce of gold is a concrete in any way shape or form.
I think you make an effort to avoid fraud at the present time, but should your circumstances deteriorate I would expect you to conform to the norm, and engage in whatever it takes for you to survive.
The ability to not engage in fraud is closely tied to one’s class and property. It’s easy for a politician or an oligarch to achieve blamelessness. The system perpetrates the fraud on his behalf, he can smile and say “look, my hands are clean.”
I didn’t say lying is the same as, say, police attack.
I said they are both aggression.
McDonalds and Hard Rock Cafe both produce hamburgers but they are hardly the same thing, even tho each is an example of a hamburger.
I’m not going to get into make-believe scenarios or class generalities.
Yikes! The prickly B.D. Ross applauding me? 2015 just started in Bizarro World for me.
Wow, I haven’t read the mk lords article, but I’ve had enough just reading yours. And I’m a fan. Cantwel’s an abrasive asshole, that’s true. And Molyneux still needs to explain his actions not only with the youtube shutdown scandal, but most recently his statemtents regarding Eric Garner and his “crime” of selling cigarettes without paying a tax first. But your claims regarding Adam Kokesh, and worse your brief critique of Larken Rose regarding his stance on defense against police aggression is embarrassingly ignorant. Obviously you have the right to express yourself, but these sorts of critiques in my mind, just lump you in with the infighting cantwells of the world, and I simply don’t have the time or money to support in fighting bullshit. Principles, not personalities.
Condemning a pattern of bad actions from a certain person or persons *is* an act of principle.
We can focus on people *out there*, non-libertarians, and abstract principles all day, but if we can’t call out the liars, destroyers and hypocrites in our own midst, then we have shown ourselves to be the hypocrites. That’s a question of principle.
I will never shy away from what needs to be said.
You haven’t attempted to rebut anything I have said, so I can offer no further reply at this time.
I think MK Lords point was not that there are no libertarians worth contributing to. Her point was that those three are so unproductive or counterproductive they are basically libertarian welfare queens instead of productive people. I didn’t get the impression that she said you can’t contribute to activists.
I think you misread her article. I think your post is misleading, and personally I would re-write it.
She didn’t come right out and take a firm anti-donation stance, but her connotations were clearly anti-donation. For example, she talked about how people should get ‘real jobs’ and do their activism in their spare time.
The fact that she backtracked on that in the comments, on social media, on Freedom Feens and elsewhere does not change her original text. Her original text is very pernicious on this point and must be slammed down hard (on this point).
I did not misread the article. She simply failed to express herself accurately. She, herself, admitted more than once that she did not invest the time required to make it a high-quality piece.
If you think my post is misleading and want me to correct an error, it’s incumbent upon you to show where there are errors. You haven’t done that and I feel confident that you actually can not. If you can, however, I am open to making legitimate corrections.
I won’t be changing things just to appease people’s feels, however.