Your child thinks you are a weirdo, and a dangerous lunatic captor, for labelling yourself a “peaceful parent”.
Wouldn’t you feel a bit weird calling yourself someone in favour of “not drinking poison”? Isn’t it kind of silly to take pride in promoting a cause that is self evidently good – say “enjoy chocolate”? How about “not hitting women”? Is the fact that women are human beings perhaps not so clear to you that you have to dutifully remind yourself and others of it? What would a woman in Victorian days really think of you if you went around boasting that you “do not hit her or rape her”?
How do you expect to convince anyone if you take the default position that people (children) are not able to see by themselves what is blindingly obvious? What if you go all the way to making a career out of this, and creating an internet show with the intention to tell the masses about this most “revolutionary” moral idea? Do you think you would attract people with the self esteem and readiness required to enact this principle, when they come to you believing that they need to be told – or tell themselves – what is blindingly obvious?
But what if you did not want to acknowledge this? What if you, in fact, did not think that women are human beings – but that they inhabit an inferior moral plane – and went about publicly denying this permanent, secret conflict with reality that you have? Wouldn’t you have desires of attracting more and more people like yourself in order to mitigate your anxiety about your untenable position, taking comfort in the numbers and the quantity – much like someone guilty of a crime gathers piles of non-causal research that seemingly supports his innocence?
This is, sadly, what seems to be happening to Stefan Molyneux and friends with regards to the eternal problem of child abuse.
I remember thinking it doesn’t make much sense labelling certain products as “fair trade”. Trade is fair by definition – or should be fair – and “unfair trade” is the offending exception; so why put a label on something that is naturally and extensively self explanatory? Why label what is in fact the obvious case out of the two, from a rational and moral perspective? Well, must be because those who do it don’t want to see it that way; they do not want to see that children are people and how exactly that looks.
Similarly, I remember having arguments with atheists about the incongruence of their position. If “God” is such a ridiculous and invalid concept, then isn’t it just as ridiculous to label yourself with reference to it, an “atheist”? How about making a career out of it – like Richard Dawkins – and uphold the “fight against the leprechaun” as a personal priority?
Clearly, what you want to do, as a rational person, is put a label on unfair trade just like “God” is in itself a “logically unfair” or impossible concept; spot the offender and behave consistently with the fact that it shouldn’t exist or does not exist. However, this seems not so easy to do even for people who have a good grasp of the abstract part of the matter; which, as I am pointing out, has probably got to do with their own psychological agendas.
Stefan Molyneux has had many a political rant about the evil state and its counterpart in abusive parenting – all recorded and re-recorded to exhaustion. His first podcasts, on the argument from morality, show the reality and controversy that has made him popular, that freedom in society can only be achieved by consistently appealing to the rational principle of non aggression. I couldn’t agree more – hence this article!
If he had devoted himself to presenting “arguments from effect”, instead of arguments from principle, he would not have been at all so attractive to his audience (in fact, as “attractive” as libertarians have been in the last century) as he would just have spent his time battling with opposing and equally narrow-sighted arguments about the badness of state power… Instead, he has wisely emphasized the moral root of the problem (the inmorality of the state and it being a result of the immoral treatment of children) as the perfect explanation of why there are such things as state, church, war, poverty… With this he has of course awakened many passions in people, as one would expect. Everyone knows their parents were bad to them, however unconsciously – and many will lash out at anyone who reminds them –, but this is exactly the same knowledge Stefan betrays with his advocacy of “peaceful parenting”.
While you will see Stefan assert himself against the “state” (the “against me” argument) on a basis of principle, you will find that, when the offender becomes a real person – a parent – he will resort to arguments from effect just like any other statist or pragmatist, and to hell with the principle! When it comes to an abstract entity and the possibility to recruit fellow “freedom” partisans he will be very “courageous”; not so when it comes to speaking openly to them about the root of the problem that he has identified himself.
An all HD denouncer of hypocrisy in Youtube, Stefan will switch to LD whenever the moment calls for explaining directly to those involved why it is wrong to hit children or abuse parental power in any way, even though he knows full well that it is wrong because children are people. Suddenly, when a parent is bad to their child and comes to talk to Stefan, they get sympathy and recommendations against their naughty behaviour for the future “well being” of the child – as if children hadn’t already been abused on that basis through the ages.
Perhaps a child’s shoes are too small for Stefan to wear in order to invoke his “against me” argument when talking to parents.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to come up with a plausible reason this is the case.
Stefan is glad to partake in the institution of marriage and the “having” of a child within it, as well as relies on donations for his show and job as a full time philosopher; he has quite a lot at stake in terms of traditional western values. Of course, the ownership of people, things and a public image is nothing that a truly virtuous person would care to keep.
In all their various incarnations, statist or religious, philosophers like to project into the world the moral problems that they face as individuals; Stefan knows this, but he is no exception. And he is no exception, not because he should not be in error – nobody is perfect – but because he will deny error. I invite you to test this and present these criticisms to him.
Stefan Molyneux has effectively shifted the whole conceptual apparatus of the statism he despises towards the area of parenting. Rather than an irrational defense of arbitrary flags, laws and saints, now it’s the dogma of “not spanking or yelling” and the sanctity of the family unit (‘Disproving the Family‘). Rather than the social contract, now it’s the monogamous contract of marriage. Minarchists are “foolish” for trying to bring down the leviathan of the state by issuing orders from the oval office; but he tries to bring down the tyrant in parents by issuing orders from their brain centers (again, the reasons for the behavioural change he demands he does not justify rationally in principle)… I could be here forever, and there will be more articles on the matter. Seven years of incessant production, sadly, have made Freedomain Radio a lush garden of inconsistency, and a bubble that will burst like all previous bad philosophies have; even though it is more accurate and closer to the truth, and even though I owe much of my own awakening to it.
The truth lies, of course, beyond all those things Stefan Molyneux doesn’t like to hear: like the self contradictions I mentioned; and like the fact that “peaceful parenting” – as with “fair trade” or the absence of “God” – should not be labelled inasmuch as children being people is a reality, not a slogan to be used in managing your unresolved trauma.
You don’t get any points for being peaceful as a parent. You get zero, nowt, nada! You don’t prop up your inner narcissist with children, yours or anybody’s. Should you need any points you can get them as a jerk for pretending that you are virtuous in fulfilling your moral obligation to refrain from the worst possible evil (abusing dependent children), which cannot be a good indicator of your actual success in this direction.
Your child does not respect you for thinking your relationship with her is a measure of your worth as a human being. Your worth is not defined by other people, so neither by your child; and – unless you give her away – she will, in turn, grow up to believe her worth is defined by you, which is still abusive.
No matter how much you “unschool”, “unyell”, “undisrespect”, “unspank”… you will have no choice but to force your child to remain with you – as you “unthink and “unremember” your conflicts with her – if you believe that you are awesome just because you treat people like people.