Racism, Rationality, and Libertarians: Reflections on a YouTube Cancel

The Canadian YouTuber Stefan Molyneux was recently banned from YouTube for promoting white supremacism and white nationalism. Samples of his views were documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“I don’t view humanity as a single species…”
—Podcast FDR2768, “Collective Guilt for Fun and Profit”, Saturday call-in show, August 9, 2014

“The whole breeding arena of the species needs to be cleaned the f— up!”
—Podcast FDR2740, “Conformity and the Cult of ‘Friendship’,” Wednesday call-in show July 2, 2014

“Screaming ‘racism’ at people because blacks are collectively less intelligent…is insane.”
—YouTube video, The Death of Europe | European Migrant Crisis, October 4, 2015

“You cannot run a high IQ [white] society with low IQ [non-white] people…these [non-white] immigrants are going to fail…and they’re not just going to fail a little, they are going to fail hard…they’re not staying on welfare because they’re lazy…they’re doing what is economically the best option for them…you are importing a gene set that is incompatible with success in a free-market economy.”
—YouTube video, The Death of Europe | European Migrant Crisis, October 4, 2015

“One of the biggest questions in America is ethnic crime rates…and y’know the [Asians] are the model minority…[while] the American blacks and blacks around the world have truly shockingly high levels of criminality and the general explanation is y’know slavery plus racism plus poverty, whatever it is which creates this unholy brew…but as far as I understand it there are significant contributions that your field can make to help people untangle [why] there are such differences in ethnic positive and negative behaviours in society…American blacks have roughly a standard IQ below whites… ”
—YouTube video, Genetics and Crime: Interview with Kevin M. Beaver, May 28, 2016

“If we could just get people to be nice to their babies for five years straight, that would be it for war, drug abuse, addiction, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases. Almost all would be completely eliminated, because they all arise from dysfunctional early childhood experiences, which are all run by women.”
—Speech at International Conference on Men’s Issues, St. Clair Shores, Michigan, June 26 – 28, 2014

“… the fomenting of anti-white hatred is extremely strong and very toxic and very dangerous, [and] I can’t help but think, Jared, that if I lived in a society of [only] white people then the giant fly swatter of ‘shut up whitey, you’re racist’ could never be used against me. We could actually have debates about ideas rather than ethnicity, we could actually have debates where reason and argument could win, and of course it’s not like all white people are rational, of course not, right? But the reality is that the giant thermonuclear strike of ‘you’re a racist’ could not be brought to bear in the debate or in the discussion, and, I gotta tell ya, that’s kinda tempting in a lot of ways because if other people are unwilling to drop the race card I’m not sure I wanna to play the game anymore…”
—YouTube video, An Honest Conversation about Race: Interview with Jared Taylor, July 8, 2016

“…people have this idea that human groups somehow live in harmony together…but the sum total of human history is endless warfare between competing groups, two subspecies don’t inhabit the same geographical area for long, one will always displace the other, and this idea [diversity], it’s a complete naive reading of history…”
—YouTube video, The Death of Canada. Prepare Yourself Accordingly, July 8, 2017

Stefan had nearly a million Youtube subscribers, and as a living, was earning no small penny. It was possibly the second largest YouTube ban ever made (Alex Jones being first).

Early in his career, I watched Molyneux’s channel with both curiosity and skepticism. Here’s what seemed to be an articulate speaker with a graduate degree in philosophy and wanted to make the world a better place. While I didn’t care for his atheism, his anarchism I didn’t mind, which sometimes can help one avoid the trench of polarized political parties. His YouTube icon was a cute picture of figures holding hands in a sort of circle. “We’re all in this together” it almost would have seemed to say.

On the other hand, I’ve always been skeptical of people that put a camera on their face every day and dispense free wisdom, especially (a) about topics they are not really qualified to address and (b) explicitly in an orientation of cold hard “rationality.” (Who doesn’t want to be “rational”?) The trouble with “I’m just being rational” types, of course, is that they seem to only believe there is one form of rationality, and indeed, intelligence.

With Sam Harris, the other popular atheist “I’m-just-a-rational-truth-teller” commentator/mansplainer with a philosophy degree, Stefan is a big fan of “general intelligence” and with it, the “science” yielded from IQ tests. As scholars, such as Ibram Kendi have pointed out many times, however, “general intelligence” is as much a construct as anything else, and we should ask who contrived the idea and why. (We should think intelligently about intelligence!) Somehow, the scientific community has duped the population into believing an IQ test created by 20th century adult English speaking male western eugenicists will yield a perfectly neutral, universally true test of general intelligence for all people in all places, times, and languages.

Because if we don’t think intelligently about intelligence, we might end up, well, openly racist, exposed, and (rightly) banned from the largest media platform in human history.

Not having watched one of his videos for years, I was curious the other day and watched a segment of Stefan’s post-ban reflections, and it was strange. His responses were remarkably incoherent. and he was out of sorts. It felt like, with the game over, the cards face up for all to see, there frankly wasn’t much more to say. His supporters donated 100k in Bitcoin for the loss, so that support isn’t gone. But what’s gone is more important—first, a public project of rational racism, and second, the world that Stefan tried to create to begin with: a place where universal, objective, rationality exists and is properly promulgated through this particular YouTube channel. In other words, an inevitably fallible, historically-situated, culturally-influenced, human being attempting to step outside humanity and draw permanent, timeless, universal lines for everyone. This grand project has finally been tamed through “being situated” (to use post-modern jargon); the public has now learned that Stefan’s views are not at all universal, but extremely peculiar and subject to historical enculturation. They are a product of their time, place, location, culture, language, etc. (There aren’t many white supremacists arguing about IQ tests in China, India, or South America a thousand years ago.) Would anyone now really believe that Molyneux’s channel was anything more than another opinionated talking head? Or if it was more than that, that it is still worth watching given how much mass deception was occurring? (We must remember that the more and more success the channel received, the more and more open Stefan was about his racism, and the more and more people subscribed.)

It’s disappointing, not because the project was inevitably doomed to fail, but because it didn’t have to end up this way. Some public figures have enough interviews with others who are different, self-awareness and humility, and openness to at least be corrected enough to have the rough edges smoothed. Russell Brand is a very different person and is sort of doing something different, but…then again, not really. He’s a popular YouTube personality trying to make the world a better place and share wisdom. Will Brand get trapped into faux science in all his discussions of consciousness, just as Molyneux got trapped into faux science about race? Perhaps. But the spirit is noticeably different; the ethos is not one of reactionary politics (certainly not on race!); with so many guests and making no claim to being consistently “rational,” there is more freedom, life and sustainability…

Well anyway. I don’t suspect this makes Molyneux’s other anti-feminist, anti-progressive, racist or pseudo-racist friends and colleagues look any better. Think of Tom Woods, the anarcho-capitalist Catholic historian and host of The Tom Woods Show, who hosted Molyneux on a variety of topics multiple times (see episodes 926 and 1246). As one can see given the titles, Woods gave Molyneux a platform specifically to defend Molyneux’s general views and project and expand his audience into others who would be interested in hearing them.

It’s taken me a while to realize it, but libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are some of the most racist thinkers out there—again, also being known for being “rational,” “logically consistent,” and priding themselves on it. Hans Hermann Hoppe and Murray Rothbard come to mind (see also here and here). I’m not sad to distance myself a bit from that movement (as noted in the preface to CLR 3), especially now in 2020! It is troubling, nevertheless, seeing so many get entangled in ideologies that so easily support injustice, lack all sense of love or empathy, and shield themselves in echo chambers of self-validation. Far from living in world cleansed of prejudice, we apparently live in an age of “make America racist again.”