As I note during the interview, I consider Molyneux a great communicator and this is a reason his views must be examined carefully. His eloquent communication style has apparently resulted in his developing something of a strong following. Yet, outside of his communication style, it is difficult to understand why he is enjoying such a following. For what he communicates tends to be confusing and contradictory.
Much of this interview consists of an examination of a recent podcast he completed on the subject of economics and the looming economic collapse. With regard to another commentary I made about Molyneux, some have critiqued in the comments to the post my focus on Molyneux's views on economics. They have stated that Molyenux's strength is not economics. But this is precisely my point. If Molyneux's strength is not economics, why does he continue to make error filled podcasts on the topic? The most recent being earlier this month.
I would like to point out that during my interview, Molyneux, in a fairly jovial manner, on many points states he agrees with me, but in stating he agrees with me he is contradicting the very statements that I am questioning him about, where he says the exact opposite elsewhere.
For example, at one point during the interview, he says he does not have a problem with speculation, but in an earlier podcast, he attacks speculators.
During his podcast and during the interview, he states that what could occur in the United States is the same as what occurred in Japan, where more money is printed and we could end up with "QE99", but nothing of the sort is going on in Japan. There has been no significant growth in Japanese money supply for decades.
During the interview, I point this out to him and state that his view that the United States may go into a Japanese style decades of slow growth economy is very unlikely, since the debt pressures in the U.S. are different and are likely to lead to the Federal Reserve becoming an aggressive printer of money or, alternatively, a massive default on debt will have to occur. During the interview, Molyneux says he agrees with me that this "crisis scenario" is most likely, but this is the opposite of what he said in his podcast. At another point, he says of Japan versus the U.S., "I agree with you that there are many differences.' But again, this is the exact opposite , of what he said in his podcast.
During the interview, Molyneux and I have a debate over "profit", where it appears that Molyneux doesn't understand the difference between profit and interest. Indeed, as you will hear, he attempts to want to create an average of profit, something I strongly object to. It is possible that I did not make my point clear concerning Molyneux's error. If so, here is the great economist Ludwig von Mises making the point very clearly:
... it is absurd to speak of a "rate of profit" or an "average rate of profit." Profit is not related to or dependent on the amount of capital employed by the entrepreneur. Capital does not "beget" profit. Profit and loss are entirely determined by the success or failure of the entrepreneur to adjust production to the demand of the consumers. There is nothing "normal" in profits and there can never be an "equilibrium" with regard to them. Profit and loss are, on the contrary, always a phenomenon of a deviation from "normalcy," of changes unforeseen by the majority, and of a "disequilibrium."Finally, I must point out that on several occasions, I did not raise other errors that I believe Molyneux made the show. As I said, this interview was by far the longest I have ever conducted and it is simply impossible to touch on all of the errors without causing the the interview to stretch to absurd lengths. Among the erroneous points Molyneux made, which I did not raise, but I feel obligated to point out here, Molyneux states that the Austrian School of Economics is in favor of property rights. This is technically an error. ASE is a science and thus value free. Thus, ASE, as a science, is not in favor of anything. It can explain why a society that respects property rights will likely have a higher standard of living, but it does not pronounce that this should be such a goal. It is beyond the realm of economic science proper. For someone who touts himself to be a philosopher, I find this error baffling.
Molyneux also states that Ayn Rand in "Atlas Shrugged" forecast an economic collapse decades ago that has never occurred. First, I do not consider Rand, by any stretch, an economist. Second, "Atlas Shrugged" was a novel about producers versus takers, and nowhere near a forecast about economic collapse. In her novel, Rand was pointing out what would occur if producers suddenly stopped producing and the takers were left to fend for themselves. I bit my tongue here because I wanted to raise other errors that Molyneux made, but to point to Rand's novel as a failure of a forecast is the height of confusion that I trust even beginners in the study of economics and philosophy will be able to detect.
Molyneux also went on an odd rant about religion, which, if I would have challenged, would have perhaps extended the interview another five hours. Suffice to say, I found Molyneux's linking religion with war because they have both existed side by side and that thus religion must be rejected, as an unusual argument. One could also point out that advancing science has existed side by side with war. Should we thus in Molyneux style reject science for the same reason?
In the interview, I also question Molyneux about his defooing technique, which is a method whereby Molyneux advises that some young adults separate from their parents. I am not familiar enough to comment accurately on what Molyneux has done in promoting defooing. Molyneux states in the interview that such defooing should only be done under the guidance of a mental health professional. From some internet sites, the impression I have received is that defooing has been encouraged by Molyneux without such mental health professionals. I leave if for others to do the investigative work here.
However, I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with a young adult, when he is ready, to move on from beyond the house he was brought up under. A young adult should do this when he is ready to do so. However, defooing, with a total cut off from family, seems to be an odd step.
It's curious that during an interview with Jeffrey Tucker that Molyneux condemns Bill Clinton for taking advantage of Monica Lewinsky. He specifically notes the age gap between Clinton and Lewinsky and the power position the president was in relative to Lewinsky. How is this different from the age gap between Molyneux and those Molyneux is advising on his radio show to defoo? Further, Molyneux is also coming from a position of power, as a philosopher, author and radio show host. There is nothing wrong with encouraging youth to explore and consider various alternative views of the world, but to advise youth to cut off some views (such as that of their parents) is worse than asking for a blow job.
My interview with Molyneux ends with his turning the tables and asking me a couple of questions. At first I was going to leave this exchange on the editors cutting floor, but Molyneux is indeed a skilled communicator and the questions are interesting so I left them in.
That said, I continue to believe that David Gordon had it pretty much correct about Molyneux, when he wrote that Molyneux has a facile intelligence.
My take is that because Molyneux is such a quick study and because of his excellent communication skills, he gives the impression that he knows much more than he really does. He knows how to throw out there the libertarian buzzwords that will catch those who aren't listening carefully, but his conclusions are often very misleading, when not completely wrong. However, I do not advise you to defoo from Molyneux, but to merely judge the quality of his analysis for yourself:
Here's the podcast version:
And here is the direct link to the audio.