Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stefan Molyneux's Odd Take on Victims

More than one person has sent me a link to a youtube discussion between Stefan Molyneux and another person (I am not sure who the other person is) asking me to comment. Here goes.

In the clip, Molyneux takes the position that Eric Garner, who killed by police and was selling "loosies," i.e. untaxed cigarettes, was "victimizing," nearby store owners.

First, a bit on the facts, which are different from the facts as presented by Molyneux. Police were called not because Garner was selling loosies, but because a fight had just taken place at the corner (Garner was involved in breaking up the fight). The selling of loosies was simply a pretext for police harassment of Garner, pure and simple.

But let's try an understand what a victim is from a libertarian perspective. A victim is someone who has suffered at the hands of another because that other person has violated the non-aggression principle. This should be pretty clear. If I decide to wear pink pants and that offends your view of proper dress/ You are not a victim of my style choice, based on libertarian principle, because I did not violate NAP.

Likewise. Garner, by selling loosies, did not violate NAP. Thus, from a libertarian perspective, there was no victim. To claim otherwise, and claim this on libertarian grounds, is simply confusion about libertarianism.

In the discussion, Molyneux also attempts to bring in the idea that Garner was on public property where "shop owners pay taxes." Well. booy hoo. Public land is really no man's land, controlled by a bunch of thieves (the government). Under what grounds can these thieves claim that shopkeepers can prevent others from operating on this "public" land?

Further, Molyneux's claim, of shopowner control of this public land, is based on taxes paid and is a weak one in of itself, aside from the deep philosophical problems with the argument. By this I mean that most of those that had bought loosies from Garner were probably taxpayers and thus had a "tax claim" to the public land, from Molyneux's perspective, just as much as shop owners.Given that they bought loosies from Garner, they were likely desirous of him operating on that public land.

In fact, although it is likely that Garner did not pay city income taxes, it is very likely that he regularly paid city sales tax (Purchases made in New York City are subject to both New York City (4.5%) and New York State (4.375%) sales tax.). Thus, Garner also had a Molyneux-type stake in the "public" sidewalk he operated on.

It is the utmost in confusion of basic fundamental libertarian principles to think that Garner in anyway was "victimizing" anyone. Molyneux also seems to want to make a distinction between "talking to libertarians" and talking to others, when discussing victims, No one should EVER view anyone as being a victim if NAP has not been violated. Thereare not two separate worlds of "victims," one for libertarians and another for non-libertarians. Great libertarian communicators are not those that attempt to make this false distinction, but those who are able to communicate in such a fashion that brings some from the non-libertarian camp into an understanding of the libertarian perspective on NAP and victims.

Here is the original discussion:




  1. Stefan needs to be challenged on this.

    1. He seems to completely ignore any criticisms so I doubt he will respond to any attempts to engage him on it.