Stephan Molyneux and Peter Joseph Debate

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jneo's picture
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Stephan Molyneux and Peter Joseph Debate

Peter and Stephan debate Economics, structural violence and then some.  Enjoy. 


Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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They are both wrong.

It is the exponential function.

Doubling the size of the economy and then doubling the economy again will definitely have consequences. If the resource usage and the population doubling time does not keep up with the doubling time of the economy then of cause mothers will be torn away from their babies to be used as fodder for the machine. Fathers will have to abandon the family in order to get enough to survive. Children will be sacrifices on the alter of Progress.

It is the exponential function. Joseph and Molyeneux are ideologues. We do not have the wiggle room for ideology any more. Time to get real.

darbikrash's picture
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I would say Peter Joseph is wrong in some areas but clearly more right than Molyneux on virtually every subject. I have watched several of these “debates” between these two over the years, and usually enjoy them but this one I found fell flat.


Joseph tries too hard to establish himself as the intellectual, and as a result is ineffective at responding to the relatively simple, so called common sense arguments of Molyneux. It talks quite a bit of thought, and more than a little background understanding of Joseph’s arguments to appreciate what he is saying, which is somewhat poorly presented.


I can only imagine the reaction from someone who is unfamiliar with his arguments watching this for the first time- Molyneux is quite right- it’s word soup. Joseph seems to realize this and posted this follow up video which is a more succinct presentation of his central points.



As to them both being ideologues, I think this is a fair allegation. I believe there is a place for this however, as I view them as surrogates for the quite important conceptual argument as to whether or not "corrupted" free market forces and smaller (or non-existent government in there case of Molyneux) is a viable explanation for the predicament we are in. Molyneux is well informed and articulate, and does a decent job of representing the anarcho-capitalist viewpoint, Joseph has a wide ranging and deep understanding of the key principles of alienation and the direct and indirect effects of capitalist accumulation, and is (admirably) unswayed by the argument that just because the free market provides efficient pricing mechanisms, that it should be extrapolated to include governance of all humanity.


This battle of ideologies does need to be resolved before any meaningful progress can occur in our political economy, and these two are as good a proxy as any. No one really takes seriously either of their central theses for corrective action, no thinking person can really conclude that all we need is no government and rampant free market forces, neither can we accept the premise that technological prowess and superabundance are the obvious and only solutions. But I do think Joseph’s head is in the right place, his thoughts and arguments are thought provoking and it is in fact high time that some of these (rather old) concepts be resurrected, modified from their original failed embodiment, and reinterpreted based on historical lessons learned.


I hope Joseph continues to evolve his presentations and points.

Jim H's picture
Jim H
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Thanks for pointing this out Darbikrash

I for one find this whole discussion much more approachable when it doesn't invoke the M-word.  Both Joseph and Stefan are brilliant thinkers, and this follow-up really helped me see past some of my own preconceptions.  One question;  In a post-capitalist system, what do we imagine would motivate the drive for continuing innovation once the profit motive is gone?    

darbikrash's picture
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Jonas Salk
Jim H wrote:

  One question;  In a post-capitalist system, what do we imagine would motivate the drive for continuing innovation once the profit motive is gone?    

In 1948 Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine, effectively curing one of the most hideous diseases of the 20th century.


It was also declared "a victory for the whole nation." Jonas Salk became "world famous overnight and was showered with awards", writes O'Neill. The governor of Pennsylvania had a medal struck, and the state legislature gave him a chaired professorship. However, New York City could not get him to accept a ticker tape parade. Instead New York created eight "Jonas Salk Scholarships" for future medical students. He received a Presidential Citation, the nation's first Congressional Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service, and a large number of honorary degrees and related honors.

According to O'Neill, "April 12th had almost become a national holiday: people observed moments of silence, rang bells, honked horns, blew factory whistles, fired salutes, kept their red lights red in brief periods of tribute, took the rest of the day off, closed their schools or convoked fervid assemblies therein, drank toasts, hugged children, attended church, smiled at strangers, and forgave enemies."

Perhaps most remarkably, Salk did not profit commercially from the vaccine. But what of his incentive, his motivation if not for pure profit:

Salk preferred not to have his career as a scientist affected by too much personal attention, as he had always tried to remain independent and private in his research and life. But this proved to be impossible. "Young man, a great tragedy has befallen you—you've lost your anonymity", the late television personality Ed Murrow said to Salk shortly after the onslaught of media attention.[50] When Murrow asked him, "Who owns this patent?” Salk replied, "No one. Could you patent the sun?"

It is estimated that if Salk had patented the vaccine, his personal net worth would have grown by $7 billion (USD).


So it does not seem like much profit motive was necessary for one of the most profound innovations of the 20th century. It might seem that he got his reward from avenues other than financial…..

Jim H's picture
Jim H
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There will always be the idealists...

I just don't know that we will ever have a whole society filled with them.  I am trying to make a point of practicality... it's kind of easy to see how there would be an adequate pool of idealists to work on the big problems... but what about the less big problems.. the incremental problems... making the next computer chip 30% faster, and the next iteration of software that harnesses that chip, and the improved resolution screen that improves the video on the phone or device that uses that screen... not all of the worlds problems are big ones.    

Today, we have a growing culture of dependency in the US.. and I am not talking about the lady in the wheelchair with MS.. I am talking about the unprecedented growth of the disability roles and SNAP, in part because these programs have simply been made more accessible.  If we were to create this new society of abundance... what percentage of folks would actually do more than the minimum? 

My own gut is that we would have to have some kind of hybrid system whereby everybody got some bare minimum allotment of the earth's abundance just for being.. and then they could earn,  "added bonus points" for being more productive.  Calibrate, "bare minimum" as needed to achieve adequate participation.  I know that Joseph envisions a future of extreme mechanization and exploitation of alternative energy, where little actual work is needed... but somebody has to build all those robots and computers and solar panels before we get there.          


lunableu22's picture
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I think we are seeing the

I think we are seeing the rise of the "dependency class" not by accident. (See ao or logan's run or grover). Furthermore, there is very little return on investment in most jobs these days.  The working conditions are emotionally alienating and the majority of available positions are "make-work" and essentially meaningless; and the pay is not commensurate with the wasting of the precious hours of the only life one has.  These conditions lead to burn-out and apathy, if not downright mental and psychological dysfunction.

In a world where people could choose to do what mattered to them, on their own terms, in their own way, and on their own time schedule, I think we would find enormous creative endeavors being pursued and we would also find those whose time on this planet was spent in less socially "productive" ways.

Right now, no one gets a free pass.  No one.  That is the structural violence that Peter Joseph was referring to.  If your parents are starving, you as a newborn babe, die also.

Welcome to the Insane Asylum we call "civilization".



Robinson's picture
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The motivation to work is the weak point, of every alternative

Hi Jim.

I write about the problem of motivation, and present a complete solution to the society,  a new model.  My book "Mutual Wellfare" is now is Spanish and French for the English version we need someone with english native mother language.

The motivation is the weak point of every alternative. Our solution:  First, the society ensure a work and a income to every human bean, you do something for society the society pay you (example: give a public dance class is a work for society).  Second, you can gain as you want, no limit, just do the equilibrium between Human Ecological and Economic Values.   Third, the media is for give honor to the people that do more good to the society, (there is a change in the model of the media).

Your ideas are right, because is the obvious solution, there is a need for a minimum income per family as a pay for a minimum work for the society, (there is a new definition of work).  If the people want more money you can go to the private sector.

The banking sector need a new model, where interest is for society, money is created as value not debt, and every project is evaluated in three point of view 1- Social benefices, 2- ecological benefices, 3- economic benefices,  looking for a balanced with the 3 viewpoints.

But the fundamental point of our new society is the education model, a ground breaking model where we develop the human to be analytical and sensitive to anothers humans and the nature.  Return the human to be part of the nature.

The book can be free download in 

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