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Monday, August 30, 2010

The FDR Sting

Lots of requests for more understanding of the specifics of the so called philosophy of FDR. I decided to go ahead and explain it. Who knows, maybe an FDR follower will read this and see the fatal flaws in Stef and Christina Molyneux theory and practice. A few years ago, I listened to Moly’s podcasts. I recommended him to my son as a good guy to listen to. I knew he had nutty ideas about family but figured my son would skip past those like I did and listen to his more interesting discussions. I think I am safe in saying that was a mistake. Moly was impressed with my son’s grasp of Objectivism and such. He asked my son to see if I would agree to an interview with me as an example great parent who taught his kid the right values. Later, when things started turning bad, I reached out to Moly to help try and bring my son back. Of course, he blew me off and used the opportunity to go after my son directly with phone calls and emails. At that time, it did not occur to me that for Moly he was in his kill zone. This was a prospect that was ready to be closed. The point is that I am more familiar than most the philosophy that provides cover for what FDR really is. Here goes.

I often recall the first time I read Atlas Shrugged. I was a freshman in college on a six week break between semesters. No classes. Dead of winter. Did not have a job. 1087 pages. A book with mind bending ideas. I was transfixed. I devoured every page. I made it last. But I could not make it last forever. I remember a palpable sadness when it ended. I was no longer in that world. I wanted it to go on. I wanted the hero’s to return to society. I wanted to know how it turned out. It is a great story. It is compelling. I know how easy it is to get lost in the philosophy of it. You feel like you are involved in a great, humanity changing movement. In fact, Ayn Rand did change the world. I have remained interested in Objectivism ever since. The Book Club of America identified Atlas Shrugged as the most influential book of the 20th Century. I happen to agree. The great irony here is that once Rand made her millions, she turned into a bit of an eccentric and was also something of a cult leader. Certainly not a destructive cult, but she did have a group of loyal followers and she was quite intolerant of any deviation from pure Objectivist thought.

Moly lacks some key understanding of Objectivist philosophy, but ultimately, FDR is built on Ayn Rand. Molyneux is a compelling personality who chats up freedom and ‘philosophy’ in a way that makes you feel like it is really possible to capture true freedom. Moly’s podcasts are darn near intoxicating. If you have the slightest leaning against an over reaching government or confiscatory taxes, or the corruption that comes from political power, Moly will capture your attention. He is conversational and engaging. He makes points of observation that will make you feel like a warm blanket has been pulled over you. You think to yourself: “Ahhh. Someone else really gets this.” If you are impressionable enough, and passionate enough, and intelligent enough, you will find yourself in a moment similar to the one I had with Atlas Shrugged. Except that at FDR, you can keep the story going. Of course FDR is an infinitesimal fraction of what Rand did with Objectivism, but for those who follow Moly, the feeling of keeping the dream alive is just as real. Maybe more so since they are in such an exclusive group.

So what is the world Molyneux has created? Molyneux has imagined a utopian Anarcho-Capitalist society that will bloom after the inevitable collapse of the state. It is the freedom story as allegory to the ‘Matrix’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, and Harry Potter.’ All it takes is enough belief in the impossible and a commitment to what is true and good. On the practical level he has imagined the all powerful ‘Dispute Resolution Organizations.’ The DRO will take care of the criminals and disputes (which will be rare). There are no property rights. You simply own your property. There is no need to protect it from thieves. There are virtually no thieves. But if they come around the DRO dispatches them promptly and with legitimate use of force. There are no taxes because the government doesn’t exist to tax you. Corrupt politicians are a thing of the past. As I write this, I confess I am being caught up in it. Why wouldn’t you. It sounds great doesn’t it?

All have seen the movie “The Sting.” The elements of a great con are The Setup, The Hook, The Tale and then The Sting. We all know how Doyle Lonagan got his. Here is how FDR does it.

The FDR Setup
Get the marks to the FDR site. This is the usual web marketing stuff. Once at the site, Moly has his lieutenants trolling the site for new people. Make them feel welcome. Moly has some pretty strict rules on this. Anyone who violates his standards of behavior for welcoming a new member is banned from the site. Once you are there, Molyneux’s argument is that the state will crumble under its own weight of debt and corruption (This is a reasonable prediction. This is how a con works. First you put forth a valid and reasonable point to gain the confidence of your mark). This is the set up. You have their attention. They want to learn more.

The FDR Hook: The Dispute Resolution Organization
To cement the mark’s belief, you set the hook. Anyone with a frontal lobe knows Anarchy is a crock. History has shown time after time that anarchy is brief and is shortly followed by tyranny. Moly knows Anarchy is a crock. So he has imagined the Dispute Resolution Organization. Ahh yes. The DRO will rise from the ashes of a fallen state and Anarchy will thrive. The DRO is a super sized insurance company that writes policies for everything from Property protection to Judges, to police protection, etc. A DRO is pretty much like a government. Except they will be private companies seeking profit and competing with each other. Here is the rub. In your agreement with them, you grant them the use of force if you violate your agreement with them. For Example, your agreement calls upon you to be well behaved. No stealing; no murder; no fraud, etc. If you do, your DRO agreement allows the DRO to arrest you and put you in jail. OK. Anarchy always ends in tyranny but this time, DRO’s will arise out of pure market forces. This is a fantastical reach of faith. The con man is playing to his audience. He is looking for that person who has a dream. Usually it is the Mark’s dream is to make a lot of money, but in FDR’s case, Moly is appealing to that idealistic desire for the world changing mission. But the DRO is the key to setting that hook. The DRO makes Anarchy seem possible. The DRO gets the mark past the point of thinking Moly is a loon.

The FDR Tale:
Once the hook is set, you need a great story. This one is a doozie. It is a wonderful fantasy of what might be in a world of pure freedom. The tale is contained in Moly’s seemingly endless audio and video blogs, chat rooms, and Sunday call in shows that discuss how we can get to this perfect world. Here is where it turns into that movie or book you don’t want to end. And at some point things shift from philosophy. At some point the subject changes to ‘why true freedom is so illusive.’ Let’s discuss the root of our unwillingness to accept true freedom. Look inside yourself. Can you see it yet. There it is. Plain to see. It is the family. It is your family. Here are Moly’s own words in one of his early essays (he says was inspired by his wife):

When raising children, parents have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Why should children obey them? Because parents are right? Hell no – ask parents why they hold their beliefs, they don’t have a clue. How could they? The last competent philosopher was probably John Locke, over three hundred years ago. The general social stream of ideas is just muck and confusion, designed by evil people to baffle and paralyze any good souls that accidentally emerge from the sick swamps of modern thought.

Average parents can no more reinvent morality from scratch than they can build a Space Shuttle in their backyards. Still, they have to get their children to obey them – how do they do it?
Oh, the usual suspects. Guilt, shame, withdrawal, criticism, bribery, bullying, manipulation – the usual crap that has passed for parenting throughout history. Guilt, shame and bullying always rush to fill the void when logical morality loses favour, because children must be taught, and if no carrots are to be found, sticks will always just have to do.

The FDR Sting:
Of course once you adopt the family as evil construct, you are ready for the Sting. The defoo. You break in a most cruel way from your family. And you replace our family with the people and associates at FDR. This pretty much how it works. If the Sting is successful, he and the wife have a new monthly source of income.

A NOTE: It seems we are succeeding and making Moly bury his past. I got a post from someone who said he could not find a single mention of defoo anywhere on the FDR site. Moly invented the term. He used to be proud of it. Now he hides it.


  1. Hmm... A friend of mine directed me to a YouTube video from the FDR site and from that I found your site.

    This FDR thing seems suspiciously similar to Scientology to me, maybe they can get Tom Cruise or John Travolta to sign up!

    1. What's wrong with the non agression principle? Other than what you tyrants think you get from it?

  2. SATS

    Nearly all cults have a similar MO, see one, know most of the others.

    I have seen a number of Mr Molineux’s You Tube performances to realise how engaging and persuasively seductive he is and realise that the thrust of this blog is to scratch beneath the surface of FDR to reveal the guile below. In the Hook section of the FDR Sting post I feel I need to make a few factual corrections so that this blog can go forward from a truthful position as possible as opposed to an emotional one.

    “Anyone with a frontal lobe knows Anarchy is a crock. History has shown time after time that anarchy is brief and is shortly followed by tyranny.” I realise that ‘brief’ is relative depending on what you compare it with but how does 330 years sound followed by a monarchy. Whether or not the monarchy was tyrannical is another matter.

    “Moly knows Anarchy is a crock. So he has imagined the Dispute Resolution Organization.” I am afraid you credit his imagination with too much. It has all been done before and the system worked very well. It wasn’t called that and the legal system was entirely civil so there were no prisons but with that one exception the system was as described. Ok, now I have done my own little hook it is time to tell you that this was administrative system of Iceland between the years 930 – 1263.

    Details of how the whole thing actually worked in practice can be found here:

    and here, part lV chapter 4

    I realise that Iceland is an island and the system could be protected from the infiltration of neighbouring ideas and also that these are very different times. With these exceptions, what he is proposing has proved to be a workable system at some time in the past and cannot therefore be described as “An incredible reach of faith”.

    Mr Molyniux is here in somewhat of a bind, if he wants to demonstrate that his ideas are workable in practice then he can’t claim them as original thought. Notwithstanding this, it doesn’t stop the DRO being used as a hook.

  3. Glad to post this commentary on some examples of free market anarchy working. I have said several times that I am sympathetic to the idea of good people who respect each other living in a perfect state of freedom. Some good examples here. And it is true that the DRO is a idea that Moly did NOT invent. He appropriated it and called it his own without approbation.

  4. NECRO!

    There is also a good argument to be made that the American West before the Civil War was an anarchic society. Anderson and Hill wrote a paper entitled "The Not So Wild, Wild West". Not everything was sunshine and roses, but a lot of things normally handled by government (especially the criminal justice system) was necessarily administered by private interactions, since the FedGov had not yet reached the West.
    A&H specifically discuss the Gold Rush of '49, the Wagon Trains, and the cattle industry.

    1. another good example of a set up where anarchy has a chance. The wild west was still part of the U.S. so the borders were protected. A set of laws protecting property rights was in place. But the people were largely out of reach of the power of the state, so they came up with their own ways of providing for order and such. I am finding that most historical examples of successful anarchy have these characteristics.

  5. Very interesting story. Thank you for telling it. I read Atlas Shrugged when I was young and was enthralled by it. At some point in the last 20 years, I decided that Ayn Rand's work was a "how to" and not a "how not to". The "how to" was how to break the nation state through anarchy.

    Defoo probably derives from a term used in the IT business. Foobar - meaning a mess - as in something really messed up. Defoo would be to straighten it out - make it right. That's just my guess.