In his breaking up video, Stefan Molyneux charges that a high IQ is necessary for a libertarian society to exist, and because libertarians believe that reason and evidence are how we convince people to transition to a libertarian society that libertarians are therefore inconsistent for considering a racial discussion of IQ differences to be entirely irrelevant to libertarianism. (Which it is.)

This is possibly the dumbest thing I’ve heard him say yet (and yes, that is not an argument; that’s a reaction to his argument.)

He casts the situation in binary form, saying ‘you either force people to change or you convince them to change,’ and suggests libertarians have chosen the latter, peaceful means of change.

But within the latter, he casts a high IQ population as necessary because only people with high IQ are able to understand ‘what is seen and what is unseen,’ ie: an allusion to Bastiat and the economic concepts that underlie how society works in order for people to vote intelligently, possibly also an allusion to Sowell’s concept of ‘thinking beyond stage one’ to multiple consequences down the line. While this is necessary for economic analysis, it ignores a lot.

It ignores the role that democracy as a structure plays in incentivizing people to be rationally-ignorant voters.

This also ignores that within the realm of peaceful means of transition are a lot more strategies than ‘convincing people based on reason and evidence’ by something like argumentation to vote the right way(!), and also ignores that a high-IQ might even make people more stubborn in their beliefs and less willing to change rather than less stubborn, and more susceptible to certain cognitive biases rather than less susceptible.

In fact, one could argue the entire alt-right’s line on IQ is one giant product of a known high-IQ bias called illusory-superiority and the bias-blind spot. And there is a wealth of info on the fact that a high-IQ does not in fact eliminate susceptibility to biases of all manner, and can actually increase susceptibility to many (1, 2, 3). High-IQ is no guard or prevention against the kinds of cognitive-bias that prevent people from changing their minds:

“In one study, subjects read about a controversial issue, such as whether or not people should be allowed to sell their own organs. Then, they wrote their thoughts about it. The researchers found the typical cognitive bias. People mostly wrote arguments favoring their own position. They did not tend to integrate arguments across different perspectives, which would indicate critical thinking.

“The researchers also assessed intelligence. They found that people who scored more highly on the intelligence test showed just as much of the cognitive bias as the rest. They found no link between intelligence and cognitive bias.” (src)

In fact, people have studied what causes others to change their political beliefs, and Molyneux ignores this entirely–or more likely is ignorant of it in the first place.

The man is probably a socialist, mainly because his entire social-circle is too.

This man is probably a socialist, mainly because his entire social-circle is too. Most professors are.


What’s even sadder is that IQ has zero effect on your ability to be swayed by politically-biased statements. Those who favor Trump may simply be falling prey to a cognitive-bias for one-sided positions, which Trump has mastered speaking in terms of:

“In a second study, subjects evaluated arguments, rather than writing them out. They were again shown controversial issues, such as abortion and lowering the drinking age. For each issue, the researchers had put together short position papers. Some of these positions were one-sided. For example, all of the arguments would be for lowering the drinking age, or all would be against. Others integrated the different perspectives, and were completely balanced.

“One interesting finding was that people preferred the one-sided positions regardless of the direction. They didn’t like the more integrated perspectives. The researchers also did find the strong cognitive bias in favor of the person’s own side. Finally, neither of the previous findings was related to intelligence. People with high IQ reasoned just like everyone else.” (src)

So how do people gain or change their beliefs in the first place? Quite simply, the biggest factor in what you believe is what others around you believe. We live in a society of groupthink and status-quo bias first of all, and these are the biggest factors in what we believe and why.

How do people come to believe things in the first place? By being born into X place or culture, from which they absorb the opinions and culture of the society they grew up in, ex nihilo. The young mind is an empty sponge–the state knows this, that’s why they made schooling compulsory and control what children are taught. That is the most powerful way to inculcate people with beliefs, control what they are taught by society as they grow up.

On this basis we have entire populations that grow up in many disparate belief systems: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, atheist, and yes, left and right as well.  Most will lean left or right politically according to how the family they grew up in leans. Attitudes are infectious. It is not an accident that entire families tends to lean one way politically, it’s an absorbed political bias, obtained by osmosis through cultural absorption through the family micro-culture.

All of this has zero, zilch, nada to do with IQ. You can be stupid or smart, but where you grow up and what family you’re raised in will have a far, far bigger impact on what you believe politically than any other factor, including IQ.

This man was also a socialist. Mainly because everyone he knew was also.


So, if Molyneux were *actually consistent* in his attack on libertarians and libertarianism, with his statement in that video that libertarians do not live out their ideals via facts and evidence, he would have to conclude that the best way to obtain a libertarian world long-term is in fact not to side with republicans, close the borders, vote for Trump, etc., but rather to figure out how libertarians can start using status-quo bias and osmotic absorption of political norms to create more libertarians just like the state uses this phenomena to create implicit-statists.

Winning elections is not going to have any effect on the long-term political scene. That ship has already sailed. Cut your emotional ties to the US and think a bit more globally and a bit less short-term. If we could push a button that would save the world but lose the US, would you push that button? I would. If you would not do the same, you don’t really value liberty as your highest political ideal. The US federal government must at some point fail for a new political system to take its place anyway, arguing that open borders doesn’t work with generous welfare is useless precisely because it will move towards political dysfunction in the US, which moves the world closer to a post-democracy USA.

If Molyneux really wanted to start changing minds, and acknowledged that absorption of political norms from the youngest age and from those around us really was the number one factor that determines the political direction of a society, then he could only possibly support one thing: enclavism. Enclavism is the only peaceful, NAP-respecting way that libertarians can, right now, start building a libertarian society.

Seasteading is one option for creating a libertarian society; sure it costs money and will take work. Let's get started.

Seasteading is one option for creating a libertarian society; sure it costs money and will take work. Let’s get started.


We can therefore, on this basis, sketch out a very simple plan for changing the whole world. What we must do is create a libertarian enclave outside the existing political system, such as through seasteading or the like, and build a functioning society using our political norms, much in the way that Hong Kong succeeded dramatically and had its model imported throughout China, replacing their old and failing communistic model (and political change will follow in time there as well).

If we are correct that our political and economic norms will produce a very wealthy society, and we have good reason to think so, then a libertarian enclave should be very successful economically.

Since it will be majority-libertarian and using libertarian norms for both politics and economics, meaning decentralized law structures plus a free market economy, using this group-suasion effect of status-quo bias and absorption of political attitudes from those around us, anyone who lives in or grows up in a libertarian society will tend towards accepting libertarian political norms. High IQ or not, they will become implicit libertarians, and will likely view the concept of a monopoly state run by voting with horror and disbelief. And any children born in that society will tend towards becoming libertarians as well, simply by osmosis.

Molyneux should concede, since it is an obvious fact, that most people are not politically-learned and never will become so. So again, this idea that you need a high-IQ population–probably 80% of the world is simply uninterested in politics and political theory, and any strategy for world change that requires every person to become a political theory junky is a non-starter. High-IQ or not, you cannot make every person value political and economic theory enough to become theory-junkies enough to work their way through libertarian books and spend that 6 months realizing the advantages enough to become an intellectual libertarian. Won’t happen. Pure utopianism. Just like any concept of voting out the state–won’t happen, waste of time and money.

It’s not going to happen. This makes Molyneux doubly-wrong, even a high-IQ population is not going to spend the time to learn about libertarianism enough to vote libertarian. And we know this because most people who have high IQs in the world today still aren’t libertarians. If they were, he would have an actual point. But they aren’t. So some other factor besides IQ must–MUST be the key factor in what makes a society turn out the way it does.

The secret of the state is that it controls what we know, the premises we accept about the world and our place in it, and by doing so it controls what we conclude. The State controls schooling and by this means propagandizes the vast majority of citizens into the political norms of statism. High schools graduate millions of implicit–not principled–statists by the millions every year. The key to world change is to begin making that osmotic effect work for us instead of against us.

Lastly, this works twice, because if we can put in place a set of policies in our own society and produce results X that the world finds desirable, then guess what happens? People don’t need to see what is ‘seen and what is unseen,’ they don’t need to know why that society works any more than they need to know the details of binary math in order to use a cellphone.

All people need to do is identify that a certain place is achieving result X and that they want result X also, so why don’t we try instituting the same political system that this libertarian region is using and then maybe *we too can get result X*. That is, we can outcompete the state.

This is exactly how Europe abandoned monarchy and adopted democracy after the US showed it viable.

And this is exactly how the British government abandoned all their rules and regulations surrounding British shipping in the 1850’s, because they saw that unregulated American shipping was beating them to every port and getting the best goods, and so they made their government change to the American system because they wanted those results, because they were being outcompeted and the result was the British trade empire for the next 100 years.

Clipper ships dominated trade in the 19th century, but US shipping policies were eventually adopted by Britain, leading to the British trade empire

Clipper ships dominated trade in the 19th century, but US shipping policies were eventually adopted by Britain, leading to the British trade empire


And this is also how we defeated the USSR in the cold war, by producing results that they wanted, because when Boris Yelstin came to the US, he believed he was being shown a fake version of the US, believed the US was doing to them what they did to their visitors, which is setting everything up as a Potemkin village. Making the country look more prosperous than it really was to psych out the Russians.

But on Yeltsin’s visit to Texas, he made a random stop at a random US grocery store, because he wanted to see how the US people actually lived. He walked into a Randall’s supermarket and was blown away, saying that this event caused him to finally doubt the viability of socialist economic policy, saying that even the richest of the rich and party members in Russia did not have anything like access to this kind of food and goods selection.

Yeltsin was never convinced by what anyone said, and Yeltsin undoubtedly had a high IQ, he was only convinced by seeing results that he wanted to experience himself. And it doesn’t take a high IQ to know you’d rather have more access to goods than less.

Actual photo of Yelstin touring the Randall's supermarket which he later wrote in his autobiography has instrumental in his questioning of socialism.

Actual photo of Yelstin touring the Randall’s supermarket which he later wrote in his autobiography was instrumental in his questioning of socialism.


Molyneux’s entire argument about IQ is a strategy that betrays him as emotionally-dependent on the idea of ‘saving the USA,’ as a sort of ‘nationalist-white-knight’ for the USA. He betrays himself as a political opportunist, grasping for some small victory that he feels is slowly slipping away.

This is nothing unusual, political opportunism is the great temptation of old men, for those who lose hope and grasp for any small desperate victory they can get, some way to turn the tide. Rothbard himself succumbed to it in his later days, tarnishing his reputation by partnering with anyone that would partner with him, even the racists of his day.

But Rothbard also taught libertarians in general our greatest political lesson: that we are not going to change the world via popular support and elections, that we are not going to change the world through party politics, that is a mirage. More radical means are needed. He taught us this by pushing hard on that exact strategy his whole life and utterly failing to produce change.

Anyone who becomes a politician becomes subject to the same incentives and pressures that all politicians face, and not one in a million can withstand that pressure and remain uncorrupted to the end.

Ron Paul will forever stand as an exception to that rule, a monument of stalwart libertarian idealism. All others have fallen away, men like Dana Rohrbacher, once a radical right-anarchist who was elected to congress and today is so slotted into the republican-machine that no one even remembers he was elected with libertarian backing.

Do you want to change the world towards libertarian ideals? Then stop trying to save the US necessarily and start thinking about how we can get our own independent libertarian political region via some form of enclavism. Until that happens, all we have are good arguments. After it happens, we have results to cite.

In fact if the US federal government were to get so bad that it became dysfunctional and broke down, that could even result in the states breaking into independent regions, and libertarians could surely carve an independent political region for themselves out of that. US political dysfunction is not inherently a negative from a libertarian point of view.

We must get a politically-independent region of our own in order to show the world what results a libertarian society would produce, and to begin producing implicit libertarians using the same osmotic and status-quo-induced means that the state today uses to pump out millions of implicit-statists every year. And those who want job opportunities, higher wages, and more freedom–that is, the entire world–will look to us for how to move the world forward, will leave their states and move to our regions, or will tear down their states because we have lead the way to show the world a system that works much better: a libertarian society.

That is our best way to change the world. Focusing on IQ is stupid. Knock it off.