“Rational cynicism is politics plus time.” So observed Stefan Molyneux in his satirical analysis of the 2012 American presidential election, a contest on which, we were warned repeatedly, the fate of civilization depended. This force of fate, as nebulous as it is notorious, finally gravitated towards Barack Obama, the unofficial mascot of the Affordable Care Act, and rejected Mitt Romney, the same Act’s unrepentant architect. For all of the panicked prognostication, nothing of note changed in Washington, D.C. Much, however, changed in cyberspace, as Molyneux abandoned his interest in anarcho-capitalism, and thereby the entire basis for his attacks on the establishment, and became a neoconservative. The man who had once refused to say a kind word about Ron Paul, lest he give credence to the possibility of effective government, was now praising Dinesh D’Souza’s jingoistic documentaries. What had effected such a substantive intellectual transformation? Had Molyneux really come to believe in the virtue of right-wing authoritarianism, or had he, the joyous capitalist, cynically elected to exploit the dearth of neoconservative expression in the underground media?
These questions appear to be of very little relevance today, as YouTube has scrapped Molyneux’s channel after too many people accused him of peddling “hateful” propaganda. Presumably, these critics of his were less concerned with his ideological reversal (a betrayal of his cause, in my view) than they were with his sustained curiosity for female fertility and “racial intelligence”, the former oftentimes expressed by scolding women for having children after they reached the age of thirty, and the latter summarized by the argument that white people are genetically superior to blacks. It was all a melancholy reminder of how far he’d fallen, how the man who once offered a thoughtful critique of American feminism with Karen Straughan and articulated the virtues of the free market with Peter Schiff was now floating in the muck of the alt-right. None of it warranted his expulsion from the airwaves, of course, but it did raise some cruelly amusing questions about the sagacity of his choice to pursue profit and popular appeal at the expense of the integrity, however limited, that he once possessed.
To answer my own question, then: Molyneux began catering (or pandering) to right-wingers, not because he believed in the virtue of their views, but as a business decision, an opportunity to grow his brand. We might even credit him for his prescience, as he was contemplating this shift at least one year before Donald Trump commenced his presidential conquest. He found a niche—one that was plainly visible, yet one that the rest of us couldn’t see—and he sought to fill it, thereby setting a precedent for other independent neoconservative commentators. His comparative irrelevance in the year 2020, his unremarkable status as one such figure among so many others, is probably the surest sign of his success, although the victory, as it were, seems pretty hollow and unsatisfying to those of us who discovered his work ten years ago, at least, and who remember what he once did. If the demise of his YouTube channel is the demise of his career, for lack of better word—and it probably will be, as he lacks Alex Jones’s celebrity status and notoriety—then the occasion ought to feel more momentous than it does. Molyneux was the first YouTube commentator I encountered as I was beginning to become disconnected from the Matrix, and while I moved on from him more than seven years ago—well before he dabbled in the unbecoming subjects mentioned above; it was actually an uninformed review of the work of Lionel Shriver that initially made me suspicious of Molyneux—still I wonder why I don’t feel anything as I stand in the ruins of Freedomain Radio.