by Stefan Molyneux, MA

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Podcast episodes

  • Season 1

  • Part 1

    Part 1

    In this lecture, I present a radical thesis that challenges the conventional view of history. I argue that the grand movements, ideas, and politics are not the cause of historical events. Instead, I propose that the sway between violence and reason in human conflicts is determined by our predisposition to listen to the language we already speak, shaped by our childhood experiences. I explore the tragic consequences of individuals who escape from chaos but fail to help others, leaving them to suffer. To understand the French Revolution, we must consider childhood experiences and objective ethics. I delve into the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution, uncovering the dark underbelly of the French Revolution characterized by child abuse and neglect. The middle class, who could have been beacons of hope, turned a blind eye or contributed to the chaos. I discuss the influential thinkers of the time, such as Voltaire and Diderot, and their criticisms of religion and power structures. I then focus on the contrasting perspectives of Rousseau and Locke on childhood and their impact on society. Rousseau believed that the state should have complete control over education, while Locke emphasized the importance of individual agency. I discuss their ideas on the tension between reason and emotion and the role of childhood in shaping society's acceptance of various ideas. Moving on, I explore the mistreatment of children in 18th century France and its contribution to the French Revolution. I highlight the neglect and abuse that children endured, as well as the beliefs in original sin and sexual guilt that perpetuated mistreatment. I emphasize the importance of addressing the mistreatment of children in understanding the historical and societal context. In conclusion, this lecture offers a provocative and thought-provoking perspective on history, showcasing the significance of childhood experiences and the mistreatment of children in shaping societies and historical events.

  • Part 2

    Part 2

    In this part of the lecture, we examine the state of pre-revolutionary France, particularly the role of the chartered professions. These professions played a significant role in society, as they held exclusive rights and privileges granted by the monarchy. The chartered professions encompassed a wide range of occupations, from lawyers and doctors to craftsmen and traders. These individuals were protected from competition by strict regulations and licensing requirements. However, the chartered professions also faced criticism for their exclusivity and barriers to entry, which limited social mobility and economic growth. We delve into the reasons behind the establishment of chartered professions, highlighting the desire to maintain quality standards in various industries. The guilds, in particular, played a crucial role in training and regulating craftsmen, ensuring that they produced high-quality products. However, over time, the guilds became more focused on protecting their own interests rather than fostering innovation and competition. This led to a decline in productivity and hindered economic development. The lecture then delves into the consequences of the chartered professions and their impact on French society. The exclusivity and privilege granted to these professions created a stark divide between the privileged few and the rest of society. This contributed to growing resentment and dissatisfaction among the lower classes, who felt oppressed and excluded from opportunities for advancement. Furthermore, the monopolistic nature of the chartered professions stifled innovation and hindered economic growth. The strict regulations and barriers to entry prevented new ideas and entrepreneurs from entering the market, limiting competition and stifling creativity. The lecture ends by exploring the role of the chartered professions in the lead-up to the French Revolution. The discontent among the lower classes, combined with their exclusion from lucrative professions, fueled revolutionary sentiments and a desire for social and economic equality. Overall, this part of the lecture examines the chartered professions in pre-revolutionary France, analyzing their impact on society, innovation, and the grievances that ultimately led to the French Revolution.

  • Part 3

    Part 3

    In this part of the conversation, we focus on the continuation of the French Revolution and the escalating violence. We discuss how the mob, driven by deep-seated anger and resentment towards authority figures, begins to target the police, guards, and anyone in a position of power. This anger is rooted in their negative experiences with parents, teachers, and other figures of authority in their lives. The mob's rage fuels their destructive actions as they storm the Bastille, a symbolic act of rebellion against the oppressive regime. The negotiation attempts by Delaunay, a guardian of the Bastille, are seen as weakness by the mob and they violently assault him and other guards. The brutal fate of Delaunay and the mayor's bodies, paraded around as symbols of vengeance, exemplify the violence and chaos of the revolution. We then shift our focus to the grievances of the French citizenry, particularly the Third Estate, who make up 98% of the population. They are driven by resentment towards the unequal taxation and governance dominated by the elite. Despite the establishment of the National Assembly and their growing power, the revolution shows no signs of waning. Alexander Hamilton expresses his concerns about the unruly nature of the French populace to Marquis de Lafayette. They discuss the history of being attacked, abused, and confined, highlighting the volatile state of affairs. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, influenced by ideas from Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Saïs and Count Gabriel Mirabeau, embraces the ideals of the Enlightenment, emphasizing the value of the individual, the social contract, and separated government powers. However, political rights are still limited to males who own property, resulting in only around 15% of the population having the right to vote. The main-speaker finds it astonishing that citizens were only required to pay taxes equivalent to just three days of work per year.

  • Part 4

    Part 4

    In this part of the conversation, I discuss the dangers of being loved by the mob, using Marie Antoinette as an example. Initially, she was adored by the French people, but economic hardships and rumors led to a shift in public sentiment. Despite her good deeds and benevolent nature, the mob turned against her. I emphasize that the mob does not do nuance or ambivalence, and their love can quickly turn into hatred. Marie Antoinette's experience serves as a cautionary tale about the volatility of public sentiments. I also draw a parallel to Princess Diana, who, like Marie Antoinette, experienced immense popularity before her untimely death. Lastly, I discuss Marie Antoinette's belief that the mob had been misinformed and that reminding them of her virtues would change their perception, but I highlight the dangers of underestimating the mob's irrational behavior, comparing them to stalkers. There is a discussion about the misconception that Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake." The statement actually came from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's writings and was attributed to an unnamed princess. It is emphasized that lying about what people say can have serious consequences, even leading to mass murder and genocide. The harmful effects of gossip and bearing false witness are highlighted, particularly in Christianity. The conversation then shifts to the French Revolution and how women can be capable of violence, especially in local revolutions where they are not conscripted into formal armies. The disturbing actions of a predominantly female mob during the revolution are described, including their chants, destruction of property, and intentions towards Queen Antoinette. Eventually, the royal family is confined and degraded in the Tuileries Palace, and King Louis XVI concedes to the demands of the mob. The conversation also criticizes the church for not protecting children and highlights the civilizing effect of mother-child bonding. The host reflects on his own experience as a father and how seeing his daughter grow has expanded his empathy towards others. We now see people differently after becoming parents, not just as individuals we meet, but as individuals with a long history starting from conception. We consider the impact of a mother's stress during pregnancy and the effect it may have had on a person's development. We also contemplate their early childhood experiences, such as breastfeeding, eye contact, and safety. While not excusing everyone's actions, we recognize that individuals with unaddressed trauma often have limited free will and are easily manipulated. Just as choosing to smoke limits the ability to run a marathon, not addressing childhood trauma reduces one's free will. We understand that individuals raised poorly themselves struggle to parent effectively. This understanding led to hostility towards the church, as religious institutions often fail to address child abuse. The people of France, living in a dysfunctional and evil society, directed their anger towards those in charge of moral values. They believed that these moral leaders were either themselves evil or hypocrites unable to enact their virtues in a corrupt society. In such circumstances, there seems to be no good answer.

  • Part 5

    Part 5

    During this episode, we explore the dark and disturbing events of the French Revolution, highlighting the manipulation of the mob and the lack of access to information that shaped their actions. We discuss the personal experiences that shape our beliefs and the importance of philosophy in objectively evaluating perspectives. The conversation then delves into the intellectuals and leaders of the revolution and the cycle of violence that occurs when the brutalized become the brutalizers. We examine specific events such as the Champ de Mars massacre and the taking of the Tuileries Palace, emphasizing the violence and atrocities committed during these moments. The role of fear and indoctrination in inciting violence is also discussed, along with the consequences of taking sides in a conflict. We explore the dangers of abandoning reason and resorting to brutality, highlighting the need to seek truth and the potential consequences of disregarding reason and philosophy. The discussion concludes by examining the physical motivations behind violence and the tendency to shift blame onto external factors. We reflect on the tragedy faced by individuals such as Princess Lambelle and the fickle nature of the mob. The episode ends by observing the absence of rules in chaotic circumstances, where the strong hold power while the weak suffer.