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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ron Paul's Popularity Among Radicals

Brian Holtz // Sep 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Ron Paul is indeed the teflon libertarian moderate who gets a free pass from libertarian radicals for his many statist heresies and blatant backsliding.

The editor of the California LP newsletter writes above: “Come 2012, I’ll vote for the strongest, most vocal antiwar candidate. I hope that will be the LP’s candidate, but peace is my priority”. California already has a Peace And Freedom party, but I guess they don’t pay their newsletter editor $4K/yr to write in the newsletter about how he didn’t vote for the party’s nominee.

Brian Holtz // Sep 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm

What libertarians should be smuggling in any idea labeled “State’s Rights” is a coin with two sides: decentralism and exit. Arnold Kling has a recent post up at arguing that real freedom depends on having the choice of exit, rather than having a democratic voice.

Libertarians should always push for decentralization of government authority, even if we think that other people (e.g. “dixiecrats”) are using this means for a different end. If we really believe that freedom works, then we shouldn’t fear competition between jurisdictions that can vary how much freedom they allow. If our liberties in our local jurisdiction can only be protected by the standards of a distant central government, then our cause is already lost. A distant central government will always be captured by rent-seeking, thanks to the diffusion of its monitoring and the concentration of its benefits.

Brian Holtz // Sep 5, 2009 at 12:28 am

Angela is definitely a Ron Paul fan. Radical l/Libertarians adore Ron Paul almost universally, despite all the reasons I listed why they might not. The only prominent Libertarian radicals I can think of who could be called anti-Paul are Tom Knapp and Susan Hogarth — and their problem with him seems largely to be Paul’s choice to work within the GOP.

I suspect that what attracts less-intellectual Libertarian radicals to Paul is the mutual gravitation between Paul and libertarians gripped by fear of nefarious and conspiratorial forces — be it the Fed, “Empire”, Israel, Jews, foreign immigrants, the Council on Foreign Relations, Abraham Lincoln, Bush’s 9/11 plot, etc. As is explicitly admitted by one of them above, these people define themselves politically in terms of the dark forces they oppose, and they are fiercely loyal (and ideologically forgiving) to any leader who pledges mortal combat against their hated common enemies.

Sophisticated radicals probably appreciate Paul more for his unquestioning fealty to Austrian economics and for his decades of unflinching defense of core libertarian (but not anarchist) principles. However, none of them ever seem to publicly question Paul on why his Austrian/libertarian principles don’t lead Paul to anarchism — even as they viciously savage other minarchist libertarians who share Paul’s doubts about anarchism.

Brian Holtz // Sep 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

Tom Sipos cannot quote me ever saying that all radicals are anarchists. I have indeed suggested that many radicals are anarchists, and that many radicals assume that anarchism is the purest form of libertarianism. Does he dare dispute either claim? I’m a careful enough writer not to use “all” where I mean “some” or “most”, so he should stop being a careless reader. Alas, that will happen right around the time he stops chanting his silly mantra that libervention is the fundamental issue behind the radical/reformer schism. LP insiders quickly learn to politely ignore such trolling, just like we politely ignore Carol Moore on secession, or Doris Gordon on abortion, or Robert Milnes on fusion, or Jim Duensing on 9/11, or people named Andy or Gary on petitioning, or Jim Davidson on pretty much everything.

Paulie, there are plenty of anarchist Ron Paul fans who have savaged minarchist Libertarians for their ideological impurity. On my Teflon Libertarian list alone, the most egregious cases are Rockwell, Hornberger, Long, Hancock, Smith, Raimondo, Gregory, Samuels, and Selzer. You can also add to the list people like Keaton and Blanton. I’d list Montoni too, but I don’t recall him having a position about Ron Paul either way; he may be in the Hogarth camp.

Phillies is not a radical, so he doesn’t join the list of prominent LP radicals who criticize Ron Paul. As for a couple other names that people have mentioned, I’ll just point out that trolling on blogs frequented by prominent Libertarians doesn’t make one a prominent Libertarian. Prominence means having been a party official or nominee, or having been a close contender for same, or at least being a writer that many party members read (as opposed to skip over).

Brian Holtz // Sep 5, 2009 at 11:53 am

Hospers wrote:

“But when the stakes are high, as they are in this election, it becomes imperative that one should choose, not the candidate one considers philosophically ideal, but the best one available who has the most favorable chance of winning. The forthcoming election will determine whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats that win the presidency. That is an undeniable reality.

If the election is as close as it was in 2000, libertarian voters may make the difference as to who wins in various critical “battle ground” states and therefore the presidency itself.

That is the situation in which we find ourselves in 2004. And that is why I believe voting for George W. Bush is the most libertarian thing we can do.”

That’s an endorsement.

Brian Holtz // Sep 5, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I didn’t say they attack all non-anarchists. I said they attack non-anarchists for alleged statist deviations that are no worse than Ron Paul’s deviations.

For example, Tim Russert on national network TV challenged Ron Paul to defend “abolition of public schools”. Ron Paul simply stammered and backed away: “I, I bet that’s a misquote. I, I do not recall that. I’d like to know where that came from, because I went… ” When Russert cut him off and asked if Ron Paul is “OK with Social Security now”, Paul’s reply included the claim “I’m the one that has saved it.”

What did we then read on about Paul’s performance? He “did brilliantly”.

Imagine how and other radicals would have savaged Bob Barr for saying on national network TV that “abolishing public schools, welfare, Social Security and farm subsidies” is “not part of my platform”.

What hypocrisy.