Who wrote Ron Paul's material? (updated)
I mentioned yesterday that Ron Paul's ridiculous "leave them alone and they'll go away" foreign policy was based largely on the wishful thinking of the late libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard, who, in attempting to woo the anti-war left with his own anti-war ravings, showed he was nothing if not willing to sacrifice facts and robust policy for the sake of populism and the wilful self-delusion of the post-modern intellectual. That Paul is attracting that same support now for the same insane policy -- for the idea that if you simply stop defending yourself then the bad guys will just go away -- shows Rothbard's intellectual influence in the Paul campaign, even from beyond the grave, and also demonstrates how Rothbard's influence has damaged libertarianism.
You see it turns out the "racially charged talking points and vocabulary" in Ron Paul's early newsletters -- for which Paul has been widely and rightly lambasted -- were largely the work of Rothbard acolyte Lew Rockwell who, when he's not friend and adviser to Ron Paul, is unfortunately the head of the Mises Institute (which Rothbard helped set up, and of which Paul is a prominent patron). And as Reason magazine points out (see here for their investigation of the articles' authorship) they were written with the same "coalition-building" strategy in mind as was intended with Rothbard's "peace and love" foreign policy, "exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist 'paleoconservatives'." Selling liberty by means of selling it out. What could be less ingenious.
Paul supporters like The Whig dismiss this news simply as "the old story of libertarians trying to pander to fellow fringe groups for support, I'm afraid. Silly boys." That would be true enough, except that the self-destructive strategy begun by Rothbard in the Vietnam era in order to woo the anti-war left has so infected American libertarianism that it's now sadly all but synonymous with it. If you stand for anything, then in the end you stand for nothing. And notice too Rockwell hasn't resiled from this strategy either -- he's continued the ideological coalition with 'paleoconservatism' built up in the era in which he helmed Paul's newsletters in the direction he's taken with the Mises Institute (with Paul in tow), which when it's not publishing excellent pieces on economics along the lines you'd expect from the name on its masthead is peddling encomia to the slave state of the US Confederacy, to the hunting down of "illegals," and to the see-no-evil pacifism now espoused by the Ron Paul campaign.
In other words, it's rapidly becoming a parasite on the reputation of one the world's finest economists, just as Rothbard's libertarianism was itself largely a parasite on the ideas of Ayn Rand (whose ideas Rothbard frequently borrowed, usually without either attribution or understanding). In fact, Henry Hazlitt's famous description of Keynes could easily be applied to Rothbard and to Rockwell, that neither is either true or wholly original -- their original ideas are not true, and those that are true are not original -- the true ideas have been filched, and the original ideas are mostly destructive.
No wonder Ayn Rand called Rothbard and his followers "hippies of the right," and counselled rational lovers of liberty to have nothing to do with them. That goes now for the Paul campaign as well.
UPDATE: Robert Bidinotto's New Individualist magazine goes much further than I have in repudiating Paul's candidacy. The cover (pictured right) gives you an idea of the opprobrium in which Paul is deservedly held; the cover story by Vodka Pundit Steven Green
focuses solely on Cong. Paul's growing public prominence as a self-proclaimed spokesman for the ideas of liberty -- and on the impact that his representations of those ideas are having on a national audience. The article expresses concern for the fate of those ideas, and not for his fate as a candidate for public office.
As this post on Bidinotto's blog makes clear, even apart from as the views and authorship of those Ron Paul newsletters, his credentials as a spokesman for liberty are such that his further advocacy can only damage the cause -- as more and more are realising as his campaign unravels.
[The] revelations about Cong. Paul's more outrageous views and his intimate association with a disreputable fringe cult within the libertarian movement have touched off an explosion of media scorn and expressions of outrage in recent days -- much coming from the more responsible libertarian circles. For example, the editors of Reason magazine -- who, in sharp contrast to TNI, published a glowing cover feature about "the Ron Paul phenomenon" in their latest issue -- are now expressing their disgust and distancing themselves from his candidacy. (Here are comments from the magazine's editors, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. Reason contributor Jesse Walker weighs in here, and former contributor Tim Cavanaugh here, while past editor Virginia Postrel comments here and here.) Likewise, Cato's David Boaz offers his own repudiation here. (I could cite many, many more denunciations from various prominent libertarians.)
In the meantime, many commentators are also taking Cong. Paul to task for views that thoroughly refute his claim to being a consistent champion of individual rights, liberty, and the Constitution.
Steve Green's article in TNI cited Paul's highly restrictive position on immigration (to the right of Tom Tancredo), his hypocritical support of pork-barrel earmarks for his own congressional district, his opposition to various free-trade agreements (like NAFTA) on wacko-conspiratorial grounds that they surrender U.S. sovereignty to Evil International Institutions, and his appalling, blame-America-first version of "noninterventionism" in foreign policy.
To that, Wendy McElroy points to Cong. Paul's pro-federal-interventionist anti-abortion bill (read her whole commentary), which would deny women the right to end a pregnancy and even deny the courts the power of judicial review in the matter -- a clear violation of separation of powers, which is a curious position for this self-proclaimed champion of the Constitution.
But what can you expect from a religious conservative who, on Lew Rockwell's website, rejected the Jeffersonian principle of a "wall of separation" between religion and government? As the congressman put it, "The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers."