Ron Paul Debacle Must Reads

Brink Lindsey:

In the twentieth century, alas, American liberalism was heavily influenced by the socialist dream of supplanting markets with central planning and top-down control. That confusion begat confusion in response — namely, an antistatist movement heavily influenced by authoritarian resentment of liberal cultural values. Paul’s illiberal libertarianism is a particularly unattractive variant of this kind of “fusionism.”
With the collapse of socialism, however, American liberals have begun rediscovering the value of market competition. By my lights, many of them still have a long, long way to go. But encouraging that process – making the case that economic liberalization is of a piece with overall social liberalization — is the only way forward for those of us concerned about overweening state power. In this project, people whose values and habits of mind are deeply hostile to liberal modernity are not our allies.

Tim Lee:

Rockwell and his associates have been known to lionize dictators, belittling Rosa Parks (”While Jim Crow was abominable, I find the staged events of modern American ‘history’ [i.e. Parks’ sit-in] even more disturbing.”), endorse bigotry (”Most “bigotry” is the act of noticing the truth. Blacks are genetically intellectually inferior, always have been, always will be.”), celebrate the death of American soldiers, and endorse the stoning of homosexuals. In short, they are libertarians only in the narrowest sense of the term, and non-hateful libertarians rightfully want nothing to do with them.
One of the telling things about the Lew Rockwell crowd is that when their outrageous views are criticized, they almost never respond with a substantive defense of those views, much less an apology. No, instead we get charming responses like “Most of Palmer’s problem is that he is homosexual. He’s certainly not gay, a preposterous word to use for such a disease-ridden lifestyle.” We see the same pattern with Paul’s newsletters. They have no interest in either apologizing for or distancing themselves from the ugly sentiments in those newsletters, which no one disputes were genuine. Instead, they viciously attack the people who unearthed them as smear artists, as though it’s somehow a smear to reprint and quote from articles that were originally sent out under your own name.
While I knew that the Rockwellians were big Paul boosters, I did not realize the depth of the ties between Paul and the Mises Institute. If I had, I think I would have been more cautious about supporting the guy. They’re a blight on the libertarian movement, and anything that raises their profile is bound to be a long-term negative for liberty.

[Update: Also, Jacob Levy.]

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

10 thoughts

  1. Well I voted twice. I voted once, got distracted, then came back and voted again, just because I couldn’t resist the temptation to see if it would actually let me vote twice without clearing my cookies. Sick, I know, and unfortunately I didn’t even cancel my first vote out with my second.
    Anyway my vote was for X+1 and ending drug prohibition. I know at one time I was convinced maximizing personal and economic liberty were basically equally desirably in a moral sense. But since 9/11, I’ve been convinced we should be willing to use more expensive counter-terrorism techniques than one’s that violate our liberties if that’s necessary for our security (granted that’s probably a false dichotomy, but then again so is Will’s question, on purpose). It may just be an emotional answer–a larger welfare state would be a bad thing, but the tragedies of the drug war are much more obvious and visceral (violence, imprisoment, etc.,) than say, seeing a bunch more people living off the government and the rest having to pay higher taxes.
    In other words, though both the drug war and the taxation required for a welfare state involve government coercion, expanding the welfare state and increasing taxation would not really increase the actual amount of government coercion we’re subject to, while ending the drug war would substantially reduce it (not to mention related criminal violence). If you’re getting held up for $100 or $200 , you’re still getting held up. But if they can’t send in a SWAT team just because you’re engaged in an activity that doesn’t harm anyone but yourself, that strikes me as a helluva an improvement over the present state of things. Granted, I suppose for sufficiently large values of ‘+1’ the welfare state becomes intolerably big. Though I’ve been reading a lot Ken Macleod lately, so maybe not (I’m still a libertarian!).

  2. Stoners are annoying as it is (short-term memory “issues” = terrible/confusing conversations, jokes, and stories). Add welfare to the mix and they’ll never get out the door. Nothing against my stoner friends but I don’t want to encourage them. Option A please.

  3. I took (x + drug prohibition), but the more I think about it, the less I like the options. Not enough information. If I voted again, I might vote the other way..

  4. Oh boy do I hate Hood-style libertarianism. Like it should be blindingly obvious to everyone that the stimulus package is WAY MORE HORRIBLE than torture, executive branch lawlessness, and killing tens of thousands of people for no good reason in a country that never posed a threat to us.

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