Ron Paul Has Already Won by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Ron Paul Has Already Won by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

 
 

Ron Paul
Has Already Won

by Llewellyn H.
Rockwell, Jr.

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.


DIGG
THIS

 

 

 

Ron Paul’s bid
for the U.S. presidency ranks among the most heroic anyone has ever
undertaken. We live in emergency times, with a choice between forms
of socialism or fascism. The parties’ leadership have embraced this
decrepit old model, despite all evidence of the bankruptcy of
statism. Ron alone dared pose a challenge. His bid has also been the
most unusual in modern history. Its main energy has come not from a
political machine, but from millions of volunteers, most of them
young and most of them exposed to new political and economic truths
for the first time.

In that sense,
and in addition to garnering more primary votes than any libertarian
candidate in American history, Ron has accomplished precisely what
he set out to do. He has re-founded the libertarian movement on a
principled basis, liberated the ideas of peace and free enterprise
from monopolistic control, exposed the political apparatus for the
fraud that it is, and laid the groundwork for a future flowering of
liberty.

Let
us consider why this is so.

One of the
cruelest traits of democracy is that its politics takes on the role
of teacher to the nation, the force by which people are trained what
to believe about virtually every subject that matters for the future
of civilization. And mostly what they learn is wrong.

They learn that
robbing people is fine and perfectly legal so long as the machinery
of democracy cranks out that result. They learn that killing foreign
peoples is an appropriate path to creating national unity. They
learn that demagoguery and lies are successful paths toward getting
your way.

Not only do
they learn: they also participate in this by voting and are then led
to the belief that they must accept the results, lest they question
the very basis of modern life. This is why people who believe in
politics as an ideology – that it is an excellent mechanism for the
management of society – end up adopting a moral code that
contradicts all teachings of all the world’s religions and ethical
systems. Neither Aristotle, nor Moses, nor Jesus, nor Confucius, nor
Mohammed, nor Buddha, nor Gandhi, nor any other revered figure in
history conditioned moral teaching with majority rule (or rule by
well-organized factions).

So in a
hyper-politicized society, where all principles seem ephemeral and
truth is relentlessly manipulated by our political masters and their
allies, what is the way out? We can take a cue from Ludwig von
Mises. He believed that the only way to fight bad ideas is with good
ideas, stated plainly and courageously. To him, the obligation of a
defender of freedom is to be an intellectual dissident, then embrace
the truth of human liberty and its consistent application to all
political issues, and then let that truth be known.

Notice that
Mises did not say that error and fallacy should be combated through
putting the right people in charge, through lobbying pressure,
through manipulating the process, or even participating in it.
Indeed, he rightly saw that modern political parties do not
represent the general interest but, in fact, are gloried lobbying
groups for particular state-granted favors; the same applies to the
think tanks and magazines connected to them. In contrast, he
believed that the most direct path to cutting through the thicket of
the democratic nation state was simply to embrace and then tell the
truth.

His rationale
is that all societies in all times and places are ruled by the ideas
that people hold about themselves, about right and wrong, and about
issues such as liberty vs. slavery, freedom vs. despotism, and
individualism vs. collectivism. Mises took great pains to show, for
example, in his book Omnipotent
Government
, that the roots of Nazism dated back to the
middle of the 19th century with the overthrow of
liberalism, which German intellectuals once revered. It was
displaced by a growing reverence for the state that culminated in a
horror that few foresaw.

And so what is
the way to combat this tendency? The only way to set about on a
different course, wrote Mises, is to change the reigning philosophy
concerning government, economics, property, and ethics. (See Guido
Hülsmann’s biography
to see how this approach explains Mises’s entire life.) As
examples, look to the periods in which civilization took great
strides forward: the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, the
Industrial Revolution, the end of slavery, the repeal of
prohibition, the collapse of socialism in Russia, Eastern Europe,
and China. Each event began with an idea and evidence of failure
from a contrary idea.

If you want to
understand how a person like Ron Paul comes to be, you must
understand that he believes what Mises says. Yes, he is a statesman,
a man with a calling to civic life. But that is not the end for him.
His purpose in entering politics was not to manipulate the system
toward ends of which he approves. His purpose has been to teach. He
teaches through speeches, writings, voting patterns, bills he has
introduced, or any other means that his office permits. His goal has
been to spread what he calls the freedom philosophy: that principle
that a free people should govern themselves rather than let
political establishments manage their lives.

You could see
it in his interviews and speeches. His campaign has been a
long-running seminar. He has been glad to talk about specific
policies, but much happier to talk about the philosophy of freedom.
He has urged his listeners to let go of the idea that they need
government to protect them, provide for them, and manage their
lives. He has told those who wanted lower taxes that they must also
live without government benefits.

He has told
those who wanted peace rather than war that they must give up the
longing for a state that rules the domestic arena. He has reminded
people about the true ideals of this country, which are rooted in
the idea that society needs no central management to thrive. He has
spoken about the true source of wealth, which is not the state but
private enterprise. He has urged listeners to give up their
belligerent nationalism and think of foreign peoples as human beings
just like themselves. He has said things that American political
culture bars us from thinking about: such as considering how we
would react if some foreign state did to us what the U.S. government
routinely does to foreign nations.

He has
challenged those on the right who like free enterprise to see how
the ideology of war makes their economic position inconsistent and
unstable. He has challenged those on the left who dislike war to see
how their support of big government at home has the unintended
consequence of shoring up military empire. In doing this, he has
confronted the most maddening aspect of American political culture,
and demanded honesty, truth, and consistency.

The blogosphere
filled up with evidence of the intellectual contortions wrought by
Ron’s political positions. The anti-war people couldn’t stomach his
support for free enterprise. They have so long demonized "corporate
capitalism" and implausibly believed that it, and not government as
such, is the cause of the war, they wondered how they could support
his domestic program. The champions of free enterprise choked on his
war position and his view on civil liberties, which include ideas
conventionally attributed to the left. They couldn’t understand how
a person who wants government out of the domestic economy might look
with doubt on global imperialism.

The frenzy was
particularly evident on the abortion issue. His view is the purely
libertarian/decentralist one. That is, he wants the federal
government completely out of the issue: repeal Roe, or have Congress
bar the involvement of the federal courts, and leave it to states
and localities. Ron’s medical and ethical view is that abortion is
grossly immoral. But he is not there to enforce a universal solution
to the problem. States and localities could ban it, restrict it, or
make it completely legal. This is a solution that leads to social
peace.

In a
hyper-politicized nation, however, in which there is a tendency for
whatever is not forbidden to be required, people demanded to know
whether he was for or against abortion, or for or against choice,
making no distinction between personal morality and legal
enforcement and/or the level of government charged with deciding the
issue. Similar convulsions occurred on gay rights and marriage,
prayer in school, and many other issues.

In the course
of his speaking, he has raised a topic that is complicated but
enormously important to our well-being: the monetary system. I’m not
sure when the last time a national political figure raised this
topic. It’s been generations. But the core problem has been there
for a century. The problem is that our money consists of nothing of
substance. It is made of paper that can be printed in infinite
quantities by a government-created monopoly called the Fed. This
reality has led to a constantly falling value of the dollar, an
endless round of bubbles and business cycles, and, most dangerously,
a government that believes there are no limits to its ability to
spend and issue debt.

Ron knows that
until the dollar is made sound again, there will be little hope of
restraining the government. The problem is that neither party has an
interest in doing this. Whether the party supports welfare or
warfare, it ultimately depends on the power of the government to
finance itself through financial trickery. In the 19th
century, this was a huge issue in American politics and classic
books like W. Gouge’s Short
History of Money and Banking
, and C.H. Carroll’s Organization
of Debt into Currency
, demonstrate just how important it was
to this generation that understood the relationship between paper
money and tyranny. (Actually Alan Greenspan once said that he
understood this too.) Ron’s own contributions are also classic: The
Case for Gold
.

Think about it.
Every other candidate has pandered to the uninformed audience, the
lowest common denominator, to say things that people will like to
hear. Ron constantly has raised a topic that is on hardly anyone’s
mind. He has sought to enlighten, not pander.

Several events
stand out during the campaign. Early on, he was in a debate with
Giuliani, who staged a protest about Ron’s foreign policy,
suggesting that he was supportive of terrorism. Ron shot back that
we would be foolish not to listen to what the terrorists themselves
are saying: they hate us because our military is in their countries.
This is the great and completely undeniable truth that had been
un-utterable in American politics, despite the fact that foreign
policy experts have been saying this for decades. There are some
truths that the establishment thinks the American people can’t
handle, and this is one of them.

In those days,
many people thought that Giuliani had the nomination sewn up. He
didn’t. In fact, Giuliani flopped terribly. In this great struggle,
Ron was the victor. But it was not just a personal victory. It was a
great victory for understanding and public consciousness. He has
said what no other political figure since 9-11 has dared to say.
(The Mises Institute was making this point even in the early days after the
attacks.)

Another event stands
out: the arrest of the founder and CEO of Liberty Dollar, a private
mintage that produced a Ron Paul coin. The entire event was timed to
put a stop to the Paul effort, since sales were going through the
roof. I take no position on the company itself, but there can be
little doubt that the attack was designed to hurt Ron. The idea was
to taint the movement by hinting that his monetary program is
suspect.

Ironically, the
attack backfired, since it only ended up showing the absurdity of
laws that prohibit monetary freedom. In a free society, people would
be free to mint and use any money they want. In fact, it strikes me
that the attention given to this event shows us a way forward on
monetary reform. Rather than trusting the political establishment to
give us sound money, we should favor a complete repeal of all
restrictions on minting and contracts, and see what happens, as Ron
Paul does.

Another attack
came from a surprising source, or perhaps not so surprising since
they were never supporters of Ron Paul nor supporters of a
consistent or principled form of libertarianism to begin with: the
upper reaches of the D.C.-allied libertarian movement (Libertarians
of the Chair
, we might say). Together with a journalist working
for a left-neocon fortnightly, and using information provided by the
most unseemly sources in American life, including a real-life
neo-Nazi, they plotted a coordinated attack on Ron. Forging a Big
Lie, they attempted to portray Ron as a racist and a proto-Nazi,
which is just about the most implausible thing one could say about
him other than claiming that he is a member of the beltway
establishment. Once the dust settled, it was the smearbund and not
Paul that suffered. Now, to be sure, many good people at these
institutions called and wrote privately to separate themselves from
the attacks by their bosses. But activists involved at all levels
got a solid education about who will defend liberty when the times
get tough.

Oh yes, and
there was one other wacky claim made in this assault: that the Mises Institute is dedicated to
supporting the Confederate government, on grounds that the Institute
has backed the right of all peoples to secede (as did Mises, Acton,
Spooner, Jefferson, and the whole classical liberal tradition). In
this claim, the core anti-intellectualism of the political circus
was on display in its most disgusting form. And that was before some
of the same people vandalized Wikipedia entries of anyone connected
with Ron, and otherwise spent vast amounts of time attacking and
attempting to undermine the greatest swell of libertarian political
organization in more than a century, even as these people were
writing in
favor of open-ended government surveillance power
or perpetual war.
(Those who would like to know the historical roots of the envy
directed at the Mises Institute need only look at Brian Doherty’s Radicals
for Capitalism
.)

What about
Ron’s standing in the polls? It has been a victory when considering
the radical message he pushed for the entire campaign, in times when
liberty is not deemed an option. In fact, his support grew through
the entire time emerging from 0%, moving to 3% nationally and
finally to up to 10% nationally. His showing in such independent
hotbeds as Montana was remarkable, just behind the front-runner. And
he did well in North Dakota, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington State
too. His showing was lower in the South, except Lousiana, where the
warmongers dominate Republican politics. In short, he was the most
successful radical libertarian to run for national office in a
century or more – possibly since 1800.

Is this
progress? Who can doubt it? But remember too that winning the race
has not been the only goal of the campaign. It has also been to
educate, to tell the truth, to get issues out there and get them
talked about. This he has done remarkably well, and never better
than when Ron himself was speaking.

No matter where
he goes in politics, as a presidential candidate and a congressman –
and both vibrant campaigns aim for victory – the future for Ron as a
movement leader is secure, and of that there can be no question.
After a lifetime of principled statesmanship, a long
shelf of books that he has written
and nationwide respect for
being the one man who dares speak against the status quo, he has
made his mark on history. What it shows is that even in dark times
such as ours, there are people who are willing to stand up and hold
a candle and light the way to the future. To them we owe the whole
of our civilization.

But the legacy
of the Ron Paul campaign means more than that. Ron has taken our
national tendency to see politics as a teacher and turned it to
good. He has told us about liberty. He has told us that if we are to
secure it, we must reject the welfare and warfare states. He has
told us that we cannot ignore issues of economics, even those that
touch on technical subjects such as monetary affairs. He has
inspired us with his courage and his willingness to say what is
true, even in the face of terrible danger and attacks.

In doing this,
he has given us an example and a body of ideas around which we can
rebuild for the future. In this way, Ron’s greatest legacy has
nothing to do with with politics but with human liberty itself, the
greatest idea ever imagined by the intellect. Its prospects will
always be bright so long as the idea burns in the hearts of those
passionate enough to defend it with their lives, fortunes, and
sacred honor.

We can call
them the Ron Paul Nation.

February 12, 2008

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail] is founder and
president of the Ludwig von Mises
Institute
in Auburn, Alabama, and editor of LewRockwell.com
.

Copyright © 2008 LewRockwell.com

Lew Rockwell Archives

 

 

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