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The right answers to the right question – Steve Baker MP and the Ron Paul tendency

My favourite MP in Britain is Steven Baker, and he has a very interesting take on the Left. His attitude is not: “Wrong answers, you idiots!” It is: “Good question!” The question being, along the lines of: “What the hell is happening?!?!”, and Steve Baker’s answer being variations on the theme of Austrianism. Government-controlled money ruining us. Sort out the money, and take the financial bad news that will come with a return to monetary sanity. Then: progress! Tim Evans has a recent piece up at the Cobden Centre blog in which he adopts exactly this approach:

While such conclusions are wrong, they are at least borne of people starting to try and articulate the right question.

The comments on this are mostly full of scorn (most especially those from Paul Marks). Maybe good question, but bad answers, is their line.

Does it accomplish anything to try to insert Austrianism into mainstream British political debate in this way, on the back of a basically Leftist campaign of anti-capitalist scorn and outrage? My sense is: in Parliament, maybe. When trying to get a hearing on the BBC, definitely. Elsewhere, maybe not. I used to think this was a great tactic. Now, I’m genuinely unsure. Is it really possible to try to hijack someone else’s spiel like this? Well, the answer is: maybe it is possible. Like I say, I am genuinely unsure. Steve Baker and his Cobden centre supporters (I am one) have done lots of media spots, in which they have taken this line. Maybe the Cobden Centre narrative just awaits another bout of British financial turmoil to take centre stage in Britain.

Meanwhile, my eye was caught by a couple of passing remarks about similar arguments in the USA, both of which suggest that a similar tactic in the USA to that adopted by Steve Baker MP, over here, may already be working well, over there.

Exhibit one is from a piece about an economic model of the forthcoming Presidential election, which is almost entirely about the relative fortunes of Dems (very bad) and Repubs (very promising). But right at the end of the report there is this:

Bicker and Berry also did not factor in third party candidates, such as Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, who Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-affiliated polling firm, has noted could significantly diminish Obama’s chances of winning New Mexico.

Note that. Here’s a libertarian taking votes from Obama. This must be another manifestation of that new and improved two-party system that Instapundit posted about recently.

And then this morning, I was struck by this comment, on this piece, which is about some Democrat supporting interlopers at the Republican convention, one of whom is a Ron Paul supporter. The commenter (comment number 8 by “stmarks” at 9.25pm on Aug 25 – forgive the comment-standard spelling and grammar) says, in among a lot of other stuff about conservatives and liberals, this about Ron Paul supporters:

… And I am convinced 90% of these Ronnies [Ron Paul worshipers] are ex-democrats who are too ashamed to admit so, but still hates GOP with a burning passion.

I freely admit that I may be reading far too much into two tiny snippets of comment. (I am posting this here in order to find out more about that.) But, what these snippets, snippets though they are, tell me is that Austrianist arguments (such as those of the Ron Paul camp most definitely are) are making headway in the USA, and are drawing people away from pro-government and anti-capitalist answers towards anti-government and pro-capitalist answers. Democrats, at least some Democrats, are morphing into Ron Paulites.

A generation of people who regard the Republicans as most emphatically part of the problem are staying anti-Republican, and accordingly pro-Democrat if that’s the only option they are offered. But if someone comes to them, as Ron Paul supporters did during the early stages of the Occupy Movement, saying: “You are right about the problem! The banks are indeed screwed! But let us tell you who screwed them and how to unscrew them. The government screwed the banks, and the way to unscrew the banks is to get the government out of the banking business” … well, that cuts some ice. “We believe this stuff because we believe it. We are only Republicans tactically, insofar as we can push them in our direction. To join us, you do not have to be a Republican.”

Learn more about the Paulist influence on the Republicans by looking at the comments on this recent posting by me here about the Tea Party.

So maybe Steve Baker’s approach is entirely right, and I am just being impatient.

LATER: See also this on the Tea Party, and of course: this on giving libertarianism a ‘left hook’.

LATER (via Guido): In Paul they trust ….

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9 comments to The right answers to the right question – Steve Baker MP and the Ron Paul tendency

  • Simon Jester

    Austrianist arguments … are drawing people away from pro-government and anti-capitalist answers to pro-government and anti-capitalist answers

    Should that have been “to anti-government and pro-capitalist answers”?

  • Indeed. Now corrected. Thankyou.

  • Mike James

    If indeed 90% of the Ronulans are ex-Democrats, then that would certainly explain a some of their more … um … interesting behavior.

  • ragingnick

    well both Ron Paul and the democrats are united in their hatred of America and the Jews, so not suprising there are a lot of democrats and leftists amongst the Paulisitians.

  • Dale Amon

    I would disagree with some of the thoughts here. There really are some differences between UK left and US left. The whole sixties thing was profoundly libertarian in outlook. It was only at the leadership levels that it got hijacked by real leftists. I know because I was very much a part of that so called New Left during the 1968-1971 period. When the serious Left took over, we of Libertarian persuasion walked away, turned our backs on politics and got on with our lives… until we discovered the LP. The appearance of the LP on my ballot in Pittsburgh gave me a reason to vote at all. Otherwise I had no interest and felt no connection to any of the politicians of the time. Ford or Carter? Who cared? I certainly didn’t. But the rise of the LP coupled with the very Libetarian friendly climate of the early Reagan years changed things for me forever.

    Next, you really need to look at the Nolan chart. Libertarians are pretty much equidistant from right and left but on a different axis. Anyone in either camp who begins to place more value on individual liberty ultimately rises off the left-right axis… and both meet somewhere in the upper quadrant.

    It is really important to give people paths by which they may move in small mental steps from one set of ideas to another. You will never move people from one place to another in one blinding flash of recognition that “Everything I know is wrong!” People do not work that way.

    As to the purists, I would say: Virgins may be worshipped for the purity but they have no effect on evolution other than to remove themselves from consideration.

  • Buzz Buzz

    The Ron Paul followers have repeatedly demonstrated that they are more a cult of personality than a political movement.

    They are a net negative, as their lunatic behavior drives ordinary people away from any political message they favor.

    Ron Paul & Acolytes : Libertarians :: Fred Phelps & Westboro Baptist Church : Christians

  • James of England

    The polling evidence does not support Johnson taking votes from Obama. Nor does common sense. It is true that he was a big spender who led the state to the point where KPMG suggested it was the worst state in the union for crony capitalism (measured by the difference between the taxes paid by the disfavored and those paid by the favored), so many who liked his policies in New Mexico might also like Obama, but he was the Republican governor.

    The reason that New Mexico is expected to receive a higher than usual libertarian vote is because of continuing loyalties. Almost no matter how bad or good a politician is, most of those who feel a continuing loyalty to him/ her will be from the same party. It’s worth noting, incidentally, that there’s a lot of crossover in party membership between the GOP and LP (the LP tends to run and be run by ex-GOP pols, and some major GOP figures, like David Koch, are ex-LP), but there’s very little crossover with the Democrats.

  • James of England

    The polling evidence does not support Johnson taking votes from Obama. Nor does common sense. It is true that he was a big spender who led the state to the point where KPMG suggested it was the worst state in the union for crony capitalism (measured by the difference between the taxes paid by the disfavored and those paid by the favored), so many who liked his policies in New Mexico might also like Obama, but he was the Republican governor.

    The reason that New Mexico is expected to receive a higher than usual libertarian vote is because of continuing loyalties. Almost no matter how bad or good a politician is, most of those who feel a continuing loyalty to him/ her will be from the same party. It’s worth noting, incidentally, that there’s a lot of crossover in party membership between the GOP and LP (the LP tends to run and be run by ex-GOP pols, and some major GOP figures, like David Koch, are ex-LP), but there’s very little crossover with the Democrats.

  • James of England

    Sorry, some bug; I was told that it couldn’t post because of some missing something. Doublepost not intended.