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Ron Paul for President

I have been watching as the assortment of bad, worse and sickening candidates continues to grow in this premature election campaign. Amongst them are candidates (or at least a candiidate) who would make me vote for the other party: John McCain. There are candidates I find a little less bad on one issue or another. There are my own party contenders who cannot win, will not get much national coverage and will have an anti-war stance I do not support.

But finally, from out of the blue of the Texas sky comes: RON PAUL!

Ron is no stranger to me. I worked with his 1988 campaign manager a bit and wrote some policy papers for his Libertarian campaign. I also introduced him to a crowd at an ISDC (International Space Development Conference) in Denver after giving him a briefing on the audience. I found him thoroughly likable both politically and personally.

True, Ron carries the same anti-war stance as others, but I could ignore that in someone who may actually make a difference. Unlike my party’s candidate he will be unignorable. He could conceivably pull off a Republican nomination. If that were to happen it might cause multiple suicides amongst the kinder, gentler crowd… but no one would miss them anyway.

If he were to win the election, admittedly a very long shot, Statism’s monopoly hold on our political system would be irreparably damaged.

I am willing to take my risks on enemy forces using a weak foreign policy to attack us here because the policies of a President Paul would so liberate Americans and the American economy that we would be accelerating away from the unfree world at a rate they could not possibly match.

Ron would make us freer than we have been since Abe Lincoln mucked things up for limited government. Increased individual liberty would translate into wealth and national strength. There will never be a perfect candidate for me, but at least in Ron Paul I see an overall set of policies that does not make me want to lose my lunch.

Go here to find out how to support him.

76 comments to Ron Paul for President

  • Sunfish

    “We gave them the gas” isn’t just an error. It’s a fundamental disconnect from reality.

    I was very favorable towards him until he said that. That’s not just ignorance of a set of facts, though. With the facts on that readily available, and the question current enough that anybody would be motivated to know them, that sort of error is moonbattery.

  • Dale Amon

    And so what? He is far closer to my politics than anyone else who has run for President during my lifetime who actually had or has even a miniscule chance of victory. Ron is not perfect. There are things I strongly disagree with him on. But he would push things in the direction of limited government. No one else will. If you are aware of one I would be interested in knowing who they are and what odds you give of them ever being in a position to veto a single spending bill sent to the White House by the Congressional pigfarm.

    I don’t give a flying eff about purity. I want liberty and I’ll work with those who will at least be fellow travelers on that road.

    I might add that I backed Russel Means until Ron took the candidacy at the 1988 Seattle convention and he did an exemplary job of representing the LP that year.

  • ApolloXR

    Paul has made himself ineligible for my support by being so ignorant of the nature of Islamism. A Paul presidency would be too dangerous. It’s a shame.

  • What Sunfish said is also consistent with my impression of him from TV debate, and that is that he comes across as nuts, plain and simple. No offence, Dale. What do you think about Fred Thompson, BTW?

  • Dale Amon

    I know little about him, but in general I would not vote for a Republican or a Democrat unless there were serious reasons for doing so. I voted for Bush in 2004 because I wished to see the war leadership stable for a few more years and because Kerry was rather frightening. For the same reason I would vote Democrat if McCain were to run. In most cases I would just vote for whomever the LP nominates. In the case of Ron Paul I would vote for him because I have previously worked on an LP campaign of his.

    The question would not be ‘would I support Thompson’. It would be, “are the Democrats running someone so incredibly dangerous that I would vote to defeat them?”

    I will not vote ‘for’ a Republican or Democrat unless they are awfully damn close to libertarian philosophically. Otherwise I vote against one or both of the two.

  • lucklucky

    I am not even going into some idiocy from him.

    Will he have real power?
    Whom will be in his team?
    Manipulated by wacky types?

    If he can effectively rule then.

    Will the USA be freerer when World would be less because of an overall isolationism? NATO ends? USA without any strategic ally?

    Dollar down because trust in peace falls? The leftist idiots think that Bush is a warmonger just because American glue doesnt let them imagine the warmongerism that goes in World.

    But what scares me more about him is what this kind of people do when the reality hits them…

  • nick g.

    When the Von-Mises blog started blubbering about Ron Paul, I made a few points about how they shouldn’t vote for him, such as-
    1) He has been around a while, so it’s hard to believe he’s not in someone’s pocket.
    2) If he gets in, and doesn’t live up to his billing, for whatever reason (hostile Congress?), you’ll have a ‘Is this all there is?’ feeling.
    3) If he gets in, and carries out his program, you might then find that you don’t like a Libertarian America at all! (the failed-dream ending)
    4) If he gets in, and carries out his program, and America becomes more libertarian, and you love the result, HE can still only stay there for two terms. You will then never vote again, and democracy dies!!!
    Is it worth it?

  • REN

    I simply can’t vote for isolationists who seem to think that America can survive without a stronger foreign influence and a bigger presence in international politics. Ron Paul is an interesting fellow and seems quite trustworthy, but that bites him in the ass where his isolationist approach comes into play.


    I love the stuff Fred Thompson has been putting out there and would seriously consider him in a run for president. I do wonder about the fine details though ~ how would he function with the congress as it stands now?

  • a.sommer

    He could conceivably pull off a Republican nomination.

    Would you care to place a small wager on that?

  • Fred Thompson has been saying some fairly libterarian things about smaller government, enforcing existing laws etc. Ron Paul has a scary lack of understanding of the world situation n regards to Islam and their war against civilization.

    My vote: A Fred Thompson / John Bolton ticket, hell yeah!

  • First, I contributed to Ron Paul over the weekend.

    I too have serious disagreements with him. Not least of which are his views on abortion and defense of marriage. But he also believes in federalism on those, not national bans. Leave it to the states, which allows differing things to be tried, and hopefully the best way eventually found.

    I also wish he would drop the whole hard-money shtick. No matter how right he is, it is not a campaign stump topic.

    But now comes my argument with those that say he is not libertarian or should not be supported due to some transgression of libertarian doctrine. Stop letting the good be the enemy of the perfect. All that accomplishes is to let the bad go unopposed.

    So shut up and go back to your caves where you can privately masturbate over naughty pictures of Hayek, Mises and Ayn Rand having consensual relations, and leave us out of your purity ball.

  • Fair enouigh Dale, I cetainly understand why you feel it is work backing him.

    But his views on the Islamists already made it very difficult for me to support him. If ever I had any doubts however he quashed them a few days ago…the “we gave them the gas” remark is pure, distilled, unadulterated, USDA approved moonbattery of the sort that under no conditions whatsoever could I even shake the guy’s hand, let alone vote for him.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    I find this discussion very interesting.

    As a true libertarian, Ron Paul naturally opposes the war. He did from the beginning. Ron Paul did support attacking Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as did I, because it was a legitimate counterattack against aggressors. I find his consistent opposition to foreign adventurism but consistent support for actual defense one of his most immediately appealing positions. He clearly follows exactly the same playbook as other libertarians. He is not a pacifist, he is a rationalist.

    As fake “libertarians”, many people here oppose Ron Paul, precisely because he does not believe in taxing US citizens to make them less safe worldwide. The most important thing to them is military intervention in a country that posed no threat to them, one of the few countries in the Middle East that was formerly controlled by a regime that despised Islamic revolutionaries and was most concerned with its own comfort. These pseudo-libertarians support said war even though it was so badly managed as to be a complete failure, and intriguingly, they oppose the only real libertarian in the US Presidential contest, because even if he is the only candidate who truly opposes expansion of the state, the most important value to these people is support for a failed war.

    I’d like to ask that those who oppose Ron Paul on the basis that his overall stance on the war outweighs everything — because they think that the war in Iraq is necessary, a good thing, being well run, and the highest possible priority, far higher in importance than dismantling the State — please do the rest of us a favor and stop calling yourselves libertarians, because you are not. Call yourself anything else you like — conservatives, socialists, interventionists, thugs, macaroonatarian, anything — but quit sullying a word that you clearly do not understand.

  • Kim du Toit

    Reasons why Ron Paul won’t ever come close to being nominated, let alone elected.

    1.) He’s an isolationist — granted, for all the “good” usual libertarian reasons. But if Ron Paul had been POTUS in 1939, there would have been no convoys to Britain, and Europe might still be speaking German. And Asia would still be called the “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere”.

    2.) While his heart is in the right (pure libertarian) place, like most pure idealists, he comes across as slightly more insane than Billy Beck. No offense intended, Billy.

    3.) Like most doctrinaire libertarians, his philosophy is suicidal when it’s faced with pure, implacable evil, such as that presented by radical Islamism.

    4.) A vote for Ron Paul is a wasted vote. All it would achieve is an easy victory for a liberal neo-statist Republican like Giuliani, who will garner votes from both liberal/moderate Republicans and from conservative Democrats who are frightened by the Batshit Left.

    Paul has many attractive positions, no question about it. But in a word, he’s too idealistic to be POTUS. We already had that with Woodrow Wilson, and the country still hasn’t revovered.


  • Patrick B

    The same Ron Paul who was grilled on CNN two weeks ago about his belief that 9/11 was a Bush plot?

    Sheesh!. I’d vote for the HildeBeast before Paul.

  • Perry E. Metzger: if being a libertarians means you must be delusional about the true nature of the rest of the world, I will indeed stop using the term… now that you mention it, I did that some time ago to avoid being tarred with the same moonbat brush as the Rothbardian crowd.

    No doubt it was the same wicked imperialist adventurism by the governments in Thailand, Kenya and the Philippines that have those countries also fighting Islamist terrorists.

  • Jacob

    I’d like to ask that those who oppose Ron Paul on the basis that his overall stance on the war outweighs everything …

    Ron Paul lost me when he said the war on Iraq was “illegal”. Saying it was ill advised – I could respect, it’s a position that has merit. But saying “illegal” – parroting Kofi Anan – shows he is nuts.

    But of course the whole debate is idle and purely academic. Ron Paul goes nowhere, with or without our support.

  • Brad

    You pretty much said it Perry (Metzger).

    As for “real” libertarians, there is a camp of libertarians who simply believe that communism was expansionary, and so now is Islam. Are they right? I don’t know precisely. And it depends on “expansionary” where.

    Libertarians want freedom and must be willing to fight for it. The trick is to know when, where and why, and too many are prepared to fight incorrectly, and thereby becoming what they are fighting against. There is a distinct connection between Welfare and Warfare, and when a militaristic mindset becomes embedded, too many allowances are made for Statist minded people, even by libertarians. Seeing such is not moonbattery (sorry, other Perry) on other libertarians’ part. That should be reserved for people who hold fantastical ideals, circular logic, superstition, or those who don’t have a basic grasp on economics and scarcity.

    It is true that there are aggressors in the world that must be fought. Paul voted to go after Bin Laden, the man behind 9/11. He, along with other right libertarians (such as Cato Institute, hardly moonbattery), was against continuing/increasing action against Iraq.

    The only difference, really, between the likes of Paul and War supporters here is where the line is drawn as to what actions are deemed expansionary and a real, clear and present, danger is at hand. That can certainly be up for debate. It shouldn’t be a deal breaker for alliance of idealogies of freedom. I may disagree, but I think it is a matter of debate over a plank versus a complete split. There is altogether too many pure Statists in the world, fighting there own internecine wars, but when they settle their disputes, we ultimately lose. If we have some internecine differences, it’s better to discuss them point for point and settle it rather united instead of divided. Resorting to “moonbat” or “real libertarians” only weakens an already loose affiliation, as libertarianism is wont to be.

    It is clear to me that Iraq is mostly about oil, who owns it, and at what price the US can get it. I’ve gone on many a time about the huge accrual debt the US has. Is it any wonder that the US has a direct interest in oil, what currency it is marked against, and at what overall price the US can acquire it at? The US is the largest de facto investor in the US economy, and it has a direct interest in the cost of energy supplied to that economy. All this talk about abuses and meanness shouldn’t play at all as a reason to go to war. If there is clear proof that the likes of Hussein was supplying WMD’s to people who wanted to use them against the US, well that’s fine. Theories don’t cut it. If the US (or Britain) is supposed to go to war over every possible threat or group of thugs X is mean to population Y, then we’ve got a whole lot of places to invade. But not one is on the radar here. And, I think there certainly is a place to recognize blowback from Statist policies.

    The point? In this one instance (and granted it is pretty big) I disagree with the majority who frequent here when comes to Iraq. The only support I had for Iraq was to finish the job left incomplete in 1991, regardless of the propriety of that part of the war. It has been handled poorly at best, as are all bureaucratically fought wars.

    But the logic is linear for both (IMO), it’s just a matter of where the line is to be drawn as to when threats are real, clear and present. And that’s somewhat unknowable. It’s risk. Act and regret it. Don’t act and regret it. Act and be satisfied. Don’t act and be satisfied. No one can know outcomes of roads not taken. No one can, without doubt, say the road taken was the best. And that’s life. “Moonbats” and “real libertarians” doesn’t incorporate a comparison of facts and consistent opinion.

  • Actually, it is an unconstitutional war. There are three branches of government in the United States, each of which has different duties. Congress must declare war in order for us to be at war. Congress never declared war. They passed some mealy mouthed blank check which said that Bush could do anything to anyone he chose. This is not a declaration of war, it is a declaration of congressional incompetence.

    As for the true nature of the rest of the world, it is not so much their nature but their abilities that I disagree with the genocidal types here about. Sure, they’re dicks. They’re dicks that live thousands of miles away in countries that our rather clearly outside our jurisdiction. There are some who would like to see America gone. There are some Americans who would like to see them gone. That’s fine. Most of them would not lay down their lives to see us gone, except that we have been attacking them since WWII. They would be killing each other over meaningless details of religious doctrine. Fine with me.

    Of course none of this applies to Afghanistan. There was, if you recall, a real attack 6 years ago. It had nothing to do with Iraq.

  • The fact Ron Paul opposed the war in Iraq was not enough for me to not support him. Plenty of people I respect (i.e. people who were not apologists for Ba’athist Socialism) did not think it was a good idea. If other things add up I would certainly support someone who I disagreed with on that issue.

    Where he lost me was parroting (and Jacob used the right word) the conspiracy theorist loony toon stuff (and I do not just means his latest outburst). The fact many other nations also experience Islamist terrorism should make the whole ‘blow back’ thesis very obviously preposterous. If he is nuts on this, he is not someone I feel I can trust on anything.

  • Brad

    it’s a position that has merit. But saying “illegal” – parroting Kofi Anan

    There are two different concepts here, Paul is saying the the War is not constitutional, and he berates is Statist comrades for turning over Congress’ power unconstitutionally (and in so doing, giving the slimy dems the ability to not only tactily approve the war if the masses are with it, but if the masses are against it, they can lay all the blame on Bush – Paul is against such dopery). I’m sure Kofi Anan says it is illegal because HE didn’t approve it. Two different concepts, one eminating from UN’ism and World Governmentism, which Paul is perfectly against, and not having Statists bury the US Constitution. Paul’s position is consistent.

    And to assume that Paul would not fight a clear and present threat from Islamism is wrong. He is a firm believer in the Constitution and the Federal Level’s mission. He simply doesn’t see where Iraq was the problem, again a debate worthy of having in the right libertarianesque end of the spectrum.

  • jk

    I wonder why Rep. Paul does not seek the LP nomination again. With all due respect, he’s got to see that this is not the year for an isolationist GOP nominee.

    I’m pretty impressed with Giuliani. He did a long interview with Larry Kudlow and he is a free market and free trader.

  • ragingnick

    Id sooner vote for obama than an anti-American moonbat like ron Paul. I felt sick hearing him spit on America at the debates. He is an embarresment and the GOP should kick him out IMO

  • I’m pretty impressed with Giuliani. He did a long interview with Larry Kudlow and he is a free market and free trader.

    He is also truly dire on civil liberties.

  • The posts on this page show a staggering degree of ignorance about Ron Paul. Please do some quick reading before speaking.


    Ron Paul is a Republican not a Libertarian. He’s been a Rebulican Congressman from Texas for 10 years. He ran for president on a third party ticket 20 years ago.

    Paul has an intimate understanding of the Middle East. He’s written volumes on the subject and sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    He served several years in the Military. He is not a pacifist.

    His position on Iraq is that before you invade another country, Congress must debate the reasons for the attack, take a vote, and formally declare War. Once that happens, you fight to win. That’s what the Constitution requires. If you fail to do that, you end up with wars fought for murky reasons, endless “police actions” that result in the deaths of thousands of US servicemen, and a lack of true public and congressional support for the war.

    Paul does not believe in isolation. He wants nonintervention, which means the US does not interfere militarily, financially or act covertly in the internal affairs of other nations.

    Paul is completely outside the “normal” Washington corruption and lobbyist system. He votes on principle and actually lives up to his oath of office to defend the Constitution. He actually returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year and has rejected the government’s lucrative congressional pension program.

    He has never proposed the US was behind 911. He has been outspoken in asking the US to go after Bin Laden.

    Remember, as President, Ron Paul would have no power to make any laws. His election would simply send the strongest message possible from the American people to Congress that they had better change. Start working for the American people, follow the Constitution, and bring us back to country that embraces Freedom and Liberty.

    Everything is here:

  • Dale: “I don’t give a flying eff about purity. I want liberty and I’ll work with those who will at least be fellow travelers on that road.”

    Principles matter, whether you like it or not, and whether or not you’re interested to sneer at the fact. Mixed principles matter even more, when it comes to these affairs.

    See Frank Chodorov on whorehouses and his advice to the Libertarian Party in 1972. He was right, and you’re not.

    Kim: let me tell you something, Daddyo; other peoples’ ignorance doesn’t offend me. I know good and well that your heart’s in the right place. I also know that nothing that you’re invested in, in American politics, is going to work, and I know why. I believe (not the same as knowing) that it’s going to take you the rest of your life to understand this, if you ever do, but you can mark my words and always remember what I’m telling you.

    America will never vote its way out of these straits. Never.

    Now: if this be “insan[ity]”, then bloody make the most of it.

  • Even if I could get over the war-insanity that Ron has been spouting, I don’t know if I could support him after looking what his support looks like. It looks like anti-war wackjobs and Truthers. It doesn’t look like real libertarians.

    And I can’t get past the war-insanity. My ties to libertarianism are not a suicide pact. And there is a concerted group who very much wants to kill us, if we would only be so kind as to allow them.

  • When I mentioned my impression of Paul, I specifically meant his body language and manner of speech, apart from what he was actually saying. When one combines the two, it comes across even worse.

    Paul does not believe in isolation. He wants nonintervention, which means the US does not interfere militarily, financially or act covertly in the internal affairs of other nations. Sorry, but there is an inherent contradiction in this statement, which should be obvious to anyone connected to reality.

    BTW, come to think of it, most Americans I’ve met tend to hold fairly isolationist views, to various degrees. Is it just me?

  • Sigivald

    TomWright brings up something I was going to mention; beyond his foreign-policy idiocy, Paul is a metallist.

    I seem to recall even Mises (in the Theory of Money and Credit) suggesting that it’s pretty much impossible to go back to Gold by fiat. Given that the deliberate inflationism he was arguing against has fallen drastically out of favour, I’m not sure that Gold Buggery is anything but fiscal monomania.

    (I’ve heard serious arguments for and against it, and I think the best conclusion I’m aware of is that it’s about as risky to economic stability as fiat money, which at least isn’t subject to hoarding issues (if supply is constant or grows at a fixed, slow rate) or shocks (if supply grows unexpectedly due to a gold rush… and any bets about that happening if the world’s largest economy moves to a Gold standard?).

    An information-age economy based on services and ideas rather than industrial or pre-industrial production… not so much ideal for metallism. Growth is too fast for a fixed metallic currency to keep up, no?

    Makes the problems of a fractional reserve fiat system seem cheery in comparison, I think.)

  • Midwesterner

    Perry Metzger and others, please distinguish between ‘the war’ in Iraq and ‘the war’ in Afghanistan. Like, I presume, many others here I have very different opinions of the two wars. I am not at all an isolationist and fully supported our action against the Islamic extremist terrorist base in Afghanistan until that war morphed into pandering to the domestic ‘war on drugs’ crowd.

    However, my opinion on Iraq is best represented by Paul Marks views. Although I think his opinions have been more consistent and sensible than mine have on that front.

    I also share with Billy Beck an apparently ‘insane’ belief in principles.

    Sigivald, could you perhaps tell us how to tell ‘savers’ from ‘hoarders’? Seems like a rather relativist pejorative to me.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ron Paul lost me when he said the war on Iraq was “illegal”. Saying it was ill advised – I could respect, it’s a position that has merit. But saying “illegal” – parroting Kofi Anan – shows he is nuts.

    Absolutely. To worry about the legality of the war, given that the state in question was Iraq, run by a brutal crime family, is frankly mad. To oppose the war on prudential grounds, because of conerns about the results, or the cost, or whatever, is fine by me, but that is an argument about practicality, about pros and cons that can and do change with time and from circumstance to circumstance. It is not an argument that can be won by referring to Catholic Just War doctrine or the combined works of Murray Rothbard.

    Perry (Metzger), the idea that Saddam was in essence a secular ruler who had no common cause with radical islam is one of the standard lines of arguments I hear a lot but the truth is rather more complex. His regime was more than happy to play the islamist card when it suited his purposes.

  • Nick M

    An isolationist USA is a global disaster.

    I’m almost tempted to buy into the idea. Why not? The planet has been sufficiently ungrateful to the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of GIs over the years… And Britain should also tell the world to go fuck itself as well, for all the thanks we ever get. Let the UN sort it out. They’ve made such a splendid job of it in Darfur. Absolutely sodding brilliant.

    JP is absolutely correct to state that questioning “the war”‘s legality is raving. I’m sure all the folk in Selly Oak and Walter Reid or what passes for medical facilities in Basra and Baghdad are truly fascinated by the Constitutional issues it raises. Mid is also correct to distinguish between the wars. I would add, though, that there is a more general war afoot. The real question is how we prosecute that. And prosecute it we must because the complete nut-jobs in Tehran, Islamobad and Riyadh will not stop. They will never stop.

  • wings

    Brad is correct. Ron Paul’s position on the illegality of the Iraq War is based on his interpretation of the US Constitution. Although unconvinced that Iraq (like Afghanistan) posed a direct threat to the US, he would have been more accepting of the intervention had Congress officially declared it, as required by his understanding of the Constitution.

    Therefore, it’s clear that his description of the War as “illegal” has nothing to do with the Left’s position. In fact, anyone who knows about Paul knows that he is very much opposed to any US involvement with the UN.

    All in all, I’m quite disappointed with the outright rejection of Paul by several freedom lovers here. In the past few weeks he has appeared on the same stage as McCain, Guiliani, Romney et al, in front of millions of people watching from around the world, and advocated the abolition of the IRS. For a libertarian to strongly oppose him in these circumstances is bizarre to me.

  • REN

    What’s with people declaring who’s a “real” or a “fake” libertarian here? This kind of “tribalism” is why I will probably never vote “Libertarian” and will forever remain a small “l” libertarian; voting, as usual, for the best candidate who’s capable and present.

  • Gabriel

    If you vote for Ron Paul, you might as well go the whole hog and nominate Alex Jones for 2012. Perhaps Ron Paul is right and America isn’t really such a shining becaon of freedom, but it is a global symbol of Western Capitalist civilization. Someone willing to shit all over America’s name when faced with a movement as incontrovertibly evil as political Islam is a traitor to the Open Society and so is everyone who votes for him.

    Just remember the war against Islamism isn’t going so well; things may get very ropey indeed over the next few decades and, if so, the willingness of those of us who believe in the West to indulge Karl Hess type Libertarians is going to wear thin. Socrates eventually learnt that there are limits to the kind of crap democracies are willing to put up with when totalitarians come knocking. In their own ways, William Joyce and Ezra Pound did too. Ron Paul better make himself abundantly clear about what side he’s on before and not after the Islamist holocaust, because the rest of us won’t forgive and we won’t forget.

    (Of course, if you count – and you should – the two genocides committed by the Sudanese government, he’s already laid his flag
    May G-d forgive Ron Paul and may G-d forgive you Dale).

  • Brad

    Perhaps it all can be summed up this way (it is perhaps a singularly American viewpoint). We have our “founding fathers”. We have a whole skads of debate from the founding that are still relevant (read the Debates on the Constitution). There are traditions of federalism versus anti-federalism, cautions about getting entangled in foreign affairs, and a still very recent past of purer individualism. All of these have reached up through today (for some) those not completely blinkered by the Statism of the past century.

    Most read the caution of entanglements to mean non-intervention. Other people’s affairs are their own, we should not be the policeman of the world. But that certainly didn’t mean being blind to threats. But that also did not mean continually erring to the side of first strike, or the like. The anti-federalists also saw the desire to meddle would necessarily mean a strong, central government of its own account, instead of one that stood as a confederation against usurpation from the then Statist, expansionary nations. It would mean standing armies, the first step toward tyranny. And this is born out by some the Federalist essays discussing “how could we wage war and claim Florida without a strong Federal Government?” Such sent shivers down the spine of the average anti-federalist.

    As an aside, I’ve always read isolationism as both not getting involved in foreign entanglement politically and the economically stultifying refusal to trade. I’m for free trade, not getting involved in the affairs of other nations.

    And so the root of the debate simply is deciding when the risk is present so that the martial standing of the nation needs to come forth. When and where the oblique use force will come to bear and how will it be funded. That’s why there are breaks installed in the Constitition, with its division of responsibility, responsibility that just can’t be written away even by the members of Congress themselves. To cede away such power gives the executive carte blanche, and that is what sets some libertarians’ hearts quaking with the likes a War on Terror. Given a patently undefined target with ceded away responsibility by Congress, along with slippery definitions of enemy combatants, and you have a formula for disaster.

    Even libertarians of the samizdata stripe discuss the loss of liberty not in terms of its full effect today, but what use these new laws and regulations will have in the wrong hands. Doing the right thing the wrong way leaves a bad precedent for future, harder line Statists, if nothing else. So the crossing of t’s and dotting of i’s does matter. It matters a whole hell of a lot.

    The matter still comes down to some right individualists see a clear threat, others may not. Some are in between and see a threat, but that Iraq was not part of that threat and actually being involved has actually taken us, and resources, away from the proper fight. I was all ready for a large scale settlement of the issues with radical Islam after 9/11, regardless of historical context and blowback and anything else. Even we are somehow responsible for distilling radicalism by prior ill advised “entanglements” by the Statist America built up from the 1890’s onward, it was here and it was ugly. But instead we got “keep on shopping, we’re going to move some rubble around Afghanistan, use half measures, let Bin Laden escape, and then go after Hussein because we didn’t settle his hash the right way the first time. And we’re going to win the hearts and minds by letting the enemy disappear and fight a protracted war of attrition as part of poorly defined War on Terror that could go on for decades.”

    That’s pretty much the opposite of how an Old Right, libertarian, individualist minded person would go at this. Hating bureaucracy includes hating wars fought by bureaucrats. But we have an ignominious heritage of such as of late, from Korea to Iraq. If we’re not going to do it right, lets not do it all, lest we give an excuse for a never ending Statist, militarist stance that ever justifies itself by never solving the problem it’s there for in the first place. I perfect bureaucratic fashion. In this sense it is perfectly consistent with general anti-statist sentiments.

  • Michiganny


    Isn’t the larger issue of tribalism captured by this:

    I felt sick hearing him spit on America at the debates.

    It is always a hoot to hear GOP factions impugn the patriotism of others. Funny how that charge always supports GOP issues, like Iraq. Pretty rare to hear that people are spitting on America because they do not support abortion–which is a legal right in this country.

    The people who make such claims must get on like a house afire with the Tawana Brawleys of the world who cry racism every time somebody takes their parking space.

  • This “unconstitutional war” business gets tiresome. The truth is that no US government has ever declared war on anyone since 1941.

    Why? Because the UN Charter made “war” illegal.

    Therefore the perceived need to skirt the Charter with “police actions” and the like.

    Now, I am of the opinion that we should tell the UN to sod off in general. But in the modern context, a Congressional authorization for the President to use “all necessary force” is understood by everyone (especially the congressmen) as the equivalent to a declaration of war.

    Or do you want to castigate Thomas Jefferson for smashing the Barbary Pirates without a declaration of war?

  • Id sooner vote for obama than an anti-American moonbat like ron Paul. I felt sick hearing him spit on America at the debates. He is an embarresment and the GOP should kick him out IMO

    ragingnick – id even vote for hilary to keep this peacenik appeaser out of power. anyone but RP.

  • I’m almost tempted to buy into the idea

    Nick – but you won’t. Because you know that isolationism in today’s globalised world is as realistic as Marxism in the 20th century.

  • Paul Marks

    It was not just isolationism.

    As Sunfish pointed out “we gave them the gas” was not isolationism, it was delusion.

    Sure Ron Paul did not pull that out of his own head, he is being fed this stuff, – but trotting out what the left tell you is not something that “isolationist” newspapers like the old Chicago Tribune under Col. Robert McC. would have done.

    Nor would they have tried to make a connection between bombing anti aircraft missile sites in Iraq “over the last ten years” (in order to allow American and British aircraft to fly in the north and south of Iraq in order to stop Saddam using aircraft to kill yet more civilians – MUSLIM civilians) with 9/11.

    No one else in the debate claimed that 9/11 had anything to with Iraq – Dr Paul just pulled that from nowhere (or rather, whether he knows it or not, from death-to-America propaganda sources funded by George Soros, Peter Lewis,……).

    After all “what we would do if the Chinese had bases here” (concerning bases nations in the Gulf area to help defend these nations from attack from either Iraq or Iran). Clearly if the American government requested help from a democratic China (a China turned into the Republic of China – Taiwan) in terms of military bases to help defend the country from an external threat (such as the bases that the United States has had in Great Britain since World War II) it would be quite understanable for American citizens (or even people who were not American citizens but felt themselves to be of a similar ethnic or religous group to most Americans) to go and blow up thousands of civilians in China (nothing for the Chinese to get upset about).

    Basically the case is that the United States (and the West in general) have no real enemies – just people who are rightly angry at our evil actions, and everything they do is “blow back”.

    But Dale will reply “what about unconstitutional spending”.

    Well the war was voted for by both House and Senate at the request of the President – so that is constitutional (unless one demands that the exact words “declaration of war” are used – but no one can really claim that they did not know what they were voting for).

    Of course there were some people who had rather a lot of doubts about the wisdom of the operation in Iraq (me for example), but we were in a minority. And our doubts about the local population were dismissed as “racism”. Pulling out now may be the correct policy (although I doubt that), but let us not pretend that it would not be defeat – total defeat, surrender and humiliation, which would make resistance to radical Islamic forces, in Afghanistan or many other places, much more difficult.

    And as for unconstitutional Welfare State spending.

    There was indeed a Congressman in the debate in South Carolina who made a point of opposing such spending but his name was Tom Tancredo, not Ron Paul.

    So why not support Tancredo?

    “Because he does not have a chance of getting the nomintation”.

    Quite so Dale – but neither does Ron Paul.

    In fact the only reason that all those moveon.org people voted for Ron Paul in the text voting was to make the Republican party look silly.

    These people are not registered Republicans (they will not be voting in the nomination process). And if Ron Paul (by some act of God) became the candidate of the Republican party for President of the United States they would NOT vote for him (because they are socialists and neo socialist “progressives”).

    Has nothing been learnt from the 1960’s?

    When “left and right join hands” what happens is that the libertarians get USED by the leftists.

  • Paul Marks

    I wish to make clear that I am not claiming that Dale want to pull out of Iraq – I do not believe he does (indeed I am more likely to adopt that position than he is – although out of despair, not out of a radical lib hope for peace).

    Nor do I claim that Dr Paul and those who influence (“control” might be considered too hard a word) would be concerned about any possible undermining of the war effort in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

    This is because they would also pull out of these nations.

    The United States would only have military forces in the United States and the United Kingdom would only have military forces in the United Kingdom.

    No one would attack us, because we were not attacking them. And if someone did happen to attack us (most likely as “blow back” for our evil aggression in the past) we would use our armed forces to defend the national area and that area only.

    After all attacking the home bases of the enemy (or rather those people engaged in “blow back” in response to our wicked deeds) would not be acceptable as this might lead civilian casualities, and (even if it did not lead to civilian casualities) would lead to future “blow back”.

    The standard Murry Rothbard line concerning “national liberation movements against Western Imperialism”.

    After all it is the 40th anniversary of the summer of love.

  • Dale Amon

    While I am very hawkish and want to see the war prosecuted strongly, I was indeed one of those who wanted a real Declaration of War. I really wish we had one now. It would shut up a lot of argument.

    But given that, I am actually now becoming more fearful of the loss of liberty to the Patriot Act, The Real ID Act and all of the many police state powers being presented on left and right. I want a candidate who will strip the government of the power to invade my privacy and my life. If it means my life will be a bit more endangered by the evil mullahs, then so be it. I am not pro-war for any other reason than to protect my right to live my life in any manner I see fit. At his point I find the Homeland side of things more dangerous to what matters to me than I do the worry of being killed in an enemy nuclear blast. My words to the enemy are:

    “You can never defeat a free man. The most you can do is kill him”.

    “Live Free or Die!”

    Lets kill the police statism that is being foisted on us. Once we have assured we still have a free country, then we can Declare War properly and go out there and kill the mothers.

    Now, which candidates did you say were going to repeal Patriot and Real Id?

  • Nick M

    Isolationism has never been a realistic option for any major nation. It wasn’t when England and Spain were crossing cutlasses in the Carribean in the days of Drake and it isn’t now. Just yesterday a list of the most peaceful countries was published. It was topped by Norway. Well, obviously, because Norway doesn’t matter*. The USA matters. The UK almost matters. I just wish some idiots would get it through their skulls that if you’re a major global player trouble just comes your way. I read a lot of Victorian/Edwardian novels and many “anarchist” or similar characters parrot the exact same Pilgerisms against the British Empire as similar idiots do today against America. The only difference is that nowadays these people get respect. Apparently, 1800 years ago such sentiments were commonplace against the bloody Romans!

    Power and wealth will always make you enemies whereas it’s real easy to be liked if you’re a nation of 5 million only noted for your picturesque scenery…

    Nick M – serious former player of Civ. Oh, the lost weekends… The flatmates thinking me mad because I was making tea at 4am and muttering about “having to take down the Zulus”. The crammed ash-trays and the bleary eyes… Goddamit, Sid, you’ve got a lot to answer for!

    *Except to the Norwegians and those wonderful blue parrots they raise…

  • Nick M

    Declare war on who, exactly?
    Declare war on Iran?
    Declare war on the Saudis?
    Declare war on Hamas?
    Declare war on Palestine?
    – which doesn’t really exist.
    Declare war on the madrassas of Pakistan?
    Declare war on assorted “rogue-states”?
    – ignoring the fact that most terrorist funding is non-state. They are in fact remarkably libertarian in their jihad.
    Declare war on the UAE?
    Declare war on Islam in general?

    OK, that might be a bit of a piss-take and I basically support your view that we ought to prosecute “the war” with our utmost force but… isn’t it the case that GWB and TB effectively launched this children’s crusade by declaring that the ideology of the enemy was essentially pacific? I remember the “Religion of Peace” speech and thinking “Oh, fuck! We’ve lost this one before we’ve even started it”.

    In the wee small hours I have occasionally pondered being in Dubya’s shoes on 9/11. It usually comes down to this: “Cease and desist from jihad or next Hajj we nuke Mecca”.

    Dubya and Blair made an epic mistake. This is a war against Islam. Muslims see it as a war against Islam so why didn’t we call it as such? Because we didn’t want to lose our muslim “allies”? Yeah, right, whatever. Well, we lost them anyway because they consider this a crusade regardless of what we say but what we failed to achieve was any clarity of purpose.

  • James of England

    Isolationism isn’t just about Tanks.
    Ron Paul opposes economic freedom.
    He opposes the global and national economic growth that comes from trade.
    He doesn’t just think that Americans are immoral in the public sphere, he also thinks they’re uncompetitive in the private sphere.
    As such, I was never going to like him. Still, that’s not the reason I despise him.

    He pretends that his opinions on *everything* are the only way forward that the constitution permits. It’s a kind of argument that buggers respect for the constitution. One of the great things about the American constitution is that a reasonably bright school child can learn more or less everything that it demands. It’s a short list of rights that get enforced, not a long list of “rights” that fails to. It’s lasted hundreds of years (most of it) at the heart of American identity. It could not have done this if it was the kind of micro managing setting of the views of the founders in aspic that Paul thinks it is. His rhetoric in this area is yet another respect in which he is like the Lou Dobbs/ Michael Moore wing of the Democrats, not like the Friedmanite, Hayekian, Straussian wing of the Republicans.

  • REN


    “Isn’t the larger issue of tribalism captured by this: ‘I felt sick hearing him spit on America at the debates.'”

    I don’t like that kind of divisive talk either (quoted above). I believe Ron Paul cares, is usually quite reasonable and honest, and he’s a Patriot, no matter what people say about him. I also believe this about most of the so-called neocons, conspiracy loving leftists and “real” or “fake” Libertarians. Most of them just happen to be wrong about *something*, that’s all.

    With tribalism, which should be a coming together, we have more division and focus on how we’re different rather than on how we’re the same. I don’t think the American civil society can survive this kind of tribal deconstructionism; a fragmenting of the American identity and value sets. If we can’t bring this together, we really do deserve to be pulled apart. And that’s not a hope, it’s a reality and a fear.

    I believe that we’re all seeing the same thing and simply calling it by different names. But when are we going to realize this and come to some consensus? We need to stop being such intellectual elitists and start really educating ourselves and each other.

  • Midwesterner


    You lost me in your 1:19PM comment. Perhaps because I see everything in terms of individualist verses collectivist.

    My opposition to multiculturalism (which I’m not sure if that’s what you mean by tribalism) is that it is segregationism by a PC name. It is collectivism in it’s baldest, most ethnic form. Individuals are bound to ‘their’ culture much like slaves to a master.

    I agree with the essence of your second paragraph although I think the category that can best be called Nihilist is larger than you think. But that is just my subjective opinion. But the rest of your comment pretty much missed me.

  • nick g.

    Alisa, you think that Ron Paul can’t be anti-isolationist and pro-noninterventionist. Where’s the contradiction? Trade can be both, so long as you don’t force other nations to trade with you. If the US were to trade with other countries that wanted to trade, and didn’t interfere with their economies or societies (i.e. stayed out of Central America, no matter how socialist those countries went), that would not be a contradictary policy.

  • a.sommer

    BTW, come to think of it, most Americans I’ve met tend to hold fairly isolationist views, to various degrees. Is it just me?

    No. Quite a lot of Americans wish the rest of the planet would grow up, learn to get along with the neighbors, and concentrate on building decent plumbing and reliable electrical systems so they will be nice places to go on vacation, and are somewhat annoyed that it seems like the presence of American troops is necessary to ensure this happens. We would much rather concentrate on getting rich than solving the world’s problems- they’re your problems, you should deal with them. Unless there is profit to be made by solving the problem, in that case, our interest is directly proportional to the return-on-investment.

    (I not exaggerating nearly as much as you think.)

    While most Americans recognize that it is occasionally necessary to go to (someplace most of us have never heard of) and bomb some sense into the locals, very few of us like it, and even fewer think it would be a good thing to be in charge of (place most of us have never heard of before) on an ongoing basis.

    (I am not exaggerating this part in the slightest)

  • REN


    Earlier, I wrote a more involved comment but it was lost when I accidentally closed a preview window without clicking “post.” Please forgive my fragmented replacement post, it paled in comparison to the first. lol. Even this response isn’t quite what I originally wrote or meant, oh well… ya gotta start somewhere.

    I see tribalism as being a step down from a civil society. I know there tends to be an ebb and a flow in the world’s cultures, from tribalism to civil society and back, but I usually thought of it as having little to do with the intellectual movements and circles. But as I was thinking seriously about why I call myself a lower-case “l” libertarian and just chuckle at the hard-liner capital “L” Libertarians, I realized there’s too much intellectual elitism dividing the important thinkers in the conservative camps.

    This leads right back into the tribalism thoughts, as I am starting to see it as a new tribalism which amounts to a deconstructionism of sorts. Perhaps it is nihilism, as you noted. The so-called “real” Libertarians (who I tend to think of as isolationists) are now pulling back from the world stage, believing that we shouldn’t be so presumptuous to think that the whole world wants “freedom” and “liberty.” Hell, can we even handle it ourselves?

    I understand where they are coming from but disagree with them on the solution. MAYBE fixing things here will be fixing them there, better than if done aggressively and intentionally. I just don’t see that happening though. So, if what they are saying and suggesting is really capital “L” Libertarianism, then I will never be a “Libertarian” in that sense. But, I defy their arrogant assumption that I am not a “libertarian” because I respectfully disagree with their views on foreign politics.

  • I not exaggerating nearly as much as you think.

    You don’t know what I think:-) I lived in the US for 13 years, but have left 4 years ago. So I was just checking to see whether I have not lived there long enough, or, more likely, have not been interacting with sufficiently varied types of people (I have not lived in California, after all:-)).

    Nick g.: Trade between countries is not the same as trade between individual citizens of the same country, because there is not such thing as an international law enforcement system (not that I am complaining).

  • Paul Marks

    I hold James of England to be wrong in thinking that Ron Paul opposes economic freedom – he does not.

    What Ron Paul said in the debate made me feel sick, as did all those people who e.mailed me (after I had commented on it) and said that Ron Paul had not really said this and that I was “putting words in his mouth” (and that it was all a plot by Fox News – and so on). However, I will not attack him for things he is not guilty of.

    It is true that in the debate it was Congressman Tancredo (not Ron Paul) who attacked the Welfare State – but Ron Paul has attacked it in the past.

    Dale Amon.

    Real I.D.

    Ron Paul (like most Texas Republicans) is a tough anti illegal immigration man.

    How do you enforce immigration law (for example allow employers to know whether they are employing illegals, or landlords to know whether they are renting to illegals) without reliable I.D.?

    You can not do the job.

    Q.E.D. A President Paul would not be against reliable I.D. (whatever he says now).

    Although, of course, there is not going to be a President Paul. Or a Republican candidate Ron Paul.

    I say again the majority of people who sent in text votes supporting him are leftists (moveon.org and so on).

    They are not registered Republicans and will not take part in the nomination process.

    And (if by some act of God) Ron Paul was the Republican candidate for President of the United States THEY WOULD NOT VOTE FOR HIM.

    They are socialists and neo socialists – and he is not.

    They are using him to make the Republican party look silly – nothing more.

  • How do you enforce immigration law (for example allow employers to know whether they are employing illegals, or landlords to know whether they are renting to illegals) without reliable I.D.? -Paul Marks

    Indeed. Also, Real Id makes it much easier for the government to prosecute drug crimes, tax evasion, gun laws, and many other limits the state may wish to enforce on the populace. But at least we won’t have so many Mexicans living here.

  • Midwesterner

    REN, the typical commenters on this site have developed more ways to destroy their own comments before they get them posted … Welcome to that club. I personally have done it so many times that I now have a method. I preview my comments frequently while drafting. Then, if I accidently send it to the ether, I can go to my cache file and copy it. Just reorder the cache file chronologically, then go down and look at the most recent pages. I do this often enough that I have an alias for the folder the cache files are in. Saves time.

    I guess it’s a matter of perspective. I equate tribalism (in what is I think the sense you are using it) with collectivism. Whether it is regressive or not is a tougher question. I have met too many collectivists that genuinely did desire collectivism with all it’s consequential features for me to believe them all self delusional. It is most certainly not for me, but I can see why a substantial part of our population desires it.

    The people I refer to now are not Nihilists of Deconstructionists per se, but rather simply chose to deligate their decision making process to a collective. I don’t know much about Mormonism and it’s conversion process, but I’ve seen something of this desire to abandon oneself to a higher authority in other conversions. To no longer have to live in the scary world of self responsibility. To give up oneself to something bigger, and then to take that bigger thing as one’s own identity. The mere thought of that mind set gives me the queezies which is why I hang around here. But collectivism is a genuine choice by these people.

    There could be a little bit of this mind set in the isolationist camp of the Libertarians. A desire to lock oneself in a secure house, safe from a scary world. And perhaps it does have an abandonment of self value component. I know I have never done well with big L libertarians either but I’ve never tried to figure out why. Intellectual elitism is conformism is collectivism. Truth is served by vigorous debate, not purified doctrine. (And you’ll soon find that Samizdata is an iconoclastic flow if ever there was.)

    Tribalism in it’s most traditional sense is a collective that people give themselves up to. We can look at evil tyrants and their cowering sycophants and believe we see thugs and victims. In some cases (Saddam and Kurds) that is what it is. But in all cases, that thug has a support base of willing cooperators that assume their ‘natural place’ as underclass and willingly grant the ‘superior place’ to the thug. And when the accepted thug fails badly enough, he can be violently replaced. And all participants assume that this is the natural order of things. And as common as this structure is in insect and animal colonies, perhaps it is.

    But as far as which came first, collective human societies or individualist human societies, I don’t know. When population densities were low enough, I’m sure individuals could successfully leave a tribe or family and shop around or go solo for a while. It is a fundamental part of many Native American rituals of achieving adulthood that you prove your ability to survive alone before you can return to the tribe. A pattern of social individualism is also common in the insect and animal world and also in our own human history. I’m not sure that individualism is a ‘higher’ evolution of society. Perhaps collectives will become the highest evolved forms of societies. Much like beehives and ants are perhaps the highest form of insect society. But I know what a truly collective society must be and it horrifies me. That is both because and why I am an individualist. A great many collectivists are truly horrified by what I know an individualist society must be.

    C’est la vie.

  • James of England

    He’s opposed every trade agreement, unilateral, bilateral, regional, or global. He’s spent a bunch of time talking about protecting American jobs through government coercion. Domestically, too, he has often decided to side with big government when it comes to regulation (not so much with taxation, admittedly.)
    Whenever Bush has done something that this site broadly supports (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, supporting Free Trade, liberating Iraqis, supporting the charter school movement, protecting Taiwan) Ron Paul has voted red in the UK/ Soviet political colour scheme, not the American one.
    On a range of social issues, he’s against the libertarian views of sites like this. He’s pro-life, against needle exchanges and suchlike. He’s not just against funding the troops, he’s against forgiving Iraqi debt from the Saddam era.
    His absolutism and fake moral high ground mean that it is hard to imagine him converting anyone to libertarianism. I never understand why the man is liked or even tolerated by his party (not the republican party) or by sites like this.
    Anyway, I can see how people could come to the conclusion that he liked economic freedom, since he’s anti union, which could be read as supporting freedom (although freedom of association is a tough one to classify), and he’s generally anti-environment. Still, on the stuff that I end up reading about and caring about, he’s as red as Bernie Sanders.

  • faye

    Lets see, who should I vote for? A guy who’s politics I agree with 90%+ on or a guy I agree with on one issue.

    God I hate ‘one issue’ voters. They’re the reason why we have/had such shitty presidential candiates.

  • Paul Marks

    First real I.D. – I did not say I was in favour of it, I said you can not be strongly anti illegal immigrant and be against some form or reliable I.D. (and Ron Paul is strongly anti illegal immigrant – he a Texas Republican he enough practical experience to know that the Cato Institute line that the illegals are, on balance, a gain is B.S. – they are massive drain on the taxpayer [everything from E.R.s to school and social services for the children], they are responsble for a wildly disprotionate amount of violent crime, and more and more of them are trying to vote – which will enable them to steal on an even greater scale).

    Otherwise how do such things as fine on employers work? After all the employer can always say “I thought he was legal, he showed me a library card [or whatever] and that looked O.K.”

    Free migration might work just fine in a society were there were no taxpayer provided services (although it would still depend on the migrants being loyal to the country they went to and a lot of the migrants comming into the United States are anything but loyal, indeed many of them believe that a lot of the land should really be part of Mexico – reversing the wars of 1848 and 1836) – but the present United States is not such a free market society.

    James of England.

    Yes Ron Paul is anti N.A.F.T.A. – but that does not mean he is a protectionist (he would have free trade without any formal agreements).

    Actually it is Duncan Hunter who is a protectionist.

    Duncan Hunter is no fool (on national security matters there is no one in the race more knowledgeable than he is), and he does have arguments agianst relying on Chinese imports (both that American manufacturing is vital for national security, in various specific ways [not just “he want to protect jobs”], and that Chinese exports are subsidised in an effort to destroy American manufacturing which could not be rebuilt quickly once destroyed – both directly subsidised and subsidised via the rigged exchange rates).

    However, I agree with you that protectionism is not the way to make American manufacturing stronger. The basic problems (government spending is too high, taxes are too high, and there is a vast web of regulations that must be got rid of – such as “anti trust” regulations). Just pointing at the Chinese misses the point.

    Also at least America still has a manufacturing base – it is not pretended (as it is in Britain) that a vast population can all live (directly or indirectly) by playing with the credit money bubble.


    Are you making one of the classic mistakes? Real question – I am NOT saying you are.

    The classic mistake I am thinking of is to think that libertarians believe in “individualism”.

    What libertarians (and classical Edumund Burke conservatives) believe in is voluntarism.

    I.E. – civil society, (civil as in the great web of civil interactions that make up “society” in the classical Western sense of the word – interactions of both individuals, but also of families and commercial and non commercial organizations).

    It is not a question of cooperation of individualism. It is a question of civil cooperation (liberty) or coercion (socialism).

    “You free market types believe in atomistic individualism” is one of the oldest smears in the book.

  • Midwesterner


    I’m not sure. I believe in social individualism. That is, potentially atomistic individuals who choose to cooperate. How this compares to voluntarism, I don’t know.

    For me, philosophy is like the refrigerator. I open up a container (book about some philosophy) and take a sip. If I can’t tell if it’s any good, I’ll take a bigger sip. At some point, I either decide it’s good and finish it off, or I spit it out and throw away the container and whatever is left in it.

    As a consequence of not reading what I don’t like, I don’t know much about what I don’t like. I know that I have some basic disconnect with big ‘L’ Libertarians (and for that matter, even many small ‘l’ libertarians) but I have never analyzed it. Unlike many here, I do not believe there are any ‘beings’ other than individuals in an individualist society. No LLCs or other collectivized entities, etc. To extend that thought, a corporation is, justly, nothing more than a lot of individuals who are individually responsible for their share of the whole and no more or less than that.

    In answer to your question, I suspect that I am not making the mistake but rather agreeing with that truth. But I don’t know. In light of what I’ve added, maybe you can tell me.

  • Paul Marks

    No you are not making the mistake Midwesterner – my apologies.

  • James of England

    I should have been clearer about what I meant by unilateral, bilateral, regional and global agreements. It’s not just NAFTA and CAFTA (regional). It’s not just Singapore, Chile, Australia, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Morocco, Peru, Panama, Colombia, South Korea, and South Africa, all of which have similar issues to NAFTA (multilateral). It’s also the WTO (global). All of these involve treaties and Ron Paul is against the treaty mechanism.
    The African Growth and Opportunity Act (unilateral) doesn’t have these problems, though, and he still voted against it. He is good about subsidies, because taxes, abortion, and sometimes guns are his republican positions, and subsidies are, to an extent, tax issues. Still, when it comes to actual bills passed, Ron Paul opposes trade even when it comes without his constitutional issues. As so often, Ron Paul’s constitution is a veil for Ron Paul’s policy beliefs.

  • James of England

    FWIW, I agree that Paul (Ron) is not a Duncan Hunt (without the “er” the rhyming slang works better). His rhetoric is more trade friendly than his voting patter and his voting pattern isn’t all bad. He’s the worst of the POTUS candidates other than the explicit protectionists (Tancredo and Hunter) and Huckabee in front of some audiences. Giuliani, Romney, Gingrich, McCain, Brownback and, hell, even Hagel have all been relatively serious supporters of trade. If Paul were a Democrat, he wouldn’t be the best on the issue, but he’d be in the top half.

    As I was saying, I don’t think his heart is behind economic freedom, not in the way that his republican rivals tend to be, but that doesn’t bother me in the way that his false constitutionalism does. Paul works with the progressives to destroy the shared beliefs and understandings of the constitution which have been one of the things that really makes America great. It’s also one of the things that makes America relatively libertarian, since even those who are “tough on crime” respect the constitution. The more people learn to switch off when they’re told the constitution demands something, the less strong the argument becomes.

  • Paul Marks

    James of England I think I understand what you mean about Ron Paul and trade now.

    What you are saying (if I am interpreting correctly) is that Ron Paul is pro free trade in theory – but against all the practical efforts there have been to make free less unfree.

    You have a point.

    However, on the Constitution of the United States even as a nonAmerican I must disagree.

    The Constitution says what it says. There is no “shared understanding” that can replace the words of the Constitution. There is no “shared understanding” as non text based “interpretations” change all the time.

    All there is the arbitrary whims of Supreme Court judges (often mentioning previous arbitrary whims as “precedents” – as if the meaning of a contract could be replaced by what various judges over the decades would have prefered it to say). This is not good enough.

    For example, there is no “general welfare” spending power in the Constitution of the United States (allowing the government to spend any amount of money on anything it feels like spending it on). The “common defence and general welfare” is the PURPOSE of the spending powers granted to Congress by Section Eight of Article One of the Consitution of the United States.

    Nor does “regulate interstate commerce” give the Congress any power to regulate commercial activity that does not cross a State line (the argument that “selling X in one State has an effect on the price, or whatever, of commerce is other States” has no rightful Constitutional force).

    Also “coin money” does not mean print fiat money or give others the power to do so (nor was it meant to – the Founders did not want to go back to the “not worth a Continental” of the Continental Congress). And only gold or silver coin may be legal tender in any State of the United States.

    “But most people do not agree with such things, so people like Tom Tancredo or Ron Paul talking about them does no good”.

    Then AMEND the Constitution to allow such things as Social Security and the other “entitlement programs” (and fiat money and whatever) if that is what you wish to do. By he way to talk about a country where more than a third of the economy is taken in government spending and the rest is tied up with a vast web of regulations as “fairly libertarian” is streatching things a bit. If you had said “a bit less disgusting that Britain” you would have been closer to the truth.

    After all that is what the Australians did with their Constitution.

    Do not just have the government appoint judges to the Supreme Court till they get an “interpretation” that allows them to unconstitutionally spend, or unconstitutionally regulate (which is how the Supreme Court was changed back in the 1930’s and 1940’s as various people retired – although two of the worst judgements [allowing the stealing of privately owned gold and the voiding of private contracts] were made in 1935 – whilst “the Four Horsemen” were still on the Court).

    Indeed you can write a whole new Constitution.

    One does not need to even get the consent of two thirds of the Senate and the House of Representatives as one needs with an Amendment (before it goes to the States in the hopes of getting three quaters of them to agree).

    Just two thirds of the States have to ask and you get a Convention.

    But what must not be done is what is done now.

    I repeat there is no “shared understanding of the Constitution”, most Americans have never even read it, even though it is only a few pages long.

    This is no accident – any more than the “Pledge of Allegiance” being to the FLAG (rather than the Constitution) is an accident. The socialist Bellamy brothers (Francis and Edward) hated the Constitution of the United States and hit on “the flag” as a pretend patriotic substitute (they made an unholy alliance with the flag making companies to spread the idea of every state school having a flag and the children repeating their vague pledge).

    The last thing that establishment (i.e. the people who control such things as academia and the mainstream media) want is for ordinary people reading the Constitution or the other writings of the men who wrote it.

    “Bottom line Paul, someone like Congressman Tancredo would not get elected”.

    Most likely so James.

    Which is why (if I was a citizen) I would most likely back someone like Fred Thompson (on the grounds, that whilst not a purist, he would make things a bit less disgusting than they are now).

    But neither you or me are running for office. Nor are we working for any of the campaigns – so we can be open in an theorectical discussion on a blog.

    It is not a situation of (for example) saying to all the old people on Social Security. “Now even though the money you get is unconstitutional, remember to vote for me”.

    Although the way the entitlement programs are heading it will not matter that one can not say they are unconstitutional (without losing too many votes) – as the system is going to go bankrupt anyway.

    Unless, of course, there is real reform (i.e. rolling back the government) soon. One need not scrap these programs overnight – but it really is a choice of limiting them (rolling them back) or watching the system going bust.

  • Paul Marks

    I should have typed that the “common defence and general welfare” is the PURPOSE of the various spending powers granted to the Congress – it is not a spending power in-its-self.

    Otherwise there would be no need to mention such things as an army and a navy (it would all be covered by “common defence”). “What about the Air Force?”

    There was no United States Air Force till after World War II (although there could have been in an Amendment had been made – after all many Amendments have been made, the most recent concerning the pay of Representatives and Senators). Aircraft were just weapons that the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army used (hence the name in World War II was the United States Army Air Force).

    “But why should there have to be an Amendment every time some influential people want to add a new function of government?”

    Take that up with the Founders – do not just have the government ignore what they wrote and believed.

    They wanted the burden of proof to be placed on those who wished to expand the role of the Federal government. Hence the difficulty of getting an Amendment.

    It is difficult, not impossible. And if “the people” really want government to do some new thing (even a stupid new thing like ban booze as the 18th Amendment did – by the way when was the drugs Amendment passed?) it will happen.

    All the short cut approach of “amendment by interpretation” did was allow the government to expand without this strong specific desire by most people.

    It was the “the people voted for X, so anything that X wants to do must be O.K.” line. Which is not what the Founders wanted.

    Indeed the Supreme Court and other courts have sometimes even demanded that government do X (or Y or Z) when the elected people were against doing it.

    Both at Federal and State level.

    Even down to tax increases (for education and other things) mandated by various Federal and State courts.

    This shows just how silly government by the whims of Judges (choosing to put their own political opinions above the text of the United States Constitution and the various State Constitutions) is.

    I sometimes suspect that the real reason that “liberals” hate “Rednecks” is not that some “Rednecks” do not hold with evolution (although the first major theologians that pointed out Christianity was perfectly compatible with evolution were in fact American Scottish Common Sense school philosophers – Noah Porter and James McCosh, the sort of people that the “liberals” would only allow in universities to clean the toilets today). But, rather, that a traditional Protestant reads the Constitution in the way he reads the Bible – i.e. in the belief that the words have a clear meaning that can be found by an ordinary person who reads and thinks about them.

    The “liberals” would prefer that people follow the “interpretations” of their betters (the establishment elite).

  • James of England

    Paul, I’m not sure how much of this you think I disagree with.
    We start with agreement. I’m all good with that. 😉
    Then you say that shared understanding can’t replace the words of the constitution. After this you diss the SCOTUS and suggest that the constitution doesn’t matter that much. From there on in, it’s all hostility toward the living constitutionalists.

    I think I should respond by starting with my minor nitpick, a defense of the SCOTUS, to get it out of the way. I’ve spent most of my adult life studying US and UK law and I’m simply not able to go with the idea that you could have the constitution operating as a free standing entity without the support of judicial precedence. How much process is “due”? When is a fine “excessive”? What can be regulated in order to regulate interstate commerce? Are prison sentences “cruel”? When is a search “reasonable”? there are many, many, many such questions that really need to be answered and cannot be answered with the text alone.

    Law schools in both countries get you to read a fair number of cases and the SCOTUS has long struck me as one of the most principled courts in the world, massively less individualised (read: concerned with the attractiveness of the plaintiff) than any European, Carribean, Latin American, or Asian court that I’ve studied. The changes that get blown up in the press tend to be relatively minor changes in a pretty stable system. When big laws get struck down, they tend to be new laws. Crawford, in which the confrontation clause was reinvigorated is probably the only case this century in which long standing conceptions of the constitution were changed in a way that affected many people.

    Anyway, my appreciation for the SCOTUS is by the by. Most Americans aren’t going to be too quick to tell you what the fifteenth amendment does, but 70% of them are able to tell pollsters that the first amendment is about free speech. Everyone knows that abortion is/ is not in the constitution. I can’t find stats on how many know the fifth amendment is about miranda rights, the fourth about search and seizure, the second about guns, the eighth about guantanamo and the fourteenth about martin luther king and Abraham Lincoln, but I’m guessing from anecdotal evidence they have roughly the same penetration as the first amendment. America taxes highly, but the state still gets boxed in with regulation in a way that means that I feel comfortable calling it libertarian. It’s not a utopia, but without descending into “the USSR was never communist” arguments, the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments really do exert a normative libertarian hold on the American mind. There’s a reason that we have double jeopardy, hearsay, ex post facto legislation, virtual police impunity and other raw expressions of state power and they do not (at least not in the same way).

    Still, I do agree with you that a textualist, originalist, approach is essential. That’s why I don’t like Ron Paul. His argument against trade agreements is because they’re unconstitutional. His argument against the troop presence in Iraq is that it’s unconstitutional. His argument against Roe v. Wade is that the constitution demands that each state makes its own way (although he still votes in federal laws on it). He thinks that marijuana bans are unconstitutional, although he thinks that the controlled substances act can constitutionally do other stuff. While some of his weirder things (his belief that juries rather than judges should decide on points or law, or his gold buggery) do seem to spring from the constitution to his political beliefs, everything else seems to be formulated as a political opinion and then become justified by making up shit about the constitution. Every time public figures take the constitution away from the understandable text, the public’s respect dies a little bit more. I don’t know of anyone, Republican or Democrat, who has worked as tirelessly as Paul to destroy the shared respect for the text of the constitution through conflation of that text with their ego.

  • Chris of Georgia, USA

    Hello James of England,
    I am hesitant to question one so obviously well-versed in Constitutional theory and practice. However, I think you miss one of the facets of Ron Paul that appeals to so many of us without your incomparable legal understanding. The fact that he even considers the Constitution when deciding whether he he should vote for or against a law is incredibly refreshing. This is not just rare, it is borderline unique. What good is taking an oath to protect the Constitution if one merely ignores it? At that point, it becomes no longer worth protecting.

    A piece earlier in the year by George Will mentioned local rice farmers in his Rep. Paul’s district looking for ‘assistance.’ Surprise…he actually told Will ‘sorry, but I can’t find money for rice farmers in the Constitution,’ and later voted against their request. Can you imagine the ego?! He’s like a man possessed!

    Oh, but if only we had a few more in Washington possessed with an ego like that.


  • Willem De Wit

    I guess I should preface this post by admitting that I am probably one of those “fake” libertarians. Or, I guess, an anti-war wackjob and Truther (never mind that I mistakenly supported the Iraq war at the outset, and can’t imagine our government being capable enough to even think up something like 9/11).

    “We gave them the gas.” We did give Saddam the precursors, though, right? Had we not given those to him, would there have been gas to be used against the Kurds?

    I’m confused about the difference between isolationism and non-interventionism. It appears, based on some of the comments I’ve read in this thread, that there is no difference, that voting against free trade agreements means one is against free trade. Isn’t a free trade agreement the antithesis of free trade?

    For those that want to place bets on Ron Paul, get in while you can, because his odds have already improved from 200:1 to 15:1.

    Is it an unconstitutional war? Not really. War was never properly declared, so it’s not a war.

    CNN grilled Paul about his belief that 9/11 was a Bush plot? I must’ve missed that. I’m also confused. If Paul believes 9/11 was organized by Bush, why is Paul concerned about finding bin Laden?

    “Islamists attacked not only the US but also many other countries, so the theory of blowback is bogus.” Right. If we had never meddled in the Middle East, 9/11 would still have happened, because our actions in the Middle East don’t have any consequences whatsoever. Bin Laden was not at all pissed off at the Saudis for being rebuffed when he offered the services of his guerilla fighters to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam’s forces after Iraq invaded Kuwait. He was not at all pissed off at the United States “infidels” for being invited by the Saudis instead. We must ignore bin Laden’s words, because the saying “know thy enemy” is bogus.

    “Are you saying we invited 9/11?” I still can’t imagine how suggesting that our actions abroad have consequences, that our policies in the Middle East over the last few decades contributed to 9/11, is considered by some to be a traitorous remark. But, by all means, “pure” libertarians, put your blinders back on and continue your mantra that they attacked us because of our freedoms. Heck, the way our country is headed, we’ll soon be safe, what with our freedoms being taken away by our own government. Guess all we have to do is sit back and wait for that one “catastrophic emergency” now.

  • Martin

    The sad fact about ‘libertarians’ that approve the nation building and long-term occupations, and the preemptive wars that the Bush administration approves of is that they completely fail to realise that war is the ultimate big government operation, and probably more than anything else has led to the worst statist evils. The Bush administration in America and the Blair government in Britain talk a fancy show about protecting freedom by fighting wars abroad, yet have shown completely that they have utter contempt for liberty at home. And they use the wars going on as an excuse to curtail even more liberties.

    And I think the hysteria about Islamists, Iran, Syria etc just shows how irrational people have got about foreign policy. Yes, I know Bin Laden is scum. Iran and Syria are hardly nice regimes. But are they the worst threat to our civilisation? Iran’s total economy amounts to less than American defense spending. It may talk a load of bluster, but if it developed and fired a nuclear weapon at Israel, Israel has more than enough nuclear bombs to wipe out Iran. Iran is wrecking its own economy. That regime is sliding and sliding. Bombing Iran in a preemptive strike would solidify the regime for years though. The regime could channel all public focus onto foreign affairs, just as Fidel Castro and Kim Jong- Il do now.

    I think the idea that any diplomacy with Iran is ‘appeasement’ utterly stupid. If we can negotiate with the worst regime on Earth (The USSR), we can negotiate with 2bit regimes like Iran. Maybe Iran’s leaders are as mad as Hitler. But they don’t have the resources to threaten us in any way comparable to Hitler. Nazi Germany was the 2nd biggest economy in the world in 1939. As I said, Iran’s economy barely registers. They even have to import petrol despite sitting on loads of oil.

    As for Al Queda, I support trying to shut down the network, but I think we can do it without torture, without Gitmo, without ID cards, without using it to expand the criminal drug war, and we can certainly do it without turning Iraq into a terrorist base like we’ve managed to in Iraq. And Al Queda, despite being evil bastards, do not compare to past foes like Nazi Germany and the USSR. Nazi Germany killed more than 3000 innocents a day during WW2 (ie a 9/11 every day in terms of lives), and the USSR had 30,000 nuclear weapons. Through sensible policies(as opposed to he current alarmist policies) we can deal with Al Queda. If we insist on a global crusade against every rogue state and every single terrorist group, and insist on a war against all muslims, we will be fighting wars forever, we will bankrupt ourselves, and we’ll lose all our liberties as we would need a police state to manage such a war.

  • James of England

    Chris, I think that you’d be surprised at the amount of time that congressmen spend thinking about the constitution. A bunch of them, not including Paul, are lawyers and have extensive education on the subject. It’s true that very few are as loud about their devotion to the subject. One of the consequences is that most are then less obvious than Paul when they vote.

    eg. Paul does not believe that abortion is a federal matter, because Paul does not believe in Roe v. Wade. Paul is, however, willing to violate his oath and vote for federal abortion laws (banning partial birth abortions). He believes that the regulation of drugs he likes is unconstitutional, but votes for the regulation of the drugs he doesn’t like. He’s against the department of education, rhetorically, and he often, but not always, votes the way that his “conscience of the house” rhetoric would suggest on the subject. Where he violates his own ethical guidelines he tends to be good on education, vouchers and suchlike, but it still exposes his BS for what it is.
    If you go to political conferences, you can talk to politicians about the constitution. You’ll find most of them knowledgeable and interested. What marks out Paul isn’t his impressive willingness to “sacrifice” himself by voting as he’d like to anyway (his opposition to subsidies appears to be a genuine policy view). It’s his Al Gore-like moral preening covering up an Al Gore like hypocrisy.

  • James of England

    Just to repeat the earlier disclaimer; on policy grounds Paul doesn’t seem like a bad guy. Trade is important to me, as is the war, and he’s not terribly good on either issue, but he’s good on subsidies, taxes, and a variety of other issues. It’s just sad to me that people get taken in by the idea that he’s the only guy with a conscience because, like Al Gore, he’s the guy who never shuts up about his conscience.

  • Willem De Wit

    You have a point there, James.

    If Paul does not believe the Constitution gives the federal government the power to deal with abortion, and therefore does not support Roe v Wade, his vote to allow the federal government to ban partial-birth abortions doesn’t make a lot of sense.


    Reading that, not only does Paul admit that HR760 is constitutionally flawed, but he even believes that it may be against the best interest of the pro-life movement.

    He sums it up with “Despite its severe flaws, this bill nonetheless has the possibility of saving innocent human life, and I will vote in favor of it.” I’d say that allowing the federal government to ban abortion outright would “save” many more innocent lives, so why hasn’t he proposed a bill like that?

    I’m sure that, being flawed like all of us, there are more votes like this in his history. I’m afraid there’s no way I can defend these kind of votes. I fully believe that the other candidates have made plenty of votes that compromise their interpretation of the Constitution, but I was kind of hoping that Paul, with his rhetoric about the Constitution, would be more stringent about adhering to that very Constitution, even if it goes against his personal beliefs.

  • Willem De Wit

    PS Just ran across this little tidbit:


    I still believe the HR760 vote was unconstitutional, and had a flawed logic behind it, but I can respect HR776… even though I respectfully disagree with it as I cannot accept (yet?) that the moment a sperm cell merges with an egg, that mixture of cells should have all the rights that I have.

  • James of England

    I’m not saying that he’s breaking the US constitution. I agree with the SCOTUS that the partial birth abortion ban was constitutional. I’m saying that he breaks the constitution that he’s described. He makes up huge chunks of con law to support his policy views, makes a big noise about them and decries people who disagree with him as oath-breakers. He does this too often to remain consistent, and ends up doing stuff like this.

    Other than Bush with McCain-Feingold, I can’t think of a politician who has said that they were acting against their own understanding of the constitution, but Paul does it all the time. I don’t think it matters whether or not he’s right about abortion.

    It’s about good faith. In the same way as Al Gore would be scum even if there was a scientific consensus that included the possibility of a six metre sea level rise, and American cars really were banned from China, it’s the moral preening on a particular issue combined with moral failure on that same issue that bothers me.

  • Eric Kuhlmann

    I cannot believe people who seem so reasonably intelligent can say things that are simply not true. Especially from people who I used to respect as people who I thought followed the constitution.

    Paul is NOT an isolationist. Hes about non-intervenion.

    Negotiate, befriend and trade. No entangling alliances. Explain how this is isolationism.

    He believes the congress should declare war, he said we were absolutely justified in going to ww2. CONGRESS DECLARED THAT WAR AND WE WON IT.

    Please tell me a war we’ve won since then, oh right, NONE.

    His views on radical islam are frankly not views. They are objective facts supported by the cia and the 9/11 commission report. He is simply suggesting we examine the facts.

    Tying him to 9/11 conspiracy groups is just intellectually irresponsible. Stop being sheep to the propaganda machine and do your own research. Its been thoroughly debunked.

    Whether or not you agree with paul you have to respect his principles and his voting record. Hes spot on. Its very easy to tell how he will vote on something, just pick up the constitution. Why is this a bad thing?