As readers of this blog (or my articles) know, I do not endorse politicians. In fact, I loathe them and hate them for what they are, what they stand for, and what they try to achieve. They are, in the very worst sense of the word, the rulers of the State and the ugly force that keeps it growing, feeding off people’s liberties.
Ron Paul, even though his ideology and political agenda is a whole lot better than the alternatives, is still a politician and as such he is necessarily the enemy of liberty. In previous posts (see links below) I predicted what would happen if the Paul campaign was successful, e.g. that Ron Paul might cause a divide in the libertarian movement and make people more strongly embrace party politics as a way forward (or – even worse – make people who have been “properly disillusioned” go back to politics). Most of my predictions have turned out to be true, even though the libertarian divide between pro-politics and anti-politics libertarians is not as obvious as I feared. (The libertarian party is doing a better job than Ron Paul in creating this divide.)
I was sad to see that so many anarchist libertarians so wholeheartedly embraced his campaign and spent both time, energy, and money to support his candidature and campaign. Whether he has a chance to win or not is of little relevance when you give up your principles.
Even though I would never endorse, and even less vote for, Ron Paul, I have followed his campaign and been overwhelmed (in a good way) by the enormous crowds attracted by his sincere message of less government. There was indeed a small-government remnant both within and without the republican party; they are politics-embracing libertarians (which is no doubt an evil union that has to be undone), but still in many ways libertarians. These people may potentially change the political scene in the United States, at least temporarily, but I doubt we will notice it much. Politics is not a means for liberty, it is a means only for taking liberty away from people.
But despite the problems and evils born and strengthened by Ron Paul’s campaign, there are a few things for which he and his “movement” deserve my and other anti-politics libertarians’ gratitude. I am not referring to the huge crowds of people who now might have learned about libertarian ideals and ideas, and possibly begin calling themselves libertarians – they may still be a problem, even though many of these people may also potentially become principled anti-state libertarians.
The most important contribution of Ron Paul’s campaign lies in the republican party and how the party has reacted to his supporters. The republican party, with its roots in a somewhat libertarian idea (the “Old Right”), have been seen as a natural ally in party politics by many statist libertarians. Their continuous talk of free markets and small government, even though they never do what they say, seems to attract libertarians who have a hard time getting rid of their belief in politics as a means for liberty.
But the republican party has shown its true face and should attract these people no more.
Wherever Ron Paul’s supporters have attended conventions and caucuses, the party has reacted by breaking its own rules and bylaws to keep them out. Some meetings were forcefully shut down as soon as the state party’s Politburo realized the “status quoers” weren’t in majority (read: Nevada); in others, the party elite simply broke their own rules in desperate attempts to keep “Paulians” off the list of delegates to the national convention (read: Minnesota).
I don’t find this behavior at all surprising, but I am pretty sure many partyarchs do. The political elite in the republican party, just like in any party, have invested all they have in the status quo and can only benefit from there being no challenges to it. They will of course do whatever it takes to oppose and eliminate attempts to change the state of things. Not only are these leaders potential future leaders in the federal mafia (a.k.a. government), but they are also part of the national mafia network which so fundamentally depends on status quo.
Only naive people would have expected the party elite to play by the rules and accept any attempts to change the party playing by the book. There is no such thing as a party elite open for change; there is no such thing as a party elite embracing the free and open struggle of ideas in respectful discussion leading to a synthesis of ideas in a new party program. Some may claim to embrace such change, but in reality they only do as long as the change is marginal and doesn’t affect core policies.
In the party of war, one cannot be allowed to speak of peace.
Ron Paul’s campaign has made it obvious that the republican party is like any other party – that it does not and cannot embrace ideas of freedom (lesser government, more peace, etc.). It is an organization primarily for the purpose of gaining, keeping, and using power. There is no point in having power if you do not wish to use it; parties may be founded on glorious principles, but they always degenerate to the basic function of a political party: a collective body of people aiming for power.
It is in this sense I am grateful for Ron Paul’s campaign; he has made it obvious that the republican party is not a refuge for freedom-lovers (even statist such) – the actions of the power elite in the party make that all too clear. There is no reason to assume these are unique events or triggered by a few corrupt individuals; the potential for this type of behavior is inherent in any political body, and the republican party is not an exception to this rule.
A party is a party is a party, and this is now more obvious than ever. For this I thank Ron Paul.
For more on Ron Paul on this blog, see Revenge of the Old Right? and On the “Ron Paul Problem”, and my articles Let’s Join Forces for Liberty and The Ron Paul Problem. See also the article Ron Paul–en republikan att ta på allvar? published in Swedish.