Gene Expression

The Elders of Ron Paul

Ed and Mark are asking what’s up with Ron Paul and the Neo-Nazis? I think…it’s complicated. Colugo sketches out the general lay of the land pretty well, Ron Paul is a “paleo,” specifically a paleolibertarian. He derives his ideology from the Old Right, and promotes a personal bourgeoise ethic. Three points:

* Ron Paul’s intellectual mentor was a Jew, Murray Rothbard, and the greatest intellectual in his firmament was a Jew, Ludwig von Mises. If Ron Paul is a closet Neo-Nazi he is a strange sort indeed. I think we can dismiss the idea that Ron Paul is a closet white nationalist. In his spare time he tends to obsess over the Gold Standard monomaniacally. That’s his passion, not the race.

* But there are white nationalists in the broader “paleo” movement. That is, though they do not personally avow racialist views they also do not necessarily view it is illegitimate prima facie. Joe Sobran is a man who mixes these various streams in on person, a convert to anarcho-capitalism through the writings of Murray Rothbard, this former editor of National Review was purged for his anti-Israel stances during the early 1990s, and now flirts with white nationalism and Holocaust Revisionism. But this isn’t to show that all paleos are racialist, after all, the conservative Bob Taft Club is headed by an individual who is half-Korean and half-Jewish. But note that the same individual was interviewed (as a fellow traveler) on a Neo-Confederate radio show with a strong racialist and non-trivial anti-Semitic tinge (the show also interviewed David Duke and a host of other white nationalist luminaries). Most of you will also know of Ron Paul’s famous newsletter from the mid-1990s. I would be willing to bet that if Ron Paul did not write the text, he was probably aware of its general outline. Again, I think this is not evidence of a convinced and principled racialist, but it reflects a man who does not reject white nationalist viewpoints as a matter of course. This should not shock some of the more liberal readers of this weblog, after all, I suspect many of you would find some of the milder and more hinged critiques of Jewish and/or Zionist1 power in shaping American attitudes toward the Israeli-Arab conflict quite cogent. Just because someone is crazy doesn’t mean all their utterances are crazy. That is, in my assessment, Ron Paul’s attitude toward white nationalists (many of you would probably hold though that the views Paul accepts as non-crazy from white nationalists are crazy!).

* With that all noted, I am generally sympathetic to Ron Paul and the Ron Paul movement. I’m much less of a libertarian than he is, and skeptical of the Gold Standard and Austrian School of economics in general. But look at it from the angle of biology, sometimes when a weaker animal is confronted by a larger one it has to make a show of taking incredible risks to dissuade the more fit individual from dominating it. Many of us find the political duopoly intolerable, but we don’t have much recourse in the first-past-the-post system besides protest votes. Ron Paul won’t become president, nor will he receive the Republican party nomination. The Ron Paul movement is a message movement. If he receives a non-trivial proportion of the Republican primary vote that tells the party leadership that it has serious problems if someone with a large coterie of Neo-Nazi supporters can manage to gain some traction. If Ron Paul siphons a large proportion of disaffected anti-war Democrats perhaps it is time that the “mainstream” of the Democratic party ask themselves whether they are offering an alternative choice, or just a milder echo?

The Ron Paul movement is not about Ron Paul. It is about the asphyxiation that many of us feel in the straightjacket centrist consensus of the Democrat-Republican duopoly. More generally it is also likely the emergence of the “long tail” of politics as energized extremists will begin to make their, our, voices heard. The special interests have had their lobbying arms writing legislation for years, isn’t it time that average citizen special interests start to become part of the political landscape? If you can’t beat the duopoly you have to invade and assimilate it. This is the first crazy shot in a long battle to come across this generation as we witness whether information technology will be the savior of the republic, or hasten its death.

Related: Glenn Greenwald has done an excellent job articulating the strategy of being for the Ron Paul movement without agreeing with most of Ron Paul’s views. I explicitly assume that Paul is more of sympathizer with the racialists than Greenwald would likely admit in public, but the gist of his points about the lack of choices among “serious” presidential contenders on issues such as the Iraq War and civil liberties still hold.

1 – Not all Jews are Zionists, not all Zionists are Jews. So the and/or.

Comments

  1. #1 bsci
    December 27, 2007

    Why do Neo-Nazi’s think he’s one of their own. Perhaps it’s quotes like this:
    “Regardless of what the media tell us, most white Americans are not going to believe that they are at fault for what blacks have done to cities across America. The professional blacks may have cowed the elites, but good sense survives at the grass roots. Many more are going to have difficultly avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists — and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable.

    Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action…. Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal…” It continues

    I first saw this quote at:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/15/124912/740
    and a full version of the Ron Paul text is at:
    http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.african.american/msg/c8668bd3662b0fa5
    The dailykos diary and more quotes and links too.

    I also assume neo-nazis have no interest in ending things like birthright US citizenship… something Ron Paul sponsored a Constitutional ammendment to change:
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.j.res.00046
    (originally linked from: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/13/131540/47 )

    (I’m also putting this comment on Mark’s denialism blog)

  2. #2 Barbara
    December 27, 2007

    I doubt very seriously that Ron Paul wrote, or knew about, the infamous racist letter of the early 1990’s. People do not write “one” radical article representing their views. Those views, or leanings, would invariable appear elsewhere in other writings/statements etc. This has not occured so I totally dismiss it as as indicative of Ron Paul’s opinion.

  3. #3 bsci
    December 27, 2007

    Barbara,

    An defense is now at:
    http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=41822

    These pieces (there were many including part of one in the above dailykos link, most of which never made it onto the internet) were merely written as part of the 8-page “Ron Paul Report” sometimes under the “Ron Paul” byline, as part of a publication owned and directed by Ron Paul, but not by Ron Paul. He also saw no reason to disavow what others wrote under his byline for the past 15+ years. If you believe this, I have a bridge to sell you.

    I got the original link to that piece at:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/27/82626/692/382/426776

  4. #4 Commenter
    December 27, 2007

    So far I think your commenters have missed the actual depth and thrust of your article. You have presented a very lucid perspective of the current political landscape, and you have taken the time to research some allegations presented so far. I agree with your assesment that the Ron Paul movement has less to do with Ron Paul and more to do with the general disatisfaction with the state of the union. From my perspective it was the 9/11 truth movement, talking heads like Alex Jones, the spread of Aaron Russo’s Freedom to Fascism and the movie Zeitgeist that laid the ground work for the movement, this in a context of an unpopular war and a weakening economy. Ron, after all has been saying the same things in the same ways for 20 or 30 years.

  5. #5 gq
    December 27, 2007

    I doubt very seriously that Ron Paul wrote, or knew about, the infamous racist letter of the early 1990’s. People do not write “one” radical article representing their views. Those views, or leanings, would invariable appear elsewhere in other writings/statements etc. This has not occured so I totally dismiss it as as indicative of Ron Paul’s opinion.

    I’d be more willing to dismiss it if Ron Paul came out with a public denial.

    Where is it? More than enough time has passed for one. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss anything if I were you.

  6. #6 Joseph W.
    December 27, 2007

    Commenter, but there were third-party candidates and protest votes, inside and outside the major parties, long before any of that. George Wallace (1968) and Ross Perot (1992) both pulled significant portions of the popular vote (more than 10%); Lyndon LaRouche ran in seven Democratic primaries (there’s a wiki on every modern Presidential election complete with percentages at the major-party primaries). The particular grievances laid at the door of the system, or the “duopoly” (Wallace called them “Socialist Party A and Socialist Party B”) change from decade to decade, but the willingness of some percentage of the electorate to vote for “neither of the above,” and to pick some very strange people to do that with, this doesn’t change and isn’t new.

    Says Razib, “It is about the asphyxiation that many of us feel in the straightjacket centrist consensus of the Democrat-Republican duopoly. More generally it is also likely the emergence of the “long tail” of politics as energized extremists will begin to make their, our, voices heard. The special interests have had their lobbying arms writing legislation for years, isn’t it time that average citizen special interests start to become part of the political landscape?”

    The first part of this I understand; the last part I do not. The views of “average citizens” are the source of that very straitjacket you complain about in the first sentence. (Indeed, “special” interests are only “special” in contrast to the wants of these average citizens.) In a state or federal legislature with many seats to go around, the “tails” can and do get a few of their candidates in (Paul has been serving in Congress, after all), and they are very much part of the landscape. Even in Presidential elections, no doubt they affect the ideas that the “mainstream” candidates will admit to, or govern with (remember how the other primary candidates treated Al Sharpton in ’04? – you’d never hear a word of contempt for his ideas, on account of his “tail of the Gaussian” voters). In short, you seem to be wishing for something that is already true.

    Being a natural extremist partisan type myself, I long ago concluded that my real problems were not with the system, or the “duopoly” (a coalition by any other name…), or what have you, but with the voters and a great many of the ideas that are popular among them.

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