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.