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Unraveling Ron Paul

Posted by Richard on January 17, 2008

I subscribe to both The New Individualist and Reason. Each magazine features a cover story on Ron Paul in their latest issue. The former has a scathing critique (by blogger Stephen Green), while the latter's article is almost hagiographic. I thought about comparing and contrasting the two, but didn't get around to it. Had I done so, I'd have sided mostly with Green, although I thought he overstated the case against Paul a bit.

It no longer matters. Green's criticisms have pretty much taken a back seat to last week's New Republic story about the racist and hate-filled writings in a Ron Paul newsletter from 1989 through the early 90s. Really ugly stuff. Paul denied writing any of it, which is apparently true, and claimed he knew nothing about it, which is pretty hard to believe.

I guess I was just about the only libertarian who didn't know about Paul's long association with Llewellyn Rockwell, editor of that newsletter and probable author of much of the vile material (see this Reason article). Lew Rockwell is scum, IMHO, and crazy to boot — the libertarian movement's combination of David Duke and Lyndon LaRouche. Even though his Ludwig von Mises Institute hosts some useful resources, especially in the field of economics, I long ago stopped visiting either it or Rockwell's blog (I'm not going to link to them). 

For everything you need to know about the whole sordid tale, read the Reason article linked in the preceding paragraph and Bob Bidinotto's fine post about the controversy (which also gives you a chance to see the provocative TNI cover illustration of Paul). 

Also, read Bidinotto's earlier post about the TNI article, to which he's appended a very interesting short essay that explains why he holds candidates promoting a philosophy/ideology (like Paul or Kucinich) to a different standard than "pragmatic careerists."

I'm not entirely persuaded. Bidinotto argues that "Philosophical ideas are much more basic, powerful, and important" than the pragmatic policy proposals of most politicians, and thus can do much more good or harm. But isn't the rejection of principles/ideology and the embrace of pragmatism itself a powerful idea that does much harm?

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2 Responses to “Unraveling Ron Paul”

  1. RedPencil said

    Don’t know why pragmatism & principle are so often described as opposites. I think ‘something that works’ is a principle in itself.

    And really I think the problem with Ron Paul (& any other perinazi who also happens to espouse “laissez-faire principles”) is that, pragmatically, he gives the philosophical principles a bad name. “See! I told you those capitalism-pushing libertarians were a bunch of fascists!” So awkward when the canard is true.

  2. Dana said

    Did I read that right that the guy all the conspiracy theorists are flocking to is himself affiliated with a group with a conspiracy? Interesting…

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