My Ron Paul essay from Jan 5th, 2008 - still relevant!
RON PAUL: WHY SHOULD HE WORRY SOMEONE THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY?
Ron Paul won’t win the presidential election, or come anywhere near it. He will continue to be a Texas Congressman. I will continue to live in England, thousands of miles away from him. So why should I worry about him?
Some quotations from his own website indicate some of the serious problems with his views, from a progressive perspective:
'A Republic, If You Can Keep It’ by Dr. Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas
Address to the U.S. House of Representatives delivered on the Floor of the House January 31 - February 2, 2000
....The modern-day welfare state has steadily grown since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The federal government is now involved in providing health care, houses, unemployment benefits, education, food stamps to millions, plus all kinds of subsidies to every conceivable special-interest group. Welfare is now part of our culture, costing hundreds of billions of dollars every year. It is now thought to be a "right," something one is "entitled" to. Calling it an "entitlement" makes it sound proper and respectable and not based on theft. Anyone who has a need, desire, or demand and can get the politicians' attention will get what he wants, even though it may be at the expense of someone else. Today it is considered morally right and politically correct to promote the welfare state. Any suggestion otherwise is considered political suicide.
....Controlled curricula have downplayed the importance of our constitutional heritage while indoctrinating our children, even in kindergarten, with environmental mythology, internationalism, and sexual liberation. Neighborhood schools in the early part of the 20th Century did not experience this kind of propaganda.
....It is now accepted that people who need (medical) care are entitled to it as a right. This is a serious error in judgment.
...Probably the most significant change in attitude that occurred in the 20th Century was that with respect to life itself. Although abortion has been performed for hundreds if not thousands of years, it was rarely considered an acceptable and routine medical procedure without moral consequence. Since 1973 abortion in America has become routine and justified by a contorted understanding of the right to privacy. The difference between American's rejection of abortions at the beginning of the century, compared to today's casual acceptance, is like night and day. Although a vocal number of Americans express their disgust with abortion on demand, our legislative bodies and the courts claim that the procedure is a constitutionally protected right, disregarding all scientific evidence and legal precedents that recognize the unborn as a legal living entity deserving protection of the law. Ironically the greatest proponents of abortion are the same ones who advocate imprisonment for anyone who disturbs the natural habitat of a toad.
....The welfare system has mocked the concept of marriage in the name of political correctness, economic egalitarianism, and hetero-phobia.
....Any academic discussion questioning the wisdom of our policies surrounding World War II is met with shrill accusations of anti-Semitism and Nazi lover. No one is even permitted without derision by the media, the university intellectuals, and the politicians to ask why the United States allied itself with the murdering Soviets and then turned over Eastern Europe to them...'
So let's see. Paul is totally against any form of welfare state, even in its current American sense (very limited compared with most other developed countries); considers benefits for poor people to be 'theft'; does not think that people are entitled to medical care. Despite all his libertarian justifications for all the above, thinks that the government is entitled to ban abortions and 'defend marriage', (though he considers that these, like other government functions, should be carried out by individual states rather than the national government). He is opposed to gay rights ('heterophobia') and considers concern about the environment to be based on 'mythology'. Moreover, he is so isolationist or anti-Soviet or both, that he would apparently rather have had Hitler take over Europe than have an alliance between America and the Soviet Union during the war.
Moreover, despite his support for his country’s Constitution, he seems to be a less-than-fervent supporter of his country’s democracy. Democracy, in the sense of allowing all adults to vote, was not a feature of American politics at the beginning, or specified in its original constitution, even if America was closer to democracy than England or most other places in the late 18th century. America’s constitution was amended to allow women to vote in 1920. It had been amended to allow African-Americans to vote in 1870; but this was frequently evaded in southern states until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Paul has gone on record as opposing this act, as contrary to ‘states’ rights’, even to this day. Should he really be trusted to uphold democracy?
However, most of the Republican candidates have worrying right-wing views; and some of them are far more likely than Paul to win their party’s nomination. What is specifically worrying about Paul is that some ‘progressives’ sympathize with him, and prefer him to some if not all of the Democratic candidates. This is predominantly due to his opposition to the Iraq War and to the Patriot Act: both of which are rightly important issues to liberals. But in addition some people support him because they are frustrated with the status quo, and he is seen as opposing it. Some people even describe him as ‘anti-corporate’ despite the fact that his extreme economic libertarianism, if ever put into practice, would undoubtedly increase the power of corporations.
Some argue in this connection that the old distinction between ‘right’ and ‘left’ is no longer relevant. And it is indeed accurate to say that the right/left distinction should not be seen as a unitary dimension. People can be right vs left on a number of different issues, and different asp. Four important ones are: war/defence; economic/welfare; civil liberties; and social/ civil rights.
So here is where I would rate Bush, Blair and Paul:
War/defence: Extreme right
Civil liberties: Right
Social/civil rights: Right
War/defence: Extreme right
Economic/welfare: Centre-right by British standards (i.e. to the left of Thatcher, but to the right of moderate Tories of the past such as Harold Macmillan)
Civil liberties: Right
Social/civil rights: Centre-left.
War/defence: Left on Iraq war, but right on other aspects of world policies
Economic/welfare: Extreme right (could go no further right)
Civil liberties: Left with regard to Federal government infringements of civil liberties; Right with regard to such infringements by state governments or private organizations.
Social/civil rights: Extreme right.
So Blair overall is to the left of either Paul or Bush, but to the right of what I'd find acceptable. Paul and Bush are both thoroughly right-wing. Bush is right-wing on more issues; Paul is more extreme on the issues where he is right-wing.. If Bush is more dangerous than Paul, it's simply because he has more power.
What is frightening here is not so much Paul as a fairly powerless individual, but that some supposedly liberal anti-war people seem to be prepared to ally themselves with RW extremists, if they happen to be against the war. If this leads to liberals' acceptance of a combination of far-RW economic 'libertarianism', social conservativism, and xenophobia, this could have serious impact for future politics. Some of the danger is, I think, not so much from Paul himself, as from the groups and websites that support him. I fear that Paul and other of his ilk may appeal to disaffected progressives in a way that could get them to join a far-right movement without initially realizing that it *is* far-right.
Some of the original fascist organizations/ parties appealed to some left-wingers and lots of apolitical disaffected people at first, and this contributed to their success. And communism was and is of course 'left-wing' in its original impetus, but most Communist states ended up, according to the above classification: "War/defense: Right; Economic/welfare: Left; Civil liberties: Extreme right; Social/civil rights: Right".
I don't think that the particular form of right-wing movement that Paul represents is likely to lead to old-style fascism or other totalitarianism – though such things might be possible if different right-wing movements joined under one umbrella; but it could readily lead to a xenophobic scapegoating of ‘outsiders’ and to a far-right economic libertarianism that murders the poor or sick just as surely, if a bit more slowly, as an act of direct violence. It is important that progressives avoid getting involved, directly or indirectly, in such a movement. That is my real concern. Once the distinction between progressivism and far-right populism is blurred, dangerous hybrids could grow and readily spread to other parts of the world. I fear that an alliance between progressives and Paul supporters could be a step on a slippery slope to forming links with far-RW nationalist groups and individuals that oppose the war, such as Pat Buchanan; the British Nationalist Party; Jean-Marie LePen; even David Duke; etc. If that happens, and such groups gain respectability, especially in the eyes of people on the 'left', we may be sunk!
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