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The Second Coming of Ron Paul

Posted by PintofStout on January 7th, 2008

Then I saw heaven open, and I saw a white horse! The One who rode him is called `One who can be Trusted’ and `The True One’. He punishes and makes war in the right way.

 His eyes were like a flame of fire. On his head were many crowns. He had a name written on him, but no man knew what it was but he himself.

Revelations 19:11-12  (Worldwide English Bible (New Testament))

In libertarian circles, debate and invective have been swirling in recent months based on differing opinions of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, a multi-term Congressman from Texas.  Why is a Republican candidate drawing the attention of libertarians (and party Libertarians)?  One direct answer to that question could indeed be that it is the second coming of Mr. Paul – he ran for president in 1988 under the Libertarian Party banner.  A more general answer is the focus of many mainstream libertarians recently on fiscal and entitlement policy; which, if the eyes are squinted just right, looks sort of, maybe, like the Republican Party – or their supposed platform, anyway.  Mr. Paul’s governing philosophy is refreshing (compared to other choices) in certain (not all) areas of policy-making to libertarians (like hanging out with ugly and dumb people to make one’s self look better or feel smarter by comparison), but does this deserve the reverence and fanaticism some of his followers are overcome with; fanaticism strong enough for previously-avowed anarchists to attempt to confiscate the non-believing heretics’ libertarian credential cards?

Personally, I don’t care to involve myself in the debate beyond stating my reasons for not entering.  If I thought the debate a productive use of my time and effort at personal liberty, then beyond simply engaging in the “To-Paul-or-Not-To-Paul” debate, I’d be actively campaigning or engaging myself in the political system.  But, since I don’t find electoral politics a workable strategy, neither this election nor the debate about whom to vote for or otherwise support is cogent to me.  Not supporting Ron Paul with my vote in no way indicates that I do not desire to have less government or that I refuse to acknowledge the benefits of anything less than the total absence of a coercive state.

Imagine a large band of travelers who come upon a swollen, raging river that must be crossed.  One faction of the group wants to take the shortest possible route and wades right into the currents in an attempt to swim directly across the river.  Chances are they’ll make it part of the way before being swallowed by the water, dropping out of site and drowning or being swept so far downstream of where they started that they become lost and permanently separated.  Another group finds a small row boat with many holes and wants to pile in and try to ford this angry river.  They may make it part of the way before the boat, being over-loaded and structurally unsound, fills with water and they, too, become a permanent part of the river or end up like the swimmers, though visible for much longer.  The last group decides that dealing with the river is a losing game and so walk the bank searching for the smallest crossing in which to construct a bridge and bypass the river altogether.

All the travelers wanted to reach the same place, but they simply disagreed with the best method.  The swimmers, being like revolutionaries, lose many lives, and those surviving rarely finish where they intended, becoming something of slightly different flavor and sometimes worse than what they rebelled against.  The boaters, which rhymes with voters, are those who wish to cling to some vessel to carry them to their destination.  Strangely, when the boaters realize the vessel has become part of the river, they are still adamant that it was better to had made it only part way because they are still closer to the other shore. I jumped off the boat rather close to the shore (Badnarik ’04 didn’t make it very far into the river) and have joined the bridge builders.  I can still hear the water squishing in my shoes.

Like all observers in this band of travelers, I stand upon the shore and root for every single one of us to make the other shore.  I’ll root for the swimmers and I’ll root for the boaters.  But when these groups succumb to the river, it is asking for the same fate to try and go in after them.

Currently, the Ron Paul vessel looks promising; especially to those whose lust for the other shore has blinded them to the holes in the boat and the nature of the river itself.  Unless Ron Paul can walk on water, it looks like they’ll all go down in the flood.  I just hope they can remember where they were going if they ever reach the other shore.

10 Responses to “The Second Coming of Ron Paul”

  1. Ron Paul » Blog Archive » The Second Coming of Ron Paul Says:

    […] reneeabaker wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThen I saw heaven open, and I saw a white horse! The One who rode him is called `One who can be Trusted’ and `The True One’. He punishes and makes war in the right way.  His eyes were like a flame of fire. On his head were many crowns. He had a name written on him, but no man knew what it was but he himself. Revelations 19:11-12  (Worldwide English Bible (New Testament)) In libertarian circles, debate and invective have been swirling in recent months based on differing opinions of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, a multi-term Congressman from Texas.  Why is a Republican candidate drawing the attention of libertarians (and party Libertarians)?  One direct answer to that question could indeed be that it is the second coming of Mr. Paul – he ran for president in 1988 under the Libertarian Party banner.  A more general answer is the focus of […] […]

  2. PintofStout Says:

    # thesofine Says:
    January 7, 2008 at 10:07 pm e

    I would use a helicopter

    I think you meant to put that here, unless your helicopter crashed and you ended up way downstream. You need the mighty helicopter of agorism!

  3. thesofine Says:

    I’ll still use a helicopter!!!

  4. Taran Jordan Says:

    Howdy, Pint. So where and what is the bridge you are building?

    And is there really a place of immunity from the river’s force on the opposite bank, if one can only manage to get there?

    This is a wonderful post. I’m not in a state of mind to go through it in detail right now, but you’ve captured my curiosity.

    I’ve been puzzling lately over what the anarcho-lib nonvoters choose as their form of action, though. Seems like many such prefer complaining and withdrawing to productive action for change. This isn’t an insult exactly – heck, I’m given to withdrawing at times too.

    And I don’t necessarily mean political activism, which to my mind is like chickens believing the henhouse is happy, safe and free because the fox lets them cluck and flap their wings now and then. But – what ARE we doing to get a bridge built? And – is it a bridge to nowhere?

    I’m also wondering if the gift economy is an idea that’s been embraced by agorists. Would enjoy chatting with you about that sometime.

  5. PintofStout Says:

    Taran,

    I’m glad your interest was piqued by the post. I don’t have all the answers to the questions you pose, though, especially concerning my metaphor, which isn’t exactly water-tight.

    Unfortunately, a bridge is just as likely to fail as swimming or rowing. Heck, the bridge builders may linger on the one shore and never even start construction. I always fear that that might be my fate. And then to think that there is no immunity or paradise on the other side, just more rivers.

    What can be done, though? What is productive action for change? Is it found in collective action? Is taking ten minutes every two years to vote really productive? Is it active? It seems to me that simply casting a ballot and hoping someone else, perhaps the least offensive candidate according to slightly better than half of the voting population, will make the changes.

    I used a bridge in my metaphor for agorism because it intends to go around the state and not make direct engagement a primary strategy. I can’t say it, or any other strategy for achieving personal freedom, will work; it might take a combination. My post wasn’t meant to reflect a right and wrong way, but simply my preference. Regardless, there is no end game. No matter how much progress is made there will always be challenges to the progress already achieved and to the path ahead.

    As to a gift economy, I’m not familiar with the concept very well. I’d be happy to talk about it, though.

  6. Robert Noval Says:

    Nice to see Rogues & Scholars elevate us to the level of useful idiots:
    “Libertarianism doesn’t work – but it’s still useful”

    http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2008/01/14/libertarianism-doesnt-work-but-its-still-useful/

    Which is what lead me here.

    The problem for most libertarians with your bridge-building strategy in my experience is that it takes time to build a bridge.

    I was at the local Ron Paul campaign HQ this past week. A speaker from the Republican Liberty Caucus started off by explaining that he begins with a very broad definition of “libertarian”. That seemed to go over well with the “swimmers”…

    But to get to a libertarian social structure from where we are is a long term project, requiring the dicipline and patience of bridge-building.

    —The Bikemessenger

  7. PintofStout Says:

    With the stunning logic and thoughtful pieces like that, it shouldn’t surprise me that they still self-anoint themselves as scholars. I appreciate the thoughtful comment, Bikemessenger. You may also like my post the open-mindedness of so-called liberals these days (Liberal Descent).

    The bridge building process is a long process – endless, in fact. Even as an anarchist, having taken libertarianism to its logical end, if my goal of a stateless society were achieved I’d still have to continue to build that bridge to keep from reverting back. The massive state isn’t the cause of our woes, but merely the most visible symptom. I feel that the real disease is in people’s mind and psychology. It is individuals that we need to change and convince of the virtues of individualism and libertarianism. Nearly every response from the commenters at S&R involved collectivization in order to make it easier to control people or exerting force on upon them. “Who enforces the non-force?” they ask. Sigh. It is all about forcing people into their worldview.

    Thanks again for the comment. Way to be useful! :)

    (Edited to add: I’m also reminded of the “Get-There-Quick” solutions, such as voting as a sole strategy, which is a lot like this post.)

  8. Taran Jordan Says:

    What is productive action for change? Is it found in collective action? Is taking ten minutes every two years to vote really productive?

    Found in collective action? Not usually, I don’t think. But then ‘collective action’ is a misnomer anyway – perhaps ‘coordinated’ or ‘concerted’? Voting productive? Again, not usually – it’s often counterproductive.

    When I asked about the actions of anarchist nonvoters, I was seeking to understand what they do for freedom instead of political activity. I would guess that they act in the interests of their individual freedom first. But how, for instance? Since they (we) oppose any form of State control, how do they/you/we express this opposition in meatspace activity?

    Not expecting just one or even a few basic answers, because again, we’re talking about individuals making personal decisions. But I’d really like to hear about those decisions and individual actions. Is this something we can comfortably talk about amongst ourselves online, or – I know I’m guilty of this – do we muzzle ourselves for opsec reasons?

    I vowed after the 2004 election that I’d not be suckered into voting again, and if it weren’t for my trust in Ron Paul’s decency and integrity, my sense of a “last best hope” for anything close to freedom in this country, I’d be keeping that vow without even blinking. But however he fares, the question “NOW what do I do for freedom?” will always remain. How do we answer it with real-world actions?

    This is related to the thing that drove me nuts while I was at Strike the Root and eventually led me to move on from there. (I later wrote about it.) If we’re anarchists, why the hell do we spend our time griping about government’s new horrors, or picking nits and navel fuzz with a few cyberbuddies?

    We are against rulers. What then are we for? FSK’s quote gives one answer. I’d love to hear others. I wonder what effect a sense of futility has on the answers we do come up with.

    As for the gift economy, I don’t know much about it either. I do think it could be a key for those like FSK, who “want to do useful work, get paid, and not have to report it for taxation, confiscation, and regulation.”

    I’m also thinking that it might serve to take Ayn Rand’s insistence on “value for value” a step higher, to transform current ideas of the nature of an economy. IOW, trading true value for true value, not merely price for services/goods. I don’t mean simply in a bartering sense, but in a grander way that touches on the joy involved in giving and receiving. Need to look into this more.

  9. Taran Jordan Says:

    Oops. In the third to last paragraph, I should have specified, “FSK’s quote (below)“. :-)

  10. PintofStout Says:

    Taran,

    Sorry, it took so long to respond, but I was busy not working or thinking about work while touring Ireland.

    But then ‘collective action’ is a misnomer anyway – perhaps ‘coordinated’ or ‘concerted’?

    In a true voluntary society, and in the party or coalition sense in present reality, voting may be considered coordinated or concerted, but without the right of withdrawal that would accompany a voluntary society, the entire election process is itself collective. People taking concerted action to affect this collective institution doesn’t make the institution any less collective.

    When I asked about the actions of anarchist nonvoters, I was seeking to understand what they do for freedom instead of political activity. I would guess that they act in the interests of their individual freedom first. But how, for instance? Since they (we) oppose any form of State control, how do they/you/we express this opposition in meatspace activity?

    Not expecting just one or even a few basic answers, because again, we’re talking about individuals making personal decisions. But I’d really like to hear about those decisions and individual actions. Is this something we can comfortably talk about amongst ourselves online, or – I know I’m guilty of this – do we muzzle ourselves for opsec reasons?

    It seems difficult to me to pick out specific actions that are anarchistic because I don’t think my actions would be all that different fundamentally (only done in a different medium). And being an individualistic philosophy, waiting for anarchy to come to the masses and trying to hurry it along takes second priority to achieving the highest degree of it possible for myself and those close to me. Mostly, the progress that I have made personally has been in state of mind; that is, after all, where freedom lies.

    As to specifics, I am working (slowly) toward withdrawing all support for the state. Some of the preliminary steps involve freeing myself from financial and other constraints I have made for myself inadvertently. When the removal of those constraints allows me more freedom, the tougher issues of ducking the government without serious consequences can be faced more fully. Of course, progress in all of this is slow and very incremental.

    Part of the reason I swore off electoral politics was the false hope and inevitable disappointment that came with it for those of us not ordering off the menu. By calling Paul the “last best hope” leaves you nowhere to go from there. While trying to sound optimistic, the statement is overwhelmingly pessimistic. When the last best hope ultimately falls short, by definition, there is no more hope. Politically speaking, the hope of Paul changing things from the inside are slim, but he has been a fairly successful vehicle for fomenting anti-establishment sentiment.

    When it comes to trading value for value rather than price, trading in this manner would be much easier without the need for a standard value across transactions in order to easily skim off the taxes. I have a feeling you were referring to the types and nature of the trades we make in addition to simply the value or currency being traded.

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