Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Anarchists for Ron Paul?

Well, this one anyway. More to come.


Eric Dondero said...

Ron Paul is an Anarchist. A leftwing Anarchist in fact, and a "Surrender-tarian" (to Islamo-Fascism) to boot.

Why shold anyone be surprised that other Anarchists are supporting Ron Paul's candidacy?

Why doesn't Ron do us all a favor a adit he's an Anarchist, and stop ruining the label "libertarian Republican." It's going to take us years to repair the damage he's done to our movement.

Eric Dondero, Fmr. Senior Aide
US Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

Paulite said...

Dondero is a sad and bitter ex Paul employee who got fired - see http://www.reason.com/blog/show/120338.html.

Ron Paul is not an anarchist. You only have to read his speeches and articles.

Dondero, GTF you useless, pathetic wanker!!

D.K. said...

Ron Paul is a conservative, pure and simple. He is the only true conservative running for President.

Jeremy said...

The Paul campaign is a singular political event for us anti-state types. No, it's not a revolution, but it's definitely something out of the ordinary.

I'm looking forward to reading about your approach to backing a Republican. :-) I need to write up my own thoughts as well. I see left libertarians taking a variety of positions on Paul, which is to be expected in any healthy, thoughtful political movement.

Sheldon Richman said...

Paulite: Please keep any criticism on the high road. Mr. Dondero is best ignored.

Jimi G said...

Anarchism is as anarchism does. Dondero's prose should be analyzed regardless of its outward lack of merit. Ron Paul is a statist, as evidenced by his occupation as a U.S. Congressman these last three decades. By definition, he is not an anarchist.

I have to question the anarchist street cred of anyone who supports Ron Paul in his statist endeavors, as well-intentioned as Paul may appear to be.

That being said, speaking for myself, I understand the beauty and ethics of anarchism as ideals, but being a living human who is enmeshed in society, complete with familial obligations, I cannot presently live as an anarchist. I must deal with the State and its manifold apparati.

While I still send my mail via the U.S. Postal Service and pay my taxes dutifully at the point of their guns, I will never vote again, and I am always looking for ways to minimize my contact with the agents of the State.

Ron Paul is no anarchist messiah -- of that I am certain. He is statist to the core.

Sheldon, I look forward to reading how anarchist first principles can be reconciled with support for Paul's candidacy.

Sheldon Richman said...

jimi g: To take up only one of your many dubious points, the meaning of "living as an anarchist" must depend to some extent on the context in which one is living. That seems obvious. Given that the state imposes burdens whether one participates or not, one is justified -- within limits of course -- in doing what one can to lighten the burden. No sanction is implied. Spooner, the anarchist's anarchist, understood this. There is no mathematical formula to guide us here. Ethics is an art not a science.

Jeremy said...

There is no mathematical formula to guide us here.

Exactly! God forbid we ever do something "wrong". We might not be consistent with our principles and cause the universe to collapse into a singularity!

This mechanistic approach to morality seems more and more like a deep-seated distrust of humans. As if we can not be trusted to act outside of a set of rules! Principles are wonderful guides and help people make decisions, but they are not a panacea. In the end, it is we who have to live with the consequences, not our principles. We precede the principles - hell, we CHOSE the principles.

Jimi G said...

OK, I guess you and I disagree, Sheldon, on the appropriateness of supporting a political candidate to advance a freedom agenda. I'm fine with that.

I'm sure you will present a compelling case for how Paul satisfies the "if we only put the right people in charge" fallacy or how using force to reduce force will work this time. Can't wait.

If there were other "dubious" points in my post, and I tend to doubt almost anything I read (and write for that matter), I welcome clarification. I'm always looking for new insights.

Jeremy, I think the default position of humanity is distrust, hence government and the State. Maybe that's what's meant by referring to man as a "fallen" creature.

Charles Johnson (Rad Geek) said...

Here's something Catharine MacKinnon said back in 1982, during a debate with Phyllis Schlafly over the Equal Rights Amendment: "I am for the ERA. I think it is progressive if not transformative. It is one of many small initiatives we can use. Whenever I hear the right attack it, I am more for it than I was before, because they think it will be so far-reaching." I feel much the same when I see Caesarian running dogs like Eric Dondero slamming Ron Paul as a "leftwing Anarchist." If only....

Jimi G, I can't answer for Sheldon. But I'd be interested to know whether you think that the reasons not to support Paul's candidacy are moral reasons or strategic ones. From a strategic standpoint, at least, there is at least one good reason to hope that Paul might be able to win in the Republican primary, which doesn't have to do with any kind of delusion about "putting the right people in charge." Specifically, if he somehow were to win the Republican primary, he would thereby prevent all the other Republican candidates from having a crack at the presidency. Putting "the right people" in charge is never going to fix a damned thing, but stopping even worse people from taking up the reigns does offer the chance for some breathing room and a lot more opportunities for progress by other means.

Sheldon Richman said...

I agree with what Rad says above. I have never thought that salvation lies in putting the right person in charge. I imagine if Ron Paul were to be elected president (which I don't expect to happen), I'd be writing criticisms of him from Day 1 regarding immigration and other things. I do not think a radical libertarian is morally compelled to support Ron Paul. So if you want a "compelling" case, you may have to look elsewhere. The reason I think open support is worthwhile is similar to why I think there are gains to be had from speaking the same language as your neighbors. It advances communication. (Duh.) Wearing a Ron Paul button is a way to open communication with one's neighbors about the war and the need for scaling back government. It presents opportunities for discussion that otherwise would not arise. The election is in the air. That creates a chance to connect with people that I wouldn't have otherwise. The other day a cashier at a Sam's Club saw my button and asked what Ron Paul was running for. I told him and explained that he was the only antiwar Republican in the race. "He wants to bring the troops home right away," I said. The man smiled but did not say anything. The moment may have been completely inconsequential, but maybe not. That would not have happened had I not been wearing the button. Sure, I could have given him a copy of Spooner's No Treason, but somehow I don't think that would have accomplished as much. Can someone make a compelling case that what I did in immoral?

Sheldon Richman said...

By the way, I recommend reading "The Need to Think," the link to which you will find in the "Sheldon's shared items" box. Good stuff there.

Jimi G said...

Charles, my objection is moral (using force to reduce force is immoral and futile) and psychological (i.e., doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result). And the "lesser of two evils" is still, you know, evil. My time on that merry-go-round is ended.

Thanks for the continued dialogue, Sheldon, and for the tip on the reading material. All I have left to write is that perhaps instead of supporting Ron Paul, the person, for political office, supporting the ideas per se is more consistent in keeping with anarchism or anti-statism.

Great ideas like the promotion of freedom have been lost through compromise. As always I look forward to reading your work.

Jimi G said...

OK, I had a chance to read through "The Need to Think." It boils down to one man's opinion, that's all, which is what it's all about. And I happen to disagree, which is also what it's all about -- the freedom to disagree.

The thing is, I've already done much thinking on the subject of voting, read arguments pro and con, and decided that in my case, the most sensible thing is to never vote again. I concede that voting in local elections can be slightly more influential of reality than national elections, and that may be a logical utilitarian rationale for voting locally, but I am still not persuaded.

As for consent, perform this simple thought experiment: imagine zero voter turnout. From whence does the legitimacy of the State spring then? How can the powers-that-be claim a popular mandate (consent of the governed) without voters? Thus, voting equals consent. Not voting equals withdrawal or abstention from consent.

Someone once wrote that if voting could change the system, it would be illegal. In the above paragraph, I have demonstrated that not voting could change the system, or at the very least, expose the lie at the heart of it -- that consent of the governed is a complete myth and the powers-that-be will maintain their hold on power by whatever means is most efficient.

If NOT VOTING could change the system, it would be illegal! Some nations already punish citizens for not voting (Australia comes to mind). Sheldon has written extensively on the fallacy of equating democracy with freedom. I recommend more publicity of this idea than compromising core principles in service of a dubious presidential candidate with dubious credentials and an extremely dubious chance of achieving anything. Folly.

D. Saul Weiner said...

Welcome to the Revolution, Sheldon!

Sheldon Richman said...

Thanks, Saul.

Vrtig0 said...

got about halfway down the comments and fucking loved it.

interesting shit you guys discuss

consider me lurking

Brandybuck said...

The problem with "principled" anarchists, is that they reject any and all reforms that don't instantly lead to a state of anarchy. If you want to get from Statist Island to Anarchist Island, most people would recommend using a boat or a bridge. But the principled anarchist bitterly decries any means of transportation but instantaneous transport.

I would far rather live in a small government statist world than a big government statist world. Most unprincipled anarchists would as well. It's only the principled anarchists who insist that we keep the abuses of big government.

Besides, anarchy isn't a religion. There is no god of anarchy waiting to throw you into hell if you vote for Ron Paul. So lighten up.

Spillersman said...

Ron Paul I don't believe would be technically an anarchist, probably a constitutional minarchist. He is very close to an anarchist. I was on his website the other day where he is writing why anarchism would not work. It was obvious he didn't have a grasp what anarchism was. I tried to explain that anarchism is not chaos or fin for yourself, but that there can be justice and protection for the individual where the community stands in solidarity with him against a criminal. I explained that anarchism is really as Tucker believed the logical extension of classical liberalism. The founding fathers believed in states rights and federalism. Anarchists like Proudhon believed similar to that but would take it even further to where the local community was automoous (village/town/city) rather then at the state level, and that the federation among communities would be very loose, a very loose federalism. I do like Ron Paul and believe he is the closest mainstreem politicain to an anarchist there is. Paul also decries what he calls "corporatism" which is what many anarchists call "state capitalism". I'm not a capitalist or socialist. I'm closest to a mutualist but can see that all 3 systems have some good points but are imperfect.