by Rick Gunderman
Ron Paul hysteria seems to have truly gripped the Internet, and not simply among American users. Virtually every English-speaking country has now produced its share of keyboard cowboys hell-bent on taking up the mission that their hero has handed down to them – to spread the word, since Dr. Paul himself is refusing financial donations from rich people.
Neither are his policies the point, although it is worth mentioning some highlights in brief.
A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Dr. Paul has captivated many self-described left-wing activists, mostly those who insist on a “libertarian” bend to their ideology. Aside from revealing the general bankruptcy of “left-wing libertarianism”, it reveals broadly the faults that come with a lack of coherent political theory.
Dr. Paul’s supposed anti-intervention stance in particular has pulled in various left-leaners. Granted, an immediate halt to any new American wars of aggression, and the withdrawal from those they are currently entangled in, is a positive thing.
But will it do anything to roll back American imperialism? Not if we envision imperialism to be more than just what the military can enforce. Imperialism extends far beyond the military realm – it is economic, and above all political, as well.
In this field, we have not once heard Ron Paul call for the withdrawal of American capital from foreign (especially developing) countries. Beyond that, he has insisted that the United States must withdraw from the United Nations, an action that most assuredly would do nothing to further the cause of peace (the League of Nations provides this example). And even though he has categorically denounced regime change, given his unapologetic salivation for capitalism it’s unlikely that he would not bend to corporate demands for state assistance in putting down “unruly” populations.
Ron Paul, instead, pushes a variety of anti-war ideology branded “anti-intervention”. It’s telling that he refuses to be confused for an anti-imperialist. Effectively, he is invoking the political logic of the 1920s and 1930s – American lives are sacred and must not be sent to fight foreign wars with no immediate, obvious benefit. Ron Paul invokes the death of over 1 million Iraqis as a result of the American invasion and occupation, but only to point out how bad a reputation it’s given the United States.
This is not somebody who can be trusted to end American imperialism. Any more than FDR or JFK could have.
On domestic issues, Ron Paul reveals nothing less than the most rabid right-wing sentiments. He is against all forms of Social Security. He is opposed to reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, cleverly using “states’ rights” to dress up his reactionary views.
He would see all public funding to schools, roads, hospitals, sewers, levees – essentially, to anything that helps people, eliminated. In its place he would sell to the highest bidder and let them charge whatever they want. In exchange for pulling American soldiers from Iraq, Ron Paul promises that you’ll have to pay a nominal fee every time you use a road.
Children playing ball on residential streets everywhere had better hold onto their pocket money. Looks like they’ll be getting a lot better acquainted with their front lawns.
Phoney Anti-Corporate Stance
Ron Paul has made a name for himself among the useful idiots of the Left in another way – he talks loudly about Wall Street and the banks, how they rob the people, and how they need to be stopped.
What is the good doctor’s prescription to this illness? More capitalism.
This is because Ron Paul’s anti-Wall Street, anti-banking stance is not informed by any profound understanding of historical materialism, political economy or class struggle.
Rather, he takes the highly unusual stance (along with Jesse Ventura, Alex Jones and others of questionable mental stability) that a secret cabal of international bankers (a long-used codeword for “Jews”, as this horrible website helpfully illustrates) is conspiring in a Legion of Doom-style plot to overthrow sovereign government, often involving collaboration with communists and the United Nations, the ultimate goal of which is to kill 80-99% percent of the global population through war, deliberate famine, and vaccination.
Of course, Ron Paul has not come out and said this explicitly in the Republican primary debates. But his deep connections to the conspiratorial John Birch Society and his endorsement by those advocating this science-fiction view of politics are enough to suggest a strong influence, if not outright adoption, of this view.
Which leads nicely into the final point:
The Company He Keeps
Ron Paul’s connections to the extreme right-wing go a lot further than simply the anti-communist and conspiratorial JBS.
To begin with, his son, junior US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is a big fan of the Tea Party movement, although they apparently don’t like Dr. Ron very much because he isn’t conservative enough. It seems that he is missing a certain religious zeal which, for the Tea Party, is a make-or-break issue. Still, the parallels between Ron Paul and the Teabaggers (fear of “big government”, romantic but fictional longing for the good ol’ days of constitutionalism, irrational hatred for all things social, obsession with capitalism and the “free market”, insatiable anger over any type of tax, extreme xenophobia, extreme homophobia, etc.) are too vast to ignore.
Much has been made about the racist comments typical of Ron Paul’s various newsletters from the 1990s. There is no denying that Ron Paul is a racist, despite offering unbelievable and half-assed excuses for the content of the newsletters that bear his name.
Is it any surprise, then, that it would turn out that the same people who support Ron Paul are big fans of the quasi-fascist Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona – none other than the incomparably hateful Joe Arpaio himself?
As it turns out, Arpaio – like virtually every other half-witted, pissed-off, bigoted old white man – is totally convinced that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Most people’s reactions would be “who cares?”, except that under US law that would make Obama ineligible for the presidency. And with no other way to really oust him, what else can you expect the political right to resort to?
Well, there’s always the idea that he is some kind of Manchurian candidate, a cyborg or cyborg-like being who has managed to literally hypnotize millions upon millions of people into a fascistic mob of supporters while he implements his communist agenda to concentrate wealth in the hands of only a few people (?) with the ultimate goal of destroying the US Constitution and allowing the United Nations (which is just so much more powerful than the United States, what with its non-existent standing army) to establish a one-world dictatorship. But that’s just silly.
Like Donald Trump before him, Joe Arpaio is making this his cause du jour, evidently having got bored with racial profiling, prisoner abuse and police brutality. And like Trump before him, Arpaio has come up with zero evidence to back his claims.
And like Ron Paul, Joe Arpaio’s got quite a legion of supporters, few of which have any clue whatsoever.
The same people who support Sheriff Joe Arpaio support Congressman Ron Paul. They’re called neo-Nazis.