What should p2p sympathizers think of Ron Paul

Unlike Dale Carrico, excerpted here. I would accept that there is a left libertarian tradition, like Kevin Carson’s mutualism, often cited in our blog, and that it is fundamentally different from the right-wing libertarianism of Ron Paul. Otherwise, I very much agree with the general points made here below by Dale. Bear in mind that ‘Democrats’, means, ‘proponents of democracy’, not the U.S. political party.

Excerpted from Dale Carrico:

“Ron Paul is often discussed by Democrats as though there was something paradoxical about his hostility to regulation and general welfare on the one hand, which they dislike enormously about him of course, and his hostility to militarism and the war on drugs on the other, with which they imagine they sympathize.

This whiff of paradox vanishes immediately once we recall that Democrats do not merely abhor militarism but advocate the implementation of a planetary rights culture and vastly amplified provision of foreign aid as a progressive alternative to self-defeating militarism, and that Democrats do no not merely abhor the racist and hysterically moralizing War on (some but not all) Drugs but advocate the implementation of more sensible safety regulations and the taxation of drugs the better to fund rehabilitation and education programs to ameliorate the social problems of drug abuse.

While Democrats disapprove (as Ron Paul and other libertarians sometimes also seem to do) of war-making as the image and model for their address, Democrats know that there actually are planetary problems of systemic injustice, social instability, organized violence, environmental threat, needless harm and suffering for which we are impelled by our shared inhabitation of this planet and this historical moment to work our way toward shared solutions.

Let us be very clear: Democracy is the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them, but this is best understood not only as an affirmation of individual dignity as it is part of a larger commitment to the elimination of violence from public life (that people must also have a say in the decision as to what will count as violence in public life yokes these commitments ever tighter together, even while rendering the experimental implementation of these commitments interminably dynamic).

Democrats defend the widening of the franchise and accountability of election to public office to provide an alternative to the violent transfer of authority over public institutions, they defend the law to provide alternatives to the violent adjudication of disputes otherwise, they defend welfare programs to secure a scene of informed nonduressed consent to the terms on which we deal with one another in our commercial and private relations, and defend the public administration and investment in common and public goods to overcome tendencies toward structural violations that inevitably attend other administrative arrangements of such goods: nonviolence and equity-in-diversity suffuse the democratic vision across all of its layers.

Ron Paul, like all market libertarians, declares market exchanges and contractual arrangements “non-violent” by fiat, whatever the misinformation and duress that actually prevail over their terms; he believes that the contingent historical artifact of regulations, treaties, pricing conventions, provincial customs, norms, infrastructural affordances that passes for “the market” here and now is somehow an eternal and natural and spontaneous order; and he believes that the contingent historical artifact parochially construed by him as a reasonable responsible resourceful possessive individual subject is likewise given and natural. Like all market libertarians (and I do suspect all libertarians, always, even those who imagine themselves to be of the left) his is a vision of freedom and dignity that requires the treatment of key assumptions and institutions of the status quo as natural and inevitable rather than as artificial and historical, and hence his is a profoundly reactionary viewpoint at its base.

It is from this reactionary base that arise all the reactionary details, from the racism of his defense of segregation to his rejection of public health, safety, education, which those who view him as a paradoxical figure seem to want to regard as accidental or incidental to his “civil libertarianism.” Not to put too fine a point on it, one cannot properly be civil anything if one repudiates civics as such.

For Ron Paul individualism means isolation, liberty means neglect, free to choose means free to lose (even when the loss is an avoidable one and a loss to us all). There is nothing paradoxical about his worldview — except perhaps the usual Republican paradox of those who declare their detestation of government scrambling to find a comfortable home in government all their lives long. But I daresay that is better described as hypocrisy than as paradox. Like all libertarians, Ron Paul’s point of view is an essentially pre-political one. Democrats who discern paradox in Ron Paul’s positions would do better to grasp the consistency that unites Ron Paul’s anti-democracy as well as unites the democratic commitment to nonviolence and consent, to equity-in-diversity.”

2 Comments What should p2p sympathizers think of Ron Paul

  1. AvatarDale Carrico

    I do not deny “there is a left libertarian tradition” but propose that the emergence of the right-wing anarcho-capitalist viewpoint may not so much be a confusion of that tradition (as some, like Noam Chomsky, have forcefully argued) but an exposure of a reactionary tendency with that tradition that had not hitherto been fully grasped and understood (although anti-spontaneist critiques from the Communinist left of the anarchist left have been common enough, after all). In the discussion provoked by the post you kindly excerpt this issue was further explored. There, I went on to write (edited a bit):

    “I would say that anarcho-capitalists ‘naturalize’ historically contingent arrangements as a ‘spontaneous market order’ in an effort to legitimize them, while anarcho-socialists expose historically contingent government arrangements in an effort to illegitimize them usually the better to ‘naturalize’ whatever “spontaneous order’ they themselves prefer.

    “It is my conclusion that these superficially different positions represent actually complementary if not outright continuous/identical errors… I would be the last to deny there is all the difference in the world between profit-taking and love-making — but to the extent that parochial characterizations of these are universalized to provide the basis for false faith in spontaneous orders and programmatic anarchisms I disapprove of them all the same and for much the same reasons…

    “As… an entirely negative critical rather than positive programmatic vantage, however, I am more sympathetic to anarchisms, especially of the green, socialist, radical democratic, and queer/punk varieties.”

  2. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    ok, I think I understand. At the P2P Foundation, I have learned a lot from Kevin Carson’s mutualism, defined as a ‘freed market’ approach. While I disagree with the fundamental proposition, I have learned a lot about the embeddedness of capitalism in the state, and also about diversity in property modalities; I believe both aspects are generally absent from mainstream left understandings, and find them very useful.

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