Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Conversations With Conservatives About Ron Paul

"Yes, because nothing says "serious political candidate" like somebody arguing for the legalization of heroin," said Mark in Spokane of Ordered Liberty in response to a video of the most recent debate posted here — President Ron Paul.

Our friend from the great state of Washington continued, "A telling moment, that, where Paul displayed the fundamental ideological orientation that makes the libertarian mindset incompatible with conservatism and liberty itself: the refusal to acknowledge that virtue needs to be reinforced not only by social norms, but also by the force of law in critical areas related to law and order." He went on to say that "Paul is an example of what Russell Kirk called a 'chirping sectary.'"

To this, I responded that the gentleman from Texas is "not saying that states and localities should not criminalize heroin, just that the Federal Government should not be involved in what is essentially a local matter," and offered a personal anecdote from the war on drugs: "My father worked for decades as a federal law enforcement officer (Postal Inspection Service), and eventually resigned because he became disgusted when his job description switched from investigating mail fraud to busting dumb pot heads sending dope to each other."

Finally, regressing a bit to my punk rock days, I said, "We can thank fake conservative Ronald Reagan and his intolerable chirping wife for the very un-conservative War on Drugs."

***

Another thread began with a post quoting from an email by reader Vickie, who said "I would rather have a prolife/antiwar Ron Paul who thinks the drug war is a waste of resources than the 'enforce virtue with law conservatives' who never find a war they cannot support" — War and Empire. She continued, "When Kirkians-Burkeans-Distributivists stop sniping and start building, I will take them seriously."

Mark in Spokane rightly reminded that "the Kirkian-Burkean-Distribists have opposed Gulf War I, II, Kosovo as well as other US interventions," noting that "Kirk was a leader in the opposition to the First Gulf War, and the man he endorsed for president of the United States, Patrick J. Buchanan, has been a stalwart critic of the American Empire, opposing our interventions abroad."

He continued, "Start building? Good night -- the conservative movement within Anglo-American civilization is the result of men like Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk and Chesterton and Belloc."

He concluded, "Your reader's e-mail is a classic example of the kind of ignorance among the Libertarians that makes me even more skeptical about the movement and Ron Paul's disciples than I was before (and I was already plenty skeptical). The religious tingle to the Paulinistas is evident whenever he rises for one of futile runs for higher office."

I responded, "The problem is as of late, the 'Kirkian-Burkean-Distribists' have become, paradoxically, ideological. They oppose the Paulistas and other libertarians because their notion of the sate may be wrong, which I grant it may well be."

I continued, "But let them put forth a better candidate. Sorry, but the Santorums, Gingriches, Romneys, Huckabees, etc. just don't measure up. They'll just increase federal state power for their own pet causes, be they foreign wars or legislating morality."

I concluded by suggesting that "'conservatives' won't support Paul because they think the federal government has to be involved in drug wars or foreign wars, and we'll get four more years of Obama or something worse."

Donald Goodman joined the conservation, noting, "As for distributists, they won't support Paul (mostly, anyway; a few do) because he doesn't embody distributist ideals; namely, the widespread distribution of productive property among the populace. It has nothing to do with drug wars or foreign wars."

To this, I countered, "Distributivism in a republic like ours can only be imposed from the bottom up, starting with families and local communities, and then the several states." I also suggested, "Only Congressman Paul plans to return power to the states and local governments."

Mark in Spokane responded:
    Distributionism doesn't need to be imposed -- the laws on corporations only need to be revised or repealed. And Paul doesn't support that -- he is as strong a defender of corporate power as any Wall Street Republican.

    As for your early comment about ideology, I think you are confusing ideology with principle. Conservatism is full of principles -- the Permanent Things as Kirk and Elliot called them -- but not ideology. The opposite is true of libertarianism. It has no principles -- no commitments to the things that make political and social and spiritual order possible -- but it is lots of ideology. The libertarian answer to every question is dictated by ideology -- even to an absurd end. Hence Ron Paul is now a crusader for heroin legalization.
And yours truly:
    Ron Paul is against the corporate welfare that both parties support. He would let the "too big to fails" fail, and smaller companies would have moved into fill the void. Regional banks survived '08 quite well and could have picked up the pieces.

    As any Austrian will tell you, it is government-corporate collusion which creates monopolies, which prevent anything close to the vision of Distributivism from arising.

    Remember, back when we had a free market before the federal government took over the economy with FDR, we had numerous automobile manufactures. My hometown had airplane factories. Suddenly, only the big are allowed to survive. Corporations lobby for government regulation to stamp out competition.

    Ron Paul, a Christian gentleman (even Pat Robertson wants to decriminalize pot) and the most pro-life congressmen in the House, is a man of principle. His main principle is the Constitution, particularly the 10th Amendment.

    There are left-libertarians and right-libertarians. The former want the federal government to impose "freedoms" on states, communities, and individuals; the latter trust states, communities, and individuals to make decisions for themselves.
And Vickie, in an email, wrote:
    I agree that Libertarians do have things to be queasy about.. On the other hand in my experience, conservative both religious and politic spend too much time on what they hate and what they don't want. I do owe Pat Buchanan because he is the one that woke me up to the betrayal of conservatives by the GOP. I get the impression that he would have some sort of plan. He even got my late Clinton loving mom to listen.
***

In a final conversation, my old friend Jeff Culbreath wrote, "Joshua, you just got through praising Madame Nhu, who makes Rick Santorum look like Lew Rockwell," referencing my post on the candidate Madame Nhu in reponse to my post the same day on his candidate of choice — He May Be a Fellow Catholic With a Great-Sounding Surname, But...

"Well, as a non-ideological Burkean particularist," I responded. "I'd just say that Madame Nhu might have been suited for her people, but I have doubts that Mr. Santorum is for ours. Ron Paul best matches our national character."

I think that last sentence pretty much sums up my thoughts about the man.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Baron Korf said...

It is called framing the debate. Rather than the decriminalization /legalization of hard drugs, it should be framed as State's rights and thereby responsibilities.

I must admit that the constitution doesn't really give the Federal government the mechanisms to make and enforce this law. If drug running is 'interstate commerce' then murder is 'practicing medicine without a license'. I think the federal government could do a bang up job on the matter if it actually put the time and effort into it. But corruption and indifference prevents that.

You could always point out that Buckley eventually conceded that the War on Drugs was a failed campaign. I think the interview is on YouTube, but I have been wrong before.

Here is a little bit of history for you. The 18th amendment was originally enforced by the IRS, then it was it's own bureau of the Treasury, then it was Justice Department, then FBI, and now ATF even though prohibition ended. Funny how stuff works.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Great post here -- you've managed to produce a very good narrative of the conversation that we had! I'll be replying over at my own blog -- but it will take me two or three posts to fully respond to your solid defense of the Libertarian vision here.

Very thoughtful stuff -- thanks for posting it!

3:34 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Thanks! But please don't take it as a "solid defense of the Libertarian vision," just as a few reasons to vote for Ron Paul.

4:36 PM  

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