Thursday, December 22, 2011

The problem with libertarianism

By Carl 

It excuses a multitude of sins: 

Do I think that Paul wrote the offending newsletters? I do not. Their style and racially bigoted philosophy is so starkly different from anything he has publicly espoused during his long career in public life -- and he is so forthright and uncensored in his pronouncements, even when they depart from mainstream or politically correct opinion -- that I'd wager substantially against his authorship if Las Vegas took such bets. Did I mention how bad some of the newsletters are? It's a level of bigotry that would be exceptionally difficult for a longtime public figure to hide.

For that reason, I cannot agree with Kirchick when he concludes that "Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing -- but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics." 

I usually disagree with Freidersdorf. This time, vehemently. 

To excuse this bigotry published in his name or to claim there's some "naivete" clause that allows Ron Paul to emerge washed clean of the stains of Lew Rockwell (who apparently authored the newsletters) minimizes a basic fact of the newsletters: they enriched Ron Paul, the brand, by passing themselves off as his wit and wisdom.

There's a basic term of art in corporate law that covers this: "agency."

Agency can be defined as those people who act in the name of or on behalf of an enterprise. If they represent themselves as agents, and enter a contract, it is as if the CEO of that corporation entered into the contract, and the contract is deemed as enforceable (that's a very simplistic outline, to be sure, but essentially how it's defined).

In this instance, the contract is the publication of the newsletter, purported to be Dr. Paul's own strategies, opinions, and news, in exchange for the price of a subscription.

Implied in this definition of agency is the understanding that, to reverse caveat emptor, the person who is ultimately responsible for the publication, Ron Paul, is fully aware of its contents.

This is why newspaper publishers hire proofreaders and editors. After all, if The New York Times published a demonstrably false piece, and it has, it is usually followed by the firing of the reporter in question, and often his or her editor.

That's how a responsible organization does it. Ergo, the conclusion we can draw from the fact that, not only has Paul barely repudiated the comments in the newsletters (and done so only after those newsletters were re-published, highlighting the offensive pieces, but that Lew Rockwell was permitted to continue to ghostwrite pieces under Paul's name, that Paul is accepting both responsibility, but more important, credit, for the ideas espoused.

Too, the whole nonsensical idea that Ron Paul is somehow a "good guy because he's plainspoken" (my summary of Freidersdorf's assessment) ignores the basic fact that, in this instance, he has not only danced around the subject, but has literally turned his back on it.

It further discredits a libertarian movement that is in desperate need of folks like, well, me: true libertarians who recognize that the hate-filled, greedy libertarianism of the Pauls and the Freidersdorfs needs to be replaced with a libertarianism that understands that the ultimate expression of freedom and individuality is opportunity, and that to try to ignore history, to turn your back on it, is to deny freedom to some.

Any libertarian worth his salt can see that if one man is not free then no man is. And we owe it to society and to the people in that society to level the playing field first and install governance that ensures that equality and freedom remain available to all people.

Clearly, Ron Paul is not a libertarian if he can even condone and ignore this issue.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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