6
   

Rand Paul is Not a Libertarian

 
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 07:45 am
From TNR:

Rand Paul’s touching (and temporary) display of honesty on the Rachel Maddow show last week has triggered an enormous amount of criticism. Liberals and progressives have denounced as morally offensive Paul’s constitutional concerns about certain provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Conservatives, meanwhile, have taken to ridiculing Paul as a political novice who doesn’t know when to compromise his principles for the sake of expediency. But what Paul’s remarks really demonstrate is not that he’s too principled, but rather that the particular principles he’s set out to defend"the principles underlying libertarianism as an intellectual and political movement"are absurdly one-sided.

Speaking broadly, modern government moves between two poles, each of which has a seventeenth-century thinker as its champion, and each of which is focused on minimizing a particular form of injustice. On one side is Thomas Hobbes, who defended the creation of an authoritarian government as the only viable means of protecting certain individuals and groups from injustices perpetrated by other individuals and groups. On the other side is John Locke, who advocated a minimal state in order to protect individuals and groups against injustices perpetrated by governments themselves. Taken to an extreme, the Hobbesian pole leads to totalitarianism, while the Lockean pole terminates in the quasi-anarchism of the night watchman state.

Aside, perhaps, from the pretty thoroughly Hobbesian state of North Korea, every functional government in the world mixes elements of each of these pure forms"and partisan disputes within nations can often be reduced to conflicts over how Hobbesian or Lockean the state should be on a given issue. There are endless examples. Should health care be delivered by the state, by private entities, or by some mixture of the two? How much should the state regulate the market, and in what areas? And as Rand Paul has recently reminded us: Should racist business owners be free to treat black Americans as second-class citizens? Or should the federal government forbid such discrimination? In each case, to favor government action is to lean toward Hobbes; to oppose it is to favor Locke.

What makes Rand Paul’s position (as he originally expressed it on the Maddow show) noteworthy is that it’s a pure, unadulterated expression of Lockean anti-statism with little admixture of Hobbesian sentiments at all. Paul, like many libertarians and Tea Party activists, is so obsessed with the possibility that the state might commit an injustice that he’s indifferent to the reality of actually existing injustice at the hands of private citizens. As far as these radical Lockeans are concerned, the former is tyranny, pure and simple, while the latter is just life: yeah, it’s sometimes unfair, but freedom requires that we (or rather, in this case, blacks living under Jim Crow in the South) get over it.

But the reason why politics normally takes place in the messy middle between Hobbes and Locke"between the maximal and the minimal state"is that most of us don’t get over it. We recognize that both thinkers have a point. Decent politics"properly liberal politics"involves the attempt to combat both forms of injustice in full awareness that seeking to eradicate one form will often produce an increase in the other. The distinctive glory and pathos of liberal politics can be found in the endless effort to achieve and maintain precisely this precarious balance.

Those who give up on that effort and seek instead to realize one notion of justice to the exclusion of the other are history’s political mischief-makers. When untempered by Lockean considerations, the pursuit of Hobbesian justice justifies tyranny in the name of moral righteousness. It is thus a serious danger and a potent threat to civilized life and human freedom. The single-minded pursuit of Lockean justice, by contrast, with its paranoia about imagined wrongs and relative indifference to expressions of actual human suffering, is merely callously ridiculous. But as Rand Paul has helpfully reminded us, it is a form of ridiculousness to which Americans tend to be inordinately tempted.

0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 08:08 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Although I agree they don't want to be tarred, I think that's mainly opportunism. Rand Paul's view of the Civil Rights Act are perfectly libertarian.

I agree. The notion that private parties should be allowed to discriminate against other private parties is about as libertarian as it gets. If the Libertarian Party disagrees, it just demonstrates how far from libertarianism (small l) the Libertarians (big L) have strayed.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 08:31 am
the only legitimate libertarian I have seen post on a2k was foxfyre.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 09:35 am
@ebrown p,
Well-said. Rand's father is even worse than he is. They both are social darwinists.

BBB
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:04 am
@dyslexia,
You wound me, Dys.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:04 am
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

the only legitimate libertarian I have seen post on a2k was foxfyre.


I'm not sure I quite agree with this analysis, lol.

Cycloptichorn
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:23 am
@Cycloptichorn,
humour cyclo, just humour.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:26 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:
Well-said. Rand's father is even worse than he is. They both are social darwinists.

This statement is offensive to social darwinists. Nothing in social darwinism requires a politician to oppose gay marriage, or support prohibitions against anyone but traditionally married couples adopting children.
plainoldme
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:28 am
@Thomas,
Frankly, there are a great many kids in happy homes headed by lesbians or gays rather than bouncing from foster home to foster home.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:29 am
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

humour cyclo, just humour.


Well done, very dry!

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:46 am
On the specific points raised by the Libertarian Party of Kentucky:

The Libertarian Party of Kentucky wrote:
Libertarians want a complete repeal of the PATRIOT Act, closure of Guantanamo Bay, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rand Paul has stated that he wants to continue military detentions at Guantanamo Bay, a retroactive official declaration of war by Congress, and has denied that he seeks to overturn the PATRIOT Act.

http://www.lpky.org/node/243

Judging by a Google search for Rand Paul and the respective terms, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky (LPK) scores but a mixed record of accuracy and relevance.
  1. Paul, too, wants a complete repeal of the PATRIOT Act, according to Newsweek.
  2. As to Paul calling for a retroactive declaration of war against Afghanistan, the LPK is correct. But it's difficult for me to see the relevance of this---it looks like empty symbolism to me, and silly symbolism at that. More relevant is that Paul has called for a massive de-funding of the military, which (a) would prevent future Afghanistans, and (b) is in line with Libertarian-Party principles, and out of line with the Republican party's majority.
  3. The LPK's claim about Guantanamo Bay is true. Paul is against closing it.
  4. The LPK's points about social issues are correct. Paul opposes gay marriage, and opposes adoption by anyone but traditionally-married cupples. But in practice that's largely irrelevant because Paul is running for the US Senate, and thinks that these issues are for the states to decide. Therefore, his voting record will likely resemble those of liberal Democrats more than average Republicans. Of course it's hard to decide whether Paul's federalist restraint would survive his actual election---but for what it's worth, that's how his father votes, too.

With all this in mind, I find the LPK's objections to Rand Paul largely unconvincing.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 11:05 am
With all this said, I see one federally-relevant issue where Rand Paul diverges from libertarian principles, in line with Republican politics. That is his approach to the West Virginia mining accident and the Big Oil Spill in the gulf, and what that means for federal regulation. His sole reaction, according to Newsweek, is that "sometimes accidents happen".

To put these remarks in context, remember that there are fundamentally two ways the law can encourage businesses to make their operations safe. First, it can discourage unnecessary risks before the fact by defining safety standards and closing down businesses for failing them. If a business complies with regulations and some freak accidents happen anyway, the law has the option to excuse them. Second, the law can discourage those risks after the fact through the tort system. That way, businesses may be free to make mistakes, but once they make them, they have to account for them and make the victims whole.

Principled libertarians usually go with approach #2, for two reasons. (1) They think that regulatory agencies tend to get corrupted by the very businesses they're supposed to control. (2) They think that businesses know more about their own operations than the government does, so they're better able to assess the true risk of what they're doing.

Rand Paul, however, chooses neither of those paths. He rejects safety regulations for businesses as statist, but doesn't want tort law to hold them accountable either: "Maybe sometimes accidents happen." That's not a libertarian policy at all. That's just a policy of sucking up to big business.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 12:29 pm
@plainoldme,
I agree---and there is no reason a social darwinist wouldn't agree with you too. (On the understanding that "social darwinism" roughly corresponds to the worldview promoted in Herbert Spencer's Social Statics.)
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 10:14 pm
An interesting take on two of the least competent public speakers in America:

What Rand Paul and Sharron Angle Have in Common: A Far-Right “Biblical Law” Political Party
Posted By Adele Stan On June 15, 2010 @ 2:26 pm In Republican Party, Rights and liberties, Tea Party movement, belief | 18 Comments

It could be the most important political party you’ve barely heard of — the Constitution Party, a far-right party that combines the sort of quasi-libertarian ideology spouted by Ron Paul with a Christian Reconstructionist bent for the biblical law of the Book of Leviticus (you know, the law that mandates death by stoning for practitioners of gay sex and adultery).

But when it comes to Constitution Party street cred, Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat, seems to have Paul, and his son, Rand (the GOP’s nominee for Kentucky’s Senate seat) beat. Angle, reports TPM’s Justin Elliott, spent six years as a member of Nevada’s Independent American Party, the state’s Constitution Party affiliate.

When Tea Party favorite Rand Paul defeated the establishment Republican candidate to win the nomination for the Kentucky Senate seat being vacated by Jim Bunning, AlterNet reported the Paul family’s ties to the Constitution Party, whose founder, Howard Phillips, keynoted the elder Paul’s 2008 Minneapolis rally celebrating his quixotic presidential bid.

Then Bruce Wilson revealed that Paul the younger keynoted a convention of the Minnesota state chapter of the Constitution Party.

Now along comes Angle, who, from 1992 – 1998, according to IAP members, belonged to their party until her decision to run for political office made it more expedient to become a Republican.

If the name of the Constitution Party sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps you recall the dust kicked up when, during the presidential campaign Todd Palin was revealed to have belonged, for seven years, to the Alaska Independence Party, that state’s Constitution Party affiliate.

If the Tea Party could be said to have a founding father, I’d name him as Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips. Deeply influenced by the Christian Reconstructionist theology of Rousas John Rushdoony, Phillips not only helped found the religious right, but created a political party that has served as a haven for such figures as Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and neo-militia leader Matthew Trewhella. (Founded in 1992 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, the organization adopted the name “Constitution Party” in 1999.)

Phillips also chairs the Conservative Caucus, a political organization that served, during the presidential campaign, as a virtual clearinghouse for anti-Obama messaging — the very messaging that would find itself amplified by the Tea Party movement. It was from Phillips’ shop that I first heard the trope about Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and heard tales of the future president’s socialist past.

The Caucus works closely with the John Birch Society, and has featured Ron Paul as a speaker at several of its events. It is a tireless crusader against something called the North American Union, which it claims nefarious forces are trying to create after the model of the European Union.

With the nominations of Angle and Paul to GOP tickets, Phillips — a former Republican who worked in the Nixon White House — is closer than ever to seeing his ideology injected into one of the nation’s two major parties. For a taste of that ideology, here’s a snippet of the preamble to the Constitution Party’s platform:

The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States.

[...]

The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.

For more on Sharron Angle and the Constitution Party, check out Julie Ingersoll’s post at Religion Dispatches.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 12:45 am

Historically, there have been many different opinions represented
within the libertarian movement; e.g., during the Third World War,
as a libertarian, I supported military conscription, whereas many libertarians
opposed it. My argument was that weak military defenses against
the commies woud result in universal, permanent communist slavery, the antithesis of libertarianism.





David
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 10:55 am
Here are some Libertarianism/ Communism comparisons, beginning with a seeker:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090415111055AAkieY4

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100423012334AANuZPc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchist_communism

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=libertarian%20communist

http://reason.com/blog/2010/02/23/libertarian-playboy-mag-hates

http://www.zompist.com/libertos.html

http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/street/pl38/sect2.htm

The first definition in the immediately above link, autocracy, describes today's American Right or Conservatives.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Obama '08? - Discussion by sozobe
Let's get rid of the Electoral College - Discussion by Robert Gentel
McCain's VP: - Discussion by Cycloptichorn
Food Stamp Turkeys - Discussion by H2O MAN
The 2008 Democrat Convention - Discussion by Lash
McCain is blowing his election chances. - Discussion by McGentrix
Snowdon is a dummy - Discussion by cicerone imposter
GAFFNEY: Whose side is Obama on? - Discussion by gungasnake
 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 10/23/2021 at 06:15:59