Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Frederick Clarkson and Michael Lind on Papa Doc Paul

Unlike the mainstream political press, progressive bloggers have made some real efforts to wrestle with Ron "Papa Doc" Paul's quirky ideology. Some attempts were more successful than others.

I continue to insist that the key to understanding Papa Doc is to see him for what he has been his entire career, a hardcore, unrepentant Southern segregationist and Bircher conspiracist.

Frederick Clarkson, who understands the far right very well, writes in Will Ron Paul Fall after his Surprise Rise? Talk to Action 12/28/2011

Paul also owes considerable thanks to national media that have not devoted much serious reporting to his campaign, perhaps because of his standing in the polls, was not taken seriously as a candidate. Meanwhile, in a remarkable election year twist, his libertarian anti-drug war, and old time isolationist foreign policy views have been taken by marijuana reform and anti-war progressives as a reason to crossover and support Paul in Iowa and elsewhere, while down playing or ignoring his unsavory views that are consistent with the depth and breadth of his support from the far right in the U.S.

Election rules vary greatly by state, and in Iowa it happens that the rules allow for non-Republicans to vote in the GOP caucuses in Iowa. Therefore dedicated antiwar activists (including independents, Greens and Democrats) in the absence of a Democratic challenge to Obama, are planning to turn out for Paul. In so doing however, they are aligning themselves with a man who is about much more than the handful of (important) matters where their views converge. Paul is not only seeking to appeal to theocratic evangelicals, but is also the candidate of members of such anti-progressive entities as the neo-Nazi group Stormfront and the John Birch Society. [my emphasis]
Michael Lind, who has pretty much always been nervous about the Democratic position on "culture war" issues, nevertheless also knows the Radical Right well. In Race, liberty and Ron Paul Salon 01/03/2012, he writes:

Should we be impressed if Paul says that as a personal matter he would oppose such things, while defending their legality? It is hard to see any daylight between an overt racist and someone who claims to oppose racism or anti-semitism, but also denounces the only effective ways to put a stop to them—that is, civil rights laws. If you argue that private racism is bad but anti-racist laws are worse, and if you have no problem with the state’s coercive power when it enforces racism but object to coercive state power only in the service of anti-racism, then you cannot complain when others draw their own conclusions about your motives (even if, unlike Ron Paul, you did not publish white supremacist newsletters for years under your own name).
Lind also points out the key reality-denying aspect of the "libertarian" ideology:

Libertarians typically argue that only government, backed by military and police power, can be tyrannical. Lockean republicans in contrast believe that private power located in the for-profit or non-profit sectors can be tyrannical, as well. By means of their agent, the state, the sovereign people legitimately can protect themselves from predation by private sector tyrants as well as public sector tyrants. ...

Some libertarians concede the legitimacy of government coercion in protecting property rights. But in doing so, these libertarians, like Ron Paul, give up any principled objection to government coercion. They simply want government coercion to be used for some purposes—protecting property rights—and not others—enforcing civil rights.
Bircher "libertarianism" means primarily for rich, mean old white guys to do whatever they want to whomever they want.

And that's what Papa Doc is about.

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