Ron Paul Boxing Day

Many voices – mainstream liberal analyst, skeptical gentlemen, special pleading left-libertarian, committed defender, center-right political assailant, chastened (ex-)endorser, and so on – have sounded out on the Ron Paul candidacy, lately in relation to those notorious newsletters, but David Neiwert of the further-left site Crooks & Liars is among the very few commenters to put the matter in a larger historical and ideological context:

What is utterly missing from libertarianism — and particularly the libertarianism of Ron Paul — is a recognition that their love of freedom is easily perverted into the freedom to deprive other people of their freedoms. When confronted with it, they simply try to shrug it off as a problem that freedom itself will eventually overcome — when history, of course, has proven them wrong time and time again.

Yet even Neiwert, not known for his reticence, stops himself at the precipice of any too uncomfortable insight into the inherent moral limitations and contradictions of American libertarianism, which last is not merely the personal property of self-styled libertarians, but is still the mainspring of Americanism.

The first great task of the first self-consciously “American” Americans was the accumulation of property – the actual land of the New World.  No matter how we choose to view this vast expropriation, arguably the greatest act of “accumulation by dispossession” ever achieved, as historically necessary or as an unforgivable crime, or both, it remains inarguably the material foundation, accompanied by the ultimate sins of genocide and slavery, of the American nation as we know it:  What we really are vs. what we prefer or can allow ourselves to say.

The key to understanding the unspeakable organic truth about America in relation to contemporary libertarian theory is that this great, ineluctably profitable work of genocide and enslavement (later wage slavery and neo-imperial global expansion) was largely accomplished without or expressly against the direction of the federal government or any central governing authority, whose various military interventions and eminently revisable diplomatic initiatives chiefly served, and could only serve, to ratify or consolidate established facts on the ground – again in the manner of an efficient defense mechanism, active forgetting, against disruptions to ego ideals.

It was therefore no mere happenstance that led “paleo-libertarians” like Ron Paul and his circle to seek an alliance with the radical right back in ’90s, or that leads Ron Paul and libertarians today to question such fundaments of American progressivism as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or Child Labor Laws, or other somewhat more controversial national and global institutions like the Federal Reserve, the IMF, or the United Nations.  Reactionary libertarianism was and remains a typical American political configuration, as irresistible an alliance as the great expropriation – the creation of the United States of America – was historically (materially, economically, and even philosophically) irresistible.

Elias Isquith’s critique of Paul’s isolationism, as non-cognizant of nationalistic impulses, in effect re-outlines the functioning of the entire ideological and psychological mechanism.  The realization of an effective alliance between, as per Neiwert, freedom and freedom to oppress is so fundamental, so constitutional one might say, that as individual citizens we all, without exception, sooner or later or always already, also find ourselves internalizing it, or at minimum, if we wish to continue to function at all,  acquiescing in it.  It relies on the same “Empire of Liberty” paradox first proposed by Jefferson and effectuated during his administration, and realized under alternative but related configurations across the American political spectrum up to the present moment.  It is in a word the definitional contradiction within the American idea, the essential and obligatory blind spot of Americanism itself.

Only a straitening of circumstances, the discovery of real geographical, technological, economic, and military obstacles, experienced as crisis, can force us to peer through the customary darkness, glimpse the shocking pinpoints of light, and respond.  The reaction, pursued as a survival necessity, is, of course, to suppress the recognition.  Only the absolute crisis could sustain the momentary vision, because coping with what we really are always implies becoming something other than what we have been.  In a certain sense we can never be ready for such a task, since that would mean to be destroyed by its necessity.

Instead, we will continue to discover figures like Ron Paul, rather like Jeremiah Wright on the left, consigned via a ritualistic routine of scandal detection and mandatory ostracism to the “crazy uncle”‘s basement, thus to re-assure the collective ego – at least for the time being, for whatever time we have left, up to the last moment and not one second less.


25 comments on “Ron Paul Boxing Day

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  1. I haven’t spent a lot of time thnking about this, but this stood out to me. People paid for these newsletters. The first rule of writing – know your audience.

    Paul took the $. If he didn’t know what was in them he’s a fool. Big enough reason by itself to not vote for him.

  2. Naturally, I would like to see this piece as a video. The silhouette style would work again perfectly. But remind me why I can’t even separate myself ideologically from this Americanism? Yes, I know my taxes go to American expressions of Americanism, and that I participate in the racism and everything else no matter how much I distance myself from it through spiritual practice, so I know the separation I seek is ideological, but everything is ideological, including so-called physical reality, so why can’t ideological separation establish a real separation from Americanism? My guess is that it goes something like “whatever I say that I don’t say bouncing off me, sticks to you for a little bit and then bounces back to me” in some Hegelian way.

    • Maybe it is the Americanist notion that you can escape by imagining you have escaped/are in the process of escaping, even while continuing to participate materially. Yet you cannot cease participating without ceasing to be, which is the most selfishly irresponsible form of moral self-reassurance and merely notional escape.

      Maybe the objective would least of all to justify oneself or anyone else, but to live “with all your heart and all your might” your part of the collective confession.

      Or maybe best not to ask the unanswerable question…

      Or maybe I shouldn’t have started answering when I have chores to perform…

  3. Oh, and in respect to what sticks to me ideologically, my so-called “militant pacificism” was holding out for Paul until the scandal. So there you are right. I wasn’t going to vote for him but I was pulling for him as the only politician out there speaking against war so unequivocally on a common sense level at least. I wanted him to be heard on that point. Now he screwed it all up by not only being a knucklehead in the past but making it clear that he’s a knucklehead now even in the common sense way that Bob described in his first comment.

  4. I did though, enjoy the post. Although, if I were your editor (having no pretense of being that) I might suggest “as the organic needs of the individual stand to the ego in psychoanalytical frameworks” detracts from the overall Faulknerian feel of the piece.

      • and reflecting on your reflection I’ve been reflecting on Faulkner altho remembering much less than I would like to remember I do remember something about the Snopes and running for office altho I can’t really be more specific than that maybe you remember something

        But I did find this from 1959 Irving Howe

        The Snopeses have always been there. No sooner did Faulkner come upon his central subject—how the corruption of the homeland, staining its best sons, left them without standards or defense—than Snopesism followed inexorably. Almost anyone can detect the Snopeses, but describing them is very hard. The usual reference to “amorality,” while accurate, is not sufficiently distinctive and by itself does not allow us to place them, as they should be placed, in a historical moment. Perhaps the most important thing to be said is that they are what comes afterwards: the creatures that emerge from the devastation, with the slime still upon their lips.

  5. It’s always a marvel to hear someone link Ron Paul and common sense.

    Congress is poised to pass the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) authorizing up to $50 million in unconstitutional foreign aid. The bill passed out of the Foreign Affairs Committee with a bipartisan agreement to nearly double the President’s requested amount. It is always distressing to see officials in our government reach across the aisle to disregard Constitutional limitations.

  6. The problem with Paul, and this is true, of many of his spokespersons like Michael Scheuer, the head of the Bin Laden unit, is that they elide the difference between understanding a Bin Laden, and agreeing with him, So Scheuer agreed with the Gamaa Islamiyah, that Egypt was not a nice place, but was perfectly willing to send the likes of Talat Quassem back to Cairo and Damascus, Al Filisitini Mukharabat. al Amarah.Now I’m given to understand that the fellow who actually ran the Renditions Branch, a second generation Company man, was nowhere as naive, and he understood ‘when needs must’

    Now if Paul were actually in power, would he actually follow through with his policies, or would he yield to reality. Judge Napolitano, does exhibit the same callousness, re Lincoln’s slaughter of 600,000, in his CPAC speech almost three years ago, It’s an academic exercise to say, the Civil War shouldn’t have been fought, but Jim Crow tells me otherwise

  7. what’s bin Laden saying that you disagree with?

    and Ron paul wouldn’t be in power even if, by some horrible turn of events, he were to be in office. there wouldn’t be any Congress that would close down all of our foreign military bases, cancel out of NATO, and end all foreign aid.

    • …to make the game less absurd, you have to translate “RP in office” as “extreme ideological candidate of his general type… say his son in four or eight years.” As with any extreme scenario, you have believe that extraordinary events have rendered the consensus underlying the system untenable – a Depression-level worsening of the economic situation, one or more catastrophic setbacks overseas, assassinations and major scandals taking out all credible representatives of the major parties….and so on… all at once…

      But I don’t think you have to go quite that far to imagine a popular movement – perhaps as likely to originate on the left as the right – and something less than apocalypse combining to make major reductions in overseas bases and the end of NATO conceivable, in the context of major reductions in defense expenditures Foreign aid, I dunno – not without lots of other crazy stuff happenig first.

  8. the only comparable to Ron Paul as president would be Charles Lindbergh ….

    see Roth’s The Plot Against America

    (and still I can’t believe that Ron Paul named his son KrugerRand)

  9. Is rather silly to consider describing Romney as what he is, a moderate, is ‘negative, but then that’s in the same vein as the EU refusing to certify water as able to satisfy thirst.

    • dude, you could easily get on twitter and respond to these tweets directl.y… “they” have made it impressivly easy to sign up, tweet your tweets, and the majority of sites have made it easy to tweet links to items of interest, too. I’d either re-tweet you as appropriate, set up a joint list, or give you your own box… alternatively I could send or re-send you a registration at the blog so you could comment on the Wall…

  10. Well If you could, I note that was actually Dreazen, who’s been known to put words in General MacChrystal’s mouth every once and again,

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