October 31, 2014

Can Ron Paul Really Be Right About Everything?

I was in Jacksonville last Friday for an event called “Ron Paul on the River.” The Republican presidential candidate was supposed to speak there, but had to cancel at the last minute due to a Libya vote in the House scheduled on short notice. While it was disappointing that the congressman would not appear, the keynote speaker that appeared in his place was well worth the trip.

Doug Wead is a self-confessed former member of the Establishment. In addition to being a best-selling author and world-renowned speaker, Wead has worked as a special advisor to President George H.W. Bush and on the campaign of George W. Bush. According to Wikipedia, Time magazine called Wead “an insider in the Bush family orbit.”

A good portion of Wead’s speech in Jacksonville focused on issues on which he had formerly disagreed with Paul. At one point, he made the startling statement, “but now I agree with him on everything.” He encouraged Paul supporters to persevere through the difficulties of supporting an anti-Establishment candidate and to remember that “logic and the truth are on your side.”

It is not fashionable to admit that you agree with someone “on everything.” To say that you do is to invite the accusation of belonging to a personality cult whose members blindly follow their leader no matter what position he takes. Indeed, this criticism is leveled at Paul’s grassroots supporters, who are called “Paulites” by detractors, implying that they have a pseudo-religious devotion to Paul rather than informed positions on the issues.

In modern American political thought, where only the results of political action are considered rather than the rights of the parties involved, it is not considered reasonable to agree with anyone 100% of the time. For someone like Wead, whose living depends upon his credibility as an expert on those things he writes and speaks about, there is a certain amount of risk in making this statement. Yet he did it in Jacksonville without hesitation, emphasizing the words “on everything” to ensure that no one missed the point.

This immediately struck me, because it was the second time in as many weeks that I had heard a statement like this from someone who had something to lose by saying it. Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, John Stossel answered O’Reilly’s assertion that Ron Paul hadn’t won the New Hampshire debate by saying, “But he’s right about everything and you’re wrong.” O’Reilly retorted, “Everything?” Stossel repeated, “Everything.” When O’Reilly pressed yet again with the same question, Stossel finally backed up to “Just about everything.”

Stossel is a television journalist, so credibility is arguably even more important to his living than it is to Wead’s. That is not all the two have in common. Stossel also admits that he regrets much of the first 20 years of his career when he attacked the free enterprise system and championed increased government regulation over business. Like Wead, Stossel was a member of the Establishment, albeit from the other side of its aisle. Now, despite the risk to his credibility, he says that Ron Paul is right about everything.

So is this some sort of quasi-religious devotion? Are Paul’s followers simply caught up in a mass hysteria over someone who is likeable and has demonstrated his integrity for so long that they abandon their reason to avoid critical examination of his positions? Isn’t it impossible for an intelligent person to agree with someone on everything?

The answer to all three of these questions is “no.” In fact, contrary to what conventional wisdom tells us, it is actually illogical to agree with Paul on some things and not others.[1] As I’ve said before, Paul is simply applying the central libertarian axiom to each issue. As long as he applies the axiom properly and does not make an error of logic, he is going to come out with a position that is consistent with libertarianism 100% of the time.

For those in the grip of this “conventional wisdom” that has led us to the brink of societal collapse, Paul’s answers are anything but consistent. On economic policy, he seems like a hardcore conservative, surpassing all other Republicans in his zeal to eliminate regulation and taxes. On foreign policy and social issues, he seems to be some sort of lefty hippie, arguing to legalize all drugs, allow homosexuals to marry if they wish to (he wants government out of marriage even at the state level), and to immediately order home every soldier stationed on a foreign base.

Those just learning about libertarianism might conclude that it is some sort of “compromise” between conservatism and progressivism/liberalism. This is untrue. Libertarianism evaluates political issues from a completely different perspective than either mainstream political philosophy. Sometimes, conservatives happen to agree with libertarians, but for different reasons. Sometimes, the same is true for progressives/liberals. Libertarians care not for who agrees/disagrees. They follow one simple principle and let the chips fall where they may.

Walter Block sums this up best in terms of understanding how libertarians like Paul formulate  their positions.

“This is because libertarianism is solely a political philosophy. It asks one and only one question: Under what conditions is the use of violence justified? And it gives one and only one answer: violence can be used only in response, or reaction to, a prior violation of private property rights.”

In order to understand Ron Paul’s platform, there are two conclusions one must reach. The first is that libertarians are correct that violence is only justified in response or reaction to a prior violation of private property rights. Block does not limit the definition of “private property” to land ownership or even physical property in general. Instead, property includes all of one’s life, liberty, and justly acquired possessions. So, any murder, assault, theft, fraud, or coercion would be violation of a private property right. Based upon that understanding, ask anyone if they agree that violence should never be initiated, but instead only used in defense, and you will almost always get agreement. So far, so good.

The second thing that one must conclude in order to understand Ron Paul is that all government action is violent action. This is where it gets difficult for conservatives and liberals alike. While it is easy to see the government’s use of its military as an act of violence, it is harder for people to see that other government activities represent violence. How could providing healthcare, ensuring workplace safety, or licensing barbers be violent acts?

This is the great truth that hides in plain site under every human being’s nose. In order to recognize it, one must disengage the deep, emotional attachments that almost everyone has developed to some or all government activity. Once you get someone to that point and they are truly ready to reason, they will come to the libertarian conclusion every time. To the genuinely interested and rational person, only one question is necessary:

“What if you do not cooperate?”

I cannot count how many times I have asked this question and received in response a stare – not a blank stare, but a thoughtful one. You can see the wheels turning. Sometimes they will begin to speak, then stop themselves while they think some more. They are looking for a hole in the theory. They are unable to find one. They are genuinely interested in either proving or disproving your argument. By that time, you have won.

For those who do not immediately “see the light,” you can pick any government action and walk them through that reasoning process:

You: Suppose that I do not wish to participate in Medicare and withhold only that percentage of my payroll taxes that would otherwise go to fund it. In return, I agree not to make use of any of the Medicare benefits. What will happen to me?

Him/Her: You will be charged with income tax evasion.

You: What if I don’t answer the charge?

Him/Her: You will be arrested.

You: What if I do not agree to submit to the arrest?

Him/Her: You will be physically forced to submit.

You: And if I resist further?

Him/Her: (reluctantly) You will be killed.

You: So, you now agree that we are forced to participate in Medicare under the threat of violence, correct?

Him/Her: (Even more reluctantly) Yes.

You: Is there any government tax, law, or regulation that we are not similarly forced to participate in under the threat of violence? Are not all of these answers the same in relation to even the least significant government regulation, like a parking ticket?

Recall the final scenes in the 1999 movie, The Matrix. After Neo’s “resurrection,” he stands up to once again face the agents that had apparently killed him a moment before. However, when we see the matrix through Neo’s eyes, as he sees it now, the whole world is made up of lines of green code. Neo had been told early in the movie that the matrix is a computer-generated illusion. He heard it, but did not know it. He is now seeing that world as it really is for the first time. His mind has reasoned through and understood all of the implications of what Morpheus has told him. Once he truly understands, he is invincible.

This is a wonderful metaphor for the libertarian “conversion.” Once one has had the epiphany that all government action is violent action, there are only three choices. 1) You come to the same conclusions that Ron Paul does on every issue, 2) You disagree with Walter Block and conclude that it is morally justifiable to initiate violence against other people, or 3) You abandon logic and stop acknowledging reality. This is why Paul told the Today Show’s Matt Lauer that “economic liberty and personal liberty are one and the same and foreign policy that defends America and not police the world [sic] – that’s part of the package as well.”

Doug Wead, John Stossel, and millions of Paul’s supporters have had this revelation. This is why they agree with Paul without exception. They refuse to accept the other two choices available to them: to support the initiation of violence or to abandon logic and refuse to acknowledge reality. This is not fanaticism. It is the inevitable conclusion that one must come to if one employs logic and faces reality. That is why Doug Wead said, “logic and the truth are on your side.”

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Ron Paul lost the Washington state primaries by a considerable margin. However, he won big in Spokane. Why? Because that was the one part of Washington in which Paul’s campaign was able to schedule an appearance. During that campaign, Howard Stern remarked about his exposure to Paul’s message just as Wead, Stossel and millions of Paul supporters have: “I think I agreed with everything that dude just said.” Stern went on to say that he had never heard of Paul before and that it was a shame that the Republican Party was not taking him seriously.

Once a reasonable person hears the libertarian message, it is inevitable that they will not only agree, but agree completely and without exception. This is the antithesis of fanaticism. It is reason. It is recognizing the real world for what it truly is and applying logic to those observations. It is the consistent application to separate political issues of one undeniable principle, which can only lead to libertarian conclusions. It is actually illogical and fanatical to come to any others.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Establishment media had a strategy to combat this very troublesome dynamic: Don’t let the message be heard. That is no longer a viable strategy. Paul’s grassroots supporters have forced his platform into the mainstream. The media is simply unable to ignore Paul’s campaign this time around. The libertarian message will be heard. Whether or not Paul wins the presidency is secondary. Every day, more Americans are hearing the truth for the first time and its power is irresistible. The revolution is underway. Whether it takes a year, a decade, or longer, liberty is going to prevail.

Check out Tom Mullen’s book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

© Thomas Mullen 2011


[1] This assumes that Paul continues to apply libertarian reasoning consistently. It is certainly possible to disagree with him if he misapplies the theory. There are also fine points of theory that libertarians would take Paul to task for, but not on his general positions on the domestic and foreign policy of the federal government.

Comments

  1. Patriot says:

    Great Read! Well written.

  2. Why did I miss Friday? Had no idea people were still meeting until it was too late. Great post man. I’m often times having people tell me that they really like Ron Paul now. 4 years ago, they blasted me for these ideas and now they want to ask me questions. Crazy how times change!

  3. John Stevens says:

    Great article Tom!

  4. Alex Snitker says:

    Great article.

  5. harry says:

    yea i used to watch hannity all the time. he always blasted ron paul and i listened. he had him on one time and i sorta agreed with paul! i still thought he was crazy cuz thts wht hannity and o’reily had been telling me. so i went on youtube spent a couple hours on ron paul videos and…the rest is history:) RonPaul2012!

  6. Hal Noyes says:

    I am a long-time libertarian who disagrees with Dr. Paul on one (!) issue – immigration. I don’t see how using government force to prevent free movement of people is in any way libertarian. To use violence against workers and employers just because the worker doesn’t have the “right” government approved citizenship card is just plainly against the non-coercion principle, and I don’t see how he can reconcile the two positions.

    • jay says:

      Actually – Paul’s illegal immigration platform is pretty easy to swallow. Illegal’s wouldn’t receive welfare as they wouldn’t be taxed Federally, they wouldn’t be allowed to vote in Federal elections, and they would only be deported if they committed a crime – specifically an act of violence. He would not round’em up so don’t worry about that  Now you say what about the states, specifically the border states? Well, in a perfectly Libertarian society wouldn’t the home owners/ property owners that live on the border have a right to say who can cross that line onto their land? I know it’s a hypothetical, but when it comes to border enforcement, someone’s going to do it.

    • James says:

      Hal, while I agree with you in some ways, there are many in which I don’t, per libertarianism. For instance, the theory assumes that a country has no need to protect its borders, which I disagree with. I wholeheartedly would endorse a very open immigration policy if we had a close to minimal government, but until that is paired down I believe our first concern regarding immigration should be stopping illegal immigration, then working out a better system for legal immigration.

      With a minimal government system in place, immigration will naturally balance itself out over time, but with the current system of assistance from the government going to every person here, we need to stop the influx of people, all of whom vastly contribute to throwing us deeper in debt.

      • Robert Boynton says:

        Also, while I agree the additional members to a welfare/benefits for free* system is unfair and burdensome, I believe the extent is often exaggerated. Let’s evaluate 2 case studies. On one hand, California has significantly higher number of illegal immigrants than the rest of states not sharing a border with Mexico. California’s economy sucks, but I would argue for many many many other reasons as well. General citizen mentality being the root cause of most of the other factors. Scenario 2, my home state, Texas. Texas also has a much higher population of illegal immigrants compared to most states. While we are missing out on any federal income tax on their earnings, we have no state income tax so we aren’t getting cheated there. We do have an 8.25% sales tax (exempt from sales tax though: baby products, bakery supplies, bakery items, condiments, dairy products, non-alcoholic beverages, and all medicines and drugs). This keeps the lowest income bracket from getting hit the hardest. Just a year ago, we have the BP disaster cripple our economy, but we have the most jobs created of any of the states. We’re doing just fine, even with the occasional hurricane, tornadoes, the oil spill, and a decade of Perry as governor.

    • Robert Boynton says:

      This is the one issue I’ve heard to different responses to from him. Reason being, you can’t implement all the decisions you’d make under the libertarian philosophy overnight in the presents of enough legislation that if printed would fill the state of RI. Now, I can say with complete honestly, I held a bias toward Hispanics especially Mexican because (and no pun intended) the GOP has never been big on earning brownie points with them. They come here with almost nothing and the Dems (not all but the majority of the establishment) promise to take care of them. I’m picturing Silky Johnson rolling up in an Navigator with a feather in his hat. Yeah, I’ll take GOOD care of you. I’ve meet so many. Been friends, bf gf with a few, been rescued from many jams, and I see human beings desperate to survey and protect their family. I saw if they’re here already, you can stay with a carbon copy of the application for a work visa or a student visa (subject to a reasonable level of verification, valid for 90 days unless extension is filed). Then, we can put names with faces, income tax from income earned into programs they use. If you’re not getting an education or working, you can do that back home. Also, if someone can provide evidence indicating they lived here illegally since they were a little kid (who is protected from prosecution) you can stay with proof of application for green card status. If you spent your whole life here and someone else brought you here illegally, you would be to “Americanized” to survive going back to what would in essence be a foreign land. Mexican immigrants fitting that last category especially should be granted asylum. I mean come on, exactly HOW HIGH does the murder rate have to be for anybody with a soul to say… hey there’s a good chance this person will die if I send them back. That’s not being a bleeding heart, just having a basic level of humanity.

  7. Ed Helmstetter says:

    awesome

  8. Robert E. says:

    Much as I admire Dr. Paul for his integritty and courage, there remaiins one glaring inconsistency in his reasoning. He appears to maintain that there is still a place for coercive government, albeit a minimalist one.

    While I would like to believe that this is a practical political tactic, I have never come any statement from Dr. Paul which says so explicitly. For now therefore, this is the one area where I continue to respectfully disagree.

    • Eric Vought says:

      @Reobert E. : “He appears to maintain that there is still a place for coercive government, albeit a minimalist one.”

      I think the answer is obvious: the use and place of coercive government is when the force test actually comes out positive: to protect people’s rights from unilateral force.

      Where I do sometimes disagree with Dr. Paul and other lowercase-l libertarians is not in the test but its application. People disagree on which precise things violate rights and whether or not a violent response would be justified in each specific case. The various nuances of abortion is a really good example of where it can be difficult to balance the rights of everyone involved. Environmental law is another. But as Betty Liberty says, there is no other candidate who even comes close to the bar and I do not expect perfection. Humans, even when applying the right rules, are not perfect in judgement and we are not the final judges in any case; our job is to do what we can to achieve what social justice is possible in the time that we have, no more, but also no less.

      • Robert E. says:

        Eric, the fatal inconsistency is found in the coercive funding of such “protective” governments.

        * Who determines your “people’s rights”?
        * What if I do not wish to pay for or avail myself of this protection?
        * I will be charged with income tax evasion.
        * Etc., etc. ……

        Even for abortion, environment etc. one cannot escape this inexorable logic with engaging in torturous exersises in sophistry.

      • Finn says:

        Thumbs up, Eric, very well said. Allow me to make a couple points of clarity for Robert’s consideration:

        1. True, balancing the rights of all parties to a dispute is difficult (at best), in your well chosen example of abortion, therefore it would be prudent that lawmakers not attempt to ‘legislate morality’, and leave such personal/physical/community decisions to the individual/family involved. Any cursory examination of the topic will clearly reveal that most, if not all, such legislation is nothing more than social engineering with a thick veneer of (real or imagined) religious/spiritual consequences.

        2. Most Americans do NOT understand tax law, whether they are made liable to pay it, or rather, WHICH class of tax they have a legal duty to pay and UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES. Please understand that I am NOT making a statement about the legality of the income tax. My point is that if Americans paid only that for which they have a legal duty, and NOTHING MORE, our government would be reduced (imagine that) back to more of a constitutionally accorded or ‘libertarian’ dimension.

        Perhaps our biggest obstacle to ridding ourselves of this overreaching klyptocratic government is our own ignorance. A wise man once said, “the government is nothing more than an innocent (oxymoron?) reflection of the consciousness of its constituents”.

  9. Great Article (as usual). I find myself agreeing with everything Ron Paul says as well! It is hard to explain to people how you could follow someone’s beliefs so close without being labeled as a “sheep.” Well written!!!

  10. Puzzled says:

    I think the idea here is perfectly good, but, in fact, Paul is not a consistent libertarian. He does not consistently apply the basics of libertarian thinking to each problem he faces. For one thing, he endorses a state. For another, he makes continual references to some document signed 200 years ago by men long dead.

    • @Puzzled, Ron Paul is pretty consistently libertarian. He is not consistently anarchist. I am not knocking either position, just straightening out the terminology.

    • Habman says:

      Exactly when did libertarians stop beleiving and the state? We anarchists don’t believe there needs be a state, but not the libs I have ever known.

  11. Betty Liberty says:

    Excellent article, I am so glad that Doug Wead is on board with Dr. Paul! RON PAUL 2012!
    To you other posters who disagree with Ron Paul on some issues, I have a question… Do any other candidates even come CLOSE to your beliefs? If you can agree with him 75-99% with what you think is right – that’s your man! His voting record proves he walks the talk. He’s been saying the same things for 30 years, he predicted almost exactly the predicament we’re in! RON PAUL 2012!

    • Puzzled says:

      I doubt anyone’s point is “I disagree with Ron on xyz, therefore I support Obama.” Rather, I think most of the people you’re referring to don’t get involved in politics at all, making this argument irrelevant. Or, rather, it reduces your argument to the classic “the other guys will hit you more” using by the two parties since time immemorial.

  12. Mike Vasovski says:

    I would like to hear Doug Wead’s speech. Hope someone recorded it.
    “Whether or not Paul wins the Presidency is secondary.” This point must be driven home, especially to those who are new to political activism. At the end of the ’08 campaign, many felt that the results of the election were the end of the movement. The Campaign for Liberty helped tied us over to today and we see that we are not starting from square one, but continuing from where we left off.

  13. elbuggo says:

    Please donate $1 or more to his campaign. Register Republican. Become a delegate. Urgent and important now is the Iowa projects. Should be supported too. Important and urgent. Thank you.

    Ron Paul on CSPAN’s Road To The White House Series
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSxiVwA2HtI

    Is Ron Paul right about EVERYTHING? Yes, he is the most brilliant guy i the whole world by far. Thomas Jefferson lives, and he is named Ron Paul.

  14. Jill says:

    I keep telling people that being a Libertarian is just COMMON SENSE. THANK you thank you thank you for explaining the reason why! Love it! Seriously sending this to everyone I know.

  15. Bill says:

    There is a difference between anarchism and libertarianism and that is that anarchism is 100% consistent with the non-aggression principle, whereas libertarianism is not.

    “The second thing that one must conclude in order to understand Ron Paul is that all government action is violent action.”

    And yet Ron Paul DOES support some government, even if it is a very minimalist government significantly smaller than what we have now.

    While his views are consistent with the principle of non-initiation of force far more often than any other prominent politician, he still falls short of 100% consistency.

    Anyone who accepts the non-aggression principle 100% of the time is an anarchist, not a libertarian. Ron Paul falls short, but I applaud him anyways because I disagree with him far less than I disagree with the vast majority of politicians.

    • Brian Drake says:

      Bill,

      “Anyone who accepts the non-aggression principle 100% of the time is an anarchist, not a libertarian.”

      I disagree. The philosophy of libertarianism is most commonly defined by the non-aggression principle. You are correct that 100% (or rather, non-arbitrary) adherence to the NAP requires one to take an anarchist (an-archist – no ruler(s) – i.e., anti-state) position, but you are incorrect that this makes someone not a libertarian (“small l” – as in philosophical libertarian – not a member of the Libertarian Party). While all anarchists are not necessarily libertarians, all libertarians, if they are indeed libertarians, are anarchists. To advocate a violation of the NAP is to advocate a violation of libertarianism.

      If coherent advocacy of the NAP is not a requirement to be considered a libertarian, then it (“libertarian”) is a meaningless word. Practically ALL people agree with the NAP to some degree, yet cave to arbitrariness when confronted with an act of aggression that they prefer. On what philosophical grounds is someone who advocates 100 acts of aggression a “statist” but the person who advocates one or two acts of aggression a “libertarian”?

      Of course people are free to call themselves whatever they want, but there is certainly no accuracy in someone who advocates the violation of the NAP being referred to as “libertarian”.

    • Dale says:

      Well, I disagree with the anarchism philosophy if it means a state cannot exist to enforce retaliation against prior aggression. In the absence of a state, if I see a man punching an old lady in the street, under the anarchist theory you espouse I could not only not expect a cop to stop it, I could not stop it myself, as the man was not attacking ME.

      At some point you have to accept the role of organized retaliation against force, or then it truly is only the strong that survive. That I believe is consistent with Ron Paul’s view.

      • admin says:

        I believe that those making that claim would say that you have a right to pay other people to protect your life, liberty, and property, but you do not have a right to force your neighbor to pay those people to do the same. They have the right to provide their own protection, either personally or through an agency of their choice. Government gives you no choice. They set themselves up as a monopoly from which you MUST purchase protection, much like the mafia.

      • Bill says:

        Dale,
        If you see a man punching an old lady in the street, then you can still use force against the man to defend the woman without violating the Non-Aggression Principle.

        “At some point you have to accept the role of organized retaliation against force, or then it truly is only the strong that survive.”

        How do you fund this organized retaliation against force? If the funding is voluntary then the organization can be consistent with the Non-Aggression Principle and can be part of a stateless society, but if this organization is a state that taxes people to fund itself then the Non-Aggression Principle is violated as the organization would be initiating force against the people it taxes.

  16. Brian Drake says:

    Dear Mr. Mullen,

    One of the central assertions of your piece is Ron Paul’s logical consistency. Not how nice a guy he is; not how much “better” his ideas are than the mainstream; not how much integrity he has shown over the years; not his philosophical “realism”. No, it is his logical consistency that you focus on and assert repeatedly with emphasis.

    And yet, it is that assertion that is the most glaringly false when discussing Dr. Paul. As others have rightly pointed out in these comments, Dr. Paul still advocates a territorial monopoly of final decision making, a state, and this position is not logically consistent with the principle “violence is only justified in response or reaction to a prior violation of private property rights” (or the Non-Aggression Principle as it’s commonly known).

    Whether the state he advocates is preferable to the one we currently suffer under is irrelevant to your assertion. Nor is any debate on whether such state is even attainable, or sustainable. The question is whether Dr. Paul’s sustained advocacy of a state demonstrates his logical consistency.

    The unavoidable conclusion is a resounding NO.

    “Once one has had the epiphany that all government action is violent action, there are only three choices. 1) You come to the same conclusions that Ron Paul does on every issue”

    Except the most fundamental issue of all: is the state legitimate?

    Here, the logically consistent libertarian is required, by logic, to conclude no. All coercive monopolies (with fiat jurisdiction) are a violation of the NAP. And yet, in all the books, essays, articles, interviews, debates, speeches, etc. that I’ve read/heard/seen from Dr. Paul (a lot), not a single time has he ever waivered from his advocacy of the state outlined in the U.S. Constitution. He’ll admit the Constitution is not perfect, that there is room for improvement, but he never once questions its legitimacy (I welcome correction if I’m wrong).

    Dr. Paul has made reference to Lysander Spooner on multiple occasions, so it is highly unlikely that he is unfamiliar with “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority”. Yet I am unaware of any attempt by Dr. Paul to refute the very clear and consistent logic that Spooner uses to eviscerate the fantasy of the legitimacy of the US Constitution.

    Dr. Paul not only studied under, and was friends with Murray Rothbard, but he’s maintained a close relationship with the Mises institute. Certainly he cannot be ignorant of the compelling, and actually consistent, logic of Rothbard, Hoppe, Block, Woods, Murphy et al. in their capable demonstration of the incompatibility of libertarianism with a coercive monopoly. Yet has Dr. Paul ever attempted to refute their logic? Even on a “pragmatic” level, has he ever attempted to refute their clear economic case that the state is the destroyer of society, not its necessary pre-requisite?

    Positive things can be said of Dr. Paul, and my point isn’t to call those into question. But logical consistency is quite evidently NOT a trait of Dr. Paul’s to be laudedl. Comparatively, perhaps one could make that claim (though it’s a poor comparison, since most everyone else in DC is an out-and-proud demagogue), but that does not appear to be your emphatic point in this blog post.

    Since I’m not the only one commenting on this glaring contradiction, would you be so kind as to address our concerns based on the issue at hand – logical consistency? Are we incorrect? I’d welcome any argument that could demonstrate that.

    Regards,

    Brian Drake

    • admin says:

      I am not sure what Ron Paul believes about the legitimacy of the state “off the record.” I have read that he preferred the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution, just as Lew Rockwell does. That does not mean that he does not prefer abolition of the state completely to the Articles of Confederation. Ron Paul takes the position that Thomas Jefferson did (who also did not like the Constitution), which is “at least respect ITS limits, rather than advocate NO LIMITS on the government.

      Ron Paul’s strategy is consistent with Murray Rothbard’s in “For a New Liberty.” Rothbard said that political action was consistent with libertarian-anarchism as long as you were always reducing the state’s influence. Never support a new tax or a new regulation to achieve some other goal. Ron Paul is pretty consistent on that. The other comments that point out that he is unlibertarian on immigration are correct, although he constantly says that the existence of the welfare state is the only reason we should care who comes into the country. So, right or wrong, he may believe that he is protecting US citizens from further victimization through the welfare state by limiting immigration now. His comments imply to me that if there were no welfare state, he would support open borders, but only he can answer that.

      While I agree with Rothbard’s thesis and the comments here that the existence of ANY government is a violation of the NAP (which Thomas Paine also agreed with – that’s why he called government “a necessary EVIL”), I also agree with him that the political system is valid to use when reducing or eliminating government functions. I think you also have to be realistic about where we are in terms of the minds of our fellow people: this is the high-water mark for faith in government to address everything. As systemic failures start piling up, there will be more and more opportunity to persuade people to take things away from the governmnet and allow them to be addressed through voluntary association.

    • Bill says:

      Brian Drake said just what I was trying to say:

      “As others have rightly pointed out in these comments, Dr. Paul still advocates a territorial monopoly of final decision making, a state, and this position is not logically consistent with the principle “violence is only justified in response or reaction to a prior violation of private property rights” (or the Non-Aggression Principle as it’s commonly known).”

  17. Lexy says:

    Amazing. Absoultely amazing. This is exactly what I try to explain to people day-in and day-out. It isn’t a coincidence that when I began to understand Ron Paul and the libertarian philosophy, I was enrolled in a logic class in college. It made it much easier to “see the truth”. Great article!!

  18. ed says:

    Great article,going to print it out and have everyone I know read it.Thanks.

  19. Manah' says:

    RON PAUL AND I MAY NOT DANCE CHEEK TO CHEEK ON EVERY POLITICAL ISSUE, BUT HIS MESSAGE OF FREEDOM AND THE CONCEPT OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY IS THE MUSIC TO WHICH WE CAN… ‘ALL’ …SING AND DANCE…..

  20. Tony says:

    Great article and even better comments. i really enjoyed reading them. I learned things reading all that. I would like to add my own thoughts to the discussion.
    I see the points being made with respect to consistent logic but I think that Tom M. has offered a sufficient explanation. If Ron Paul is using the political system to reduce the power, size, influence, etc of the state (which is not legitimate) then he has no obligation to alienate potential supporters by expressing a belief that would certainly marginalize him in this society we live in.
    logic suggests that all the enlightened people posting comments here have no viable alternative within the accepted system other than support him. Better to watch his mouth and not alienate sheep and fence sitters.
    Take 9/11 for example. Anyone employing logic and reason need make only a cursory examination of the publicly available facts to conclude that the official explanation is not only completely inadequate but also… intentionally dishonest. Ron Pau,l as a presidential candidate can not go around saying that.
    He seems to taking the “long haul” approach that Tom mentions at the end of his article. Many are waking up now and probably just in time because the tyranny is accelerating as well. We need every single heart and mind we can get if we are to have any chance of living free.
    Thanks again to all of you.

  21. Anna Poulin says:

    I know you will not take this personally….Choice number 3 is incongruent with the set up leading to the choices you offer as a result of having an epiphany (understanding) of what Libertarian (ism) is. It is incongruent in that your set up prepares for only an “either/ or”response, but suddenly there is a third choice – the reality check or wake up call. The direction of the flow of your “thread” takes a shift here…This Poulianna (*)

    #2 Your choice for the word “force” was not the best in light of the fact you were speaking about how force finds its expression in “violence”.

    #3 REMEMBER I AM A FAN….been for a long time since the original website of Break the Matrix

    Poulianna (*) Looks like you have a good challenger to debate with “Brian Drake”

    • Vae Victus says:

      1) I enjoy the comments here, but it seems every time I visit Mullen’s blog, the hairs keep getting thinner and the razors sharper ;D

      2) I guess you might disagree with Washington as well (see quote).

      3) The thing with Drake’s (and a lot of other) assertions expressed here is that they do not necessarily lead to any tangible conclusions of there own, and by tangible I mean nothing that can be actuated within the political realm within which we find ourselves.

      Indeed, Mullen may be erring to show Paul’s “logical inconsistencies,” but this begs the question as to where are we starting from in *forming* such assertions to begin with.

      If we premise that advocating for the NAP means an anarchist outlook, then we can conclude that Paul is indeed inconsistent. But we form such an argument to prove…what? That he possesses rhetorical or logical inconsistencies? Who doesn’t?

      Do we do it to prove he is not the best choice for a President of the United States? If that is the case we must ask two additional questions: a) why would someone who subscribes to the NON-STATE even be contemplating which executive to vote for as leader of a STATE that is ideally supposed to cease existence, and b) is there any other viable alternative in light of this schema from among the available candidates?

      Further, if we run with “a,” we return to the argument made already that it is entirely consistent with the ideology, a la For A New Liberty, to seek to diminish the state as much as is feasible, and to do so means actuation through the existing mechanisms of the state.

      These types of arguments come up often in interpreting religious doctrine, and they there too prove to have nebulous worth in terms of directing future action.

      For example, if a person claims to truly follow the teachings of Jesus, he would be a consumate pacifist. If this same follower is willing to use force to defend himself or his loved ones, is that a logical inconsistency in that he is departing from the “turn the other cheek” principle? Yes. But does a logical inconsistency in this particular case mean that the same individual is a deviant from the entire philosophy/doctrine, i.e. “not a Christian?” How do we know?

      We would answer by evaluating how this individual approaches all other aspects of life in light of the doctrine. Furthermore, if the individual’s decision to accept the use of force in defense of himself or others was logically articulated and built upon reason, then is his decision truly an inconsistency of logic, or merely a departing from a doctrinal ‘truth’?

      Similarly with libertarianism, if the existence of any government, under any conditions, is seen to violate the NAP, then we must ask ourselves how well this stands to the light of objective reason. Is there a place on earth, has there been a time, where human beings have NOT organized themselves in some manner collectively, where there cannot be said to be some form of governance? Locke already dealt with this some time ago.

      In our day and present situation, if we contend that someone operating within one of the most complex societies on earth, in a globalized world where the state has been long established, is “inconsistent” in choosing to recognize and work within the mechanisms of the state to which he finds himself, we have to wonder where this inconsistency is indeed of logic, or is it just a departure from a truism?

      • Bill says:

        Vae Victus, I see your point about possibly straying from following the NAP 100% by using reason to determine that keeping some form of coercive government is better than having absolutely no government at all, but I don’t see why that would actually be better. What would be wrong with a completely voluntary society? Is there some aspect of government coercion that you think should be kept that would make for a better society than a stateless society?

        • Vae Victus says:

          There is nothing wrong with a society based entirely on voluntary association. I would welcome a world without the state. You must understand I do not disagree with the principles, but only with the arguments expressed here by people assailing Ron Paul’s supposed inconsistencies.

          As I said earlier, we have to consider the extension of these arguments to their full length.

          If someone maintains that the absence of the state is the only sure reality in which liberty can exist, then if they are active politically, it can only be in ways that expediate the erasure of the state. If they are not working towards this end, they are a hypocrite, or as we have heard now, ‘logically inconsistent.’ Further, the only way to eliminate the state in our situation would be through violent overthrow.

          If one says that Paul is inconsistent by violating the NAP in support of the State, by merely accepting its mere existence, then the one making this assertion can only pursue the rapid overthrow of the state. To not seek overthrow of the state, but instead gradual elimination or reduction, puts one in the same camp as Paul which then makes the entire assail on him moot.

          But what to do short of violent overthrow? Or, how do we coerce others to abandon the United States’ institutions of government without violating the NAP in the process? Obviously, we cannot forcibly coerce our fellow citizens to recognize the end the State (for how do you ensure universal rejection of the State amongst all the current citizens?), so to keep with the NAP, we must persuade them that the U.S. government be as minimalist and constrained by the Law as possible. We must adopt a gradualist approach. This is exactly what people like Ron Paul do when they advocate for the Constitution with a strict constructionist perception.

          His (and others’) recognition of the State and the Constitution is not rooted in logical inconsistency or a heartfelt desire to see Statism prevail, but in seeking to preserve Natural Liberty as much as is feasible, without violating the NAP by coercing others through violent overthrow of the State itself. Ron Paul’s approach is actually the *logical extension* of the NAP applied to the societal situation we are within, and anything but an inconsistency or deviation from libertarian philosophy.

          As I said, Locke dealt with this issue already. He only concerned himself with exploring the impetus behind the formation of the state and government relatively briefly. His true concern, having premised that human beings would organize themselves into some form of governance, was to what the “true and original extent” of this governance ought to be.

          The conception he then formed of ideal civil government was based upon principles and reasoning that resembles the modern NAP. Was Locke inconsistent or a deviant from reason simply because he recognized that the state was “legitimate?” No. He simply acknowledged a reality of the human condition, and then contemplated how best to work within it.

          Ron Paul demonstrates the same approach. That is why he recognizes the Constitution and “supports” the idea of the State. In no way does this approach conceive of the state as answer to our prayers or as the best ideal solution. And I will say again, in so far as his approach is the only logical approach in light of the NAP, then there actually is no inconsistency at all.

          On the other hand, to reject the legitimacy of the State on its face leaves one with only one alternative: to abolish it altogether.

          In pursuance of that end, again I ask, how is it to be done? If through education and social movement, utilizing the mechanisms at our disposal, then the Ron Paul approach is the only acceptable methodology. If through violent overthrow, whereby others are coerced to accept the elimination of the State, then the NAP is violated utterly.

          And that would be a far larger “logical inconsistency,” leading perversely only to tyranny.

  22. Brian says:

    Great piece!

  23. Vae Victus says:

    Great piece! Not only is it a timely and well articulated prompt for the discerning voter, but it is probably one of the most focused professions I have ever read as to what the classically-liberal conception of governmental power is.

    Truly, government is nothing more than violence/coercion. George Washington himself said it succinctly:

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

    Keep up the great work Tom. Truth will inevitably conquer and justice prevail.

  24. Gene Callahan says:

    “So, you now agree that we are forced to participate in Medicare under the threat of violence, correct?”

    The exact same way you are forced to participate in the institution of private property! Just walk through the steps: what happens when you refuse to get off of someone’s land? You are arrested. And what if you resist arrest? Etc. So private property “rests on violence” in the exact same way the State does.

    And anyway, to be consistent as you claim he is, wouldn’t Paul have to be an anarchist?

    • Vae Victus says:

      Private property isn’t an institution. It is a conception derived from reasoning out the manifestation of one’s labor combined with the concept of self ownership.

      You also missed the point of the piece: Mullen specifically mentions that one of the only cases in which violence is just under the NAP is defense of private property.

      If you do not remove yourself from someone’s private area (e.g. their home) when they ask you to, then you are guilty of violating the NAP already. You do not have a right to someone’s property, EVER, unless it is through a voluntary agreement mutual to all parties concerned.

      If you “refuse to get off of someone’s land,” you are violating the NAP, plain and simple. You are not exercising your rights, you are infringing upon another individual’s. You are the aggressor in this case.

      You’re original assertion is that you are “forced to participate,” i.e. recognize private property. What is the alternative to this? Abolish the idea of property altogether? Then everyone has a “right” to everything of everyone else. Obviously, this is not tenable or logical.

  25. Gene Callahan says:

    “Doing the good is an art and a balancing act, not a neat, tidy science whereby we simple-mindedly carry some one principle toward infinity.” — Jerry Sayler

    If someone told you they every single decision they had made with their girlfriend had been correct because they were all deduced logically from first principles, wouldn’t you think they had gone terribly wrong somewhere? You’d tell them, “Relationships are not like that — doing what is correct is not a matter of having an ironclad “principle” and then making logical deductions from that.”

    Good politics is a balancing act, and not a simple-minded extension of one single principle to infinity.

    • Bill says:

      If the one single principle is something like “Don’t murder everyone you know” then I highly doubt you would say that a balance is needed–following the principle 100% would be a good thing, right? To philosophical libertarians and anarchists, the Non-Aggression Principle is one of those principles that really should be followed literally the time just like the principle to not murder everyone you know. And also, the NAP doesn’t say anything about what people should do (whether they should be charitable, for example), it only says that they shouldn’t use violence except in self defense. So even if one were to follow the NAP their entire lives, they wouldn’t necessarily be able to look back and say, “every decision I made was correct.” The person may not have initiated force against someone, but surely they made many poor decisions in other respects. So I would say that the NAP only judges one aspect of how a person acts.

    • Vae Victus says:

      Gene, I think you should explore natural law further as a concept. Without an understanding of natural law, the NAP is elusive.

      You must realize that a classically liberal approach differentiates itself from other political outlooks precisely because it does not concern itself with establishing outcomes, which is what you seem to be focused on.

      Classical liberalism does not seek to determine what one should do to lead “a good life:” that is a determinant of culture, society and individual belief.

      Classical liberalism elucidates only the best manner in which humans can pursue living a good and decent life.

      The NAP and strict adherence to such allows everyone the best chance to pursue and attain their happiness and for inter-personal and inter-societal harmony.

      • Tom Mullen says:

        That is an important point, in my opinion. It is here that Locke departed from Aristotle and even Cicero – it is not up to the government (the societal use of force) to coerce people into living good or virtuous lives, or interfere with their liberty in order to preclude them from living unvirtuous lives. For Locke, the government may only act in response to an aggression – if people do not commit an aggression, whether we think they are virtuous or not, they should be beyond the reach of government.

        This is why Locke is so seminal.

  26. Stonecutter says:

    Why does Ron Paul want to audit the Federal Reserve banking cartel? Is it not like auditing the underage prostitution cartel? Both are illegal at the outset, why give it credence?

  27. Bill says:

    By the way, great article Mr. Tom Mullen!

  28. Wynona says:

    YES!!!!!!!!

  29. Robert Boynton says:

    I was as right as you could go growing up. I use to listen faithfully to the EIB network. My thoughts on all things politics were coming from the mothership. As Rick Perry gleefully and with a giddiness reserved for schoolgirls, began taking away personal freedom after personal freedom, I wanted a change. I watched Penn Says videos on some site and he explained what Libertarianism was. My brain tingled and I think I peed a little. Then I switched off Rush and over to oldies where I heard… “At last….. my love has come along…” :-)

  30. Luther says:

    Bravo, Tom! Another great essay – thank you.

  31. Good column. This is how I’ve been putting it for some time: “Ask your “Liberal”(commie) so-called friends what they’re willing to have done to you for not obeying their commie laws. If you get an honest answer it will show you what you’re dealing with.”

    Haven’t read all the responses above so forgive me if someone brought up this point/question: How many Libertarian and conservative or gun owner doors will you allow the black suited Nazis to breach before you ‘initiate violence’ against them in their own homes and offices as they deserve? Or in other words, what would you have done when the Nazis came for the Libertarians?

    I have long noted that Libertarians like to brag about their ‘non-violence’ stance, that really amounts to another form of mindless pacifism, while pretending that hard choices will not be presented to us, or haven’t already. A Second Amendment that is reserved for some magical time when ‘fighting back’ is necessary is useless. In other words, at no point will our enemies consider ‘initiating force’ against them to be OK. We’re supposed to get on the trucks, dig the ditch and piss our pants as the machine gun bolts slam home while asking ourselves “How did this ever happen to me?” like good little pacified sheeple while they count the guns they took from our safes and check them against their de-facto gun registration pink papers.

    For the record I call them ‘Paulbots.’ I like Paul, have voted for him and will again, not because I agree with him on every issue but because he’s the only one who will attempt to cut the head off the beast. The question remains, if the elites do as they have in the past and kill any president who truly challenges their power what will all the brave non-force initiating Libertarians do then?

    Here’s how I’ve been putting it lately:

    It’s time to stop arguing over the culture war. It’s time to stop hunkering down for the apocalypse. It’s time to stop waiting to get beamed up. It’s time to start thinking Normandy.

    If you sit home waiting your turn you deserve to have your gun taken from your cold dead hands.

    The Founders didn’t wait for the Brits to knock down their doors. They gathered at the green and stood up like men and they killed government employees all the way back to Boston.

    What will you do when it’s time to hunt NWO hacks, republicrats and commies(“Liberals” and ‘progressives’)?

    Don’t understand? Start here: http://willowtown.com/promo/quotes.htm Then read my column ‘Prepping for Slavery’

    • Tom Mullen says:

      “I have long noted that Libertarians like to brag about their ‘non-violence’ stance, that really amounts to another form of mindless pacifism, while pretending that hard choices will not be presented to us, or haven’t already.”

      Libertarians don’t have a non-violence stance. They have a non-aggression stance. They believe that no one has the right to INITIATE violence. They also believe that violence is justified in self defense.

      When you are discussion political action, it is just that – political action. It means fighting within the political system. If someone chooses to fight outside the political system, that person has to live with the consequences. While violence against the aggression already being perpetrated by the government against the citizens may be justifiable as self defense in a theoretical sense, it should be obvious that it is also futile (and unecessary) at this point. The American colonists had a sizeable minority willing to fight with them against their own government. That is not the case in America today. There is not 1 in 1,000 that even recognizes the welfare/warfare state as aggression against them.

      If you want to strike a blow for liberty, I believe that the best way to do so is to pull your kids out of school – public or private, because both indoctrinate them to be non-thinking slaves. 150 years of government schooling is more to blame than anything else for the sad state of the American psyche today.

  32. Foehammer says:

    I use this fantastic article to wake people up to Ron Paul. Thank you!

  33. Cody O. says:

    How about this? The United States should function more like the EU. We have too many people, with too many different ideals to function as an efficient, cohesive unit. By fragmenting and forming a small number of states each sovereing but bound by its treaties with the US.

  34. PattyFromTexas says:

    I’m an avid fan of Dr. Paul’s. I’m married mom, 50 yrs old with 4 kids married 22 years, registered republican. I’ve done tons of online research on Dr. Paul, his ideas and political activities and have come to the conclusion that he was right about everything, and furthermore that he’s been warning us for decades about our flawed monetary and foreign policy. I knew that when the housing collapse happened, that it was because when Uncle Sam guarantees the loans, EVERYONE can get in on it because they know Uncle Sam is good for it. (That’s us btw) But I never questioned the need for our military policies. There are hundreds of CSPAN videos of Dr. Paul standing up in congress and talking about how the FED was causing the bubbles, and how it all worked together to benefit the military industrial complex and how they LIED to us about Iraq, that Hussein had no wmd, and now he’s warning the same thing about Iran. My goodness, how much more proof do we need to change our policies? Dr. Paul has also been fighting for our personal liberties as well, with many speeches and essays on how the Patriot act has eroded our personal liberties on every level. I found videos on Youtube of an interview with Mr. Bashir in particular where they LAUGHED at him while he was making these predictions years ago. In order to fix our problems we need someone who recognizes the problem and can predict the logical sequence, and prevent it with logical policies.
    We need this man as our president!

  35. Shep Glennon says:

    John Locke was the first to declare “Life, Liberty, and Property” as our inalienable, fundamental rights. In John Locke’s First Treatise, “extream want” confers a “right” to the “surplusage” of another. If the man in plenty denies his “surplusage” to the one in need, and that man starves, he would seem to be guilty of murder. Thomas Jefferson, the biggest agreed “It is a duty certainly to give our sparings to those who want.” “We are all doubtless bound to contribute a certain portion of our income to the support of charitable and other useful public institutions.” “Private charities, as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to every one’s circumstances, are certainly among the duties we owe to society.” Jefferson pushed a bill to use taxpayer money to fund schools. So was he a tyrant; a thief?

    We should not say businesses owe everything to everyone. We should say, however, that society has a moral order that underlies a political order. While I do not believe the government should provide for people’s basic needs, I do think people’s basic needs (food, clothes, shelter, physical safety, education) should be provided for. Where the private sector falls short, I think it is OK f the government plays a role, if only to make it easier for individuals to access private entities which provide basic needs (and thus not provide the basic needs themselves). It is a radical idea that the only moral order is “I have my rights, and do not owe anything to the social/political order which helps me realize my rights.”

    “Article I Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States”
    People object to the idea of “general welfare,” and I think it can be taken too far due to mismanagement and liberal ideology. On the other hand, I think it is ideologically hindering to be completely against welfare on the grounds that it might be taken too far. The sole limit of the “general welfare” clause should be observable, measurable, practical fact.
    For instance, if government spending on unemployment benefits during a recession has the following calculation: for every $.60 the government spends, it gets $1.20 back through increased revenues due a stronger economy-
    If that is the calculation – let it be a temporary one. Also, if evidence shows that investing in poor people causes everyone to get wealthier in a society, then investing would make sense.
    The minute we get back less than we’re spending, we need to stop the bad investment. However, to me, it is irrational to ignore reality if reality proves something contra to one’s beliefs.

    Calling taxation violence, theft, or tyranny ignores the context of society that those taxes contribute to. It is only through society that rights are realized; otherwise we have the tyranny of might over right. If you have a minarchist society, you have the tyranny of monopolies that engage in price fixing, when corporations too powerful. If you want to look at taxes as tyranny, then fine. But either way is tyranny. It’s just a matter of who’s.

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