Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, and the Kids

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I voted for
Ron Paul for President in 1988, and, in fact, heard him give a speech
at Stanford during the campaign (I had received my Ph.D. from Stanford
a few years before). Only a small group attended the speech; Dr.
Paul was articulate but not very exciting; and of course there was
no suggestion that he could win. Everyone knew the campaign was
really for educational purposes.

I had assumed
that the current Ron Paul Presidential campaign was a similar educational
effort — until early October.

Our family
was driving back from vacation in San Diego (Legoland, the San Diego
Zoo, and the wonderful museum exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls).
We had taken a side trip to Tustin, east of Los Angeles, to visit
a piano store my wife wanted to check out.

While my wife
and kids were trying out the pianos, and I was bored, I idly engaged
the store owner in a discussion about the Presidential race.

To my surprise,
without my mentioning Ron Paul's name, she started passionately
explaining to me that the only worthwhile person in the race was
Dr. Paul and that we desperately needed Dr. Paul to restore Constitutional
government in the US and end the disastrous foreign and domestic
policies of the G. W. Bush Administration. She also told me that,
earlier in the day, she had seen a group of teenagers handing out
Paul literature and that the kids were behind Ron Paul.

She seemed
not to have any connection to the "libertarian movement."
It was Ron Paul himself, and what he had to say, that had created
her enthusiasm.

She was so
animated (and articulate) that it took me several minutes before
I was able to explain that I did know who Ron Paul was and thought
he was a good guy.

I'd heard that
Dr. Paul was not catching fire with "religious conservatives."
The store owner turned out to be a serious, observant Seventh-Day
Adventist.

So, I finally
realized that the Paul Presidential campaign is not simply an educational
campaign (although I was still amazed by the size of the "money
bomb" we all created on November 5).

After we got
back to Sacramento, my kids started noticing "Ron Paul"
stickers around town and on the road and asked me why we didn't
see any "Giuliani" or "Hillary" stickers.

And just last
night, at a Christmas party, I started talking politics with the
husband of a friend. I'd known his wife for several years, but didn't
know the husband well, and had no idea of his political views. Without
my mentioning Ron Paul, Doug started explaining to me why Dr. Paul
was the only worthwhile candidate in the race.

Of course,
the most important aspect of the Paul campaign is the involvement
of the kids. My own children became avid Paul boosters when I explained
to them that he was the Jeffersonian in the race — we're homeschooling,
so my kids know the distinction between Hamilton and Jefferson.
In fact, my kids kept reminding me to send in my hundred bucks to
the Paul campaign until I finally contributed on November 5.

When I myself
was a kid, a junior in high school way back in 1971, I had read
Mises' Human
Action
: at the time, I feared that those of us who favored
free markets, limited government, and natural rights were on the
losing side of history. By 1979, I realized that we were not the
past but the future: by then, the Communist Party of China had chosen
to follow a capitalist road, and a Democratic President had actually
chosen to abolish a major regulatory agency (the Civil Aeronautics
Board). And I had read Murray Rothbard's brilliantly prophetic essay
"Left and Right: the Prospects for Liberty" and had met
Rothbard personally.

The excitement
of the Ron Paul campaign is the latest scene in the scenario laid
out four decades ago by Rothbard. Rothbard predicted in 1965 that
both socialism and conservatism would prove to be historical dead
ends, and that the future of the human race lay with the philosophy
of natural rights. And, in numerous essays published in the same
period, Murray also explained that the cultural "progressivism"
that rejected the civilizing achievements of Western civilization
— personal and familial responsibility, classical art and music,
science and reason, common courtesy, etc. — was also a dead end.

The only true
radicalism is "bourgeois" radicalism. Murray once remarked
that human civilization reached its pinnacle in the Baroque era:
the true radicals, the real cultural progressives, are John Locke,
Isaac Newton, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Many of our
libertarian "progressive" friends cannot understand why
the kids — especially the college kids who are always assumed to
be "progressive" – are turning to an "unprogressive"
fellow such as Ron Paul. But the kids have seen what cultural "progressivism"
really means — the wrecked families, the wasted lives, the parents
who decline to take responsibility for their own children or for
themselves, the forty-somethings who act like spoiled infants.

"Progressivism"
is passé.

I gave up predicting
Presidential elections long ago. I have no idea who will take the
oath of office on January 20, 2009 (and neither does anyone else).

But I will
predict this. The "unprogressive," "bourgeois,"
natural-rights philosophy of Ron Paul (and Murray Rothbard and Thomas
Jefferson and John Locke) is the wave of the future.

Human beings
are creatures of a specific nature. Young mammals need a great deal
of parenting, and young humans need more careful and more dedicated
parenting than any other mammals. Humans' primary means of survival
is their mind, and they can only fully use their minds in a society
that accepts the primacy of natural rights. And, in a society that
acknowledges natural rights, it is those, like Ron Paul, who exhibit
the "bourgeois virtues" — self-control, honesty, thrift,
courtesy, reason, etc. — who will flourish and who will have children
who themselves can carry forward the banner of civilization.

I only wish
that I were a member of my children's generation so that I could
follow the revolution through to its end and see the new world in
which all human beings are acknowledged to be "endowed with
certain inalienable rights" upon which no human government
will dare tread.

We are witnessing
the unfolding of the political and cultural revolution that Murray
Rothbard foretold four decades ago. And isn't it fun to be a part
of it!

December
24, 2007

David
H. Miller [send him mail]
holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford, is co-patentholder
on several patents in the fields of computer and satellite technology,
and is currently a stay-at-home dad homeschooling his kids in Sacramento,
California.

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