In Defense of Ron Paul, Part Three: The Case for a Left/Right Alliance Against the Empire

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There can be
no doubt that the United States presently maintains the most far-reaching
empire in world history. Roughly eight hundred US military bases
are located around world. These can be found everywhere from remote
Central Asian countries to friendly nations like Germany and South
Korea where such a military presence has long expired its historical
purpose. Nearly all of the world’s nations are on Washington’s dole
by means of the system of international bribery known as foreign
aid. The United States has troops stationed in approximately three
quarters of the countries on earth. This imperial system is detrimental
to both Americans and to residents of other nations. For Americans,
it is costly in terms of blood and treasure. For foreigners, it
helps maintain corrupt and incompetent governments whose reactionary
policies impede genuine economic and social development. If there
is one thing both major political parties in the US agree on, it
is their common desire to maintain the empire. Imperialism is special
interest politics at its worst. Relatively few people in the US
or in other nations benefit from the empire. Hundreds of millions
suffer under its boot.

Ron Paul
is offering us a unique opportunity to dismantle the empire. This
is not an opportunity that comes along very often in the life of
empires. Most empires simply run their course, do their damage,
and then fall apart, taking their economies and civil societies
down with them. Few, if any, American politicians besides Ron Paul
would ever go so far as to consider the idea that maybe the empire
is something we can and should do without. Rarely, if ever, has
there been a nation that went down the imperial road that did not
become a dictatorship. One reason the British chose to liquidate
their empire following World War Two came from widespread realization
that the empire and Britain’s internal democracy could not be simultaneously
maintained. The United States is now reaching a dangerous tipping
point. In recent years, we have seen rapid and unprecedented power
grabs by the executive wing of government. The damage done thus
far may already be irreversible. All the more reason why the next
President needs to be someone committed to radical reform. Only
Ron Paul fits that description.

These are
questions on which the Left and Right should be able to agree. Of
course, the Left and Right disagree on many other things related
to economic, social or cultural matters, but should such issues
prevent us from putting up a united front against our common enemy,
the American empire and the ruling/political class that profits
from it to our detriment and to the detriment of the rest of the
world? What disagreements do we have among ourselves that are so
significant that we should wish to forfeit this historic opportunity
to back a potential head of state whose primary political aim is
to dissolve the empire? Are our differences really that profound
or irresolvable?

Considerable
disagreement exists over economic matters. Libertarians and many
conservatives are opposed to the welfare state that ostensibly provides
for the needy, the unemployed, the homeless, the elderly, etc. while
socialists, liberals, Marxists, some left-wing anarchists and not
a few right-wing populists take a more favorable view of the welfare
state. However, government programs for the disadvantaged are miniscule
compared to government assistance to the not-so-disadvantaged. Examples
of the latter include central banking and what Benjamin R. Tucker
called the “money monopoly," patent monopolies and intellectual
property laws, the military-industrial complex, the World Bank,
IMF and WTO, the prison-industrial complex, transportation subsidies,
Taft-Hartley, federal land monopolies, corporate welfare, crony
capitalism, deficit spending and regulatory and licensing schemes
that have the effect of centralizing control over wealth and resources.
The majority of these things are opposed by virtually the entire
spectrum of the “radical right” (libertarians, paleocons, populists
and anarcho-capitalists) and the “radical left” (socialists, greens,
Marxists and anarcho-syndicalists). The majority of the “radical
middle” (the kinds of folks drawn to people like Ross Perot), rank-and-file
Democrats and Republicans and mainstream Americans off the street
would be opposed to these as well if they only knew what they were
and if such policies were explained and criticized in an articulate
and comprehensible way, as Ron Paul would be able to do.

As for the
question of social welfare, food and drug regulations, environmental
laws, job safety, etc., whether Ron Paul opposes any or all of these
or not, he is not running for the position of a dictator who can
simply eliminate all of this by decree. If such policies are indeed
popular and widely supported by the public at large (which they
may be), then obviously a President Paul would not be able to convince
a reluctant Congress to go along with dismantling them. Even if
they did, so what? If there was overwhelming public demand for such
policies, they could easily be reinstated at the state or local
level. Many of the American states, indeed many American metropolitan
areas, are larger and more densely populated than many other countries.
Many on the Left will often cite the welfare states of Scandinavia
as a model. Okay, fine. Let California become a Sweden without the
cold weather. And let Texas take its chances with deregulated produce
and pharmaceuticals. One reason for the apprehension of many Leftists
concerning Ron Paul seems to be that many on the Left equate Ron
with another Ron, i.e., Ronald Reagan or his cohort from across
the Atlantic, Margaret Thatcher. But this is an absurd comparison.
Reagan was a right-wing military Keynesian who never had anything
but good to say about the military-industrial complex. Thatcher
was a disciple of the right-wing corporatist “monetarist” outlook
of the Chicago School. This is worlds apart from Ron Paul’s devout
Austrian economic outlook. If you want to know what Austrians think
of the likes of Reagan and Thatcher, I’d suggest you browse through
the archives of LewRockwell.com and take a look at what the late
Murray Rothbard had to say about those two.

Ron Paul’s
support for constitutional federalism also offers an institutional
framework for a cease-fire in the culture wars. Both the Left and
the Right have valid criticisms of the state and of one another.
Most people, rightfully or wrongfully, define “freedom” as the ability
to live according to the norms of their primary reference groups
and community-of-origin. The Left favors feminists, racial minorities,
gays and lesbians and other sexual minorities, immigrants, abortionists,
counterculturalists, humanitarians, environmentalists, labor unions,
animals, health nuts, agnostics, adherents of alternative religions,
and consumer advocates. The Right favors taxpayers, small businessmen,
farmers, church-goers, gun owners, fetuses, hunters, property owners,
smokers, traditional families, patriots, communities, veterans,
southerners, poor Appalachian whites and NASCAR fans. If all of
these people cannot get along, then why don’t they simply peacefully
separate and go their own way? As mentioned, the US is larger than
many other countries combined. It makes perfect sense that red states
would have more conservative governments than blue states, and that
blue states would have more liberal governments than red states.
Heavily populated areas with culturally mixed populations could
be decentralized into semi-autonomous neighborhoods and townships
reflecting a plethora of cultural values. Why wouldn’t this be a
preferable alternative to a perpetual war for control over the central
government that no one is going to win and will leave everyone dissatisfied
until the time the empire eventually implodes, the economy fails
and real social strife begins to set in? Surely, we can do better
than that. And why not start by making a common effort to support
Ron Paul’s noble ambition of dismantling the empire that reigns
tyrannically over us all?

January
5, 2008

Keith Preston
[send him mail] is a
long-time radical writer and activist from Richmond, Virginia. See
his website
.

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