Ron Paul's 'Liberty Defined'

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When was the
last time you opened a book by a contemporary politician –
or more accurately, his ghostwriter – to see Lysander Spooner
mentioned, much less discussed, and intelligently so? If you crave
so exceedingly rare and rarified a pleasure, treat yourself to Rep.
Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) newest effort, Liberty
Defined
.

Were Dr. Paul
a typical American ruler, he would be far more familiar with lobbyists
and menus at four-star restaurants than with anarcho-capitalists
from the 19th century. And if by some bizarre happenstance, he had
actually heard of Spooner, he would vilify and denounce him for
his vigorous hostility against government. But of course, Dr. Paul
is as unusual as freedom is.

That accounts
for his “cult-like following,” the smear with which statists
dismiss those Americans who yearn for the “individual liberty,
constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and …
noninterventionist foreign policy” that Dr. Paul has always
championed. It accounts as well for the fact that though I am an
anarcho-capitalist who would never buy (in any sense of the word)
a politician’s prattle, let alone recommend it, I happily break
that rule for Dr. Paul and Liberty Defined.

Maybe you’ve
studied political philosophy extensively; Liberty Defined,
though as “accessible” and “easy to digest”
as its publisher promises, will still thrill you. Here is a Congressman
of 12 terms who spouts such condemnations of government as, “Do
our leaders in Washington believe in liberty? They sometimes say
they do. I don’t think they are telling the truth.” A
page later, he briefly reviews the wars and genocide of the 20th
century to warn that “the threat of government today, all over
the world, may well present a greater danger than anything that
occurred” then. All this, and we haven’t even left the
Introduction!

One of the
good doctor’s greatest services to liberty is his evangelizing.
His principled, consistent, and breathtakingly courageous stance
for freedom over the decades, his integrity, his courtesy and gentlemanliness,
under even the rudest, most ignorant attacks, have converted legions
from their faith in Leviathan.

Unfortunately,
their enthusiasm often exceeds their knowledge of freedom’s
philosophy. One reader of campaignforliberty.com, the website Dr.
Paul founded, comments that “Ron Paul is an amazing person
and he’s really got me into the ideas of libertarianism/free markets”
but then lauds “public/socialized healthcare” in Canada
and by extension ObamaCare. Another defends government’s regulation
of smoking on aircraft because he is “old enough to have experienced
many flights without any smoking restrictions at all and they were
not pleasant.”

It’s these
folks and those who have yet to consider freedom’s blessings
who most need Liberty Defined. Dr. Paul alternately teaches
and preaches with his trademark tact, then applies freedom’s
tenets to 50 issues – everything from Abortion and Austrian
Economics, through CIA, Discrimination, Education, Gun Control,
and Monetary Policy to Security, Surveillance, and Unions.

Each subject
forms a chapter averaging seven pages, all of which are remarkably
free of jargon (perhaps we’re benefitting from Dr. Paul’s
earning a degree in medicine rather than law); “the idea of
this book,” Dr. Paul tells us, “is not to provide a blueprint
for the future or an all-encompassing defense of a libertarian program.
What I offer here are thoughts on a series of controversial topics
that tend to confuse people, and these are interpreted in light
of my own experience and my thinking.” He adds with characteristic
humility, “I present not final answers but rather guideposts
for thinking seriously about these topics. I certainly do not expect
every reader to agree with my beliefs.” But let’s hope
for liberty’s sake that most do.

Read
the rest of the article

April
21, 2011

Becky
Akers [send her mail] writes
primarily about the American Revolution.

The
Best of Becky Akers

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