Why the Counterculture Should Support Ron Paul
by Keith Preston
by Keith Preston
the term "counterculture" refers to any cultural undercurrent that
holds to a set of values different from those of the mainstream
society. Of course, most Americans think of "counterculturalists"
in terms of the various subcultures that emerged from the social
upheavals of the 1960s and 70s or whose existence emanates from
that time period. Perhaps a better term might be "bohemians,"
a label that has traditionally been given to those, usually artists,
writers, or intellectuals, who exist outside of cultural conventions
or who possess a value system that is opposed to "establishment"
values. An even wider term might be the Marxist designation "lumpenproletariat,"
originally used as a means of classification of the urban unemployed
but now more broadly utilized as a description of a wide assortment
of persons who exist on the margins or among the bottom layer of
include a substantial amount of variation among themselves. Among
the ranks of counterculturalists, bohemians and lumpenproletarians
are members of the many youth subcultures (hippies, ravers, punk
rockers, "goths"), adherents of spiritualities outside the mainstream
religions (New Age, pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists), so-called "sexual
minorities" (gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transsexuals and transgendereds),
a wide spectrum of subcultures devoted to particular forms of art,
music or fashion (such the enthusiasts for massive tattooing and
"body piercing"), the various drug cultures, those whose livelihood
in on the margins of society or even the law (from bookies to midwives
to "sex workers"), and those with unconventional political views
(anarchists, primitivists, tax resisters) or social practices (polygamists,
vegans or nudists). These groups then overlap considerably with
others, such as students and other young people, low-income or unskilled
workers, residents of urban tenant housing, proponents of "alternative
media," the casually self-employed "petite bourgeoise" (to
use another Marxist term), transients, the unemployed, the homeless
and, unfortunately, prisoners.
are obvious exceptions (like bikers and skinheads), counterculturalists
generally favor the political Left. I know of no intrinsic reason
for this, except the frequently false stereotype that "left" is
synonymous with enlightenment, anti-authoritarianism or anti-establishment
attitudes with "right" being identified with obscurantism or apologetics
in defense of the status quo. It also true that the majority of
counterculturalists, bohemians and (arguably) the wider lumpenproletarian
sector generally think of themselves as socially "progressive" and
side with environmentalists, animal rights activists, feminists,
proponent of "gay rights," racial/ethnic minorities, the handicapped,
and the poor and downtrodden, no doubt because many of them belong
to these groups themselves. At first glance, it might appear that
these people would not have much in common with a multiple-term
Republican congressman, pro-life obstetrician, devout Baptist, "gold
bug" who epitomizes "family values" like Ron Paul. So why then would
it be in the self-interests of the "masses of the marginalized"
to rally behind Dr. Paul's candidacy?
exist as to why those on the margins or bottom of society should
support Ron Paul, some of them quite serious and pressing. One of
these is economic. At present, the American ruling class is pursuing
a path of economic suicide. Current economic policy is an extravagant
combination of currency devaluation, extreme fiscal recklessness,
public indebtedness and trade debt that is unprecedented and unparalleled
by any other state in the world, massive importation of cheap immigrant
labor, corporate-mercantilist so-called "free trade" arrangements
like NAFTA and the proposed North American Union and much else whose
eventual effects will be full-on economic collapse of the kind not
seen since the Great Depression, perhaps worse. For the Great American
Middle Class, economic collapse will bring lower living standards
and perhaps even relative poverty. For the "underclass," lumpenproletariat
and marginal sectors, the result will be devastation, destitution
or even death. Ron Paul understands this perilous economic situation
to a degree that his rivals, Democratic or Republican, do not even
begin to comprehend.
Ron Paul supports
a non-interventionist foreign policy. This is also a matter of life
and death for the young, the poor, the marginal, minorities and
the working class. Each of Dr. Paul's Republican rivals and most
of the Democratic candidates (save a few flaky fringe figures like
Kucinich or Gravel) either display a militaristic belligerence that
is, well, more than a little frightening or, at best, a non-committal
attitude tempered with subservience to those sectors who exhibit
the greatest enthusiasm for further martial adventures abroad. Extending
the present neoconservative program of military conquest of Muslim
lands to Iran, Pakistan, Syria or elsewhere (or, alternately do-gooder
excursions to places such as Darfur) will not only generate massive
casualties among the present regular armed forces (to say nothing
of innocent civilians), but will necessitate the implementation
of conscription for the sake of generating further chattel for the
carnage. And it won't be the rich white boys who suffer the most.
of Congress or national politician has been more outspoken in opposition
to the ever-expanding police state that has taken root in the United
States over the past few decades than Ron Paul. The progressively
escalating wars on drugs, crime, guns, gangs and terrorism have
had the effect of establishing repression and incarceration as major
growth industries, with these sectors being larger in the United
States than in any other nation, including such supposed arch-tyrannies
as Iran, China or Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Recently, I came across
an article in a business journal that casually and plausibly stated
that one in four Americans are now employed in security work, rivaling
the percentage of East Germans employed by the Stasi. It is surely
a sign of the utterly degenerate and depraved nature of the present
political class that such matters as the legalization of torture
of suspects, coerced confessions, indefinite suspension of habeas
corpus, whether or not "waterboarding" actually constitutes torture,
detention without trial, secret tribunals and development of the
legal framework for martial law are all considered just another
matter of public policy debate in the same manner as traffic safety,
tax policy, education or Social Security reform.
For many middle
class Americans, the expansion of the police state to such grotesque
levels many never mean more than occasional nuisances like having
to take your shoes off to board a plane. For the poor, the homeless,
drug users, the socially marginal and those most likely to encounter
the wrath of the state directly, such tactics are potentially lethal.
Rest assured the legitimation of such police state methodology will
result in such tactics being used to fight not only the "war on
terrorism" but the "war on drugs" as well. The handling of inmates
in Guantanamo Bay in such a manner will eventually bring about the
use of such tactics in domestic American prisons. The suspension
of habeas corpus and other basic procedural rights will eventually
result in the curtailment of such rights for drug suspects, those
who run afoul of gun laws, petty criminals, proponents of "alternative
medicine," those caught up in the state's multitude of entrapment
and scam racketeering prosecutions, and political dissidents such
as anti-globalization or antiwar protestors, race militants among
the minority groups, environmental, animal rights and other activists.
It is the nature of such things to grow and expand with time, and
only Ron Paul displays the motivation to "nip it in the bud,"
though the bud of the police state is already blooming.
other reasons exist why counterculturalists, bohemians and lumpenproles
should assist Ron Paul in his efforts. Dr. Paul's program of authentically
constitutional, limited and decentralized government with respect
for private property offers outcasts and outlaws the means of achieving
personal and collective sovereignty. Who cares if your Christian
fundamentalist neighbors don't like your sexual practices or drug
habits so long as you can do what you want on your own property?
So what if upper-middle-class civic, real estate or business associations
don't like punk rock clubs or tattoo parlors so long as your proprietary
rights and freedom of association are respected? So the folks in
rural Georgia want to have school prayer and refuse to recognize
gay marriage? Fine. Have Wiccan prayers and polysexual polygamy
in San Francisco or Boston if you want. Don't like capitalism? That's
cool. In Ron Paul's America, you could organize all the anarchist
communes, socialist collectives, communist kibbutzes, mutualist
cooperatives or anarcho-syndicalist labor associations you wanted.
You just couldn't force others to join you, nor could they force
you to join them in their tight-assed, restrictive suburbs. Indeed,
if the experience of her husband's reign is any indication, such
efforts in the America of Evita Clinton might well result in a fiery
death (remember the Branch Davidians?). Benito Giuliani's reign
of terror against those on the margins of society during his time
on the balcony in New York is widely known. In fact, one aspect
of Giuliani's dictatorship that is frequently overlooked (even by
libertarians) is his notorious campaign against the property and
associational liberties of "sex workers."
A head of
state with a demonstrable, decades-long track record of consistent
support for civil liberties, constitutional rights, a sound economy
and a non-imperialist foreign policy will have an enormous opportunity
to lead by example and through the bully pulpit. If a President
Paul were to tell the motley crew of criminals and sociopaths otherwise
known as the federal government to mind their own business and start
making efforts to reign them in, and appealing to the sovereignty
and support of the American people when they inevitably resisted,
how long would it be before such a revolution in political values
began to trickle down to the average man on the street and to all
levels of government?
to support Ron Paul is that used by the aristocratic liberal H.L.
Mencken to justify his own support for the left-wing "progressive"
Robert La Follette, described by Mencken as "the best man running
as a man." Agree with all of his political views or not, Ron Paul
is head and shoulders above his rivals in personal integrity, honesty
and consistency when compared with the charlatanry of the others,
who often change positions as quickly as they change underwear.
Left or right, culturally conservative or countercultural, Ron Paul
is as good as it gets on the issues that matter most.
[send him mail] is a
long-time radical writer and activist from Richmond, Virginia. See
© 2007 LewRockwell.com