Time To Rethink Everything
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.: Naked
Aggression Against Libya
The worst effect
of the state is intellectual. It puts our brains in a prison, simply
by defining the terms in which we are permitted to think and speak.
The one non-negotiable point becomes the state itself. You are permitted
to argue about what the stateís priorities ought to be (bombs or
butter), but not question the fundamental model of a state-dominated
human liberty have played along with this game for too long. Theyíve
done this for decades. Sometimes they tack right and sometimes they
tack left. What they should be doing is upending the game board
itself. They need boldly to make that fundamental claim of the old
liberal tradition, that society orders itself without the state.
Liberty is the answer in every area of life.
This is precisely
what Ron Paul does in his amazing book to be released April 19:
Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom. It
begins with the big themes about what liberty is and what it is
not. It is not, for example, something that is created by "public
policy." It is not a piece of legislation. It does not emerge
from the political process. Precisely the opposite: liberty is the
absence of all these things. It is what results in the absence of
state interference. Libertyís only fundamental requirement is that
the state let society alone to develop, grow, and prosper.
point of view is hardly heard at all in the political debate today,
which is otherwise hamstrung by partisan wrangling of what the state
should be doing. By the time you finish the introduction to Ron
Paulís book, you realize that you are going to be treated to a completely
new and radical form of thinking about politics, one that reimagines
the current world in the same way that Jefferson reimagined his
world, and became the real father of this country.
brilliant about Ronís new book is that he doesnít just deal in abstractions.
As the title suggests, he takes on 50 difficult areas of politics
today and shines a new light of liberty on each of them. I think
Iím correct in anticipating most readersí reaction: there will be
wailing and gnashing of teeth. But the end effect will be that beautiful
The book is
arranged alphabetically, which makes the subject of abortion the
very first entry. Where do you suppose Ron Paul stands on this issue?
Letís just say that if you think you have followed the conventional
debate, you are in for something completely different.
Ron is a vehement
opponent of abortion, and he explains why in ways that will bring
readers around to his perspective (which is that of a man who has
delivered thousands of babies). Then he moves to the entirely different
area of public policy, pointing out that a centralized edict on
this subject runs contrary to every moral and practical dictate
of human liberty. A centralized pro-life policy is as wrong as a
centralized mandatory-legalization policy. He wants a repeal of
Roe. He doesnít want state funding. But if a community wants to
permit the practice, while he would certainly oppose that at the
local level, his view is that the federal government should have
nothing to say about it either way.
is shocking and out of the mainstream, to be sure, but it is also
supremely practical. In innumerable communities around the country
today, abortion clinics compete with alternative womenís clinics
to provide for those in need of pregnancy services. In fact, if
you want to look where the pro-life movement has seen gains, it
is not in the area of political organization but in providing a
market service for those who are seeking an alternative to abortion.
This is a case in point of how liberty serves to work out our core
Now, this is
only the first issue and there are 49 others that he deals with,
and each with a perspective that is surprising, practical, moral,
and balanced in a fascinating way. Unless you are seriously schooled
in libertarian theory, you might find it difficult to anticipate
what he will say. Even if you get the libertarian point of view,
Ron's argument and evidence will surprise you.
writings on privacy, for example. He argues that it is a violation
of human rights for the state to invade our privacy. At the same
time, he argues that it is contrary to liberty for the state to
restrict the right of private businesses to use cameras, websites
to collect information on us, or businesses to investigate credit
histories of their employees. As one application, he favors total
drug legalization but defends the rights of business to drug test.
If anyone else
in public life has taken this position Ė which Ron, as always, makes
very persuasive and compelling in his narrative Ė Iím not aware
So on it goes
through so many issues. He opposes war with the passion of the Old
Left. But he sounds like the Old Right on issues of taxes and regulations.
His writings on terrorism mark him out as a real radical against
the stateís stupid policies (he says that terrorism is a result
of U.S. foreign policy). At the same time, he has no problem with
private discrimination on any grounds: sex, race, disability, or
whatever. On marriage, he upholds the traditional definition (man
and woman before God) but favors free association: "Why not tolerate
everybody's definition as long as neither side uses force to impose
He gets into
sticky areas like the history of Zionism, and here again, I can
promise you that you have never heard this point of view (he celebrates
the original cultural movement but condemns the manner in which
later political ambitions corrupted a great cause). On trade, he
is at once a radical proponent of universal commercial rights and
an opponent of legislated treaties like Nafta. On gun control, he
favors it for the government and opposes it for the individual.
book forward on page after page are the relentless surprises, the
truth-telling logic, and the speak-from-the heart tone of the prose.
You might agree with all, half, or none. But there is no way you
will think about any of these issues in the same way after being
schooled in the Paulian point of view.
This much is
clear: there has never been a book like this to appear from any
U.S. political figure. It contains not a hint of political posturing
or pandering. Its purpose is not to vault Ron to the top of a presidential
ticket. The ambition of the book can be modestly described as educational,
but the effect could be much more. This is the book weíve needed
to blow up the rhetorical structure of generations of political
activism and replace it with a completely new vision of liberty.
is why the book is called Liberty Defined. When you are lost
and confused about a subject, the right way forward is to begin
by defining your terms. At last, one man has done just this. He
has defined liberty. And then he has done more: he has shown us
that liberty is right, liberty works, liberty is the only way forward.
With this marvelous
and passionate book, Ron Paul has really made a mark in the literary
history of our times. It is a book of courage, intelligence, and
vision. It should become our credo. Ron could be the founding father
of a new and free America and world.
H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him
mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional
chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises
Institute, executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and
editor of LewRockwell.com.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Best of Lew Rockwell