can get you asking the wrong questions, they
don’t have to worry about answers.
~ Thomas Pynchon
As I watched
the TV bobble-heads trying to analyze the outcome of Tuesday’s
Iowa caucuses, it became evident that those whose job it is to
translate the agenda of the establishment to the rest of us could
not explain the Ron Paul phenomenon. I doubt that any of these
people are so intellectually dense as to miss the significance
of what is occurring. I am inclined more to the opinion that the
voices of the lockstep-media do understand that Ron Paul’s
campaign is underlain by a fundamental questioning of the assumptions
and policies that have long defined politics. But these same voices
understand that they dare not allow such questions to be raised
on their watch. For them to do otherwise would be to risk
the well-paid jobs they have hawking the corporate-state interests,
forcing them into a marketplace that might not provide them equivalent
incomes or perks.
For the sake
of maintaining the status quo that defines establishment interests,
Ron Paul must be marginalized, consigned to playing the role of
a charismatic person able – like the Pied-Piper of Hamelin – to
persuade young people to follow him. The institutional order can
afford to treat Ron as an aging rock star – he and Elvis were
born in the same year – but his thinking and his questions must
be quarantined. Those over 65 years of age – of whose numbers,
CNN tells us, only 11% voted for Ron – can be counted upon to
defend the status quo. Far too many of them have lifelong ego
identities, as well as Social Security and Medicare expectations,
that make them wary of fundamental changes in political thinking.
They remember previous elections such as the one in which George
Bush I swept past Michael Dukakis on the question of whether Willie
Horton should have been allowed a furlough from prison, but proceeded
to commit further crimes. Like the high-school elections in which
superficial glitz carried the day, the Horton issue placed no
burden upon the minds of that year’s voters. Neither has the decision
as to which of the six anti-Paul sock-puppets to support forced
any troublesome analysis by most members of the "greatest
But the under-40
aged kids know better than most of their parents and grandparents.
They are aware that the world in which they will spend their adult
lives does not work the way it has been advertised. It is not
designed to support the self-interested pursuits of which they
dream. Indeed, it is structured in such ways as to assure that
their lives, property interests, and purposes in the world are
narrowly confined to serving the wealth and power ambitions of
institutions over which they have absolutely no control or means
generation also understands that unconscious, undirected forces
are at work transforming the nature of the social systems through
which we organize ourselves. The vertically-structured pyramid
that is virtually synonymous with the institutional order and
its chain-of-command authority, is rapidly being replaced by horizontally-interconnected
networks of voluntary cooperation. The arising generation is learning
that spontaneous, autonomous self-organization pervades the universe,
including human society; that order can only be discovered
and never imposed. They are beginning to understand
that most important lesson from the study of "chaos"
so well-expressed by Terry Pratchett: "Chaos is found in
greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats
order because it is better organized."
is a wicked conspiracy against the young, a truth of which many
of its members have become aware. In a world that is becoming
increasingly decentralized – posing a major threat to the institutional
establishment – coupled with a growing disenchantment with the
old order, draconian efforts to reinforce the crumbling foundations
of the corporate-state apparatus ought not surprise us. Only the
dullest of minds can believe that SWAT teams, militarized police
forces, torture, assassinations, endless detentions, hyper-inflationary
systems of looting, an insistence on maintaining state secrets
while denying individual privacy, wars against the entire world,
and other forms of ruthless violence, will be able to restore
the pyramidal structures in our world. Members of the institutional
order continue to prattle on about "terrorism," but
it is they who threaten the rest of us with terror in order
to force our compliance with their interests and obedience to
their authority. It is the corporate-state establishment that
experiences the stark terror associated with the demise of its
racket! This is why the "war on terror" will
last forever – as George Bush II told us: the vertical power-structure
can no longer be sustained, and neither "all the king’s horses"
nor "all the king’s men" can do anything about that
This is the
message the established order does not want people to hear, accompanied
by the kinds of questions it does not want asked. For just as
it is impossible to un-invent nuclear power, it is impossible
to un-ask questions. This is what the institutionalists
fear about Ron Paul: it is tolerable to suggest that the emperor
is naked - that, after all, can be corrected by a subsequent
election – but not the empire itself!
a peaceful, decentralizing revolution going on not only in America,
but in the rest of the world. For lack of a better explanation,
I think of the energies driving this as emanating from a life
force in nature that resists its own destruction. We have
been able to tolerate the kinds of foolishness that arise from
the "extraordinary popular delusions and madness of crowds"
that often beset us. Life is resilient enough to avoid many of
the adverse consequences of fantastic thinking, much as creative
businesspeople are able to circumvent even the goofiest of government
totally misconceive the nature of the changes transpiring in our
world to try to explain them as something dreamed up by Ron Paul.
Ron knows – as do so many others – that the energies boiling beneath
the surface of events are being directed by no one. No more than
Martin Luther King nor Rosa Parks "caused" the black
civil rights movement; nor Cindy Sheehan the anti-Iraq war demonstrations,
has Ron been some kind of "instigator" of social change.
He has been a very vocal and focused exponent of these transformations,
a kind of lightning-rod attracting the pent-up energies of millions
of individuals. Whether he wins the Republican nomination or gets
elected president is, to my thinking, secondary to the enormity
of what he has already accomplished: he has been able to get ordinary
men and women to ask the kinds of questions that have not been
asked for many decades, and that cannot be un-asked!
kapos who breathed a collective sigh of relief that Ron Paul didn’t
"win" in Iowa totally missed the point (as they are
well-paid to do). The comments I heard emphasized what they considered
the "importance" of a third-place finish that captured
"only" 21% of the votes.
help but think of the successes Ron Paul has thus far achieved
without contemplating the impact his efforts might have on the
lives of my children and grandchildren. Nor can I resist thinking
back to the works of that great anti-statist, Albert Jay Nock,
who regarded his efforts as being to help care for those independent
and intellectually focused men and women he called "the Remnant."
These are the people who, following the collapse of civilization,
will be the ones who will "build up a new society" based
upon the "august order of nature." In my law school
classes, conferences at which I speak, and numerous e-mails I
receive, I find so many – particularly among the young – who may
become part of this Remnant.
I do not
presume to know the thinking of those who cast their votes for
Ron in Iowa, but I cannot help wondering about the impact on our
world of those who comprised "only 21%" of those voting.
As the cable-channel babblers chided Ron for being "impractical"
(i.e., his ideas do not serve our corporate-state masters to whom
we long ago sold out), I thought about how peaceful our world
might have been if Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, and Mao,
had faced an intellectually principled and focused group of "only
21%." By contrast, Milton Mayer’s post-World War II experiences
in Germany – written in his classic They
Thought They Were Free – illustrates how deadly can be
the pursuit of "practical" ends when devoid of a moral
dimension to one’s actions. Ron Paul is running for the presidency
because of his moral principles. The six sock-puppets are
running only to get elected to power.
In a world
in which decentralized social systems grounded in individual liberty
are confronted by well-funded corporate-state forces bent on preserving
their coercive power over others, it is important for those of
us who believe in peaceful means to express ourselves in personal
ways. Many of Ron Paul’s critics truly do not understand that
his campaign is being driven from the bottom up. Four years ago,
a man who described himself as not being political, undertook
to build a "Ron Paul" blimp which was used in various
locations around the country. Ron has often been asked, by the
professional politicians, "how did you organize all of this?,"
to which he has honestly replied "I didn’t; my supporters
did this on their own."
a top-down mindset cannot fathom that individuals can organize
themselves around a candidate or a cause wholly on their own.
In a pyramidal world – such as Plato offered centuries ago – someone
has to sit atop the pyramid directing the behavior of others.
Who that "someone" is always turns out to be the loudest
exponent of pyramidism!
If we, as
individuals, are to make the case for the cause of peace and liberty,
we need to direct our resources to sustaining those who provide
decentralized, non-institutional expression of our values. The
kids who traipse around the country to attend Ron Paul events
are doing more than chasing after a celebrity. They are the most
visible expressions of that most moral of social principles: life
belongs to the living, not to the corporate-state!
used to get e-mails from people who said, in essence, "thank
you; I thought I was the only one who thought this way and almost
gave up hope." I now get e-mails telling me how encouraging
it has been to find out that so many others – as seen on LRC –
also think this way. The young people – perhaps Nock’s Remnants-in-training
– need the encouragement that comes from the decentralized, horizontally-networked
society of free and peaceful people. One way to do this is to
donate money – or even a blimp, if you have a spare one around
– to such sites as LewRockwell.com, Antiwar.com, or the Independent
no compensation whatever from my efforts on behalf of LRC. I write
for the same reason that other people play golf: I just can’t
do otherwise. But I do know that the institutional order will
continue to pump whatever amount of money they deem necessary
for the preservation of their corporate-state system. I also know
that they fear the life-forces that work beneath the surface of
events to return life and human society to the living.