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