Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Meaning of Ron Paul

Lew Rockwell sums up the "meaning" of Ron Paul’s candidacy in the context of today’s political environment.

Ron Paul Has Already Won
One of the cruelest traits of democracy is that its politics takes on the role of teacher to the nation, the force by which people are trained what to believe about virtually every subject that matters for the future of civilization. And mostly what they learn is wrong.

They learn that robbing people is fine and perfectly legal so long as the machinery of democracy cranks out that result. They learn that killing foreign peoples is an appropriate path to creating national unity. They learn that demagoguery and lies are successful paths toward getting your way.

Not only do they learn: they also participate in this by voting and are then led to the belief that they must accept the results, lest they question the very basis of modern life. This is why people who believe in politics as an ideology – that it is an excellent mechanism for the management of society – end up adopting a moral code that contradicts all teachings of all the world's religions and ethical systems. Neither Aristotle, nor Moses, nor Jesus, nor Confucius, nor Mohammed, nor Buddha, nor Gandhi, nor any other revered figure in history conditioned moral teaching with majority rule (or rule by well-organized factions).

So in a hyper-politicized society, where all principles seem ephemeral and truth is relentlessly manipulated by our political masters and their allies, what is the way out? We can take a cue from Ludwig von Mises. He believed that the only way to fight bad ideas is with good ideas, stated plainly and courageously. To him, the obligation of a defender of freedom is to be an intellectual dissident, then embrace the truth of human liberty and its consistent application to all political issues, and then let that truth be known.

Notice that Mises did not say that error and fallacy should be combated through putting the right people in charge, through lobbying pressure, through manipulating the process, or even participating in it. Indeed, he rightly saw that modern political parties do not represent the general interest but, in fact, are gloried lobbying groups for particular state-granted favors; the same applies to the think tanks and magazines connected to them. In contrast, he believed that the most direct path to cutting through the thicket of the democratic nation state was simply to embrace and then tell the truth.

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