Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell and “Voluntary Association”

“State-enforced segregation,” Rockwell wrote, “was wrong, but so is State-enforced integration. State-enforced segregation was not wrong because separateness is wrong, however. Wishing to associate with members of one’s own race, nationality, religion, class, sex, or even political party is a natural and normal human impulse.”

Lew Rockwell quoted in “Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters,” by Julian Sanchez and Dave Weigel

Sanchez and Weigel, in the piece linked to above, plausibly trace the history and possible provenance of the most vilely racist items in Ron Paul’s popular newsletters from the late 1980s and early 1990s to libertarian intellectual Lew Rockwell, a former Paul political aide and campaign staffer. Rockwell, like Paul, shares many views in common with anti-imperialists on the left, not least of which is plain, unfettered anti-imperialism. But whereas the left views capitalism as a major source of and impetus for imperialism, Rockwell and company are undistilled free marketeers. The Rockwell quote above quite eloquently elaborates, I think, on Paul’s second principle, which I discussed in a previous post, particularly on the phrase “voluntary association.”

Rockwell is the founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama and of  the “anti-state pro-market” Web site LewRockwell.com. According to Sanchez and Weigel, Rockwell and his colleague/mentor Murray Rothbard attempted to form a coalition between “paleoconservatives” (who at their most non-anti-social were supporting Pat Buchanan in 1992) and “paleolibertarians” (the anti-imperialist ultra pro-free market Libertarians who split from the main party after 1988). (Rockwell’s own history of this failed coalition is a charming read.) The theory is that Rockwell (and maybe Rothbard) was using Paul’s name to lure rednecks to the cause. The more racist and offensive the newsletters got, the more the money flowed in, according to another former (albeit disaffected) Paul campaign staffer.

That would explain the newsletters. Would it excuse them? I don’t think so. Is Paul is being coy about them out of loyalty to Rockwell (or whoever the ghostwriter was, if, indeed it was a ghostwriter and not Paul himself who wrote these words)? Perhaps. That might say something good about his character. On the other hand, that he let  the racism go on or didn’t even know it was going on says something quite the opposite about his character. So does not being able to be honest about how it got disseminated in his name.

Update: Complicating the question of Paul’s character in permitting these views to go out under his name, Matt Welsh cited a string of news stories, when Paul’s Democratic opponent in his 1996 run for Congress first made an issue of this, in which Paul or a campaign staffer accused the Democrat of taking the quotes out of context. In some cases, Paul even elaborated on one of the offensive points in an apparent effort to make them seem more reasonable.

Paul is clearly at the least capable of some of the cheapest political behavior favored by America’s ruling class, appealing to the basest instincts and obliquely covering up misdeeds among them.

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3 thoughts on “Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell and “Voluntary Association”

  1. Pingback: Is Private Property in America Ever Justly Acquired? « Tragic Farce

  2. Pingback: Debt Society in Need of a Revolution « Tragic Farce

  3. Pingback: Ron Paul’s Racist Backers (and Backstory) « Tragic Farce

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