Workers Power USA
A few progressive activists in the US look to the Republican Senator Ron Paul as a synpathiser for radical change. His position on the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and his outbursts against big business have fooled many into thinking he is on the left – but the reality is very different
For years, Dr. Paul has been something of a political underdog, a niche favorite among his wide support base of libertarians, federalists, and free-market evangelists.
Perhaps no other mainstream politician in America is as ideologically consistent (or rigid, depending on your interpretation) in the application of his or her political and economic philosophy as is Paul today.
Always the contrarian, Paul has earned the nickname, “Doctor No,” from his fellow members of Congress, as he is better known for voting against legislation than for it, especially bills that fail to cohere to his strict constructionist view of constitutionality.
He speaks in clear, relatively unequivicating language, and is an rabid opponent of taxation and the Federal Reserve Bank.
Compared to the rest of his cohorts in Washington, it is unsurprising why Paul is currently enjoying an upsurge in popularity.
Ron Paul is a rare creature in government – a straight-talking, no-nonsense advocate of limited government and low taxation that actually seems to believe what he is saying.
For these reasons, Ron Paul occupies a dual role as is an appealing populist and one of the most dangerous political figures in America today. He is a a Trojan Horse, and behind his down-home, “country-doctor” persona, lurks a unrepentant bigot and anti-working class reactionary.
The level of devotion exhibited by Paul’s supporters is the stuff of legend. In 2008 his campaign raised approximately $20 million, much of it derived from direct, individual online donations.
On November 5th, 2007, his campaign raised a whopping $4.3 million in donations, a record that has the distinction of both the largest single-day donation for any Republican candidate and the most money received in a single day by any presidential candidate over the Internet.
The dynamism of Ron Paul’s political machine as expressed through the Internet and social networking is undoubtedly due to his core of young followers. For a myriad of reasons, though mostly related to his oft-touted “defense” of civil-liberties, they flock to him.
Paul is a favorite among young advocates of drug legalization, as he has a track record of opposing the the Federal government’s collective-drug policy (legalization should be determined at the state level).
Civil-libertarians love him, because he has vowed that he would “never violate Habeas Corpus” and has consistently voted against the PATRIOT Act.
Beyond these positions, Paul has an unquantifiable appeal that could only be described as “anti-establishment.” Compared to his party foes – Rick Santorum , Mitt Romney, and the like – he is relatively unencumbered by corporate-money influence and the patronage that goes along with it, a quality that lends him an air of political independence from Wall St.
Paul is especially popular with those serving in the American armed forces, adduced by the demographic breakdown of his donors. This is understandable, as Paul is the only mainstream candidate, Republican or Democrat, that actively professes a platform of supposed “non-intervention” and has openly criticized the failed project of nation-building (i.e., occupation) that the Obama administration continues to pursue.
He has called for the withdrawal of all troops stationed abroad in “friendly” nations, and has even committed the unpardonable sin of criticizing the supply of US aid to Israel – an act most of his counterparts would consider political suicide. Yet, as a prospective candidate, Paul is more popular than ever before.
Although he claims to oppose wars of aggression, Ron Paul is no anti-imperialist/militarist. His opposition stems merely from the constitutionality of waging such wars, tempered with his entrenched suspicion of the ever-expanding military-industrial-federal complex.
To Paul, unlike fellow Republicans and even Democrats, “Big Business” and “Big Government” are worse, in many respects, than a foreign aggressor, and his opposition serves as the cornerstone of his political ideology which champions “middle-class,” rugged-individualist petite-bourgeois interests above all else.
It stands to reason that if all declarations of war were approved in accordance with the War Powers Clause of the Constitution, and war materiel were produced and provided by small businesses, he would support war without any reservations. Regardless of the motives of his posturing, Paul’s “anti-war” platform is a salient point to analyze and extrapolate from, as it is a feature of his campaign that has managed to galvanize the support of groups that under typical circumstances would not align directly with the Republican Party: young people, anti-war liberals, and independent voters.
The support given to Paul from these and other such groups may serve as the impetus needed to catapult Paul further into the political mainstream and potentially drag the political center in American politics even further Rightward.
After two failed wars of occupation and billions of dollars squandered, the public is in its majority sick of the costs associated with maintaining the global American Empire. The kind of radical-sounding, isolationist rhetoric spouted by Paul has a way of pricking the ears up of the most deeply disaffected and cynical (non) voters.
After getting a taste of Paul’s anti-war positions, many of those that value free expression and speech are drawn further in by his views on privacy and individual responsibility, especially political-cum-moral issues, like Marijuana legalization and gun ownership.
Small-business owners are attracted to his revisionist interpretation of capitalism and the emergence/development of bourgeois society, one that romanticizes and distorts the past, where all a person needs is a good idea and the sweat of one’s brow to succeed. If only the the market were free of the “job-killing” regulations and burdensome tax obligations, Paul cries, the truly “free” market could function without descending into one economic crisis after the next.
As a result, many are prepared to use Paul as a protest vote against the mainstream currents of two increasingly unpalatable parties. Yet, from Paul’s perspective, support for these kinds of mandates on individual liberty is less about what he considers right or just and more on an interpretation of constitutional powers explicitly enumerated at the Federal versus the state level.
So to say Paul supports Marijuana legalization, or more broadly, a complete decriminalization of all drugs, is less about a moral imperative on his part to stop the “War on Drugs” but rather a state’s rights issue that should be conducted in accordance with the Tenth Amendment, as the constitution does not grant powers to Congress to ban or regulate drugs.
The logic of Paul’s doctrine, if followed to its assumed conclusions, would accept 50 separate drug wars, rather than a single, Federal War on Drugs – as if one variation were more acceptable than another.
This is a crucial point, as once one understands the constitutional prism through which Paul filters the world, one can understand the means by which Paul operates as a political figure.
Ron Paul’s relation to the Constitution can be described as one of extreme fetishism. He venerates it as almost a holy text, while simultaneously leveraging it as a justification for his reactionary positions, both past and present made “on constitutional grounds,” like his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rather than crafting legislation that is capable of addressing the increasingly dire problems of the here and now – rampant unemployment that plagues millions, crumbling national infrastructure, gross social inequalities, racism, and looming environmental catastrophe – he would rather stay well within the archaic limitations of a two-century old document subject to an extremely literal interpretation.
He would prefer to eliminate the Department of Education – and with it public education in general – as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, because there is no provision in the Constitution that stipulates the creation of those Federal agencies. The same would apply to Medicare, the popular social-insurance program that covers the medical needs of millions of children and senior citizens everyday.
With local and state budgets already pushed to the breaking point, the effect of down-shifting the responsibility of maintaining what remains of the social-safety net onto the state and municipal level is tantamount to killing it by way of a constitutional technicality, and, in effect, “starving the beast.”
But that’s not enough. Using the relatively banal “freedom” doublespeak, Paul equates freedom of association with his support of the National “Right-to-Work” Act, which would further strip the power of workers to organize and leverage their strength in trade unions – a fundamental democratic right.
In Ron Paul’s “new” America, where only those with money can access essential health and social services, the formerly-employed Rustbelt factory worker, the debt-ridden college student, and the urban and rural poor will be the first to be ground up.
Under the presupposition that government regulation undermines “private-market regulation,” which is to say, “no regulation,” Paul opposes the meddling of agencies like the EPA and OSHA in favor of a system that supposedly polices itself in the best interests of all – Adam Smith’s notion of the “invisible hand” of the market.
He does not support Federal environmental legislation that could potentially curb the worst excesses of heavily polluters (like the coal industry), as again, according to his interpretation, it is not vested in the authority of the Federal government to do so.
In the above case of pollution, such a system utterly fails to provide meaningful blanket regulation, as heavily polluting industries will inevitably move to states with the laxest emissions laws. In bourgeois economic parlance, pollution is an “externality” of production, one that reaches beyond the producer to act as a detriment to others.
Air pollution, like CO2 emissions, does not stay where it was emitted; it moves across state lines without regard for the emissions caps of the states that it passes over.
Even with a cursory analysis, such a system violates one of the central tenets of libertarian thought: freedom of action – as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. To Paul, such hypocrisy is not a concern, as long as he appeals to his laissez-faire base.
Paul drapes his Right-wing positions and proposals to tear down the welfare-state and attack the working class in the deceptive language of “constitutionalism.” If it is not in the Constitution, you cannot do it. Ergo, Welfare, income tax on corporations and the rich, regulations to prevent the destruction of our planet or to provide safe working conditions, become lifeless through ideologically-imposed impossibilities. It is nothing more than a highly convenient – from the point of view of the capitalist class – method of denying the working class and oppressed any ability to try to change or make better the society in which they live.
The most damaging expression of Ron Paul’s constitutional crusade is, however, the cover it provides for the far-Right.
In Ron Paul, fascist groups like the American Nazi Party see a vehicle to transmit fragments of the “national-socialist” political program into the consciousness of the American working and middle classes. By framing certain programmatic points in the manner of “strict constructionism” and state’s rights, they are capable of introducing their goals, like the reversal of civil-rights legislation, in a way that appears to be legitimized by manipulating the founding documents of the US Federal laws and statutes that establish civil-rights protections; affirmative action, and social programs like welfare, all stand to be abolished by a strict-constructivist reading.
When anti-discrimination legislation loses the universal power granted to it at the Federal level, it in essence, creates two Americas: one where select states provide equal protection under the law to minorities and one where they do not. Historically, for minorities and other oppressed groups, it is nothing less than a re-introduction of the “bad old days” of segregation and institutionalized racism.
After seeing the largest and most reckless banks get bailed out at the expense of everyone else, many small-business owners and self-employed professionals, quite understandably, formed a distrust of the Federal government. They asked themselves, “why did the big banks receive TARP money, and in effect, a reward for their recklessness, while struggling small-business owners were pushed to the wall as interests rates rose and credit dried up?”
Further, as the global economy remains sluggish with nearly flat GDP growth in the US and growing worries about a financial meltdown in the Eurozone, more and more of this group see a champion for their interests in Ron Paul. He frequently denounces the abuses of “crony capitalism” (monopoly capitalism) and calls to end the predatory practices of the biggest banks, albeit through some vague strategy involving the abolition of the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard.
Of course, Right-populist screeds targeting the banks are not unique to Paul. The American Nazi Party, of which Paul has received donations, writes on its website:
Its “A-OK to waste BILLIONS on WARS to make the world safe for JUDEO-CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION, and to MAKE billionaires MORE billions in this corrupt “Military Industrial Complex” as President Eisenhower described it back in the 50′s. It’s WONDERFUL to “BAIL OUT” incredibly RICH – WALL STREET BANKSTER BARONS.” 
Content-wise, with the exception of the stereotypical reference to Jewish capitalists, it’s not too far off of the mark from much of the “straight-talking” rhetoric coming out of Paul’s mouth.
By drawing the parallels between Right-populist speech attributed to both Paul and a far-Right group like the American Nazi Party, one could say we are attempting to slander Paul, and in effect, dismiss him as a “viable” candidate.
To this, we say no. Is the kind of support Ron Paul garners from the far-Right an issue of the tail wagging the dog? Are reactionary Right-wing elements attracted to him due to his political and ideological pronouncements, or are his statements crafted to offer greater accessibility to far-Right talking-points that he already agrees with but would rather distance himself publicly?
In our mind, Ron Paul, although not a fascist, is most certainly a sympathizer of certain aspects of the fascist program, given both his historic ties to far-Right groups like Stormfront and the American Nazi Party, as well as his paranoid and often racist newsletters dating back to the late 1970’s.
In this respect, he is an enemy of the working and progressive middle classes, and, therefore, deserves to be both exposed as the reactionary bigot that he is as well as fought actively against.
One of Paul’s more prominent Right-wing supporters is Don Black, a former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan and a current member of the American Nazi Party. The latter is also the founder of Stormfront, the premiere white supremacy social hub and forum on the Internet. Black has regularly organized “money bombs” (a short-run donation blitz) for Paul and on several occasions stated that Paul’s views “coincide with ours,” where “ours” in this case refers to the white-nationalist movement.
Despite his campaign disavowing any connection to Black, Paul has publicly posed with him for photographs and refused to return donations contributed by Black. Regardless of Paul’s intentions, most people would construe acceptance of a large monetary donation from a known fascist to be a sign of tacit agreement with the principles of the donor.
Even more damning for Paul are the statements made by William Alexander “Bill” White, founder of the “National Socialist Workers Movement” and former member of the larger “National Socialist Movement.” White was a supporter of Ron Paul until a spokesperson for Paul’s campaign called white-supremacism “a small ideology.” Disturbed by the comment, White went on to expose Paul’s connections to the movement in the following statement that he posted on a white-supremacy forum:
I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn’t see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul’s extensive involvement in white nationalism.
Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.
I have attended these dinners, seen Paul and his aides there, and been invited to his offices in Washington to discuss policy.
For his spokesman to call white racialism a ‘small ideology’ and claim white activists are ‘wasting their money’ trying to influence Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.
I don’t know that it is necessarily good for Paul to ‘expose’ this. However, he really is someone with extensive ties to white nationalism and for him to deny that in the belief he will be more respectable by denying it is outrageous–and I hate seeing people in the press who denounce racialism merely because they think it is not fashionable.
Paul has not come out and denied his connection to White nor sued him for libel. Additionally, White remains a credible source within the white-supremacist movement and continues to write for the American Free Press, a known neo-Nazi platform – the same paper that Paul used to write a regular column for.
Perhaps without the attention paid to a number of highly incendiary newsletters Paul published over roughly a 20-year period, Paul’s connection to the far-Right would have been overlooked. The newsletters, published by the now defunct Ron Paul & Associates company under a number of names (Ron Paul Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report, etc.), span from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s. Many of the newsletters contain abusive language targeting minorities and homosexuals as groups seeking to undermine “white America.”
One article from the Ron Paul Political Report, October 1992, advises readers on how to successfully gun down urban (read: black) youth and get away with it, while another article from the Ron Paul Survival Report, September 1994, stated to readers that they are “virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay.” Even worse, the newsletters opined that the Los Angeles riots only ended “when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began,” (Ron Paul Political Newsletter, June 1992) and disgustingly proclaimed “opinion polls consistently show only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.”
Paul has attempted to distance himself from the newsletters, claiming many were ghost written and published without his approval. Regardless, the newsletters bore Ron Paul’s name, and, in many cases, a reproduced copy of Paul’s signature, making him responsible for the content. More egregiously however, both Paul an his wife profited handsomely from the circulation of the newsletters, making $1 million in 1993 alone. For Paul to claim he had little knowledge of what was being published under his name is hard to believe considering a large chunk of his income came from the newsletters.
No one can deny the latest crisis of capitalism is squeezing the working class hard. Unemployment and dwindling prospects for social improvement are forcing millions into increasingly desperate circumstances.
Such desperation is reflected back politically. Whereas in the past workers attempted to look to their mainstream elected representatives in the vain hope that they would solve the key issues facing the country through bi-partisan deliberation. That has become near impossible at the present unstable conjuncture.
After seeing a deeply dysfunctional Congress become locked in one impasse after another, along with an equally weak President, millions are rightly disgusted with the political and economic status-quo.
Figures like Ron Paul intend to rise above the current crop of political mediocrities to offer plausible sounding, yet ultimately specious solutions.
For the working and grief-stricken middle classes to gamble on a candidate like Paul is akin to playing a shell game – the player always loses in the end. Those thinking of sending a protest vote in the form of supporting Paul should seriously reconsider.
Just because he maintains somewhat of a policy against drug criminalization and touts an ambiguous “anti-war” position does not permit us to overlook his disgusting racism and brutal “Ayn Randian” worldview.
This is a dangerous matter. A vote for Ron Paul, no matter how potentially seductive, is a vote for an anti-working class platform and, moreover, a vote against the interests of the 99%.
All the more reason now to build a new revolutionary anti-capitalist party to counter the dubious and reactionary (though increasing popular) positions of Paul and to end the frustrating gridlock in Washington and in the economy by leading the fight to put power directly into the hands of genuine, mass democratic organs of the working millions.
Such are the preconditions necessary for bringing an end to this extremely deep and prolonged crisis of the capitalist system, one that is rapidly becoming a political breeding ground for demagogues of the far-Right.