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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Patriots," Paul, plutocracy and pseudo-progressives

Consider this post a follow-up to the one below.

The message reproduced to the right comes from Zero Hedge. One can, of course, find many similarly inane comments scattered throughout blogland.

This particular example of inanity stands out because the outrageous contradiction on display here illustrates a much larger problem. This fellow considers himself a "Born Patriot" yet identifies himself with an image of the Confederate flag.

Ron Paul has, at times, spoken in favor of secession. If ever he were to provide "aid and comfort" to any serious attempt to bring about secession, he should be tried and executed under Article Three, section 3 of the United States Constitution. Yet his supporters label themselves patriots.

At this writing, Paul will probably win second place in the New Hampshire primary. I don't expect much from the Republicans -- but is it really too much to ask the party of Lincoln to favor the concept of maintaining the union under any and all circumstances? Apparently so. (As we shall see, some alleged "liberals" also have no problem rationalizing Paul's treasonous instincts.)

What have we come to? What would Honest Abe think about Paul's popularity?

Modern conservatives are a contradictory bunch: They continually threaten to upend the very ideals they claim to cherish.

A few days ago, we looked at the ultra-conservative wing of the Catholic church. We noted that the people who bray loudest about their loyalty to the papacy are also the ones who, if they don't get their way, are the likeliest to join a schismatic movement. Similarly, the tea partiers proclaim their loyalty to the founding fathers even as they continually threaten to take up arms against an elected government, should that government do things unapproved by the libertarians. Sometimes the baggers make that threat in a sly and subtle fashion; sometimes (as in the case of Sharron Angle), they can be overt. But the threat remains, always there, lingering in the air.

Let's give this threat its proper name: Fascism.

The Confederacy -- revered by the Paulites -- was the first attempt at a fascist government: A one-party plutocracy founded on slavery and fueled by appeals to the most irrational aspects of the human psyche. The libertarians who molded Ron Paul's thinking admired fascists like Mussolini and Pinochet. These ideologues also tend to admire Joe McCarthy, who came to prominence by defending the Nazi perpetrators of the Malmedy massacre, and whose political mentors had pre-war records as fascist sympathizers.

Yet libertarian propagandists try to convince naive youngsters that FDR was pro-fascist...!

On the left side of the aisle, the situation is almost as bad. I loathe and decry the recent attempts by Glenn Greenwald, Matt Stoller and others to make Ron Paul palatable to liberals. Stoller is a particularly vile revisionist historian:
As the New Deal era model sheds the last trappings of anything resembling social justice or equity for what used to be called the middle class (a process which Tom Ferguson has been relentlessly documenting since the early 1980s), the breakdown will become impossible to ignore.
My god. What an absurdity. What indefensible and ludicrous propaganda.

FDR, following in the footsteps of the preceding generation's progressive movement, created the middle class. You can't hold the New Deal responsible for the attacks on the middle class that began only after Reaganites did everything they could to dismantle the New Deal. That's like blaming Sharon Tate for the Manson family murders.

Stoller claims that the New Deal was based on "warmongering." Back in FDR's day, that idea would have made sense only to someone like Robert McCormack. Or to William Randolph Hearst. Or to the Bund. Or to the fascist sympathizers who later went on to found the John Birch Society. Yes, Naked Capitalism is flirting with Birchism, and there's no point in pretending otherwise. Even as he extols the virtues of Paul, the young and ambitious Stoller (who was, of course, a fervent Obot just three short years ago) trashes the memories of Lincoln, FDR and Woodrow Wilson in terms that would make sense only to a Glenn Beck aficionado.

Stoller blames World War II on Roosevelt and the Civil War on Lincoln. Not so long ago, one would have encountered these sentiments only in pro-fascist fringe periodicals. How much distance separates Stoller from, say, William Dudley Pelley? Or George Lincoln Rockwell? Or Eustace Mullins (who also wanted to end the Fed)? Or the folks who gave us The Thunderbolt and Angriff Press? Stoller may not be a racist, but his penchant for fascist-friendly historical revisionism places him in evil company.

Hell, even The Spotlight played it more coy. Perhaps I should revise my "flirting with Birchism" remark: Comparisons to the JBS are too soft to describe what Stoller is up to. I've read some back issues of American Opinion. Absurd as they were, they weren't this absurd.

Yet this guy gets published in The Nation...!

It is true that one wing of the fractured libertarian movement denounced Bush's atrocious war in Iraq. That factor explains why so many lefties have come to sympathize with Paul. But even in 2004 and 2005, I warned anti-war liberals against making common cause with the libertarians. What the followers of Ludwig von Mises want to do to the U.S. (and to the rest of the world) would make Dubya's attack on Baghdad seem comparatively gentle and kind.

Too many alleged leftists claim to be "too liberal for Obama" while simultaneously attacking the New Deal or offering rationalizations for libertarianism (which is just another word for plutocracy). Just like our friend "Born Patriot," these people have twisted themselves into living contradictions.
Comments:
I frankly cannot understand how in the world someone could construe Greenwald's position as being an attempt to make Ron Paul palatable to liberals. That's just not the case. What he tried to do was simple to point out the fact that Paul's *candidacy* was having the positive effect of bringing issues like anti-militarism and pro civil liberties back into the electoral debate - something that liberals are willing to sweep under the rug because the current White House resident happens to be a "liberal" himself. Greenwald has not said that Paul is a nice fellow, has not endorsed his candidacy and has not said that Paul is the lesser of the two evils.
 
I read it differently, moshe.
 
It is only because of this blog and the warnings against libertarianism that I remain skeptical of Paul's motives. Have you seen his anti-war ad? If there was a democrat out there that had the cojones to put out an ad like that I'd be happy to back them. Unfortunately we are stuck with corporate sleazoids, by and large, with the nasty habit of capitulating to Republicans even when they have both houses of Congress and the presidency. It's quite strange. Ten years ago I thought all Republicans were scum and Democrats were well meaning idealists who couldn't get elected because they wouldn't sink to the depths of cynicism that Repubs would to get elected. Now I'm not so sure, but I can't help but see fascism more in the way perception of Paul has been manipulated by the media than in Paul's beliefs. He seems like a good man; or at least he seems like a better man than most members of Congress anyhow.
 
I don't know about Greenwald but I agree about Stoller's posts. Seem seriously deluded to me.

Paul's version of libertarianism, and maybe all of them, looks like the fastest way to actual tyranny. See Somalia for a libertarian paradise.
 
I would agree with moshe...and Greenwald is not the only one. Rachel Maddow was raising serious hackles with her portrayal of Ron Paul recently, even tho she later denounced him. She was close to lauding or legitimizing him, but it was in service to a point. On a similar tangent, did you see where MTV falsely portrayed a poetry slam event in NH as a tribute to RP? The slam community has been irate over that.
 
I think the idea of the Confederacy as the world's first fascist government is interesting and should be pursued in a larger post. (See the Genoveses, The Mind of The Master Class for some really noxious stuff....) I'm not sure about it, though. For example, the Confederate central government was so weak it couldn't collect taxes effectively. For example, I don't see Jeff Davis as a charismatic leader figure. On the other hand, perhaps the Confederacy was an alpha version. However with the response to reconstuction, with the KKK and all, the (temporarily) defeated slaveholding elite invented (did they?) many of the mass forms of terror that would go on to assume such prominence in the 20th C.

As for Paul: If somebody on the D side were advocating for an end to the wars wars, both imperial and drug, they might pick up some votes. (Obama insulted marijuana users right out of the box in 2009.) Possibly the youth might not take kindly to being sent off to die in useless military adventures because the alternative is Wal-Mart or nothing? It's not Paul's fault that the Ds are derelict or worse, and Paul isn't responsible -- at least not solely -- for the rotten state of our discourse. And if whichever messenger points this out gets shot... Well, that's the fate of messengers.
 
Seems to me this is a very fine line to walk because the libertarian philosophy at its core has nothing to do with American values. Can we applaud the few elements that align themselves with the traditional liberal/progressive tradition?

Only if we remember that we're pulling off a few good apples on what is a poison tree.

I see this discussion going on between disillusioned Obamacrats. They supported an illusion and now they're howling with disappointment.

Here's my question--why didn't these same progs take on Obama directly, demand that he be primaried? The answer is not heralding Ron Paul for the few good positions he holds in an otherwise twisted philosophy. The solution is first admitting that liberals supported a man who turned out to be a poor leader, basically a marketed brand, and then work to correct the mistake made in 2008.

Peggy Sue
 
I'm with you Joseph re: Greenwald. He's done some useful analysis of the anthrax affair but his libertarian mojo keeps getting in the way of his political assessments. One part of Stoller's grievance is an outright libertarian assault on FDR ( never addressing the fruits of the New Deal like the SEC, Glass-Steagal, the broad White House alliance with liberal Congressmen, the TVA and PWA/CWA public works). Another strain seems to stem from the old New Left off the shelf of revisionists like William A. Williams, who so hated American foreign policy from TR on that all government interventions became suspect.

Rand is right on Iraq, for largely the wrong reasons. But any sympathy progressives show him, even short of support, is due to either a misreading of history or ignorance of it.
 
Ron Paul will never be president. However, if he succeeds in starting a debate/conversation about the erosion of our civil liberties, the dangers of the MIC complex, and the endless wars that this country seems to want to fight, that will be a good thing. I believe this is why his philosophy on these issues resonate with so many people. They understand that we have given up so many of our liberties in order to be "safe" - which we are not. We will never be completely safe. What we now have in this country is a police state, constant surveillance, TSA searches (a farce), phones that can track our every move, surveillance of our e-mails, and now, thanks to Obama, indefinite detention for American citizens who "might" be suspected of being a terrorist. Shades of a certain Chilean dictator come to mind.

This is not the country I grew up in, nor is it the country I want to live in if we keep going down this very dangerous path. I would love to see a debate between Obama, Paul and Romney. It would certainly be a hell of a lot more important than whether or not we approve of gay marriage or who wants to take away our birth control. (Of course, the media would never allow this to happen).
 
Your problem is, you're obtuse.
Frankly. Sorry. If you weren't, you would recognize you could find that 95% of the "born patriot" commments would be and are...on a myriad of blogs,elsewhere etc. followed with support of some Islamophobic Israel-First war hawk--like Santorum, or even Gingrich. Not Ron Paul who is attacked for his (supposed) IslamoPHILIA!

Secession? Let's play your game: Ask the victims of Obama's drone bombing and the bulk of Iraqis if they would have preferred a vibrant secessionist movement afoot in the US for the past ten years, preventing the genocides against their innocents.

The America First committee of FDR's time, considering him a warmonger, was inhabited by many leftists and socialists, eg Norman Thomas.

The Libertarian Party --the core of the movement- OPPOSED the Iraq War, which Hillary Clinton supported and hoped would subjugate the Iraqis pronto.

Not that I'm a libertarian-as a protectionist however, I can, unlike you, put in comparative abeyance economic goals to attempt to bring down the second Evil Empire's warring-and preserve the Nation, providing an arena wherein your more selfish interests can be debated with others' admittedly also selfish interests....bringing in the interim the end to America's wreaking havoc in Pakistan, Afghan and now if Obama election strategy pays off.(see Cockburn today) ...Iran.
 
What was it some of us used to say about the damned Obots? After making the mistake of a lifetime in 2008, they should STFU and crawl back under a rock never to be heard from again.

That still holds true for me.
 
I think Greewald's commentary was excellent, as always (and what is with people thinking he's a libertarian or has libertarian leanings?......is that way he rails against Wall Street all the time?). Frankly, it's entirely true that Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate, from either party raising these issues at all. Nearly the only politician from either party doing this as well. Greenwald merely points out that some of these issues are what Liberals should be talking about and fighting for. This doesn't mean he or any of us should be supporting Paul. Greenwald does not endorse him and strongly implies that he would not vote for him. But, come on, who else is campaigning against our genocidal killing of Arabs and Muslims? Nobody, that's who. Or our almost equally genocidal drug war. And police state. I could go on, but I won't. I'm not going to vote for Paul, that much is certain. But damned if I wouldn't like to find one single Democrat (other than Kucinich) speaking up loudly about such issues. At this point, Santorum would be about the only person I'd be willing to vote for Obama against Well, Bachmann and Perry too, but they have no chance at all. Ron Paul will never be president, precisely because of these very issues that he talks about. If it was only his economic platform, the Republicans would make sure he was their guy.

Having said all that, I totally understand your position Joseph, I just can't agree with it completely. I do not think Paul would be a good president, and I also don't think there is any chance at all he ever will be.
 
Ron Paul is a f**king misogynist, an ob/gyn who opposes "partial birth abortion" when in fact there is no such thing, no such procedure, and of course he knows damn well there isn't.

Perhaps I should explain that I worked for a university department of ob/gyn for five years, and came to the conclusion that men simply shouldn't be allowed to specialize in that field.

For that matter, how many female MDs specialize in urology?--and how many men would willingly see a woman doctor for penis problems anyway? (or for anything else?)

That five years convinced me that if ya don't got one, you got no business treating anyone who does.
 
Good essay, Joseph...but I also suggest this essay by Time Wise. He pretty much hits the nail on the head in regards to Greenwald and co. on their Ron Paul mad-on:

http://www.timwise.org/2012/01/of-broken-clocks-presidential-candidates-and-the-confusion-of-certain-white-liberals/
 
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