Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Kochtopus Warms Up to Ron Paul

You know Ron Paul has achieved mainstream acceptance when even The Kochtopus must acknowledge him and embrace him. "The Kochtopus" is a perjorative term used to describe the wealthy, powerful oligarchs the Koch Brothers and their vast network of business, political groups, and libertarian think-tanks. The Cato Institute and Reason Magazine are two well-known libertarian institutions, and both are payrolled by the Koch Brothers and based close to the Congresscritters in Washington DC, earning them the title of "Beltway Libertarians". Libertarianism in the United States is as fractured as Christianity after Martin Luther - there are innumerable sects and petty differences that prevent them from working together. But the two main forces in the movement have been The Kochtopus (Cato and Reason included) and The Austrian School (Ron Paul, famous economist Murray Rothbard, and the Mises Institute in Alabama). David Gordon tracks the famous falling out between Rothbard and the Koch Brothers here. In 2008, The Kochtopus worked to ignore and undermine the Ron Paul campaign through Reason Magazine, which hyped up the racist newsletters and elsewhere negatively portrayed Ron Paul.

The Austrians criticize The Beltway Libertarians for not being true believers, for trying to work too much inside the system, for rejected social conservatism and becoming libertines rather than libertarians. Beltwayarians accuse Rothbard and the inheritor of his legacy, Lew Rockwell, as being impractical and radical, as standing up on a hill and waving the black flag. I am of the Austrian, Rothbard, Rockwell, Ron Paul division. The other side lacks passion for truth and are court intellectuals for the elites in Washington.There are good people closer to that side like Don Boudreaux, but the real movers and shakers are on the Austrian side, and the rise of Ron Paul has shown their contribution to be more fruitful than the Beltwayarians.

That's why it was strange to see the leader of the Cato Institute and Koch mouthpiece Edward Crane write this article in the Wall Street Journal praising (kind of) Ron Paul. I see his article not as embracing or as an endorsement, but rather a cold acceptance of reality and an attempt to seize the success of Ron Paul and The Austrians for themselves. He sneaks a jab in at Rockwell by trying to blame the racist newsletters on him "Yet, while Mr. Paul disavows supporting those ideas, he refuses to repudiate his close association with their likely source, Lew Rockwell, head of the Alabama-based Mises Institute." Ohh they are in the deep South, in Alabama, what savages they must be.

Even his reluctant support of Ron Paul comes with a disclaimer:

"He'd be the first to admit he's not the most erudite candidate to make the case, but surely part of his appeal is his very genuine persona. Which is not to say that Mr. Paul is always in sync with mainstream libertarians. His seeming indifference to attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, his support for a constitutional amendment to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens, and his opposition to the Nafta and Cafta free trade agreements in the name of doctrinal purity are at odds with most libertarians."

Ron Paul is apparently not erudite enough, that is, knowledgeable, unlike the beacons of knowledge and truth over at Cato. Read some of the articles or books by him, then say if he is not leaps and bounds more knowledgeable about history and economics than all the other Republican candidates combined, let alone the mental midgets at Cato. Couple that with Crane's kowtow to neoconservatives "Ron Paul doesn't hate Iran enough" and some minor technical differences (Paul, like Milton Friedman, doesn't think a welfare state can afford to have open borders and the birthright citizenship is abused by desperate 3rd world mothers. Free trade agreements like NAFTA have nothing to do with free trade - they are managed trade. The net effect may be lower trade barriers and tariffs, which every reasonable person can support, but the lasting consequences is the marriage between government and special interest industries and businesses. The Austrians are against this form of fascism.)

To pretend to write an article supporting Ron Paul and then to point out these minor differences without clarifying why Paul thinks the way he does smells like a trick. Crane is trying to save face, he is trying to define the libertarian movement and what it is supposed to be as if he was the ordained leader, he wants to control everything. Ron Paul never once was conceited enough to pretend to be the leader of the spontaneous movement he did more than anyone else to create - "This is your revolution." he is fond of saying. He is just a guy that gets up and tells what he thinks, and if people like it, good. He doesn't want the power, he wants to get out his message. Crane, however, wants the power. He wants to take all of the success of Ron Paul and distance himself from all the things the establishment finds unsavory about him - alleged racist newsletters and being soft on Iran. That is why Crane and his institute never knew such success - they go along to get along, never dare saying anything not politically correct or showing anything but deference to the establishment, and are hence useless to everyone.

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