Ron Paul: the “left”‘s favourite racist, antisemite and homophobe?

January 22, 2012 at 9:59 pm (anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Asshole, conspiracy theories, elections, insanity, Jim D, libertarianism, populism, Racism, reaction, Republican Party, Troothers, United States)

Congressman Ron Paul poses with neo-Nazi leader and campaign contributor Don Black. (Photo: Ace of Spades)

The grotesque freak-show that is the US Republican Party’s search for a Presidential candidate has already provided us with some almost unbelievable spectacles: a candidate who couldn’t remember his own policies, another who didn’t know where Obama stood on Libya,  Mitt Romney cast as a “moderate,” Rick Santorum taken seriously and Newt Gingrich now tipped as the likely winner. Roll up, roll up: the GOP circus is in town!

But of all the weird and wonderful phantasms to have emerged from the foetid miasma of the Republican Party’s flatulence, none can match congressman Ron Paul. He won’t win the nomination, but in his way he’s making at least as big an impact as the front-runners. That’s in part because he’s outspoken, consistent and colourful. It’s also because, alone amongst the candidates, he’s attracting support from sections of the liberal-left in America and further afield.

The British New Statesman magazine, for instance, recently carried an article by Alec MacGillis (senior editor at New Republic) that suggested “Liberals must grapple with their mixed feelings about Paul.” The magazine’s cover billed Paul as “the left’s favourite libertarian.”

Meanwhile at the supposedly left-of-centre Salon.com, one Glenn Greenwald can scarcely contain his enthusiasm for Paul ; after an ass-covering disclaimer (“I am not ‘endorsing’ or expressing support for anyone’s candidacy”), Greenwold goes on to pen a breathless paean to “the only political figure with any sort of a national platform – certainly the only major presidential candidate in either party – who advocates policy views that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial…alone among the national figures in both parties (Paul) is able and willing to advocate views that Americans urgently need to hear.”

What are these views “that Americans urgently need to hear”? Well, Paul is in favour of immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, opposes “destructive blind support” of Israel, is critical of the “War on Drugs” and…he’s on record opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, denouncing Martin Luther King Day as “our annual Hate Whitey Day,” and considers  that “we can safely assume that 95 per cent of the black males in [Los Angeles] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

He considers gay rights campaigners to be the “organised forces of perversion,” and that “Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”  He has speculated about 9/11 [NB: correction; he was actually referring to the 1993 attack on the WTC -see comments below] being “a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects…” He believes that there are “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok (sic) for Mossad in their area of expertise.”

He has also given practical advice to militias on how best to organise: “You can’t kill a hydra by cutting off it’s head…Keep group size down…Keep quiet and you’re harder to find…Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. If you have more than one rifle, store it in a hideaway spot…Hide your best eggs from prying eyes. Destroy any documents or discs that become unnecessary…Bojangles Robinson ain’t the only one who can tap. Avoid the phone as much as possible…Remember you’re not alone.”

In fairness, it should be stated that these opinions (and many, many more along similar lines) appeared in  a series of newsletters published under his name (“The Ron Paul Report”, “The Ron Paul Newsletter”, “The Ron Paul Survival Guide”) that he published in the 1980′s and 90′s. He doesn’t deny that he authorised the newsletters, or that they generated as much as $1 million dollars per year for him. His defence is (wait for it)…they were written by someone else in his name, and he didn’t bother reading them at the time!

Paul, of course stands in a long-standing US political tradition – one that reached its zenith in the late thirties and early forties: that of Lindbergh. If you think that’s an exaggeration, then listen to what former Paul staffer Eric Dondero says (in an article largely devoted to defending Paul):

“It’s his foreign policy that’s the problem; not so much some stupid and whacky things on race and gays he may have said or written in the past.

“Ron Paul is most assuredly an isolationist. He denies this charge vociferously. But I can tell you straight out, I had countless arguments/discussions with him over his personal views. For example, he strenously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII. He expressed to me countless times, that ‘saving the Jews’ was absolutely none of our business. When pressed, he often brings up conspiracy theories like FDR knew about the attacks on Pearl Harbor weeks before hand, or that WWII was just ‘blowback’ for Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy errors, and such.

“I would challenge him, like for example, what about the instances of German U-boats attacking U.S. ships, or even landing on the coast of North Carolina or Long Island, NY. He’d finally concede that that and only that was reason enough to counter-attack against the Nazis, not any humanitarian causes like preventing the holocaust.”

To get a full handle on how bad Paul’s record and positions are, here is a quick rundown. Ron Paul:

Anyone that still thinks that a “progressive” vote for Paul is a legitimate vote under any circumstances doesn’t know what the word “progressive” means.  And a “left” that has even the tiniest tincture of sympathy for this thoroughgoing reactionary, racist, homophobe, conspiracy-nut and isolationist, is a “left” that has completely lost its moral and political bearings.

37 Comments

  1. Robin Carmody said,

    Absolutely!

    Allegiances of convenience can only go so far – and in this case it’s an insult to everything the Left has fought for for them to start in the first place.

  2. gzitver said,

    He believes that there are “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok (sic) for Mossad in their area of expertise.

    Well, it would be a little strange if so many people were willing to prepare Chinese food for the Mossad, but I don’t think it’s a scandal.

    Sorry.

  3. Matt said,

    “For example, he strenously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII. He expressed to me countless times, that ‘saving the Jews’ was absolutely none of our business.”

    Two points:

    1. it wasn’t just Nazis and Nazi sympathisers like Lindbergh who opposed US entry into World War II, so did socialists (and rightly so in my view). That position did not ipso facto make you a nationalist/isolationalist.

    2. how many Jews were saved from being killed in the Holocaust by US – or come to that British – entry into World War II? None as far as I can see. The main thing Britain and the US could have done to save lives – allowing Jewish immigration into the US and British Mandate Palestine – were not done for essentially anti-Semitic reasons.

  4. SteveH said,

    I hate Ron Paul, but then again I am a woman hating, gay bashing, far right racist and anti semite and proud.

    Just call me Adolf

    • Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

      steevehaitch, adolph.

  5. Jimmy said,

    That Ron Paul seems to hate more things than Adolf and Jelly combined.
    The left are a strange fickle bunch of oddities.

  6. modernity's ghost said,

    Could SteveH be Ron Paul’s alter-ego?

  7. flyingrodent said,

    Right, so – the loony US right put up an unelectable, modern day William Jennings Bryan as a candidate; a single obscure American left-libertarian blogger welcomes the military and justice sections of that candidate’s platform and the NS reprints a US hack’s profile of the candidate.

    What, exactly, does this have to do with “the left”?

    I mean, I’ve seen one or two bloggers in the last few months asking why there are no major left-wing politicians who are prepared to oppose aggressive warmaking and state murder. This hardly counts as a great groundswell of left-wing support for right-libertarian wackiness, does it?

    So why even mention “the left”? If Mitt Romney shits his pants tonight, to we all have to condemn this resurgence of pant-shitting in furious tones, or what?

  8. flyingrodent said,

    Paul, of course stands in a long-standing US political tradition – one that reached its zenith in the late thirties and early forties: that of Lindbergh.

    “Zenith”? Really? This seems a bit uncharitable and beshits some fairly well-respected historical figures. The problem with Lindbergh, remember, wasn’t that he was an isolationist. The problem was that he was an actual Nazi sympathiser. He advocated non-intervention because he was good buddies with senior fascists, and not from some overriding political principle.

    George Washington wasn’t a Nazi sympathiser; nor was Jefferson… And yet, both of them are taking some heavy splashback from this argument. When you find yourself bracketing that pair with actual Nazis, it’s probably time to re-examine your assumptions.

  9. The French said,

    He has speculated about 9/11 being “a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects…” He believes that there are “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok (sic) for Mossad in their area of expertise.”

    You could at least check your facts instead of respewing what others have looked into for you. The quote above is about the 1993 New York bombings not 9/11.

    But sure go ahead and repeat the cherry picked quotes from 20-30 years ago. If you bothered to read some of the newsletters they were taken from and managed to not impose your modern social norms (MLKjr sure said “negro” a lot call the PC police) on them, you’ll find they’re not as incendiary as you believe.

  10. Jim Denham said,

    Frenchie: you’re correct about that quote relating to the 1993 WTC bombing and not 9/11 and I’m happy to acknowledge that minor mistake, which was mine alone as my source, Mr. Destructo, makes it clear that he’s referring to the earlier attack. I don’t see that it significantly alters anything, though. Especially when you consider this quote which *is* about 9/11, from former Paul staffer Eric Dondero (available at “Right Wing News” http://rightwingnews.com/election-2012/statement-from-fmr-ron-paul-staffer-on-newsletters-anti-semitism/):

    “He engaged in conspiracy theories including perhaps the attacks were coordinated with the CIA, and that the Bush administration mighgt have known about the attacks ahead of time. He expressed no sympathies whatsoever for those who died on 9/11 and pretty much forbade us staffers from expressing any sort of memorial expressions…”

    The newsletter quotes are not “cherry picked” in the sense you mean: there are literally dozens of racist, antisemitic and homophobic remarks over a period from the early eighties through to the mid nineties. And much more recently he’s associated with the far right (see the photo above) and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, not to mention the good ol’ boys of the John Birch society http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society (for whom he appeared in a number of videos widely available on Youtube):

    To return to the revelations of his former staffer Eric Dondero which I’ve briefly quoted from; I could have used many other Dondero quotes. For instance, Dondero, who clearly still has a lot of sympathy with Paul, says this (while *defending* his former boss against charges of “anti-semitism”):

    “He is, however, most certainly anti-Israel, and anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the American taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians (Nothing wrong with that in itself, btw – JD), and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.”

    Mr Rodent: as ever, you’ve adopted that smug, wise-ass tone: this is all irrelevant, it has nothing to do with the “left” etc, etc. Well, the headline above this post was adapted from what the fairly influential UK left-liberal (and “mainstream”) New Statesman magazine put on its cover: “The irresistable rise of the left’s favourite libertarian.” And I notice that Tariq Ali, still (unfortunately) a figure who carries some weight on sections of the left, praised Paul in the Guardian last Friday: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/20/obama-afghanistan-talk-taliban (see last paragraph).

    I of course accept that not all “isolationists” have been Nazi sympathisers (especially those who lived two hundred years before the Nazis were thought of). But Paul’s stance, and his views (again, quoted by Dondero) suggest that, at the very least, he would have been indifferent to the Nazi threat outside of America, and thoroughly unsympathetic to its victims and potential victims. George Orwell is very good on the role of supposed “pacifists” like the Peace Pledge League during, and immediately before WW2 (http://orwell.ru/library/articles/pacifism/english/e_patw). I know that Paul is not exactly a “pacifist”, but he’d be well at home in the Peace Pledge League, as would George Galloway and Tariq Ali.

  11. flyingrodent said,

    as ever, you’ve adopted that smug, wise-ass tone

    Well Jim, I’ll do you a deal. You stop posting tendentious and I’ll be less smug. How’s that sound?

    So, the NS. Do you think their title was aimed at a) reflecting any popular support for Ron Paul on the left or b) just a line to sell an off-the-shelf article as being of interest to their readership?

    And you don’t really have to wonder why the famously anti-war Ali would have at least some nice comments about any policy proposals from the famously anti-war Paul. Still, now that we’ve established that publicly praising certain policies by unpleasant right wing politicians is absolutely verboten, it may shorten future debates.

    This does apply to you and your pals as well, doesn’t it? I mean, let’s forget all the Netanyahu-has-a-point/Wolfowitz-and-Rumsfeld-know-what-they’re-doing-trust-‘em stuff. If an incoming President Gingrich proposes bombing Iran and Syria to pieces on a flimsy pretext, you wouldn’t go inventing reasons why it was suddenly acceptable to say nice things about Newt, would you?

    George Orwell is very good on the role of supposed “pacifists” like the Peace Pledge League during, and immediately before WW2.

    Indeed – fire and brimstone stuff, very condemnatory. Can you identify the author of the following piece, Jim?

    We are told that it is only people’s objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are “objectively” aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once… This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people’s motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions… In my opinion a few pacifists are inwardly pro-Nazi, and extremist left-wing parties will inevitably contain Fascist spies. The important thing is to discover which individuals are honest and which are not, and the usual blanket accusation merely makes this more difficult. The atmosphere of hatred in which controversy is conducted blinds people to considerations of this kind. To admit that an opponent might be both honest and intelligent is felt to be intolerable. It is more immediately satisfying to shout that he is a fool or a scoundrel, or both, than to find out what he is really like. It is this habit of mind, among other things, that has made political prediction in our time so remarkably unsuccessful.”

    That, of course, is Saint George himself, explicitly rowing back from the position on pacifism that you found so very impressive. It looks rather like he changed his opinion when new evidence presented itself to him.

  12. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    fuck off rodenT. haven’t bothered reading your shite. it will be the same as usual i.e. shit

    Trot on the pullby: CFWhttp://www.xtranormal.com/xtraplayr/7944499/trot-on-the-pull

  13. flyingrodent said,

    …And you can love or hate US isolationism as much as you like – it’s certainly been the position of a lot of highly unpleasant nativists and bigots in American history and its modern adherents are very often lunatics.

    On the other hand, it’s ridiculous to portray isolationism itself as some kind of Lindberghism. To repeat – Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathiser, rather than a common-or-garden isolationist.

    For example – this is George Washington’s final speech as president…

    The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop…

    …a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

    Also note that Jefferson reaffirmed and expanded on these points in his inauguration speech, although these ideas fell from favour when later presidents noticed all that pristine arable land in Mexican hands.

    So. Personally, I think most modern US isolationists tend to be racist fruitcakes or illuminati-fearing idiots. Nonetheless, it’s insane to treat what was once a major part of American political philosophy as if it were basically fascism itself, and I don’t think anyone would pretend that it was unless they were basically Up To No Good.

    (David Aaronovitch, non-coincidentally, also leapt directly to the ‘non-intervention is pro-Hitler’ stance too, when he was talking about Paul. The reason he did this, of course, is that he reckons anti-war opinion in whatever form must be crushed utterly and immediately; because the Nazis are the biggest hammer in Aaronovitch’s tool box and because to him, every anti-war statement looks very much like a nail).

  14. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    Rodent was for Gaddafee duck’s mob staying in power.

  15. Jim Denham said,

    Rodent: seeing as your last two posts are rather less smug and rather more serious than in the past, I’ll be posting a considered reply shortly. Btw, I have no problem with your Orwell quote and I’ve never understood why Orwell himself considered such a mea culpa to be necessary. He was a polemical writer, but also a very fair, self-critical and honest human being. It’s possible to be all of those things, but not always simultaneously.

    But one immediate issue arises. You say:

    “(N)ow that we’ve established that publicly praising certain policies by unpleasant right wing politicians is absolutely verboten, it may shorten future debates.

    “This does apply to you and your pals as well, doesn’t it? I mean, let’s forget all the Netanyahu-has-a-point/Wolfowitz-and-Rumsfeld-know-what-they’re-doing-trust-‘em stuff.”

    What and who, exactly, are you referring to? I’ve never said or written any such things, and neither have any “pals” of mine (in the sense of political associates). So what the fuck are you on about?

    NB I may have written sympathetically about Christopher Hitchens, but I’ve always made it crystal clear that I disagaree with much of what he stood for, particularly in his last years.

  16. flyingrodent said,

    I’ve never said or written any such things, and neither have any “pals” of mine (in the sense of political associates)

    Okay Jim – So neither you nor anyone of a similar political persuasion has ever had anything nice to say about any dodgy right wing politicians, in any country, ever.

    I’ve never understood why Orwell himself considered such a mea culpa to be necessary.

    Reading between the lines*, I’m assuming that he felt he had previously a) been very wrong; b) misled his readers and c) contributed to an atmosphere of suspicion of self-serving accusation-as-argument.

    *Not really reading between the lines, of course. It’s as plain as day.

  17. Peter said,

    I’ve never understood why Orwell himself considered such a mea culpa to be necessary.

    If you read the whole piece, it becomes very obvious why. What Orwell was writing is that being ‘objectively pro-fascist’ is not the same as actually being a fascist. Therefore, by using the term you obscure the motivations of individuals and this makes you unable to predict their future actions, which may mean they turn from an enemy into an ally when they see the full consequences of their actions. A real fascist would not take action to harm fascism, whilst a pacifist would, short of endorsing war. In other words, motives count. It is an argument against reductionism.

    The same argument can be used against the line I have seen often that because Stalinism and Nazism were both totalitarian then the people who joined the Communist Party in Britain were objectively the same as those who joined the British Union of Fascists. It is a clear nonsense – gullible yes, in that they took Stalinist rhetorical justification at face value, but their motivations were hugely different from the fascists.

    The context this should be read in is Orwell’s constant interest in the honesty of language in political discourse.

    Nowhere does he recant his main position on pacifism. This is that the consequences of a policy based on pacifism would, regardless of motivation, be one that would help fascism achieve its aims. To abstain from opposing fascism would ensure its success.

    It is a refinement of his views, not a reversal of them.

  18. Jim Denham said,

    “The context this should be read in is Orwell’s constant interest in the honesty of language in political discourse.

    “Nowhere does he recant his main position on pacifism. This is that the consequences of a policy based on pacifism would, regardless of motivation, be one that would help fascism achieve its aims. To abstain from opposing fascism would ensure its success.

    “It is a refinement of his views, not a reversal of them.”

    I agree 100 per cent, Peter.

  19. Jim Denham said,

    Rodent: I’ve just noticed this, and it’s irrestistible:
    .
    “Okay Jim – So neither you nor anyone of a similar political persuasion has ever had anything nice to say about any dodgy right wing politicians, in any country, ever. ”

    Answer: “No,” so long as “anyone of a similar political persuasion” means anyone with whom I’ve ever been politically linked in an organisational sense and “anything nice to say” doesn’t mean ridiculous stuff like “he makes me laugh” or “I like her tits.”

    And I’ll donate £500 to any cause of your liking if you can prove otherwise. Deal?

  20. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    you will not get a coherent reply from daft rodent personage. guaranteed.

  21. Harry Tuttle said,

    Flying Rodent -

    The problem with early American neutrality is the way it was applied, even by those who could be considered staunch isolationists. Avoiding foreign entanglements was fine – a lesson Jefferson learned the hard way – when it involved a stronger power, one that could threaten the nation’s welfare, but was quietly ignored when the situations were reversed as many of the sovereign Indian nations found out. In that sense, one can see the philosophy that guided Lindbergh’s isolationist views in the actions of America’s founders.

  22. flyingrodent said,

    I’ll donate £500 to any cause of your liking if you can prove otherwise.

    Hell, I’ll take that deal Jim. Just one thing – can you define the parameters here? Because you’ve just said that Glenn Greenwald, by approving of Paul’s foreign policy positions and saying that they reflect very, very badly on the supposedly anti-war Democratic Party, “can scarcely contain his enthusiasm for Paul ; after an ass-covering disclaimer… he goes on to pen a breathless paean” to Paul.

    If that’s the standard we’re using – basic agreement on certain policy positions and desire for left wing politicians to emulate those positions – then you might end up five hundred quid down easier than you anticipate. Don’t you think?

    Or, if you have that much cash to spare, you could just donate it anyway – I always liked Make a Wish UK myself, big softy that I am.

    And, how’s that “considered reply” coming?

    @Harry – Yup. I’m hardly going to defend every American president since Jefferson since, like all politicians and indeed human beings, they were almost all liars and/or hypocrites.

    Nonetheless, there is a very clear and principled argument for American isolationism, articulated very unambiguously and quite eloquently by Washington and by other admirable figures since. If you choose to take that stance as a form of unrefined Lindberghism, I would suggest that this reflects more on you than it does on GW or TJ.

  23. modernity's ghost said,

    Anyone familiar with American history will recognise the shrill tones of isolationism and nativism as seen from the 19th C. onwards.

    Of course, if someone wishes to cherry pick back to George Washington, then you have to disregard a large chunk of American political history along the way.

    It is a bit like viewing the modern day Tories through the lens of Lord North or George Grenville, not an honest or intellectually satisfying exercise.

  24. Jim Denham said,

    Mr Rodent: your claim about me was that “So neither you nor anyone of a similar political persuasion has ever had anything nice to say about any dodgy right wing politicians, in any country, ever. ”

    My answer remains the same: “No.”

    My stipulation is simple and clear: by “similar political persuasion” I must insist upon someone with whom I have or have had an orgainsational political link.

    On that basis, my challenge to you stands. Clear now?

  25. flyingrodent said,

    if someone wishes to cherry pick back to George Washington, then you have to disregard a large chunk of American political history along the way…

    That’s a very good and accurate point. Now, what if we caught somebody bluntly stating that American isolationism was ultimately just pro-Nazism, as embodied by sympathiser Charles Lindbergh?

    Well, we’d have some pretty weird associations – Thomas Jefferson as a proto-fascist, for instance; non-interventionists cast as the modern equivalents of actual Nazi cheerleaders, and “not invading and smashing up other people’s countries” cast as some frightful ideology.

    Which would be very, very silly indeed.

  26. flyingrodent said,

    Clear now?

    Crystal, Jimbo – as ever.

  27. Harry Tuttle said,

    Flying Rodent -

    For the most part I agree with you, but what you’re describing lies more in theory than in practice, at least as far as American history has played out. Had Lindbergh, rather than Washington, been the anomaly then American isolationism might have taken a very different path. Not that that should come as a surprise – even the Senate, which honors Washington annually with a reading of his farewell address, is far more concerned with upholding tradition than actually reflecting on the wisdom in said document.

  28. paul maleski said,

    Ron Paul does talk some patriotic sense!
    The grisly mass extermination of: Chinese, Russian and Asian Indians during the WW2, make the suffering of the gypsey and jew look insignificant in comparison. Always remember, the jew own: Hollywood, the international media and Washington D.C.; hence, our collective warped hood winked perception/deception of the period. After the war, many prominent isolationist American politicians wanted nothing to do with the creation of NATO. Just like Ron Paul, they had an expensive gutful of meddling in chaos beyond their shores.

  29. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    Doug Henwood on On the Federal Reserve and Ron Paulite shitbollox

    “I have noticed some strange, Ron Paul-ish stuff about the Federal Reserve around Occupy Wall Street. I do want to file a complaint about that.

    The Federal Reserve is admittedly manna for conspiracists. It’s a fairly opaque institution that does work for the big guys. But it’s not their puppet exactly. A friend who spent many years at the New York branch of the Fed once told me that within the institution, the thinking is that bankers are short-sighted critters who come and go but the Fed has to do the long-term thinking for the ruling class. So it has more autonomy than the popular tales allow.

    The founding of the Fed is also a great subject of mythmaking—like secret meetings involving more than a few Jews. (The conspiratorial mindset often overlaps with anti-Semitic stories about rootless cosmopolitans, their greed and scheming.) There were some secret meetings, but the creation of a central bank was a major project of the U.S. elite for decades around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th. There’s a great book on that topic by James Livingston that I urge anyone interested in the topic to read. It was a long, complex campaign, and not the task of a secret train ride to a remote island.

    Although the Fed does put U.S. interests first, it is internationally minded, and consults constantly with its foreign counterparts. This is also rich soil for conspiratorial thinking—that, plus, of course the Jews. (Greenspan. Bernanke. You’d almost forget that 1980s Fed chair Paul Volcker’s middle name is Adolph.) You know the story—dastardly plots involving foreign financiers (with names like Rothschild) whose victims are good patriotic Americans. As anyone who watches the Fed closely, like me, could tell you, that’s just not the case.

    And it’s tempting to see this body as controlling everything—it’s complicated and messy to think about how financial markets work, and the Fed’s relationship to those markets. Much easier to think of the Fed controlling everything. But in fact the Fed sometimes reacts to the markets, sometimes leads them, and on occasion fights with them.

    In the 1980s, the Federal Reserve under Paul Volcker ran a very tight ship. It deliberately provoked a deep recession in 1981-82 by driving up interest rates toward 20% to scare the pants of the working class. It was a very successful class war from above that led to a massive upward redistribution of income. More recently, the Fed handed out massive amounts of money—I’m not citing actual figures since they’re vague and mind-boggling, but they’re very big—with no strings attached to major banks. Something like this was necessary to keep everything from going down the drain, but it didn’t have to be done so secretly and with no accountability. Banks were basically given blank checks to restore the status quo ante bustum. That’s terrible. You could say the same for the TARP bailout—massive giveaways with no accountability or restrictions. This is all odious.

    But more recently, Fed chair Ben Bernanke has been about the only major policymaker in the world pushing for more stimulus for the U.S. economy. He’s not a partisan of austerity, like the Republicans or much of the pundit class. For this he’s earned some criticisms on the right. The right would be happy to let things go down to prove a point. They think we need a “purgation.” I was recently on a panel with a Fed-hating libertarian who invoked the concept of “purgatory,” as if we’ve all sinned. But that would create far more misery than we know now.

    There’s a video (#OWS Protester Nails It! Federal Reserve) of an Occupy Wall Street protester calling for an end to the Fed and urging a vote for Ron Paul. It, and the comments, are straight out of the right-wing critique of the Fed. I’ve seen signs calling for that around the occupation. This is bad news. Ron Paul has a coherent political philosophy. He’s a libertarian. He may hate imperial war, but he also hates Social Security and Medicare. The reason he wants to end the Fed is that he wants to get the state out of the money business and return to a 19th century gold standard. A gold standard is painfully austere. The gold supply increases by less than 2% a year. That means tremendous pressure on average incomes. It’s great if you’re a big bondholder, but hell if you’re a regular person. When we were on a gold standard in the 19th century we had frequent panics, crises, and depressions. Almost half of the last three decades of the 19th century was spent in recession or depression. It put both rural farmers and urban workers through the wringer.

    We need to democratize the Fed, open it up, and subject money to more humane and less upper-class-friendly regulation. But let’s not sign on with Ron Paul, please. And let’s not join with the simple-minded right-wing critique that blames all of capitalism’s systemic problems on government institutions.”

    http://lbo-news.com/2011/10/13/on-ows-and-the-fed/

  30. Ron Pauls rechte Verbindungen « Entdinglichung said,

    [...] es soll ja tatsächlich Linke geben, die den „libertären Republikaner“ Ron Paul für unterstützenswert halten … auf der Webseite von Searchlight dazu ein Artikel: Ron Paul, the American Third Position Party and Stormfront sowie auf Shiraz Socialist der Artikel Ron Paul: the “left”‘s favourite racist, antisemite and homophobe?: [...]

  31. Jim Denham said,

  32. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

  33. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

  34. Der Mehrwert des Rassismus « rhizom said,

    [...] positiv hervor. Im Unterschied zu den interessierten Skandalartikeln von Neokonservativen und linken Bellizisten spricht er nämlich ehrlich aus, wie nicht nur Dr. Pauls Ghostwriter vor 20 Jahren, sondern ein [...]

  35. Der Mehrwert des Rassismus « Auf dem Dao-Weg said,

    [...] Im Unterschied zu den interessierten Skandalartikeln von Neokonservativen und jenes kleinen Kreiseslinker Bellizisten, den es bedauerlicherweise auch in den USA gibt, spricht er nämlich ehrlich aus, wie nicht nur Dr. [...]

  36. Let’s have a look at Ron Paul, shall we? « Representing the Mambo said,

    [...] this piece over at Shiraz Socialist shows, his views on most issues are irredeemably reactionary and he has consorted with all sorts of [...]

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