Ron Paul and Extremism: Discover It Again, for the First Time

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 26 2011 9:30 AM

Ron Paul and Extremism: Discover It Again, for the First Time

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Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul speaks during a town hall meeting in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on December 21, 2011. Paul, courting Iowa voters who are key to his campaign, called Wednesday for a 'minding our own business' foreign policy and an end to 'perpetual war.' AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times finally does a big take-out on Ron Paul's ties to the seamier* sides of the conservative movement. No disrespect intended, but... well, what took so long? Here's one of the key points in the story, explaining why Ron Paul's allies thought they should go after racists and convert them to the cause.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

As the Libertarian standard bearer, Mr. Paul won less than 1 percent of the vote. After the election, as libertarians searched for ways to broaden the appeal of their ideology, Mr. Rockwell and Mr. Rothbard advocated a coalition of libertarians and so-called paleoconservatives, who unlike hawkish “neocons” were socially conservative, noninterventionist and opposed to what they viewed as state-enforced multiculturalism.
In the Rothbard-Rockwell Report they started in 1990, Mr. Rothbard called for a “Right Wing Populism,” suggesting that the campaign for governor of Louisiana by David Duke, the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, was a model for “paleolibertarianism.”
“It is fascinating that there was nothing in Duke’s current program or campaign that could not also be embraced by paleoconservatives or paleolibertarians,” he wrote.
Arguing that too many libertarians were embracing a misplaced egalitarianism, Mr. Rockwell wrote in Liberty magazine: “There is nothing wrong with blacks preferring the ‘black thing.’ But paleolibertarians would say the same about whites preferring the ‘white thing’ or Asians the ‘Asian thing.’ ”
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This is new to the Paper of Record, but Julian Sanchez and I wrote about this -- these two exact essays -- nearly four years ago.

Rockwell explained the thrust of the idea in a 1990 Liberty essay entitled "The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism." To Rockwell, the LP was a "party of the stoned," a halfway house for libertines that had to be "de-loused." To grow, the movement had to embrace older conservative values. "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."
The most detailed description of the strategy came in an essay Rothbard wrote for the January 1992Rothbard-Rockwell Report, titled "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement." Lamenting that mainstream intellectuals and opinion leaders were too invested in the status quo to be brought around to a libertarian view, Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes. (Duke, a former Klansman, was discussed in strikingly similar terms in a 1990 Ron Paul Political Report.) These groups could be mobilized to oppose an expansive state, Rothbard posited, by exposing an "unholy alliance of 'corporate liberal' Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America."

Why has it taken four years for these public domain facts to become "news"? How did Paul slide through a year of televised debates, where his rivals were asked about their opinions of "submission" in marriage and accusations of affairs, and never get a question about this stuff? Paul's associations haven't changed in four years. His explanations haven't changed. You can see why Paul's fans might get annoyed or paranoid about this. They thought they'd litigated this stuff already, and earned a pass.

*fixed

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.