Ron Paul And Libertarian Orthodoxy

There’s been much discussion here in the days since the Paul newsletter story broke about the extent to which some Ron Paul supporters seem to have the view that calling oneself a libertarian obligates you to support the Paul campaign.

Apropos of that discussion, I was recently clued into this “Open Letter To Libertarians” written by Walter Block and posted on Lew Rockwell’s site:

In my view, the “Ron Paul question” constitutes a litmus test for libertarians. Simply put, the “Ron Paul question” consists of determining whether or not a person supports Dr. Paul. If so, as I see matters, he passes this test and can be constituted a libertarian; if not, his credentials are to that extent suspect.

I’ve read much of what Block has written over the years and generally thought of him as a reasonable person, but this one quote symbolizes for me what is wrong with the Rockwellian brand of libertarianism. Unless you support us, they say, you’re not a real libertarian.

And it seems to be an orthodoxy that the campaign’s supporters picked up on, as I noted in this comment:

Over the past year, I have posted about Ron Paul because the campaign was an important issue for libertarians. I’ve praised where I thought he deserved prasie and criticized him where I thought he deserved criticism.

And when I criticized, I got attacked — mostly, not so much for my ideas but because I dared to attack St. Ron. This caused me to become more and more skeptical about this campaign and whether it will amount to anything in the struggle for liberty.

But I was still rooting for him, because people were talking about libertarian ideas on CNN, FOX, and elsewhere.

At one point I had even written a post that I intended to publish on my personal blog formally endorsing his candidacy. Then in December the Stormfront story started coming out, and I held back. Frankly, after this latest fiasco, I am glad that I did. Last week, I finally deleted the draft of that post.

You might disagree with my opinion, but it is mine. And I think the worst thing that has come out of this campaign has been the assertion by some that if you don’t support Ron Paul, you’re not a “real” libertarian.

And how are the high priests reaction ? Almost like nothing happened:

There is, I suspect, little joy in Auburn right now. That the crew at LRC is responding to these events in much the same way that they’ve always mocked the Randroids for acting is telling. Hopefully that behavior is driven by genuine shock and confusion rather than by knowledge of their own culpability in what’s fast turning into a combination black eye, broken jaw and diagnosis of venereal disease for the libertarian movement.

We’ll be talking about this one for awhile, I think.