Ron Paul, Alex Jones and the politics of selfishness

screen-captureTwo of the more outspoken critics of the American government and corporate America are Texan Alex Jones and fellow Texan, Republican Congressman Ron Paul that he frequently endorses. Both have gathered quite a small but dedicated following on the internet for their anti-establishment stances. The reasons are understandable. Jones is a bombastic Texan who offers sensational explanations for America’s problems usually revolving around conspiracy theories that involve secret societies and government run population control experiments. Paul meantime maintains that 9-11 was an “inside job” which endears him to the disillusioned and pissed-off youth of America and beyond.

Jones campaigns that American society is heading towards a fascist nightmare and being plunged into a “New World Order” but the solutions his hero Paul advocates would in reality be even more right-wing, extreme and cynical than anything that exists today. The main tenet of Paul’s philosophy is removal of all government in favor of pure free market forces. This idea is sometimes known as libertarianism and is enshrined by organisations such as The Campaign for Liberty. Paul believes that all of America’s economic problems would be solved naturally if market forces were allowed to run unhindered by government. This was illustrated in a recent interview on CNN’s Larry King Live when Paul went head-to-head with Michael Moore. Paul said the solution to the ailing health-care system is to allow the free market to sort it out and for the government to get out of the way.

Paul is also popular for his anti-war stance and demanding a full withdrawal from American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. His political philosophy is that America should stay completely out of other country’s affairs including withdrawal of American military bases around the world. This sounds all very well but does this mean that he would also withdraw the country from those organizations like the UN that – however currently flawed – are committed to maintaining peace in the world? If so, what he is advocating for America is an “I’m alright Jack” policy that turns it’s back on the rest of the world.

Paul’s solution is that the world is run by private tyrannies accountable to no-one but themselves which would be a dream for corporate America. He’s saying that hundreds of years of popular struggle to secure working rights, civil rights and some modicum of democracy should be thrown out of the window. If he is really advocating this, then they he is as bad, if not worse, than the current system he so tirelessly criticizes.

Either, people like Jones and Paul have little concern for the future of the vast majority of the population or they simply haven’t thought through their positions enough.

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Ron Paul, Alex Jones and the politics of selfishness

  1. Nick – Are you sure Ron Paul has come out on 9/11? I thought he was under fire for avoiding the subject. Also, be careful bandying about the “extremist” tag. It literally means someone on the margins, as in “extremo” and carries no political colour in itself, but is now used as a euphemism for mad or dangerous. I think Jones and Paul, as constitutionalists, would hardly have been considered extreme in the US sixty years ago.

    Claiming that the UN is “committed to maintaining peace in the world” is a huge and unfounded assumption. It would be the same as claiming that the UN is democratic and accountable. Where’s the proof? What about the Rwanda debacle? Why didn’t the UN security council block the invasion of Afghanistan? Why didn’t they act over the invasion of Iraq and the current assault on Pakistan?

    And it’s not only Jones who thinks the US has descended into “some kind of fascist nightmare”. Many darlings of the left such as Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf have spoken about this too. It seems unfair not to mention them and then to portray Jones and Paul as paranoid right-wingers.

    And I think you’ve simplified Paul’s economic policies to a ridiculous degree – not that I’m a big fan of his or and expert…

  2. Nick, I think it’s good that you’ve changed your thinking with regards to Ron Paul. Incidentally, he is committed to quitting NATO and the UN, as well as the re-introduction of gold as the only legal tender. The lunatic.

  3. I doubt Nick has changed his mind on anything here. He’s merely attempting to get more clicks and hits 😉

    By the way,
    “he is committed to… the re-introduction of gold as the only legal tender.”

    prove it!

  4. Well, I guess you don’t need me to tell you what Nick’s up to then. So what?

    Here’s Wikipedia’s coverage of Ron Paul on the gold standard including direct quotes which dispel your over-simplification of his position(but, no offence meant here):

    “were some shortcomings of the gold standard of the 19th century … because it was a fixed price and caused confusion.” He argues that hard money, such as backed by gold or silver, would prevent inflation, but adds, “I wouldn’t exactly go back on the gold standard but I would legalize the constitution where gold and silver should and could be legal tender, which would restrain the Federal Government from spending and then turning that over to the Federal Reserve and letting the Federal Reserve print the money.”[107]

  5. Thanks for the comments and let’s keep it civil :). I assure you that my motive here is to simply help clarify my own opinions and ideas (and maybe those of the people that read it) and I’m very grateful to anyone that comments and helps me do this. I’m not making any money from clicks or anything and get no pleasure from lots of clicks if what I’m saying is complete garbage!

    @Jon, Ron Paul & “Inside Job” – Apologies on that. I’ve checked it out and you’re right in saying he has never quite gone as far as saying that. He’s merely been very critical of the 9-11 commission shortcomings and appeared in the Loose Change documentary about it being an inside job.

    @”Extremists”, Fair point. “Extremists” is widely open to interpretation nowadays and maybe an unfortunate choice of words. Some people on the right might consider me an extremist for some of the views expressed on here. For want of a better word then, I’ve changed it to “outspoken” for now.

    @”Claiming that the UN is “committed to maintaining peace in the world” is a huge and unfounded assumption.”. The foundations of the UN charter are quite clear and enshrine those of peace and justice:

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/preamble.shtml

    I don’t think this is controversial unless you believe it was founded by Bilderbergers or some other secret society with a hidden agenda intent on taking over the world. However, the UN is not functioning properly mainly because it is constantly dominated and it’s decisions vetoed (read “bullied”) by an elite few, principally the USA.

    @”It’s not only Jones who thinks the US has descended into “some kind of fascist nightmare””. Fair point and I’ve changed that bit slightly. In fact, I’m wrong to say that Jones (or Chomsky and Klein) have said the USA are definitively fascist yet. They’ve all merely pointed out that the USA is displaying fascist tendencies and I can’t find anything where any of them say it is definitively fascist.

    @”I think you’ve simplified Paul’s economic policies to a ridiculous degree”. It seems to me that Paul is only concerned with dismantling the tyranny of the state but not that of corporations. It’s unbelievably naive to believe that a society that’s bereft of any kind of control over corporations will lead to a just and humane society. I don’t think I’ve oversimplified the basis of Paul’s economic theory but if you have evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

    @Tom, “I think it’s good that you’ve changed your thinking with regards to Ron Paul.” I’ve never supported Ron Paul although some his libertarian ideas I do identify with more than most other Republicans or Democrats. For example, I do think NATO – like the UN – is at least in desperate need of reform, if not disbanding. This is hardly a controversial view as Amnesty International pointed out in 2000:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/780547.stm

    @The Gold standard, I’d also agree with Paul on this issue i.e. a return to the Gold Standard and the principles of Bretton Woods which at least sought to constrain the ravages of capital over society. Without it, capital has run rampant the results of which are all too clear today.

  6. Pingback: Re: Ron Paul, Alex Jones and the politics of selfishness « My Reply Around the Net

  7. Don’t worry about that and thanks for straighting me out on several points. These posts are supposed to stimulate debate and hopefully further understanding on certain issues (including my own motives if need be!) and as long as people can do that respectfully and backup or accept their points being refuted with rationale – which generally has been the case so far here – no one has any reason to be offended or “rubbed-up the wrong way” as you say.

  8. Hi Nick,

    Continuing the Ron Paul debate… when Paul says he doesn’t believe that the current financial crisis should be blamed on free market capitalism, he’s simply highlighting a common misdiagnosis which fails to hold accountable the real architects of the crisis, ie the Wall Street banks and their government agents (Summers, Geithner, Volker, etc). These were the people who urged Clinton to sign the 1999 ‘Financial Services Modernization Act’ (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) which overturned the 66-year Glass-Steagal Act introduced by FDR to stop commercial banks merging with investment banks and gambling with people’s savings. The result of the 1999 Act has been the criminally rampant speculation by the banks and the hedge fund fiasco. Then came the bailouts which have so far accounted for $1.5 trillion of taxpayer money – two thirds of the US’ annual GDP. Ron Paul opposed the 1999 Act just as he opposes the bailouts now. They simply serve to repeat the same cycle and consolidate the position of the big banks by killing off their weaker competitors.

    In an ideal world, governments might be entrusted to regulate financial markets. But this is 21st century USA where the reality has been a catalogue of conflicts of interest. Paulson was CEO of Goldman Sachs for 32 years and bailed out AIG to save his shares in Goldman Sachs – allegedly close to $4.6 million (AIG are Goldman Sachs’ biggest trading partners). Former Fed CEO Geithner rescued Goldman Sachs and appointed a former GS lobbyist as his right-hand man. No wonder Ron Paul opposes government intervention!

    You also say that Paul is ‘only concerned with dismantling the tyranny of the state but not that of corporations’, yet he is very clear on the distinction between capitalism and corporatism. On the Larry King show which you mention, he is swift to condemn corporatism, saying ‘Special privileges for corporations is a big problem.’

    Personally I’m the last person to defend capitalism, but if we’re to get to the root of the crisis we need to look not just at the system but also at those bent on exploiting and perverting it for massive personal gain, especially when they’re the same people being entrusted to get us out of it.

    And finally… if the UN really is a neutral, international peace-keeping force, why is the president of the most bellicose nation in the world allowed to chair its Security Council?

    Looking forward to seeing you back in Barneytown for some real live late-night debate over a shawarma and a shandy…

    Cheers,

    Dave

  9. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for all that and I’m definitely looking forward to the schwarma and catching up properly. I guess the debate will have to take place here for now in the absence of internet schwarmas (although there’s probably an iPhone app for that by now).

    You’re coming at this from the position that the problem has been caused by individuals within the system, than the system itself. But the problem is the other way round. It’s the state-corporate system (or what’s inaccurately known as “free market capitalism”) that’s fundamentally behind the problems and the greedy individuals that caused them.

    I think this only takes two seconds to realize too. Coerced by huge systems of power, the vast majority of humans will reflect the system they live in. Since to put it mildly, the current financial system encourages greed, the actors at the top of that system i.e the Wall Street bankers like Paulson you mention will also be greedy. They might be lovely charitable people in their spare time outside of that system with their friends, family etc but within the system, they act like psychopaths because the system is psychotic. To take an extreme example, if you look at Nazi Germany, it’s hard for most people nowadays to conceive how people could be so heinous. Even many of those that participated in Nazi atrocities look back and wonder what the hell possessed them to be so brutal. But they acted like monsters because the Nazi system was monstrous.

    Corporate systems are similarly monstrous. There’s a great book by US lawyer Joel Bakan called “The Corporation” (and brought to a wider audience in Mark Achbar’s documentary of the same name) in which he quite rightly, compares the personality of a corporation to a human being. Since by law, US corporations are now afforded the same legal rights as human beings, this is a wholly justified analysis. Following the clinical definition of what constitutes a psychotic personality, his conclusion is that coporations tick all the right boxes and are psychotic by deifnition i.e. in the pursuit of profit as the absolute bottom line and their raison d’etre, they have no remorse, no concern for the wellbeing of others, no ability to empathise etc. Corporations are he says, “Singularly self-interested and unable to feel genuine concern for others in any context.” It’s no surprise then those that work at the top of some of America’s biggest and most powerful insitutions pursue the same psychotic ends no matter what social chaos or financial hardship they cause to wider society.

    @”Paul is is swift to condemn corporatism, saying ‘Special privileges for corporations is a big problem.’” This is exactly why Paul is missing the point. Special privileges for big corporations is just a symptom of the larger problem – i.e. the psychotic irrational, greedy corporate system described above. It’s the underlying foundations of the corporate system Paul so wholeheartedly believes will “deliver us from evil” in that is the “big problem”.

    Picking-off individuals for their greed is a superficial solution to a deeper problem. As long as the current system remains in place (and that certainly does not mean exposing us all even further to the mercies of psychotic corporations as Ron Paul advocates) there will be millions more ready, willing and able to take the place of Paulson, the Wall Street bankers and state “regulators” that caused this problem.

    That said, the current system was built by humans and can equally be dismantled by humans. It’s just that those that believe in a particularly brutal financial system that enriches an elite few are the ones that have monopolized and perverted power to impose it on the rest of us. But that’s why democratic rights have been so bitterly fought for – to ensure popular will has some bearing on the powerful and it’s by reclaiming that democratic system – and improving it – that the solutions lie. It’s certainly not by heading towards the regulation free corporate utopia that Paul dreams of.

    @”If the UN really is a neutral, international peace-keeping force, why is the president of the most bellicose nation in the world allowed to chair its Security Council?” Because of exactly the reason I gave Jon in my previous comment i.e.: “The UN is not functioning properly mainly because it is constantly dominated and it’s decisions vetoed (read “bullied”) by an elite few, principally the USA.”

  10. Dude – you are way off on Paul’s stance on 911…If you’re going to paint yourself as a freelance journalist, at least try and do some honest research. You’ve embarrassed yourself with this story.

  11. I did address this in an earlier comment but I’ll post it again for your benefit:

    “@Ron Paul & “Inside Job” – Apologies on that. I’ve checked it out and you’re right in saying he has never quite gone as far as saying that. He’s merely been very critical of the 9-11 commission shortcomings and appeared in the Loose Change documentary about it being an inside job.”

    Apologies to Paul and his supporters for getting that detail wrong.

  12. @”Claiming that the UN is “committed to maintaining peace in the world” is a huge and unfounded assumption.”. The foundations of the UN charter are quite clear and enshrine those of peace and justice”

    Haha so what? And the Constitution is the law of our land, but do we follow it?

  13. “You’re coming at this from the position that the problem has been caused by individuals within the system, than the system itself. But the problem is the other way round. It’s the state-corporate system (or what’s inaccurately known as “free market capitalism”) that’s fundamentally behind the problems and the greedy individuals that caused them.”

    Nick, I think you’ll find that many free market capitalists would argue that you’re wrong. The present corporatist network forms – more or less – a huge spiderweb monopoly of inter-related companies and banks that hang like a cloud over the world ignoring borders and flouting rules. Real competition hardly exists. Unilever competes with itself in many cases. Pepsi has heavy ties with Coca Cola and so on. Small business ventures can come up and compete against the big boys, but if they get too successful there’ll be pressure on them to sell up to the corporations or have a price war on their hands, which the corps will win easily.
    On the other hand, free market capitalists would argue that it is competition that is the engine of the economy. What we increasingly have with corporatism is a monolith merging itself with the world’s governments. It might seem ironic, but for Free market capitalism to work there would have to be regulations to oppose such monopolies.

  14. Haha, well if I believed that US domination of the UN had been concocted by Bilderbergers I’d agree. As it is, I think it’s simply a natural result of the most powerful state in the world hijacking it to serve it’s own state-corporate interests.

    On the latter point, I agree with you completely. Much of world trade and economic “growth” is simply due to internal trade – i.e.shifting money between different branches of the same company. And I absolutely agree that regulations are necessary if states are to re-assert their sovereignty over this global casino state of affairs.

    But I don’t quite understand how this relates to human behavior being shaped by the power systems they are subjected to (which is what my quote was addressing)…

  15. Ah, I see. I thought you were still insisting that free market capitalism was the problem. sorry.

    Well, there could be something to what you say about systems, but does that mean “the vast majority” of people caught up in a system no longer have the free will to do the ‘right’ thing? I wouldn’t agree with that. Surely even the Nazi Officers had the sense that they we’re crossing a line when they rounded on the Jewish population. I think, apart from the youths, the Germans were coerced by fear of Hitler’s authority rather than by ideology or cultural hegemony. And many Germans resisted Nazism.

    And when you talk about capitalism leading to a greedy dynamic, in my view people don’t necessarily become a holographic representation of the state their living in and especially not on ideological grounds. If we talk about Communism and Chairman Mao, it becomes clear from reading about Mao Tse Tung that he had no real interest in Communism, but saw how he could use it to harness power, and there were many others like him. Power is the main drive among the leading class (and wannabe leading class) and survival is the main drive for all the rest. And if it means joining a committee or waving flag so that your family isn’t persecuted, then the choice is easy. But that doesn’t mean that in a deep sense that they’ve become as one with the system.

  16. @”Does that mean “the vast majority” of people caught up in a system no longer have the free will to do the ‘right’ thing?”

    Definitely not. As we now know, there were plenty of clear-headed conscientious objectors to what Hitler was doing but I think it’s safe to say they were a minority.

    @”Surely even the Nazi Officers had the sense that they we’re crossing a line when they rounded on the Jewish population. I think, apart from the youths, the Germans were coerced by fear of Hitler’s authority rather than by ideology or cultural hegemony.”

    But that totally discounts the crucial contribution Goebbels propaganda machine made to the Nazi regime. I’m sure Hitler’s authority had an intimidating effect once he’d installed a virtual dictatorship. But up until that point, Germany was a democracy and the problem for powerful elites is that you can’t coerce people so easily in a democracy. Therefore you have to win their hearts and minds. Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state. Hitler knew he couldn’t fully control the population by force – that’s why he employed Goebbels to convince them that the were fighting the enemy within. Remember that Goebbels put so much effort into perfecting “the bigger the lie, the more the masses believe it” because it was so effective. Hitler’s methods in this respect were widely respected by Western leaders after the war who were impressed with the way he’d managed to turn one of the most educated and highly cultured societies in the world into savage animals baying for Jewish blood. As a result, I don’t think many Nazi officers even sensed they were “crossing a line” when they rounded-up the Jews. And even if they did, they justified the genocide by thinking that they were eliminating Germany’s economic and social problems. They were certainly afraid of Hitler yes, but they had to have the humanity beaten out of them by the propaganda system before they could commit such atrocities. The same basic methods are used by powerful elites today. They know that they have to whip-up the public into a frenzy over an enemy to go to war or decieive them to commit crimes right under their nose.

    @”And when you talk about capitalism leading to a greedy dynamic, in my view people don’t necessarily become a holographic representation of the state their living in and especially not on ideological grounds”. I completely agree but I was talking about the effect of those working within the corporate-capitalist system, not the state. For example, The CEO of General Motors must put profit and shareholder dividend before every other human or environmental value. If he didn’t, he would be fired simple as that. As I said before, he could be as nice as pie outside of his job – a lovely humanitarian guy – but within his institutional role, he has to act like a monster because the institution is monstrous. If he doesn’t internalize those inhuman values, then he loses his job.

    @”If we talk about Communism and Chairman Mao, it becomes clear from reading about Mao Tse Tung that he had no real interest in Communism, but saw how he could use it to harness power, and there were many others like him.” That’s a universal fact though. I don’t think any leader in history has any interest in the true values of a system whether it’s communism or capitalism. From Mao Tse Tung to Gordon Brown, they all have to pervert the values of the system to serve the interests of the powerful.

    @”Power is the main drive among the leading class (and wannabe leading class) and survival is the main drive for all the rest. And if it means joining a committee or waving flag so that your family isn’t persecuted, then the choice is easy. But that doesn’t mean that in a deep sense that they’ve become as one with the system.” I agree. And people are faced with a very stark choice nowadays in terms of feeding their family and being out on the streets. And as I described above, the corporate structure is very effective at forcing people to internalise these values and carry them out otherwise the economic consequences for you and your family are dire.

    That doesn’t mean that plenty of people don’t rebel against that system however. I agree that most humans have a fundamental “instinct” for freedom no matter what horrendous power systems they’re subjected to and it’s that instinct that’s brought us progress through the ages.

  17. I really woner if a lot of people have seen how crazy some of Ron pauls domestic policies are. The man is nuts.

    I understand that there is a lot of patroitism in this country and their is some horrible shit going on in this country, but ron paul and alex jones are not the answer. Going back to 19th century economics is not the answer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s