Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, and the Perils of Paleolibertarianism

Some polls are predicting that Ron Paul might win the Iowa caucases next week.  As a result of this, Paul is under intense media scrutiny, and the primary center of attention is some newsletters sent out under Paul's name in the 1990s, which suggest racist bigotry.

This is not a new story.  The journalistic reports--including that from the New York Times--are restating what has already been reported years ago in the libertarian media world.  In the 1990s, Paul was captivated by the influence of Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell, who were trying to promote a "paleolibertarian" movement that would  bring together libertarians with American Southern traditionalists tracing their roots back to John C. Calhoun and the defenders of American slavery.

American libertarians have recognized the strange and incoherent character of this movement, as indicated by this recent blog by Matt Welch and an earlier blog on

The evidence suggests that the bigoted newsletters were written by Lew Rockwell.  Ron Paul did not write them.  But because of his long friendship with Rockwell, he cannot bring himself to publicly identify Rockwell as the author and repudiate what Rockwell wrote.

Behind all of this is the strange career of Rothbard who fostered the paleolibertarian movement.  Rothbard and I had some common interests in the defense of libertarianism as rooted in a natural law/natural right/Darwinian conception of human liberty.  I met him on one occasion, and we corresponded over the years.  But he was too easily seduced by some strange positions that did not fit well with his libertarian thought.

Just as Barack Obama was forced to repudiate the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Ron Paul will be forced (I hope) to repudiate Lew Rockwell.

1 comment:

Captainchaos said...

Mr. Amhart,

Ethnocentricity is an evolved trait. We cannot seek to eradicate it without doing violence to ourselves. Kin-directed beneficence is the only evolutionarily stable basis for altruism; so naturally, and as should be obvious anyway, racial diversity is an acid which dissolves social capital.