Ron Paul, Ayn Rand and the many facets of libertarianism
…there is nothing in Ron Paul’s politics that can offer any point of connection with people who consider themselves to be left-wing.
This is fully correct. Ron Paul is a traditional constitutionalist, meaning that he endorses the strict limitations on government designed by the founding fathers of the US. His platform is a very traditional Republican platform of free markets and individual liberty at home, combined with non-interventionism abroad. It’s not something of which a socialist (or, for that matter, a fascist or any other form of statist) could approve except for purely tactical political reasons.
One point I would like to clarify with respect to Donagh’s article is the association of Dr. Paul with Ayn Rand. The first thing to note is that Paul’s philosophy of freedom was born approximately 150 years prior to Rand’s Objectivism. While libertarianism has been influenced by many thinkers throughout the centuries, the libertarianism espoused by Dr. Paul is very strict constitutionalism, an approach to government which does not experience substantial change.
Rand departs from Dr. Paul in her distinctive metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics: Ron Paul does not run on a theoretical philosophical platform and would not endorse Rand’s atheistic worldview even if he did. Their political positions do share some similarities, but even within politics, they differ hugely in foreign affairs and in strategy. So while Dr. Paul might admire Rand very much for her contribution to libertarian thought, and even be influenced by her writings (as can be heard in the video below), it should be clear that he thinks about politics from an altogether different perspective.
The lesson for the uninitiated is that the libertarian spectrum is multi-faceted, lacking any clear definition. The explanation at Wikipedia is fully accurate to my mind; libertarianism is described not merely as a political philosophy, but as a collection of political philosophies centred on a common theme: liberty. Ron Paul’s forthcoming book, The Revolution, may yet prove to define freedom for a new generation, but there will still be Objectivists, neo-libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and many others fighting their corner.