Irish Liberty Forum

Ron Paul, Ayn Rand and the many facets of libertarianism

with 8 comments

I stumbled upon an interesting post by Donagh over at Dublin Opinion regarding the US presidential campaign of Ron Paul. Donagh agrees with Counterpunch writer Sherry Wolf that:

…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.


Written by Graham

February 5, 2008 at 7:02 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Who is Ron Paul?


    February 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm

  2. And yet curiously Mr. Paul tends on certain social views to be pretty interventionist in terms of saying what people can or cannot do. A very traditional Republican indeed. Like your site…


    February 6, 2008 at 9:27 pm

  3. Excuse me, would you please explain if you are saying that this site follows in the Republican tradition? And which social views of Paul are you referring to as interventionist? Thanks!


    February 7, 2008 at 7:32 am

  4. I would not consider myself a Republican. In fact i would gladly vote for Obama or Clinton over any Republican bar Ron Paul. Both parties believe in state control over the economy and people’s lives. They are both big spenders, at least the Dems would have the sense to pay for it now, rather increase the national debt.


    February 7, 2008 at 3:36 pm

  5. Sorry Graham, my last sentence was meant to read “I like your site…”. The dangers of posting late. Re Paul… consider his view on abortion where he himself is pro-life and is willing to let states set laws on it as they see fit…


    February 7, 2008 at 8:33 pm

  6. I’m glad you like the site! Thanks for clearing that up. I think Dermot makes a lot of sense (though I would not actually cast a vote, for reasons I will have to explain at a later time).


    February 7, 2008 at 8:52 pm

  7. […] un scurt comentariu (pescuit in seara asta de pe Irish Liberty Forum : Ron Paul, Ayn Rand and the many facets of libertarianism) care exprima destul de bine ceea ce eu […]

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