Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Moyers

This evening, Bill Moyers held excellent interviews with Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, two candidates who have been more or less excluded from serious coverage by the mainstream media. Ron Paul, in fact, has been excluded from the next Fox News debate, despite his respectable 10% showing in Iowa, while Kuinich has been “dis-invited” by ABC as well as being excluded from the Des Moines Register debate (which even had Alan Keys, for crying out loud). Both candidates conducted themselves well, especially Ron Paul. Bill himself did a good job; in largely sympathetic interviews, he nevertheless challenged the candidates on some of their more problematic points. Moyers pointed out to Ron Paul that it is the private media, and not the federal government, that has excluded him. I don't think Paul had a good answer on this point, because libertarians generally don't. Libertarians generally don't like to acknowledge the fact that private owners, when they become too rich, can raise barriers to free markets just as effectively as the government can. The point that my libertarian friends never get is that free markets are created by regulation of a certain sort, just as they are destroyed by regulation of another sort. It is important to be able to tell one sort from the other.

Kucinich was taken to task for his rather odd “endorsement” of Barack Obama in Iowa, bypassing some candidates that may have more affinity with his point of view. In any case, they were very good interviews, much better than what one usually on television. The interview with Ron Paul can be seen here and the one with Dennis Kucinich here.


John Kindley Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 4:02:00 PM CST  

If you don't mind, I think I'll take an even lazier way of commenting than I have previously where I quoted my own blog posts and quote here Karl Hess on the right-left spectrum. It provides a distinction that I'd meant to make in reference to your previous post on "The Left and Ron Paul." The Left as described here seems to accord almost exactly with distributism, but includes very libertarian conclusions that most distributists aren't inclined to make. Karl Hess located himself on the farthest left of this spectrum, as do I:

“My own notion of politics is that it follows a straight line rather than a circle. The straight line stretches from the far right where (historically) we find monarchy, absolute dictatorships, and other forms of absolutely authoritarian rule. On the far right, law and order means the law of the ruler and the order that serves the interest of that ruler, usually the orderliness of drone workers, submissive students, elders either totally cowed into loyalty or totally indoctrinated and trained into that loyalty. Both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler operated right-wing regimes, politically, despite the trappings of socialism with which both adorned their regimes. Huey Long, when governor-boss of Louisiana, was moving toward a truly right-wing regime, also adorned with many trappings of socialism (particularly public works and welfare) but held together not by social benefits but by a strong police force and a steady flow of money to subsidize and befriend businessmen.

An American President could be said to move toward the right to the extent that he tended to make absolutely unilateral political decisions, with no reference to Congress, for instance, or to the people generally, and when the legitimacy of the regime was supported or made real more by sheer force, say of police power, than by voluntary allegiance from the people generally. Such a regime, also, would be likely to suppress or to swallow up potentially competing centers of power such as trade unions. Major financial interests, however, if Adolf Hitler’s relations with industry, for example, can be considered instructive, would be bought off, rather than fought off, with fat contracts and a continuing opportunity to enrich their owners. Joseph Stalin, of course, had no problem with anything such as independent trade unions or business, since both had been killed off earlier.

“The overall characteristic of a right-wing regime, no matter the details of difference between this one and that one, is that it reflects the concentration of power in the fewest practical hands.

“Power, concentrated in few hands, is the dominant historic characteristic of what most people, in most times, have considered the political and economic right wing.

“The far left, as far as you can get away from the right, would logically represent the opposite tendency and, in fact, has done just that throughout history. The left has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.

“Just as the scale along this line would show gradations of the right, so would it show gradations of the left.

“Before getting to a far-right monarchy or dictatorship, there are many intermediate right-wing positions. Some are called conservative.

“Somewhere along the line, for instance, a certain concentration of power, particularly economic power, would be acceptable in the name of tradition. The children of the rich, characteristically, are accorded very special places in the regimes of the right, or of conservatives. Also, there is a great deference to stability and a preference for it rather than change — all other things being equal. Caution might be the watchword toward the center of this right-wing scale, simply a go-slow attitude. That is, admittedly, a long way from the far right and dictatorship, but it is a way that can and should be measured on a straight line. The natural preference for law and order that seems such a worthwhile and innocent conservative preference is from a political tradition that came to us from kings and emperors, not from ancient democracy.

“This hardly means that every conservative, if pressed, will go farther and farther right until embracing absolute dictatorship or monarchy. Far from it. It does mean to suggest only that the ghosts of royal power whisper in the conservative tradition.

“The left shows similar gradations. The farthest left you can go, historically at any rate, is anarchism — the total opposition to any institutionalized power, a state of completely voluntary social organization in which people would establish their ways of life in small, consenting groups, and cooperate with others as they see fit.

“The attitude on that farthest left toward law and order was summed up by an early French anarchist, Proudhon, who said that ‘order is the daughter of and not the mother of liberty.’ Let people be absolutely free, says this farthest of the far, far left (the left that Communism regularly denounces as too left; Lenin called it ‘infantile left’). If they are free they will be decent, but they never can be decent until they are free. Concentrated power, bureaucracy, et cetera, will doom that decency. A bit further along the left line there might be some agreement or at least sympathy with this left libertarianism but, it would be said, there are practical and immediate reasons for putting off that sort of liberty. People just aren’t quite ready for it. Roughly, that’s the position of the Communist Party today...

“At any rate, at some point on the spectrum there is the great modern American liberal position. Through a series of unfortunate but certainly understandable distortions of political terminology, the liberal position has come to be known as a left-wing position. Actually, it lies right alongside the conservative tradition, down toward the middle of the line, but decidedly, I think, to the right of its center. Liberals believe in concentrated power — in the hands of liberals, the supposedly educated and genteel elite. They believe in concentrating that power as heavily and effectively as possible. They believe in great size of enterprise, whether corporate or political, and have a great and profound disdain for the homely and the local. They think nationally but they also think globally and now even intergalactically. Actually, because they believe in far more authoritarian rule than a lot of conservatives, it probably would be best to say that liberals lie next to but actually to the right of many conservatives.”

John Médaille Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 5:23:00 PM CST  

John, with respect, Hess is engaging in mere propaganda rather than an intelligent political taxonomy; he merely labels "slavery" as "conservative" and "freedom" as liberal. I've read that article before, and I didn't find it particularly helpful or enlightening. It's much the same technique that Hayek used in his "Why I Am Not a Conservative."

Further, Hess exhibits one of the main problems with libertarianism, namely a concentration on a "freedom" that it cannot, in fact, define, save in negative terms. And a freedom that cannot be defined cannot be delivered; and the attempt to deliver this undefined freedom will always result in slavery.

Hey, does that make Hess a "conservative"?

papabear Monday, January 7, 2008 at 1:33:00 AM CST  

Not surprisingly, tonight during the Ron Paul Town Hall Meeting, in response to the question dealing with the domination of the MSM by 5 companies Dr. Paul touted the Internet and alternate forums (like the one his campaign was holding). And so as president he would ensure that there would be no regulation over the Internet and so on.

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