A Boom-Bust Cycle in Austrian School Politics

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January 24, 2008

I hate to burst anyone's bubble . . . so this article arrives after it popped on its own. The Austrian School of thought of Mises and Rothbard has probably never had a more diehard person as close to the reins of power as Ron Paul today. (Nevertheless, he remains forbidden from the green-zone of the reins of power.) He is not just some celebrity candidate. He has authored hundreds of articles for years such as on www.lewrockwell.com, and has probably resisted the corruptions of power more so than any politician in American political history. Move over Thomas Jefferson, et. al, Ron Paul would do better.

But being so "close" to power has brought an odd sense of opportunity, urgency, and near destiny to the Rothbardians. The number of articles on Ron Paul's presidential campaign on Rockwell's site has become overwhelming. Both long standing regular contributors and new writers pour in articles. Yet most noticeable for a while were the number of columns that described with confidence how Ron Paul can actually win.

Many articles on steps to a Ron Paul victory began with him doing so well enough in Iowa and New Hampshire that it becomes unavoidably big news. It didn't happen. It's time to warn those spending big money and lots of time supporting a presidential campaign that their energies could be very useful for liberty if applied to something more permanent and long term than a winner-takes-all political election.

Discovering election fraud would not solve the problem even if possible. Am I alone to think that even if Ron Paul could get 50%+ of the vote, that election fraud would guarantee he lost? Or perhaps he would be gunned down by a supposed "lone gunman"? The Kennedy clan has been gunned down and they were only a half beat out of step with the power elite.

I began my journey to libertarianism through politics. While (don't laugh) a Rush Limbaugh fan in high school, in college I discovered and enthusiastically took up Libertarian Party politics by discovering Harry Browne through the internet in 1995. I became foolishly convinced that by building momentum, in 8-16 years the LP could have a chance. Although the LP was a conduit, what I appreciated and loved was not politics, but the universality of libertarianism as the absolutely most minimal system which could guarantee or maximize peace and peaceful activities between people. I was not too unusual in this, as the Barry Goldwater campaign also served similarly for large numbers of new libertarians who eventually gave up on politics while keeping the libertarian philosophy (with the notable extreme of Karl Hess).

This is what I hope the new libertarians who discovered libertarianism through Ron Paul's campaign can learn. Aren't there some common sense articles about how to preserve the libertarian movement and its new recruits in the event of a Ron Paul defeat? Gary North moves in with a well timed attempt to save the momentum given the certain defeat of Ron Paul's presidential campaign. What is his solution? Local politics.

I must unfortunately take political pessimism to a further degree. Even assuming political activity could save us from the dangers of political activity, it is too late for America . America survives by imports bought with a currency that rests on myth: faith that the dollar will retain its value. The emperor not only has no clothes, he has little of meaningful value with which to buy real clothes. Ron Paul cannot save the USA . I believe that he would even hasten the collapse.

However, that last sentence is not a criticism. The combined US debt obligations are great enough that the US government should be pushed into a liquidation bankruptcy scenario. What Ron Paul would do would be to (contrary to his expectations) trigger the liquidation sooner as opposed to later. The mainstream politicians can only postpone this finale by continued ignorance when the debt to asset ratio will be even more askew.

"The Athenians have been waiting 2,300 years for their empire to 'bounce back.' The Egyptians have been waiting even longer. And the Seleucids? The Mongols? The Incas? The Romans? Rome is a nice city but the Rome of Berlusconi is hardly the Rome of Augustus. The city never bounced back. And the list of empires that never bounced back is as long as the list of empires. Once they are history, they are history." - Bill Bonner, The Daily Reckoning 1/21/08.

Most empires mentioned probably had a softer collapse than will the USA . Their currency was debased, but it was at least still a metal, so the value the day after the collapse would not be much different than the day before it.

Gary North thinks local political action can be of more use than a presidential campaign. (He doesn't say precisely how, and in his defense, probably much of what he recommends would be non-political.) What I think is needed is local anti-political organization . . . or perhaps post-political organization. One of the greatest unmentionable and unthinkable heresies is to consider the collapse of the USA as something unavoidable, caused by our own government, and close enough that preparing for it would be wise. This is exactly what we should be thinking. What we need are local organizations that spend time thinking of what agreements and voluntary arrangements would best keep local society from collapsing along with the national collapse.

I would recommend, just as an idea to brainstorm, something like a Post-USA Society, locally and decentrally organized. Hence, my blog is decentralist.wordpress.com. The dual purpose would be to inform as many people as possible about the inevitable collapse of the USA , and also to organize and structure intentional communities with which to best survive and thrive in such a situation.

Libertarians have long opposed Historicism, especially in its overly Hegellian versions. But the writing is on the wall. Libertarians don't have to "defeat" the USA . No one has to. It has defeated itself, and it may only be a generation or two before it collapses under its own weight. There will be no John Galt or Osama Bin Laden to blame. Let us hope that there are none that come demanding revenge once the USA becomes the newest " Third World " country.

I think it's time to combine the virtues and knowledge of the Amish and the GNU/Linux Open Source organizational methods. I wouldn't call the answer local politics. I'd call it a global open community knowledge network to establish and promote sustainable micro-culture and intentional communities. The internet may provide us a few decades with which to combine the best of the relatively self-sustaining rural community and the knowledge resources of urban networks. Maybe we still have a hundred years, maybe 20, but how long would it take to learn the skills and create the communities to survive the collapse of the dollar?

What if I'm wrong and the US government and its dollar can survive for another thousand years? Are the Amish so bad off for avoiding 200 years of technology? When one government becomes oppressive, they can and have just moved. They seem that much freer and often happier than the average non-Amish American because of it. Now I'm not recommending that extreme of technology avoidance. Like the Open Source software movement, I think it should be used far more productively than current slow moving and vendor-locked-in markets prefer. However, there is a difference between advanced technology use vs. dependence on it: One is wise and the other is comfortably numb.

The Ron Paul campaign is really a sugar coated version of libertarianism believing in an over-simpified transition period. What really matters is how many stick around and are not frightened away by libertarianism unshackled from politics, its corruption by design, temporal winner take all coalitions, and such. True, I and many others became libertarians first through the candy coating. Now that I value health, I think health foods are better without the coating.

For those who become libertarians through politics and stay for it without politics . . . welcome aboard.

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Lysanders Ghost's picture
Columns on STR: 10

Lysander's Ghost has degrees in math and economics, a wife, and five kids.  Besides agorist free-market anarchism, he promotes a Weston Price Foundation approach to nutrition and health, plays guitar, and loves progressive rock/metal.  A long term goal is to finish a SF book in the style of Heinlein.  You can visit his blog here.