Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ron Paul de Man

I hope by now that the Ron Paul's racist newsletter story has been hashed over to death. It's not exactly new news, per se, but it's something to get the blood moving on a cold winter's day ...

In many ways we've seen this story before: someone who appears to embody an intellectual movement is taken down for racist comments purportedly made in the past that call into question not only the person who is serving as the standard bearer for the revolution, but also the revolution itself.

Paul de Man, the French deconstructionist, faced a similar scandal -- albeit posthumously -- when a student uncovered anti-semitic writings in a Belgian collaborationist publication he had written for pseudonymously during WWII. For many scholars the debate went beyond whether de Man was himself a racist and extended to whether Deconstructionism itself was a school of thought that could be used to justify racism (or worse).

In a lot of ways I feel the same undercurrent is raging (or will soon rage) over Libertarianism. Many critics point out that Libertarianism attracts not only the "off the grid" crowd, but also the militia folks who aren't exactly known for their visions of racial harmony. On the surface the basic tenant of Libertarianism -- leave me alone! -- would seem to tacitly condone such worldviews. If Ron Paul is the person who is to be the figurehead of the Libertarian movement those details will have to be reconciled.

I'm not in a position to comment on the intricacies of Libertarian thought and that's important to note, because one thing I've discovered about Libertarianism is that it's much more complex than simply leave me alone! Whatever the immediate consequences, I have a feeling this debate will outlive Paul's candidacy.

1 comment:

M. said...

check out this story of
Paul de man