1/19/08

Collectivists: Ron Paul is anti-worker

Millions of people have seen the Democratic Party for what it is: a war party. Since Democrats took control of the House and Senate as a result of the November 2006 election, they have done nothing to end the occupation of Iraq. But instead of turning away from the Democrats and toward building a left-wing alternative, some in the anti-war movement have begun to champion a marginal candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Ron Paul, a right-wing libertarian congressman from Texas, has no chance of winning the Republican nomination, much less the presidency. He is a fringe bourgeois candidate. However, prominent (and misguided) left-leaning pundits and hard-right neo-fascists champion him as the "candidate of choice" nonetheless. What are the seeds of this unholy union?

Paul calls for an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. It’s a sticking point for many, although it should not blur a sober analysis of this reactionary, capitalist candidate’s positions. He has been forthright with his social and political program.

Paul’s libertarianism—or "constitutionalism"—speaks frequently about getting rid of invasive "big government." For workers who oppose the Patriot Act, government spying, and inflated military budgets, this position at first might have a certain appeal. But Paul wants to create a "small government" so as to prevent any intrusion into the affairs of big business. He upholds "free market" capitalism as the solution to every social problem.

He does not want to create a government that defends workers and the oppressed. Instead, Paul wants to overturn the concessions that workers have won from the capitalist class through decades of struggle. This is why he opposes the income tax—so that big business does not have to give anything back.

Paul offers nothing to oppressed communities. His website claims that bigotry is "a problem of the heart, and we cannot change people’s hearts by passing more laws and regulations." In his view, the "true antidote to racism is liberty," and "liberty means free-market capitalism." Paul wants to get rid of affirmative action and any other legislation that enforces "racial group identities."

Paul is supported by none other than arch-racist David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and Don Black, co-founder of the white supremacist website Stormfront. Paul has not condemned these supporters or returned their donations.

A 1992 newsletter published under Paul’s name claimed, "Only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty. … I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." While Paul now claims that a former staffer wrote and published the report without clearance, the newsletter never rebuked or retracted the words of the alleged renegade employee.

On Dec. 23, 2007, Paul appeared on "Meet the Press," where he asserted he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because it impinged on the property rights of business owners.

As for workers’ rights, Paul opposes the eight-hour day and the minimum wage. He opposes laws banning child labor and other legislation that ensures safe working conditions. He is against unemployment insurance, welfare and food stamps. He would like to see Social Security gradually eliminated. In Congress, Paul has voted consistently against strengthening workers’ rights and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, and on Dec. 5, 2007, became the first presidential candidate to cross the picket line of striking writers in Hollywood so that he could appear on ABC’s "The View."

Racist, anti-worker views

On immigration, Paul’s six-point plan is nothing short of a nightmare for foreign-born workers. Paul not only opposes legalization, but also goes further than most xenophobes by explicitly proposing a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. He believes undocumented workers should have no access to "hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and social services." Paul supports the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. He won the endorsement of the Iowa Minutemen.

While Paul vehemently opposes the free movement of people across borders, he has no problem with extending unrestrained rights and access to capitalist corporations.

On the environment, Paul called the Kyoto Protocol—the current international framework for the reduction of greenhouse gases—"anti-Americanism masquerading as environmentalism." For Paul, the "key to sound environmental policy is respect for private property rights." He thinks individuals should be responsible for suing polluters who violate their property rights, and the rising cost of lawsuits would stop those committing environmental destruction.

Paul wants to repeal the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which gave women the right to have an abortion legally. He claims this is a question of "states’ rights." In a sick twist of logic, he has opposed gay rights because they privilege a specific grouping within society. Apparently, his libertarian defense of "individual liberty" only extends so far—certainly not to people suffering special oppression under capitalism.

Paul’s domestic program includes the abolition of the Department of Education and federal college funding like Pell Grants. In his view, the right to free public schools should be made at the state level; education should be privatized and treated like any other commodity.

Paul claims, "Health care should not be left up to HMOs, big drug companies, and government bureaucrats." This message may have a populist appeal, but what he proposes—a "free market" healthcare system—is the opposite of universal health care.

Contrary to Paul’s assertions, a market-based healthcare system does not increase "personal responsibility." It allows the insurance corporations and healthcare providers to ravage, manipulate, and overcharge working people.

This is the truth regarding all the social issues on Paul’s libertarian agenda. As much as working-class people rightly hate the U.S. government, the end of government regulation in a capitalist society can only strengthen the capitalist class to the detriment of workers.

In the United States and around the world, the rule of "free market" capitalism has led to immense suffering and starvation.

The country’s "founding fathers" advocated for "small government" and states’ rights as mechanisms to protect the slave system from the intrusions of the central government. The U.S. Constitution offers no more solutions to the modern wage slave than it did to the chattel slave when it was written.

Paul has made clear his opposition to the Iraq war. Unlike many of the so-called anti-war Democratic candidates he has refused to vote for war funding.

But Paul opposes the war in Iraq for the same reason that Pat Buchanan and David Duke oppose the war. Paul’s American exceptionalism is a dead end for the anti-war movement.

What we need is international solidarity, not false notions of isolationism. There can be no isolation from the plight of workers across the world in the modern age of imperialism and globalization.

In the 2004 elections, much of the movement supported the John Kerry campaign—with disastrous consequences. Kerry did not even oppose the war, although his social positions are more palatable than Paul’s for many. But a key issue then was, as it is now, the war. The channeling of anti-war anger into a campaign for any capitalist politician leads to nothing but demoralization. There is no room for supporting the "lesser evil" when it comes to elections. No capitalist politician will carry out a sustained, fighting, pro-working class program. Paul, anti-worker to the core, is no exception.

Progressives and socialists need to expose the reactionary program of Ron Paul. In the coming year, as the electoral propaganda intensifies, it will become increasingly important for the anti-war movement to stay in the streets and stay independent of the two major political parties.

Working-class people and socialists need to be clear: we will support no candidate who advances the interests of the enemy class.

(pslweb.org)

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