Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Empty Vessel

I've discussed my feelings on the Ron Paul "Movement" before in this space, but things really are getting out of hand, so I feel compelled to say a bit more.

For some time, I've been working on the theory that the ronpaulians are "the New Gnostics". I'm not actually going to expound upon that just yet, but if you're familiar with second- and third-century Gnosticism, you can probably grasp my meaning. What I'd rather focus on now is Ron Paul's function as, as my title indicates, an empty vessel.

What do I mean by that? Well, as opposed to the "empty suit" accusation often leveled at certain politicians, in which they don't actually stand for much of anything and serve only as a figurehead for their political party (Mitt Romney, I'm looking at you), I think Ron Paul, the individual (not ronpaul the movement), does indeed have very principled, albeit nutty, positions. However, he is an "empty vessel" in the sense that his supporters largely seem to latch on to one or two aspects of his philosophy (namely, either his anti-war position or the vague notion that he is some sort of Libertarian scion), and then these supporters pour into him all their hopes and dreams and desires for revolution and sweeping change.

Let me illustrate this succinctly with a single case in point: one of the apparently popular icons of of this movement is the "Ron Paul rEVOLution" graphic, in which the lettering of the E-V-O-L in the last word is reversed and colored differently than the rest of the slogan, such that it spells out "LOVE" when viewed in a mirror. What, precisely, is it about Ron Paul's views that make "LOVE" a central, or even relevant theme of his campaign? Is it his desire to return to the goldcommidity-based monetary standard? That's got nothing to do with "LOVE". How about his anti-war stance? Maybe in a weird, 60's-throwback, "make love not war" sort of way, but his own opposition to war seems to stem from a strict isolationistnon-interventionist philosophy rather than any sort of anti-military pacifism. Trading with autocratic and despotic regimes rather than using force to remove them (my understanding of Ron Paul's position, as related by one of the local ronpaulians) may make them nicer to us, but it hardly demonstrates "LOVE", particularly to the oppressed people ruled by those regimes.

How about his libertarian-ish-ness? Love and liberty are two independent things. Consider the example of a friend who is falling into illicit behaviors. I can show love by either cutting him loose to face the consequences of his behavior rather than condone and/or enable those behaviors, or I can lock him up, confront him with his problems, and coerce him into reforming his ways. Both of these approaches demonstrate, I think, genuine love, and yet the former approach may be construed as a libertarian approach, whereas the latter could be seen as the authoritarian approach -- both would be considered "tough love", though.

And yet the "rEVOLution" icon endures, and even flourishes. This is because individuals for whom an actual "revolution of love" resonates have, for inscrutable reasons, latched onto the ronpaul movement, and poured their own desires into it.

Stupid hippies.



Anonymous Chris said...

And just like the Left, who claim to be more "loving", Ron Paulians, through their actions, often demonstrate anger, unhappiness, intolerance, disrespect for rules, and even hate.

10:38 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home