Ron Paul, the self-styled libertarian, has declared that we’re all Austrians now.
It was a particular strain of Austrian economics that helped to create the global economic situation we’re in today and yet, Paul wants more of the same. But his love of “Austrian Economics” goes far beyond the black and white world of so-called free-market economics.
The variety of Austrian economics that we are most concerned with here is not the Hayekian strain (he digs Hayek too) but the Misean strain as promoted by Lew Rockwell and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the neo-Confederate think-tank that rationalizes the Civil War as merely an unnecessary “tariff war” and declares the Emancipation Proclamation and all the legislation that stems from it to be an abomination. Paul thinks slaveowners were cheated out of their right to own slaves by the cruel North. He also believes that the Civil Rights Act stripped away a person’s freedom to deny service to someone on the grounds of their skin colour. It’s all about “state’s rights”, see?
There’s a good story from Paul Rosenberg on the Al-Jazeera site here.
So when Paul talks about Austrian Economics, he does so safe in the knowledge that most Americans have no idea what he’s talking about. Many people find his brand of libertarianism attractive and can’t help but feel drawn to it. That’s understandable. It’s a little like finding yourself humming along to a catchy pop tune but don’t know the name of the song or the person who is singing it.