Ron Paul Institute vs. Students for Liberty

It looks like libertarian infighting isn’t just for us lowly Facebook trolls anymore. A very public spat has arisen between the Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity, and Students for Liberty, over the particular nature in which one tailors their anti war propaganda.

The first shots were apparently fired by Students for Liberty, when cofounder and president Alexander McCorbin, coauthored an article with International Executive Board member Eglė Markevičiūtė, titled “Ron Paul Gets It Wrong When He Speaks about Secession and Crimea“. In the article, the SFL leaders make the claim that Ron Paul’s position on the Crimea situation has been too supportive of Putin’s regime, letting slide a foreign invasion and sham referendum for the sake of diminishing US war propaganda against the Russian Federation.

Former Congressman Ron Paul, whose views are interpreted by many as wholly representative of the libertarian movement, gets it wrong when he speaks of Crimea’s right to secede. Make no mistake about it, Crimea was annexed by Russian military force at gunpoint and its supposedly democratic “referendum” was a farce. Besides a suspiciously high voter turnout without legitimate international observers, the referendum gave Crimeans only two choices — join Russia now or later.

It’s much too simplistic to solely condemn the United States for any kind of geopolitical instability in the world. Non-interventionists who sympathize with Russia by condoning Crimea’s secession and blaming the West for the Ukrainian crisis fail to see the larger picture. Putin’s government is one of the least free in the world and is clearly the aggressor in Crimea, as it was even beforehand with its support of the Yanukovych regime that shot and tortured its own citizens on the streets of Kyiv.

The Students for Liberty Twitter account later distanced itself from the statement,



Ron Paul Institute vs. Students for Liberty
Ron Paul Institute vs. Students for Liberty

Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute fired back with a piece titled “Did Students for Liberty Leader Really Attack Ron Paul?“. In it, he claims that SFL has it all wrong, is resorting to neocon war propaganda tactics, and is in bed with some very nasty outfits.

What is particularly ironic about McCobin’s lecture to Ron Paul on Crimea is that his bill of particulars is so riddled with analytical and factual errors that it actually argues quite eloquently for the opposite of what was intended. In other words his deeply flawed battle cry actually makes Dr. Paul’s case for non-interventionism. If you do not understand what is going on overseas, you should refrain from telling the people there what to do.

Later in the piece,

McCobin implies that Dr. Paul’s non-interventionism is motivated somehow by “sympathy” for Russia. But it is an old neocon trick to defame opponents of war and intervention by claiming they are “supporters” of the designated US enemy of the day. When Dr. Paul opposed the US attack on Iraq, he was derided as an “apologist” for Saddam Hussein. Likewise with Libya, he was “pro-Gaddafi.”

He goes on to say,

Speaking of regime sympathizers, the president of the Students for Liberty is also a member of Young Voices Advocates, an organization that has been honored by the US government’s chief regime change factory, the National Endowment for Democracy. Young Voices returns the favor, proudly announcing that, “The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), like Young Voices, looks for ways to empower and celebrate young people who are making an impact on their world.” Joining McCobin at Young Voices is Fred Roeder, SFL’s marketing and communications director. Roeder is actually the Director of Young Voices.

Imagine the disappointment when the rank and file of the Students for Liberty find out that their leadership attacks Ron Paul, embraces neocon warmongering rhetoric, and is in bed with NED!

McAdams goes on to encourage a mass exodus from SFL, inviting members to join the RPI instead.

It’s worth reading both articles in their entirety. I’ve said before that libertarian infighting is a good thing, and this tiff is no exception. Watching two anti war outfits argue over why not to go to war, is infinitely better than watching the usual debate over just how many bombs should be dropped on whom.

Additionally, I have personally noticed a great deal of pro Putin propaganda being spread by libertarians as of late. Some of it is quite comical, and though I’ve laughed out loud at much of it, I have not shared it. This is because I don’t want to start supporting one oppressive government, just because I despise the one that claims ownership over me.

One might make the case that it is better for the world stage that the US get taken down a peg, even if that means an expansion of the Russian Federation. I can see that argument, and it seems to me that this is the argument Ron Paul is trying to make. At the same time, this is sort of a “lesser of two evils” argument, which my understanding of libertarianism has always been about escaping. To this extent, I have to side with Students for Liberty. Russia is no friend to freedom.

I don’t think we’ll ever know the full extent of what actually happened in Crimea. The CIA and KGB have both been screwing around in the region more than anybody will ever acknowledge publicly. We know that voting is rigged in the United States, so I don’t imagine there’s a great deal of honesty in that racket in the Ukraine to begin with. Much less when the Russian military comes across the border and begins storming government buildings. Any vote with an 80% turnout and 93% consensus seems very suspicious to me.

As to McAdams’s assertion that this could not have been pulled off without a great deal of bloodshed, I would encourage him to look no further than Boston last year, to see just how submissive a population can become when militarized forces begin asserting control over a place. Not only did people comply, as armored personnel carriers brought soldiers from house to house searching for a wounded, unarmed, 19 year old boy with a crockpot. They actually came out waving flags and supporting the action, as their city fell to martial law on the day the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

I also can’t think of a more clichéd title than “Did Students for Liberty Leader Really Attack Ron Paul?” as if it is somehow off limits to disagree with the good doctor. Libertarianism being based on the non-aggression principle, I think there’s a great deal of room to disagree with a 12 term congressman on a wide range of issues. This line of thinking is where the term “Paulbot” derives from. Believe it or not Daniel, Ron Paul is not what defines libertarianism.

If non-interventionism is a good idea for the United States, it would stand to reason this would also be the best policy for the Russian Federation. To send tanks and troops into another country, that does not pose a threat to the safety and security of one’s own, is an act of aggression no matter what international law says. That’s before we even get into the fact that said tanks and troops were paid for through acts of aggression by the Russian taxing authorities against the Russian people.

We don’t need to justify the acts of Russia, to demand the United States mind its own business. The issue at hand for the United States is not whether or not Russia was justified, but rather whether or not the US would be justified in acting militarily or through sanctions. Regardless of what Russia did, the answer to that question is a resounding “NO!” and both sides of this argument seem to acknowledge that.

The other nice thing about libertarian infighting is, it does help expose charlatans. Students for Liberty made their way onto my radar when I took notice of Cathy Reisenwitz’s hysterical race and gender baiting. They regularly host Cathy’s leftist nonsense efforts to associate libertarianism with feminism. Drug informant Stacy Litz was nominated as their student of the year in 2011. Both of them were regular contributors to the anticapitalist blog, Center for a Stateless Society.

McAdams points out that McCorbin is a member of Young Voices Advocates, along with Fred Roeder, SFL’s marketing and communications director. Casey Givens, the editor for YVA, has written at the Foundation for Economic Education decrying religious freedom bills as bigotedReisenwitz is also an associate of Young Voices. Combined with the support from the National Endowment for Democracy, YVA really begins to paint the picture of a far left outfit, and it is troubling to see it in control of an organization like Students for Liberty.

As long as they focus on foreign policy and social issues, leftists can go unnoticed in libertarian circles for a long time. But we’ve seen what liberals do to organizations. They infiltrate everything that isn’t explicitly anti-left, and then they progressively move it further and further left. Since the whole point is a gradual shift, they don’t have much use for honesty in their efforts, as to be honest about a far left agenda generally tends to render the effort moot. So it’s not surprising to see SFL repeating war propaganda while advocating non-intervention. If there was an ulterior motive, the motive would be served by having the war propaganda accepted as true. Even if they don’t outright advocate for use of force, leftists have a tendency to repeat the State propaganda that leads to said use of force. This is best displayed by their incessant cries of racism and bigotry at everything from Stand Your Ground laws to Bitcoin. They may stop short of calling for government intervention, but all that is necessary for government to act is for the propaganda supporting the action to be accepted. Whether they are malicious actors or useful idiots, that’s a coin toss.

In closing I’d like to thank both outfits for getting the dirty laundry out there. Ultimately the lesson to be learned is, this is what happens when you negotiate the the State. The lines get blurry, unholy alliances are made, and everybody comes out looking like shit. Had we all stuck to the non-aggression principle instead of trying to figure out which government’s propaganda to repeat, we could have avoided this whole mess.

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Christopher Cantwell comedian, writer, voice artist, and Patriot.

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