Ron Paul

Ron Paul's Vision of a Virtuous and Moral People: Not Sexual Behavior, But Attitudes Toward Force and Violence


My long summation of Ron Paul's wide-ranging and interesting farewell speech to Congress yesterday was written on the fly and missed a point that has been looming larger in my mind since I heard it, a fascinating libertarian spin on the occasional conservative focus on the "virtue of a people," on the morals of the civic body, in politics.

Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

I think most people when they hear stuff like that think it means people must behave in some particular traditionalist way in matters of sex, consumption, cultural product, behavior, comportment, etc..

Ron Paul, that most unusual of Republicans, said this about that:

the importance of a virtuous and moral people is either ignored, or not understood. The new reforms serve only to further undermine liberty…. The real question is: if it is liberty we seek, should most of the emphasis be placed on government reform or trying to understand what "a virtuous and moral people" means and how to promote it. The Constitution has not prevented the people from demanding handouts for both rich and poor in their efforts to reform the government, while ignoring the principles of a free society. All branches of our government today are controlled by individuals who use their power to undermine liberty and enhance the welfare/warfare state-and frequently their own wealth and power.

If the people are unhappy with the government performance it must be recognized that government is merely a reflection of an immoral society that rejected a moral government of constitutional limitations of power and love of freedom…..

Many of our religious institutions and secular organizations support greater dependency on the state by supporting war, welfare and corporatism and ignore the need for a virtuous people….

A vision of a moral people as coterminous with one that respects limits of government power and freedom: an inspiring vision and I hope one that can catch on with those Americans who like to think of themselves as promoters of a conservative virtue.

The full transcript.

My November Reason feature on "Ron Paul: Man of the Left."

My book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

 The video of his full 49 minute farewell speech:

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  1. Again, Mike Church is on about this daily on his radio show. Only a virtuous people – in the way Paul and Church describe “virtuous” – can ensure a government that doesn’t become the leviathan the US and most (all?) other governments are. If “the people” are “unvirtuous” and want government to be a nanny, or do more than it’s capable of, or print money with no backing – then the government will necessarily become overweaning and destructive.

    It’s like a natural law.

    1. Also = FROST!

  2. …and frequently their own wealth and power.


    People have no virtues that weren’t first promoted through the United States Tax Code or by application of bureaucratic regulations. I don’t know what Paul is talking about.

  3. Moral people would provide alt-text.

    1. You have to buy the book to get the alt-text.

  4. Absolutely correct. Social institutions are prior to political ones. The rising interest in Libertarianism is clearly a symptom of a lack of confidence in our current political institutions. Of course, a symptom is not a cure.

  5. I also noted the emphasis on the connection between force and morality. I liked this lines:

    The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems.

    It is rather strange, that unless one has a criminal mind and no respect for other people and their property, no one claims it’s permissible to go into one’s neighbor’s house and tell them how to behave, what they can eat, smoke and drink or how to spend their money.

    Yet, rarely is it asked why it is morally acceptable that a stranger with a badge and a gun can do the same thing in the name of law and order. Any resistance is met with brute force, fines, taxes, arrests, and even imprisonment. This is done more frequently every day without a proper search warrant.

    1. It’s sad that he so’s right, but is just whistling into the wind.

      “As long as I get my free shit that the rich are paying for, it’s all good.”

      Slavery is Freedom

      1. As long as you have people who think that any sort of misfortune, Act of God/Nature or accident is ‘violence’ that ‘forces’ people to live a certain way, you will have calls for government to ‘rectify’ that ‘injustice’.

        For example, if a child unfortunately develops cancer, well, it isn’t his fault, and therefore the rest of us have to pay to treat him.

    2. Ron Paul is today’s Cassandra, condemned to speaking truth but never being believed.

  6. Are you trying to say that libertarianism = virtue?

    an inspiring vision and I hope one that can catch on with those Americans who like to think of themselves as promoters of a conservative virtue.

    What is this I don’t even…

    1. Re: $parky,

      Are you trying to say that libertarianism = virtue?

      Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a virtue. A virtue would be, for instance, living your life by the non-aggression principle.

      1. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a virtue.

        This would be how I understand it. These are the things I take issue with:

        “immoral society”
        “moral government”
        “a moral people”
        “conservative virtue”

        An individual is moral, a group of individuals doesn’t have a singular moral value. And I really have no idea what “conservative virtue” is even supposed to mean.

        1. Groups can exhibit moral and immoral behavior because groups manifest a collective expression of the common values of its members.

          A moral society is one in which sufficient members constrain collective behaviors by adhering to moral values (non-aggression principle) in their participation in society.

  7. People who support government meddling think they are virtuous. Welfare payments, housing vouchers, and food stamps for the poor. It helps the poor. That is virtuous. Starting wars against foreign dictators, killing terrorists, and spreading democracy. It helps people in the Third World. That is virtuous. Protecting consumers from predatory corporations, and making corporations pay their fair share, and ensuring workers make a living wage. That is virtuous.

    I don’t know what that crazy old man Ron Paul is talking about. We are a very virtuous country.

    1. True, as long as someone else is paying for it.

      1. There’s always the rich who don’t pay their fair share. How do we know that they don’t pay their fair share? They’re rich! How can they have paid their fair share and still be so rich? They can always pay more.

        1. Every liberal I know who has more money than me (i.e. all of them) who starts spouting the fair share stuff – I always ask them for some of their money since they have so much more than me. That’s the best way I know of to shut them up on the subject.

          1. If that moral logic applies to theft via government, why doesn’t it apply if I steal money from, say, Bill Gates? He has more than me, after all.

            If I’m too affluent by leftist standards, then substitute some poor, unemployed person for me.

            1. I ask left leaning people how the government can protect private property while also giving some a claim to the property of others.
              How does government protect the private property of “others” if it also gives “some” a claim to it?
              Government can protect private property, or it can redistribute it. It can’t do both.

              When I ask them to decide which it should do since it can’t do both, they choose to walk away and never speak to me again rather than try to reason through their emotional doublethink.

              And I’m fine with that.

              1. That’s a good one, since the standard replies of “But Bush” or “racist” can’t be used.

                Oh OK, I will give it a shot.

                “You mean like how Bush and Romney want to go back to owning blacks?”

            2. “If I’m too affluent by leftist standards, then substitute some poor, unemployed person for me.”

              I am exceptionally qualified for this role!

  8. It is hopeless.

  9. Rand Paul 2020 — a Clear Vision for America.

    Hard to use that in 2016 though.

  10. I listened to the speech earlier today. Really good. I wonder who was applauding him at the end. If it was Congressmen, they must not have been listening too hard.

    1. Amash or Massie perhaps?

      1. Just remembered Massie hasn’t been sworn in, so maybe Rand?

        1. Massie also won the special election and was sworn in finish out the term. I don’t know if he was sworn in prior to Ron’s speech, but I’m sure I could find out if I took the time to check.

    2. Your mom? Oh wait, couldn’t have been, she was with me.

      1. You idiot. Like you, of all people, don’t know that she only has one hand.

    3. It’s his farewell speech. They feel free to applaud someone who’s about to leave.

  11. The comments to news stories about this continue to be tons of fun.

    reubenr at 12:16 PM November 15, 2012
    He should have an intellectual awakeing. As he drifts off, or is already in, to his own little dream world, we say good bye and sing gum by ah. If there has ever been a stuffed shirt, this was it. He tried to buy the weed vote so he could install a gold standard. Does any one understand just how aburd this is by any standard of thinking? Of course not. It’s beyond comprehension.

    1. “Gum by ah?” “Aburd?” “Awakeing?”

      1. Gum by ah muhword, gum by ah
        Gumwons gryeng muhword, gum by ah

        1. Ah, in the original Gumby.

  12. More great shit

    I’ve always thought you get a little, just a little wiser with age. I guess not. Can’t see over the crest on a high bridge… yet you go forward. You don’t turn around in the middle and have a tissy attack. The wealth on this planet as one people working living loving together is beyond imagination. To sense it to believe it to get up in the morning and help make it happen… that’s what real faith is about; all the rest is gibberish.

    #15 – Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:40 PM EST

    1. One people, living, loving together and ganging up on people to steal their money. It’s so. . .beautiful.

    2. wiredog ? 7 hours ago ?
      Why have we allowed the federal government to regulate commodes in our homes?
      Because the Federal government is given control over navigable waterways by the Holy Constitution, and that’s where much of the water going to the commodes comes from. Where it goes to, as well. Also, most of that water flows across State lines, especially out West, where people have been known to kill over water rights.

      I used to live in Utah. Water is very serious business out there.

      Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets? Aren’t they the same?
      No, they aren’t the same. To paraphrase Jerry Pournelle: An unregulated free market will eventually result in human body parts being sold for consumption in the marketplace.
      11 2 ?Reply?Share ?


      1. Wait so when did the light bulbs become part of the navigable waterways?

    3. So that’s what it sounds like when someone takes a newborn idea and drowns it in a bucket of incoherent slime.

    4. To sense it to believe it to get up in the morning and help make it happen… that’s what real faith is about; all the rest is gibberish.

      Sounds like “tambrose” is an expert in gibberish.

  13. A vision of a moral people as coterminous with one that respects limits of government power and freedom: an inspiring vision and I hope one that can catch on with those Americans who like to think of themselves as promoters of a conservative virtue.

    Spoken with true admiration for the man and his ideas. Thank you, Brian. I salute you.

  14. I’ve recently come to the understanding that fiscal liberals and fiscal conservatives have radically different definitions of liberty. They ascribe to “positive liberty” defined as, free from want. We ascribe to “negative liberty” defined as, leave me the fuck alone. They just don’t get it, are ok with it, that there definition requires the initiatory use of force to achieve.

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