This morning the Facebook page of Ron Paul, former Republican congressman and presidential candidate (and also former Libertarian Party presidential nominee), ran a post attacking "cultural Marxism." The post made wide national news (see coverage in The Daily Beast, Newsweek, and the New Republic) because it was initially illustrated by a cartoon containing offensive stereotypes of a Jew, a black, an Asian, and a Hispanic punching out Uncle Sam with the hammer-and-sickled fist of cultural Marxism. The same picture appeared in a Ron Paul tweet linking to the Facebook post.
The image was quickly replaced on Facebook with a generic "no political correctness" cartoon, and the tweet was deleted. Paul's Twitter feed, in a tweet actually signed with Paul's name, later said that "Earlier today a staff member inadvertently posted an offensive cartoon on my social media. I do not make my own social media posts and when I discovered the mistake it was immediately deleted."
Paul has a history of underlings writing under his name saying things hostile and prejudicial toward blacks and gays. (See this 2008 Reason account of the earlier "Ron Paul newsletter" controversy for more.) Paul has not yet responded to my request for comment about whether the staffer responsible for attaching that cartoon is being discplined in any way.
Ron Paul the presidential candidate, to his credit, didn't say much (I never heard anything, but I didn't hear everything) complaining about "what has become of American culture" or bringing up the bugaboo of "cultural Marxism," a vague conspiratorial theory that roughly claims that various changes in Western cultural character and traditions over the past 70 years or so are the deliberate result of Marxists' attempts to bring down liberty and impose communism.
Instead of that sort of right-wing culture-war nonsense, presidential candidate Paul spoke of the human tragedies of military empire, the economic disruptions of federal monetary policy, and the unjust foolishness of restricting free choices that don't directly harm others, from drug use to raw milk consumption. That Ron Paul celebrated how political liberty can unify us and make us the best we could be, as individuals and as a nation.
When Paul began worrying about "cultural Marxism" in the context of the NFL players taking the knee rather than standing for the national anthem, he went far astray from any opinion rooted in respect for individual liberty. Anyone who took Paul's own just critique of the crimes of the U.S. government both abroad and at home should have enthusiastically joined the football players in refusing ritualized obeisance to the U.S. flag.
Any public figure can have interests that go beyond political liberty, but Paul in his two GOP presidential runs understood that American needed a national politician running on political liberty, its ethical propriety, its wealth-creating powers, and its power to bring us together.
Paul's post originally illustrated by the cartoon lays bare how inappropriate and counterproductive worrying about "cultural Marxism" is if liberty is your concern. The Facebook post said that for Marxists:
Their original argument of workers being *exploited* by capitalists, didn't sell. It's obviously not the case.
So Marxists just shifted their "exploitation" schtick to culture:
— women exploited by men
— gays exploited by heterosexuals
— The old exploited by the young—and vice-versa
— This list goes on and on.
Anything that is true is to be twisted like a pretzel—to the point where people can't tell what is true anymore.
How do you think they're doing?
Had enough yet?
Then don't be afraid to stand up for truth, and speak it!
Otherwise, history can most definitely repeat itself.
And the history of Socialism is as nasty and brutish as it gets. Nothing compares to it in terms of human suffering.
Paul is correct that socialism in political and economic practice caused enormous human suffering of a sort its current proponents like to ignore. But what leads up to that conclusion in that barely-argued post has nothing to do with socialism. Indeed, raising a stink about these supposed depredations of "cultural Marxism" is in most contexts anti-liberty.
Both legally and culturally, American and western culture absolutely have treated women and homosexuals unfairly and unjustly, both in law and in common cultural practice. Pointing that out and fighting it is in fact fighting for both political and personal liberty, not "Marxism." (While I can guess what he's grousing about with the lines about women and gays, I'm not even sure how to interpret the "old exploited by the young" part.)
That some people are unhappy with modern relationship, sexual, gender, and ethnic mores and policies is a fact, but that unhappiness is not rooted in opposition to "Marxism" or defense of liberty. The truth is just the opposite. Western law customarily treated women and gays unjustly. To the extent that that's changed, it is pro-liberty and irrelevant to Marxism as a political and economic doctrine.
To the extent that law and culture treats women and gays more equally and is less tolerant of abuses of them, even private ones, that's a better culture, one more in line with the benefits of civilization—benefits that arise, as Paul the presidential candidate understood, from a general spirit of tolerance and living and letting live as long as one's life or justly held property isn't encroached upon. As Paul said on an October 2016 episode of his online TV series (ironically, one about "cultural Marxism"): "Liberty means allowing [everybody] to make personal choices, personal social relationship, personal sexual choices, personal economic choices." That, he said, should not be a "threat"; it should "bring people together."
The mentality behind not just that cartoon, but the essay it illustrated, is the opposite of the attitude Paul expressed correctly in 2016.
UPDATE: Ben Garrison, whose signature appears to be on the original cartoon, writes to point out that it is not his work. He also tweeted:
That is totally NOT a Ben Garrison cartoon—This is a cartoon by someone else who trolls have pasted my signature on. Please always check https://t.co/Oj98iIxEAZ for REAL Ben Garrison Cartoons verification.
— Ben Garrison Cartoons at GrrrGraphics.com (@GrrrGraphics) July 2, 2018