'Fear Is the Tool of Totalitarians': Ron Paul on War, Money, and the Libertarian Moment

The former Texas congressman and presidential candidate says his goal was to get people to think about freedom.


I dislike politicians. I don't trust people who are so desperately eager to run others' lives.

But former Texas congressman Ron Paul is different. He wants government to leave us alone.

He promoted the benefits of limited government and free markets long before I'd even thought about them.

I first interviewed Paul in 2007. ABC News wouldn't broadcast it. They only played it online. Now everything's online. I like it better that way.

This week I released a new, longer video with Paul.

Paul ran for president three times, losing first as a Libertarian—and then twice as a Republican. The second time, he won 10 percent of the primary vote.

I then thought Americans were finally coming to appreciate libertarianism. The New York Times Magazine even asked, "Has the 'Libertarian Moment' Finally Arrived?"

That was the kiss of death.

Libertarian candidates now get fewer votes than Paul got in 2012.

"Did you make progress?" I ask him.

Paul says his goal was to get people to think about freedom. He's succeeded there, at least somewhat.

Paul first got politically active in 1971, when President Richard Nixon took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard.

"The money issue touches every aspect of liberty," says Paul. "If you're inclined to think that we're in too many wars, well, there wouldn't be—if they couldn't just print money for it."

Now the Federal Reserve does just print more money. When Paul first went to Congress, he says, "nobody cared about the Federal Reserve."

His presidential campaigns brought attention to the Fed, and the liberty movement, especially from young people. In fact, Paul came in first place among young people in almost every Republican primary.

But now Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) is most popular among the young. I remind Paul that "young people today say they prefer socialism to capitalism."

Paul responds, "There's more socialist professors."

Although Paul was always anti-war, after 9/11, he joined the congressional majority and voted to send soldiers to Afghanistan. He wanted to find and punish the people responsible for the attack and get right out.

"That did not mean [America] had the authority to occupy and try to transform Afghanistan," says Paul. Yet that's what American politicians tried to do.

In a 2007 Republican presidential debate, the audience booed Paul when he suggested that the U.S. was attacked because "we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years…what would happen if somebody did it to us?"

Candidate Rudy Giuliani won applause responding, "That's really an extraordinary statement…I don't think I've ever heard that before. And I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11."

Really? Giuliani hadn't heard that explanation before?

Then he wasn't paying attention. Osama bin Laden long complained about Westerners occupying the Middle East. "Expel them in defeat and humiliation from the holy places of Islam," he wrote.

Posting American soldiers in other people's countries is certainly a serious provocation. I'd be mad if Chinese soldiers patrolled my street.

Giuliani won the debate applause, but 15 months later, no delegates. Paul won 21 delegates.

But today American politicians still want to police the world. The United States has 750 bases in 80 countries. Paul calls the military industrial complex "the most deadly PAC."

Last month, President Joe Biden sent 3,000 soldiers to Eastern Europe saying, "As long as [Putin's] acting aggressively, we are going to make sure we can reassure our NATO allies and Eastern Europe that we're there."

"That's garbage," Paul responds. "By what right do we go over there? There's no national security. We had troops in Saudi Arabia for national security and look at what that brought…it has nothing to do with helping Americans, except those who might get a better paycheck."

I push back. "President Biden would say, 'We have to go there just to deter Russia. If we don't, we're inviting them to invade other countries.'"

We shouldn't let government scare us into going to war, says Paul. "Fear is the tool of totalitarians." Paul's anti-war arguments have shifted public opinion. Today we might be fighting in Ukraine if it were not for Ron Paul and his warnings about the risk of America policing the world.


NEXT: Tackling Mass Incarceration Requires More Than Freeing Nonviolent Drug Offenders

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  1. Uh oh Ron Paul. Is ENB, bohem, and sullum going to have an anurism? I hope so.

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  2. Scaring Americans into going to war is only part of it. But fear subsides and they must constantly come up with something new to be terribly terribly afraid of that didn't really exist until it became their straw man for the opponent, selling themselves as the only answer to all your fears.

  3. https://twitter.com/Storiesofinjury/status/1503820471157940224?t=TERgfNyygx7Y56lwEe8olg&s=19

    “The Millennial age group, 25 - 44, experienced an 84% increase in excess mortality. It’s the worst-ever excess mortality, I think, in history.”

    This is per CDC data.


    1. Let me guess. Putin's fault?

  4. RON PAUL 2024!!!

  5. No one has done more damage to libertarianism and caused it to be associated with right-wing crackpot extremism than antivaxx Putin apologist Ron Paul.

    1. Compared to Biden and Trump, Ron Paul looks like a moderate.

      It's hard to have a libertarian moment when you're spending half a trillion dollars a month.

    2. True dat. By getting the LP conniving (et TU Stossell?) in Gee-Oh-Pee superstitious girl-bullying, Ron and Ronnie made sure women voters will cross the street to avoid the LP. (https://tinyurl.com/bdfync5t)

  6. Clear, correct messages, better than any other congressperson. No idea how someone associates Paul with damage to Libertarianism... unless drawing attention to and clear explanation of is a undermines its sinister basis /s/.

  7. I use my imagination (with a little delusion) to keep the libertarian moment alive.

  8. By far the smartest people in the USA spotlight is in this article.

  9. Well said.

  10. Ron Paul was right, about a lot of things, but I don't think he made the American people anti-war. I think 20 years of war made the American people anti-war.

  11. Libertarian candidates are actually performing pretty well when you consider that even What’s her name got nearly 2% of the vote in 2020, and Gary Johnson almost 4% in 2016. Hey, anything better than 1% is success on the National level, plus live heard a record number have won local elections.

  12. Libertarians and especially the LP should focus on one issue, stopping government from initiating force. BTW the US promised Ukraine we would defend them from Russia if they gave up their nukes.

    1. Stupid of them, and of I Stray to believe that! Richard Nixon signed the Nixon-Molotov ABM treaty to make our antimissile defenses illegal in plain violation of the Second Amendment. That treaty explicitly provided that the Kremlin--and all of Moscow--could be ringed with antimissiles. (https://tinyurl.com/56e9ft4a)
      Youcrane needs a Second Amendment!

  13. So does the little leprechaun still think the US dollar should be pegged to gold?

    1. Do you still fantasize about getting pegged by leprechauns?

      1. There is a little person stripper in Vegas with a leprechaun outfit. I think if you spend at least $1500 in adult services she will throw in a pegging for free. It doesn't need to be a fantasy.

    2. Too high a neutron-capture cross-section. Plutonium is a better monetary metal, and people already expect it to be slightly radioactive. I'd buy KWh bitcoins in a heartbeat.

  14. Ron Paul is off base on the popularity of socialism among the young. It is not socialist professor, rather it is the failure of our structuring of capitalism. In the US, capitalism is structured to favor the wealthiest. Most people will not have enough wealth to see the benefits. The answer is not socialism but capitalism structured to support the middle class. Freedom personal and economic thrive best in societies with a strong middle class.

    1. Kids are socialists until they get their first job and realize what taxes mean.

      1. Kids are capitalist watching their parents work hard until the local plant shuts downs, moves to another state or country, and then they watch their parents struggle to make ends meet.

        1. And yet somehow; Those socialist supporters are always self-entitled rich stuffing their pockets with 'other' peoples money and the vast amount of capitalist supporters are those struggling to make ends meet....

          Something about the concept of *EARNING* pride I guess instead of *TAKING* things like a self-entitled spoiled brat.

  15. As a Texas Republican, Ron Paul should know about fear and intimidation! His party's puppet governor is subsidizing and protecting snitch vigilanteism to bully and coerce pregnant women for Dixie Landover Baptists and tax ransom. Texas' fugitive slave hunting work-around to violate the 13th Amendment must do him and Randal proud! Stossell ought to know better...

    1. The bodily autonomy of women is not a libertarian concern. There are books to burn and teachers to harass.

      1. What's hilarious about both of you; is everyone knows if the Democrats were restricting abortion you both would have 1M excuses for it; ya know, like deficit spending.

        At least the Republican Party is divided on the issue.

        1. No, I actually have principles.

          1. Ya Tony; What is that principle? Whatever your Nazi-Leaders tell you they are? Whatever is Popular? Whatever gets you more stolen stuff?

            How about a principle of Limited Government and maximum Individual Liberty as the U.S. Constitution provided for the USA?

            Ya know if Democrats didn't want a Nazi-Regime they could start electing Non-Nazi's as their representatives.

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