In her own way, commentator Diana Wong [above] made some good points about Rand Paul. [Note: I encourage everyone first to watch to the video, which was also uploaded to YouTube; otherwise, this response might not make sense. The title for the video apparently comes from another video posted by Lyndon LaRouche supporters that laughably claims Barack Obama is a supporter of the Austrian school of economics.]
Wanting to privatize Social Security, if that indeed is Paul’s position, would be a complete boondoggle on behalf of the politically connected who would manage the program and serve to centralize wealth into corporate hands more so than it already is. Often times, governments create dependency on their programs or crowd out alternatives from springing up, so it is not as easy as saying that the welfare rolls should be dropped immediately. I have said before that my problem with government welfare is not the welfare, in and of itself, but the means by which it is funded. A more fruitful and politically expedient solution might be to offer alternative funding sources that do not violate the rights of others.
Wong recognizes that indeed the Austrian school of economics is a threat to the existing American system of political economy, and so it could be characterized as anti-American in the same sense it is anti-Canadian, anti-French, anti-Russian, and so forth. Principally, it is individualistic and peaceful, everything government is not. Characteristic of Lyndon LaRouche and his supporters, Wong’s modus operandi is to call someone a fascist. LaRouche called Paul “virtually an animal” and a “strict fascist, no question about it. And he has to be taken out of office, or neutralized” for his “Hitler-like policy.”
The ironic thing is that LaRouchites are closer adherents to anti-austerity Keynesianism, which John Maynard Keynes, though not a socialist himself, acknowledged is “more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under conditions of free competition and a lance measure of laissez-faire.” In addition, Ludwig von Mises, who was Jewish and a pillar of the Austrian school, was hunted by the Nazi out of Europe. That is why he moved to America.
I cannot speak to the “physical breakdown crisis” since I do not know what that is, and only the most vulgar Austrian thinkers who hold to private property universal absolutism would tolerate anything like free-market feudalism. I also do not know what was meant by the vague reference to Hayek denouncing the Renaissance. In “The Road to Serfdom,” he praised the Renaissance for its development of individualism, which he said was responsible for “the respect for the individual man qua man.” After all, the American-inspired constitutionalism that Hayek favored was an offspring of that time.
I know for sure that “The Counter-Revolution of Science” was completely misrepresented in the video. Hayek’s point was to criticize economic positivism and scientism (in the strong sense), not that “individuals are incapable of scientific discovery,” as the video claims. He was making an epistemological criticism, not a metaphysical one. In that way, Hayek was driving a Kantian model that empirical objects depend (to some degree) on a priori knowledge derived beforehand.
Hayek, correctly I think, rejected the view that human beings are ordered about as molecules are in the natural sciences, which was thought to give license to the state to begin treating society like a lab experiment. Murray Rothbard said, “[I]t is the essence of human beings that they have goals and purposes, and that they try to achieve those goals. Stones, atoms, planets, have no goals or preferences; hence, they do not choose among alternative courses of action.” As Rothbard pointed out, people are capable of learning, of changing their mind to pursue different values, including none at all.
Frederic Bastiat highlights this point in “The Law.” He said:
It is no wonder that the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial creation of the legislator’s genius. … To these intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.
Alas, I would have more solidarity with Wong if she were not so openly pandering on behalf of institutionalized state violence.