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January 11, 2012 12:51 pm

Ron Paul and the Social Contract

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Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Ron Paul has never been this popular. Now in the throes of his third Presidential Race, it is apparent that in many ways his Libertarian ideals reflect the collective mood of the nation. Times are tough, and just as families, businesses and communal institutions have been forced to hunker down, work hard and weather the economic storm, so, say his supporters, should government adopt a similar stance.

When it comes to Foreign Policy they say, the same applies. Costly wars and the risk of aggravating nations around the world with U.S. meddling by no means serves American interests. On this front and specifically with regard to Israel, he has been almost universally derided by Jewish Republicans, but would a Ron Paul presidency really spell disaster for the Jewish State?

The case has been made that in truth a non-interventionist policy from the world’s only superpower would work well for Israel. For one, the ramrod imposition of some ‘peace’ that in most proposals comes at great cost to Israel, promising little concrete in return would cease. In addition, the country may find itself healthily jostled towards economic and military independence.

But in truth, the problem with Ron Paul’s anarchistic foreign policy approach is far more fundamental than the loss of economic aid to or the withdrawal of troops from, any particular country. Allow me to explain.

The term ‘Social Contract’ is defined by the World English Dictionary as follows:

(in the theories of Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others) an agreement, entered into by individuals, that results in the formation of the state or of organized society, the prime motive being the desire for protection, which entails the surrender of some or all personal liberties.

Put simply, if we don’t collectively establish governments, police forces, armies and laws (the Social Contract) we would live in a state of constant fear for our lives, perpetually engaged in conflict to protect our property from others. It would be survival of the fittest, the way of the wild. Anarchy.

Now, if an era of global peace will ever prevail on this earth, a Social Contract of sorts must in some way be established in an international setting among nations as well. Some infrastructure has indeed been introduced; the United Nations is a deeply flawed example, but an example nonetheless, as is the Geneva Convention.

But what is the value of a contract that can’t be enforced? If not for the sake of justice, certainly to protect those in whose benefit it was established. Hence the establishment of certain multinational forces and military alliances such as NATO. For the most part they exclude regimes that do not respect the freedom of their own citizens, as their very existence flies in the face the principles that the treaties are bound to protect, tantamount to stacking a police force with criminals.

Due to its status as an economic and military superpower, like it or not, America is the backbone of global law enforcement, and any thinking person should thank their lucky stars that this is the case. Consider for example, if there had been no reaction to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, which country would Iraq have invaded next, what would have been Iran’s response? And Saudi Arabia’s? How quickly would global anarchy spread?

Of course the decisions are not always popular, nor are they always fully consensus based and at times hindsight has shown them to be ill conceived and collateral damage has been tragic. However the same can be said of any police force. Following the 7/7 bombings in London, an innocent Brazilian national was shot in the head by officers  who suspected him to be a terrorist, and in the United States, there have been countless cases of accidental killings by police. In spite of these tragic incidents, nobody suggests that law enforcement should be abolished; only that mechanisms are established to avoid the recurring of such tragedies.

What Ron Paul advocates as foreign policy strategy is tantamount to a Law Enforcement policy that says, ‘there is no need for Jails or a Police Force, if people didn’t meddle in the affairs of others there would be no crime.’ It is unfortunate that we live in a world that the maintenance of the extensive global military presence of history’s most benevolent superpower is necessary to keep belligerent regimes in check.

Ron Paul’s ideology may work in a utopian environment, but in the real world, as Bret Stephens wrote in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, “We will not lessen tensions overseas by diminishing our military footprint: We’ll just create vacuums into which others rush and to which we’ll eventually return at cost.” Frankly, its borderline insane.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at

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  • ADP

    “All nations (that means you) must agree to be violently invaded by the perfectly benevolent all powerful United Statists of America (haha USA), if you don’t adopt our values and prostrate yourselves to serve our interests.” That sounds like a social contract any rational world citizen could assent to, don’t you think? Ron Paul is simply advocating that we tread lightly on others, and do it all inside the bounds of the constitution and rule of law, and not that we never intervene. “Any thinking person should thank their lucky stars” America’s a global bully? Is this author serious? “Any thinking person” should chuckle at this article before moving along rapidly…

  • Jon

    A good attempt, but the article shows you have very little knowledge of our history with Iraq and Kuwait, and middle eastern countries in general. We didn’t even invade Iraq right away, we just sat back and told Saddam he needed to withdraw his forces, and when he didn’t we went in. The Kuwaiti’s were not all that innocent either, because they were exaggerating claims and there were accusations (that couldn’t be proven) that they were stealing oil. The whole thing centered around oil. It wasn’t us coming to the rescue for some poor people who were getting invaded by a tyrant. Saddam had no plans to invade any other country, and there was no evidence he planned to. The only reason he wanted to shoot missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia was an attempt to disrupt the coalition consisting of the U.S. and her allies. His invasion and disruptions were causing some instability and problems with oil exports and that’s why everyone felt there was a need to go in and get him out of Kuwait. There was little interest in removing Saddam from power, because we were allied with him during the Iraq/Iran war, and many thought that if we did remove him, civil war would erupt. They were right.

  • Bead StallCup

    Study Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. Then study the history of the Kings and Queens of England, France, Italy etc. Remember, George Washington and the founding fathers had themselves experienced first hand what it was like to live in a collectivistic society where one group, the royals or the state as Thomas Hobbes put it, owned and controlled everything, that is, all the land, all the resources and all the wealth while the common people were reduced to “renters” on government lands and eeked out borderline subsistences all their adult lives. Like their fathers before them, Washington and our founding fathers lived under this kind of oppressive government system, under the tyrannical thumb of a King or Queen or Duke or a ruling party who always handed itself the “lion’s share” of everything of value. The Royal families lived in luxury, like parasites, on the backs and the labor of the common people. There was no such thing as individual rights and individual liberty. Such things as individual rights was considered an affront to the King or the ruling family or some other elite group in power and was strickly forbidden — for reasons that should be obvious to you. Unless you are descended of a King or a Royal family, your ancestors lived for the greater glory (under the thumb) of some all powerful King or his Royal family and that was your arrangement with them, like it or not. Absolute power was vested in the hands of a King or the bigshot politicians who invariably became corrupt, greedy and oppressive, making life all but unbearable for the common people. Having seen their fathers and mothers living under this kind of cruel government system and they themselves having lived under it as young men before coming to America Washington the founding fathers knew first hand what is was like to live in a nation where individuals had no rights or freedoms. From these dreadful experiences and remembrances, Washington and the founding fathers decided to try something radically different. They devised a new form of government where the individual, not the state, nor a Royal family, nor any special group, like a politically elite reigned over all other people. In America, they decided the individual would be vested with rights, inalienable rights, and freedoms. From that simple plan, called the U.S. Constitution, spring the greatest, most prosperous nation the world had ever seen. The Constitution was also a set of chains hobbled to all elected officials so he or she would be held in check against his personal ambitions, his greed and lust for more power than the Constitution allowed. All this was done so ordinary citizens, like you and me, with personal drive and resourcefulness could go ahead and make a life for ourselves and maybe even do better than most. The individual was responsible for himself. He could make a success of himself, if he desired, based on his ability, drive and talents. As any thoughtful person might expect some individuals did very well in this system, while those people with less drive and resourcefulness were not as successful. That’s the way it was, and has to be for free citizens of any nation to prosper. Unfortunatey, over the past 50 years we are turning away from the belief that the individual has rights and freedoms, and regressing back to a time when one group, the government, ie, elistist politicians want to own and control everything, and who want to decide who gets what. And as you might expect, the politically elite, just like the Kings and Queens of olden times, always hand themselves the “lion’s share” of everything of value, while tossing the working people mere scrapes. For example, they ride in limosines and private jets while you and I ride in used cars or a city bus. The point is this. Stop listening the the mainstream media on TV. The parasites at FOX, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, etc., are their to brainwash you into believing in the necessity and benevolence of big government and the powerful politician who will ramrod it for you. Baloney. Mainstream media is there to convince you to surrender your individual rights to big government, big politicians so they can decide what’s best for you. But, they are leading you down the garden path to pauperism and destitution. These media whores are in bed with the politically elite in Washington DC serving their interests and getting well paid for it with your tax dollars, while handing you and me a bag a rocks. The two party system in Washington today is nothing more than a two-headed snake playing gullible, TV-brainwashed Americans like a fiddle, while the system robs you blind. And the are. But, hey, do your own research on this. Read books. It’s true, but you’ll never hear this on mainstream news or out of the mouths of Washington’s power elite. In fact, read a couple of Ron Paul’s books and you’ll find that he is desperately trying to tell the people of this nation that they are losing their rights as individuals and by doing so, they are allowing a gang of power crazed politicians in DC to grab everything and profit from it. Just go to a good library and research this stuff, because that’s exactly what the politicians in BOTH parties in DC are hoping you WON’t do.

  • stealspell

    “Now, if an era of global peace will ever prevail on this earth, a Social Contract of sorts must in some way be established in an international setting among nations as well.”

    Isn’t this working under the assumption that other nations have to believe in the same principles that the US believes in, i.e., the Constitution? Therefore isn’t this suggesting nation building? Strange argument.

  • Colin

    We gave Iraq the money, weapons, and intelligence capabilities necessary for an invasion of Kuwait. Of course, our purpose behind giving Hussein such capability was because we *loved* him when he waged war against Iran. Of course, we needed him to wage war against Iran because Iran elected a radically anti-American regime after the overthrow of the brutally dictatorial Shah of Iran. Of course, they elected a radically anti-American government because our CIA overthrew their peaceful, democratically elected president in 1953 because the UK wanted better oil prices.

    But of course, these facts are unnecessary for your inept and alarmist writing style.

    Information is power; arm yourselves well.

    Ron Paul 2012

  • Jeff_r0x

    Your reasoning is not reasonable. Non-intervention means that I won’t come get into the feud you have with the neighbor on the other side about how you mow your lawn. It means that I can still attempt to be friendly with you(if you are willing to return friendliness) and possibly take the other neighbor’s kids to the park along with mine.

    Where did we get the dumb idea that we must police the nations for them?

  • Masebrock

    “Put simply, if we don’t collectively establish governments, police forces, armies and laws we would live in a state of constant fear for our lives, perpetually engaged in conflict to protect our property from others.”

    All of my nope. The only thing the social contract theory states is that people will naturally band together to protect each other, not that per-existing social institutions are the only thing keeping us from chaos. And using social contract theory to excuse government’s wrongdoings? Oh please, Lysander Spooner debunked you back in 1870. If you are seriously saying that without armies we would all wage war against each other all I can do is loooooooool. Going by your logic, I guess if we didn’t have guns we would all shoot each other too.

  • Solid

    Omg just stop the social contract argument doesn’t work very well as anything more than a metaphor. Contracts get their moral force, in the view of most people, including most libertarians, from the agreement of the parties. But the “social contract” has the form “I will give you these services and you will pay me for them, whether you agree to or not.”

    The standard response is that you “implicitly agree” by remaining in the country. But this works only if the government already has the right to throw you out of the country–i.e. if the government is somehow the owner of the entire territory it rules. Without a social contract, it is hard to see how you can justify such a claim. And until you can justify it, you can ‘t get your social contract.

    I could, after all, propose a contract to The writer under which he agrees to pay me a thousand dollars a month in exchange for the valuable services I am providing by critiquing his article. I could also inform him that by breathing, he agrees to accept that contract. But unless he already believes that he has no right to breath without my permission, it is hard to see why he should feel obligated to pay.

  • tim

    I deny the assumed global neighborhood concept. We are electing the President of the United States of America. We are not electing the king of the world.

  • obzabor

    Couple of things wrong with that analogy:

    1. People who benefit from the services of the police (i.e. are protected by it), also pay for the maintenance of that police. Other countries do not pay US to protect them, actually the opposite is true. So US is getting the short end of the stick.

    2. You don’t need the police if you’re the biggest kid on the block. And that’s exactly what US is. Ron Paul is only applying his argument in the context of US: Policing the world doesn’t add to OUR national security, we’re the strongest country anyways, so why bother? We can’t afford it anyway.

    • stealspell

      “Ron Paul is only applying his argument in the context of US” I agree with you. Too many times the opposition tries to give arguments in some void, or without context. We are the strongest and we don’t need to go around proving it.

  • Many people who watch this video change their vote.. the censorship and smears are getting ridiculous

  • sally

    One has to wonder what makes people turn to imaginary contracts to attempt to justify their positions. It’s a bit concerning to be quite honest.

    • Jeff_r0x

      Yeah, it’s dumb.

  • Chad in Kentucky

    Someday my toddlers will grow up. When they do I hope that they will be able to go out in the world and live among their neighbors. Even more, I hope that if they have a problem they will feel empowered by my teachings to stand up on their own hind legs and be adults. If they want advice I will be happy to give it. But I hope to god they don’t expect me to pay their bills, fight their fights, and constantly coddle them and prevent them from actually living life as adults. If I did have to do so, I’m sure I would be unable to retire and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

    Expecting the United States to be the guardian of the world is no less an imposition, and no less as damaging to the Sovereign empowerment of nations. It is also as damaging to American pocket-books as the analogy would be for me.

  • Lou Cypher

    Congratulations on your nearly unbelievable dishonest “journalism”. Whew. I couldn’t have done better myself.

    Suggestion: Give up alcohol. Give this another read. And write something worthy of a signature. Don’t be frightened. I won’t hurt you. I only want to help heal your damaged mind.

    I could pic this apart and easily illustrate your hopefully unknown knee-jerked dishonesty, but it looks like others are doing quite well without me. I am more of an entertainer myself. See? We have something in common after all!

    Get Well Soon,

  • salvage

    Ron Paul is a racist crank with a shaky grasp of reality.

    Libertarianism is akin to a child refusing to share with his brother because it’s “Just not faaaaaaiirrrr!” It’s as immature as it is short-sighted and in some cases just plain cruel.

    Isolationism was a stupid idea in the thirties and in today’s world? There isn’t a word that means “stupider” enough to cover it.

    Paul isn’t some fresh idea ambassador to the GOP, he’s just Pat Buchanan without the overt Antisemitism.

  • PD77

    This is truly one of the most demented perspectives I have ever read. This writer is completely lacking in rationality in any way, shape or form.

    Somehow equating non-interventionism with anarchism is flat out intellectually dishonest and displays hubris to the degree that it’s actually insulting to the world’s citizenry. What chutzpa it must take to tell the world, “If you don’t have us to police you the world will devolve into anarchy, for obviously what the American government envisions for you is the end all and be all of a just civilization.”

    The idea that a social contract to usher in world peace could be established by force is so ludicrous as to make one’s head spin… If the way to usher in global peace is to kill everyone who disagrees with you then the world will never have peace. It’s like saying that if I want peace with my neighbor I should go next door, force my way inside and run his household with guns pointed at his family.

    The thing that the writer doesn’t understand is that the “social contract” implies an agreement between parties, whereas with regard to the US military policing the world… there is no agreement between parties. There is simply a stronger force controlling a weaker force. This is not a just policing arrangement. The rest of the world’s citizenry didn’t get to vote or choose their police, nor did they get to have a say in what rules they are to comply with in the first place. This form of policing is more akin to the NKVD under Stalin… which should be anathema to any freedom loving American.

    The questions that arise when discussing policing the globe a numerous, of great significance, and most importantly, unanswered. What are the laws being enforced? Who determined what these laws are? Who determines what a just punishment for breaking these unknown laws are?

    Without answers to these questions the US presence is less about policing and more about enforcing the agenda of those in control of the “benevolent” superpower. In this case, determining what constitutes a “belligerent regime” is less about the rule of law and more about a collective form of personal gratification.

  • Gil

    “What Ron Paul advocates as foreign policy strategy is tantamount to a Law Enforcement policy that says, ‘there is no need for Jails or a Police Force, if people didn’t meddle in the affairs of others there would be no crime.’
    –> This is not correct and I think you know it. Using your own ‘example’: His message is tantamount to a Law Enforcement policy that says, ‘It is unconstitutional to jail a citizen without proof and it is unconstitutional to have a Police State. If someone hurts or impinges on the rights or lawful affairs of another citizen they should be stopped and held fully accountable for their actions.’
    He does not state that these things should not happen (jails, police, structure)…but that it is the States and Individuals, not the Fed that should be doing it. The Fed should only stop the states when they try to enact policies such as those that would erode or remove citizen’s individual rights. The Fed can’t do it, the States can’t do it, and no one but a creator can do it, because we have our rights solely because we have life. Not because Government gave them to us.
    You also tie this to the USA footprint around the world and being the police force…..OK, so should China or say the Arab League invade say…Maryland because the USA has started illegal wars in their regions of interest and is assassinating people within their shores.
    The USA used to be the country that stated ‘Might does not make right’, it lead the world by example. As with our citizens and as with the world, we cannot pre-emptively judge and condemn because we might be safer. I would rather have another September 11th in my history instead of another ‘Third Reich’ (meaning I would rather have us be the innocent and righteous instead of the guilty and bloodstained.)
    There are no sure things in life, you cannot guarantee my safety..I understand this, but WE can guarantee OUR liberty by following the Constitution and the limits within it.

    We are not an empire and should never aspire to be one.

    We should not spread our military out the way it is, we should keep it strong and stable and if REALLY threatened then we should unleash them fully without the politically correct nonsense that hamstrings them now.
    Take it to congress and go full out.

    • anonie moss

      You are correct.

      More aptly, if you want to make the comparison to police action then his foreign policy would compare to what the police do now, as opposed to pre-crime. The police don’t go around arresting people because they believe they may one day commit a crime, they act after a crime is committed or while a crime is being committed.

  • Jesse

    So basically, your argument is that sovereignty is an outdated idea. I can never ascribe to such a view.

  • Burning_Tyger

    How is refraining from being the World Police, something that a majority of the countries in the world refrain from doing, considered some kind of fantasy? It’s not fantasy. It’s grounded, pragmatic, logical, common-sense.

    Ron Paul is not stating that our motives are less than honorable, although I think some could make a credible argument for that. What he is saying is that enforcing our will on the rest of the world, either economically or militarily, even if we have the purest of intentions, creates undue hostility. Our resources and the lives of our young men and women are better spent protecting our borders and our trade ships abroad. We should not picking winners and losers in overseas conflicts, propping up regimes until they turn on us, and then tearing them down.

    Here’s the bottom line. Even if you believe we have to do this, then I have to ask you? When China, or Russia, or any other nation want to do the same thing, putting bases in countries close to our homeland, placing sanctions on our allies, how do you explain that they do not have the right to do so? Is it because we are currently the most powerful nation and might makes right? Or is it because we are the most moral nation and we know God is on our side? These are rhetorical questions, because there is obviously no good answer. The reality is, if we feel we can do it, then we set a horrible example for other up-and-coming powers in the world. And when they do the same thing, if we protest, they will just smile and laugh, and tell us to look at our own actions. That or we have to go to war.

    I happen to believe we should listen to Dr. Paul, and to the founders of this nation. We engage the world in open diplomacy and trade, remove ourselves from external conflicts that do not directly threaten our homeland, and if we are threatened, Congress declares war as was intended in the Constitution, and we fight to win with all we got, and then end the war. We should set a shining example to the rest of the world on how a truly free society can prosper, and not give them a model by which other nations can enforce their will on the rest of the world.

  • buck kennedy

    This is a dangerous stance.

    For one thing, history has proven that once you concede some of your personal liberties, they invariably take more. (you know who they are.)

    Secondly, why sell out your personal freedoms for perceived safety.

    No one is looking for anarchy at home or abroad. We have peace officers, and we have jack booted federally funded police. Big difference. We have the worlds largest navy by many times. It can be anywhere in hours by air. not to mention the air force and army. Why have troops in everyone’s back yard with a gun trained on them. again, big difference.

    This author obviously subscribes to social Darwinism. This is one of the many reasons they have for imposing the nanny state. In other words, with out the nanny state we will all degenerate in to murderous animals. A professor of criminal justice once told me that the common way of thinking in law enforcement is that the law is not a deterrent for crime. So more of them wont improve things.

    As soon as we surrender our liberties, we have lost them. Please do not succumb to the lunatic thought that excessive police, laws and military will keep you safe. If the guy next to you on the bus wants to hurt you, he will weather its illegal or not.