A study group? We probably have way to go there, but o.k., why not call it a study group. On a basic level, my intent was simply to use our time more efficiently, to get more out of all the intellectual capacity constituted by our members, and also to provide a long-term perspective for the group.
When you, Allan, quote me on the impact we have on the ongoing election, I want to add the following: I am not so much worried about the limited effect that our Vienna gatherings have on the Ron Paul campaign, I am more concerned about the impact that the campaign may have on us and all the other groups, in the sense that, what happens when things don’t turn out as rosy as some people imagine. Will that be like deflating a balloon? Will all the excitement simply evaporate? Some of you might dismiss asking such questions as needless defeatism, and yes, not a single vote has been cast yet, and we still hope for an upset victory or at least a memorable fight, however small the odds may be. Yet the dim scenario might happen, if people see the movement simply in terms of the race for the presidency.
Getting Ron Paul elected is one part of the story. The other one, and I might add, the more profound one, is, that this is about ideas. And no matter what happens to the Ron Paul campaign these ideas are here to stay: strong defence of personal liberties and a profound reflection on what the proper role of government ought to be, the meaning of national sovereignty in an increasingly globalized world and the function of international organisations, the over-reaching of the state at home and abroad, non-interventionism as opposed to interventionism with all its unintended consequences, a fundamental understanding of the current monetary system and how it affects people’s lives. For me personally, Ron Paul has provided me with lots of food for thought on all of these. In my case it is not that I suddenly started to see the light, but rather a process that I have entered instead, kind of an intellectual journey that has just begun. And now I simply want to carry on. I want to educate myself on those issues, and what would be more apparent than doing that together with the other people in the group.
I, for one, have been interested in international politics ever since and – like so many others - even more so in the post 9/11 world of the last seven years. I have assembled a small but fine reading list (that features some of the titles on Rudy’s list) which I’d be happy to share with the others. Stefan on the other hand has started digging into Viennese economics. I’d be glad to learn more from him on this. And there is Ben, who as an American lawyer has a better insight on many of the implications of the war on terror etc.
Where is all that heading in a practical political sense? What are our goals for the future? We’ve discussed that in depth in our last meeting and inadvertently we ended up once again with the basic question, that is, what does a European Ron Paul movement really mean? What is it about? The result was hardly surprising. We said that, if there is something like a European Ron Paul movement (and Strasbourg just recently proved that such a thing does exist), we should focus on the European Union and the ongoing process of integration. There are different levels of Euro-scepticism to be found among the members of our group. What we all agreed on was that there is, additionally to the many questionable things already in place, a worrying tendency to further interference that gives us as liberty minded Europeans great cause for concern. One major characteristic of how these things are being put forward, is, that much of it happens under the radar. And there we are again with the “study group”. We see it as a logical starting point for us to get ourselves better informed, gain the necessary technical knowledge, check out for possible watchdog groups already in place, and become active. This we see as our most likely long-term perspective as a European political movement and this should feature prominently in our next European wide gathering.
In the meantime we are going back to school. It is a small school still, made up only by the few of us, and it's not too sophisticated yet, sort of a home school. Small but fine, completely detached from any department of education: this, our Vienna school of Ron Paulitics.