Can Rand Paul make libertarianism mainstream?

Coming of age in America’s first family of libertarianism — he calls his father, a three-time presidential aspirant, “my hero” — Rand Paul was steeped in a narrow, rightward strain of the ideology, according to interviews, documents, and a review of speeches, articles and books.

Some of its adherents have formulated provocative theories on race, class and American history, and routinely voice beliefs that go far beyond the antiwar, anti-big-government, pro-civil-liberties message of the broader movement that has attracted legions of college students, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Tea Party activists.

That worldview, often called “paleolibertarianism,” emerges from the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama, started with money raised by the senior Mr. Paul. It is named for the Austrian émigré who became an intellectual godfather of modern libertarian economic thinking, devoted to an unrestricted free market.

Some scholars affiliated with the Mises Institute have combined dark biblical prophecy with apocalyptic warnings that the nation is plunging toward economic collapse and cultural ruin. Others have championed the Confederacy. One economist, while faulting slavery because it was involuntary, suggested in an interview that the daily life of the enslaved was “not so bad — you pick cotton and sing songs.”