Society Against The State
There has been quite an uproar over the most recent batch of WikiLeaks disclosures, with the US State department warning foreign nations ahead of the disclosures that they were on their way and that they would contain quite a few deeply embarrassing revelations. For a quick overview, you can find some of the more interesting ones .
The actual release has been quite interesting to say the least. Some of the things we learned from it immediately make one ask 'why on earth was this kept secret at all?', while others are of great interest to observers of geopolitics, as they reveal things that were often suspected, but not really known for certain (so-called 'open secrets'). As examples for this we would point especially to China's ambivalent relations with North Korea and its support for a reunification of the two Korean nations, as well as the Arab enmity toward Iran, which apparently expressed itself in several of the authoritarian regimes in the Arab peninsula (our 'good friends') urging the US to attack Iran.
Many of the releases were of course quite revealing in a completely different way: they are indeed an embarrassment for the political class and the bureaucracy and a strong indication of how far apart the interests of the average citizen (or if you will, more broadly, society) and those of the State really are.
The State is an entity unto itself. Contrary to the propaganda we are subjected to daily, 'we' are not the State. The minions ruling and administrating it have their own interests, which they can pursue nowhere more effectively than within the power structures provided by the State. Its monopolization of law and force within its territory represent a unique opportunity for sociopaths of all stripes. Indeed, a study has found that politicians are highly likely to be sociopathic individuals – which should really not surprise anyone.
It is important to remember that the State has historically come into being by means of violent conquest and enslavement. It was established as an effective tool of exploitation – it was never a 'voluntary arrangement', where a bunch of people suddenly decided it was better for them to be ruled by others instead of remaining free. Our modern-day democratic State with its (s)elections has grown from these historical roots and represents only a marginal improvement upon its earlier versions – elections do not retroactively alter the State's genesis or its raison d'etre.
And yet, the State qua State is rarely discussed or questioned anymore. Do we really need it, as governments everywhere claim? Would the world sink into chaos if the State ceased to exist? Lastly, is it even legitimate to equate the State with 'government'? We think not. For interested readers we would strongly recommend the irreverent and hard-hitting book 'Our Enemy The State' by that seminal hater of politics, Albert Jay Nock, in which Nock points inter alia out that native Americans had no State – but they nevertheless did have government.
We don't want to digress too far however; it suffices to note in the context of the WikiLeaks disclosures that the official propaganda line – namely that the interests of our political masters and their corporatist paymasters coincide with ours – is once again revealed for the lie it is.
What is needed to keep the political class in check is a watchdog, a role that is supposedly fulfilled by our corporatist 'free' press. As anyone with even a modicum of intellectual curiosity could easily ascertain – especially over the past decade - the 'free press' of the Western industrialized nations has become little more than a propaganda organ for the government. In essence, it is a slightly more sophisticated version of the Soviet 'Pravda' of yore (the decisive difference being that the Pravda was so clumsy in the delivery of its lies that people knew perfectly well they were being lied to).
This toeing of the line is generally justified by journalists by the alleged 'need for access' to the corridors of power, which would be denied if the press were to fail to unquestioningly support such efforts as the disastrous Iraq war, to name a fairly recent example. One could hardly think of a more lame excuse of course, alas, there it is.
As we have noted occasionally before, the advent of the internet has thrown a spanner into the works of many a statist plan, mainly by somewhat reducing the power and influence these organs of statist propaganda possess.
We can no longer rely on the mainstream press to do its work – which is why a service like WikiLeaks is sorely needed. It is a replacement for the watchdog we have lost.
The 'National Security' Question
Much of the protest against the WikiLeaks disclosures revolves around the alleged damage to the nebulous catch-all concept of 'national security' – which is really the code for 'the security of our political masters to do whatever they like without having to fear any consequences whatsoever'. It is worth quoting Doug Casey in this context from a recent interview ( 'Conversations with Casey' – we recommend reading the whole thing):
“Crooks should not get away with their crimes just because they hold lofty titles, wear spiffy uniforms, and call their crimes great deeds necessitated by "national security," "economic stimulus," or whatever other nonsensical lies they come up with.
I'm fond of saying, "Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law – but be prepared to accept the consequences." Well, exposing secrets is an important part of enabling the natural consequences for dastardly deeds to follow.
The whole idea of "national security" has gotten completely out of control. It has about zero to do with protecting what little is left of America; it's all about protecting, and building, the U.S. government, and the people who participate in it and profit from it. People fail to understand that the USG doesn't represent them, or care about them – or at least not any more than a farmer cares about his milk cows. It's an entity unto itself at this point. It has its own interests, which have only an accidental or coincidental overlap with those of America. Government is by its very nature duplicitous and predatory; it always puts itself first. By cynically paying lip service to traditional values, and whipping up a nationalistic, patriotic fervor, they can get Boobus americanus to go along with almost anything they propose.”
It is quite dismaying that as soon as 'national security' is invoked, mainstream conservatives are perfectly happy to transform into a bunch of little Hitlers, demanding that WikiLeaks founder Julien Assange be branded a 'terrorist enemy combatant' (Sarah Palin), or as in this video that shows a senior adviser to the Harper government in Canada in a moment of 'feeling manly', going as far as demanding Assange's assassination.
This video is quite revealing on many levels: Harper adviser Tom Flannagan 'feels very manly today' and thus calls for Julien Assange's liquidation - from the safety of his armchair. Note how his corporatist media lackey interviewers find this real funny. Assassinating the guy who has just revealed what depraved scoundrels you all are? By using the vast apparatus of State power at your command? How 'manly'! And how amusing!
Nothing let's conservatives forget the principles of liberty and the Bill of Rights more quickly than a perceived threat to 'national security'. One of the most ludicrous propaganda devices the government uses in its attempt to discredit WikiLeaks is the assertion that the leaks 'endanger innocent lives' – brought to us by none other than the very people who do not think twice about rubbing out the lives of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of innocent civilians in the name of said 'national security'.
Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com, who is a big thorn in both the sides of the powerful and their mouthpieces in the corporatist media skewers this argument expertly, as Mish inter alia notes in his likewise highly recommended write-up of the WikiLeaks 'affair'.
Greenwald's article 'The Moral Standard of Wikileak's Critics' is a true gem in that it exposes the duplicity and moral relativism of those who are now all of a sudden discovering the danger to the well-being of individuals – a danger they routinely ignored when drumming up support for wars and torture. Greenwald writes:
“Time's Joe Klein writes this about the WikiLeaks disclosures:
I am tremendously concernced [sic] about the puerile eruptions of Julian Assange. . . . If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in "freedom" stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He's the one who should be in jail.
Do you have that principle down? If "a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure — even a "single one" — then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a "disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail." That's quite a rigorous moral standard. So let's apply it elsewhere:
What about the most destructive "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" the planet has known for at least a generation: the "human disaster" known as the attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That didn't result in the imprisonment of "a single foreign national," but rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26 million people. Are those who supported that "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" — or at least those responsible for its execution — also "criminals who should be in jail"?
How about the multiple journalists and other human beings whom the U.S. Government imprisoned (and continues to imprison) for years without charges — and tortured — including many whom the Government knew were completely innocent, while Klein assured the world that wasn't happening? How about those responsible for the war in Afghanistan ( ) with its checkpoint shootings of an "amazing number" of innocent Afghans and civilian slaughtering air strikes, or the use of cluster bombs in Yemen, or the civilian killing drones in Pakistan? Are those responsible for the sky-high corpses of innocent people from these actions also "criminals who should be in jail"?
I'm not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of what I'm finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, . The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of — and in some cases directly responsible for — the world's deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade. And they're demanding Assange's imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them. To accomplish that, they're actually advocating — somehow with a straight face — the theory that if a single innocent person is harmed by these disclosures, then it proves that Assange and WikiLeaks are evil monsters who deserve the worst fates one can conjure, all while they devote themselves to protecting and defending a secrecy regime that spawns at least as much human suffering and disaster as any single other force in the world. That is what the secrecy regime of the permanent National Security State has spawned.
Meanwhile, in the real world (as opposed to the world of speculation, fantasy, and fear-mongering) there is no evidence — zero — that the WikiLeaks disclosures have harmed a single person. As McClatchy reported, they have exercised increasing levels of caution to protect innocent people. Even Robert Gates disdained hysterical warnings about the damage caused as "significantly overwrought." But look at what WikiLeaks has revealed to the world:
We viscerally saw the grotesque realities of our war in Iraq with the Apache attack video on innocent civilians and journalists in Baghdad — and their small children — as they desperately scurried for cover. We recently learned that the U.S. government adopted a formal policy of refusing to investigate the systematic human rights abuses of our new Iraqi client state, all of which took place under our deliberately blind eye. We learned of 15,000 additional civilian deaths caused by the war in Iraq that we didn't know of before. We learned — as documented by The Washington Post's former Baghdad Bureau Chief — how clear, deliberate and extensive were the lies of top Bush officials about that war as it was unfolding: "Thanks to WikiLeaks, though, I now know the extent to which top American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public," she wrote.”
We strongly recommend reading Greenwald's article in its entirety. Below is a cartoon by McLeod cartoons that neatly sums up the moral standards of those who are now most outraged over the fact that government's scheming and lying have been exposed.
From McLeod Cartoons: the moral relativism of the statist propagandists
Please note here that the conservative fairy tale that WikiLeaks is somehow a project loved and supported by the political left is just demagogic clap-trap. The Left is by definition in favor of statism and to expect it to be enamored of an organization that exposes the lies and secrets of the State is really one step too far. This mistake has for instance been made by Dennis Gartman in one of his recent investment letters, where he fulminates, “ What this man has done is unconscionable and yet he is seen by the Left as a hero. What are these people thinking?”.
No Mr. Gartman, it has nothing to do with the 'Left'. And what Assange has done is not 'unconscionable' – what is unconscionable is what governments have been and are doing, stuff we now know due to Assange's courage to expose it.
Mr. Assange has done all of us a great service – because of his efforts, we are all a tiny bit more free than we would have been otherwise. This is the standard by which we should measure the worth of the man and his work.
Gartman often professes to be in favor of 'free markets', but regularly stops short of questioning the pillars of the establishment. Not only is he in support of the central planning of money by central banks, he is also a completely uncritical supporter of political conservatism as it is now constituted, including its unbridled militarism. His faux outrage over WikiLeaks has in the meantime been tempered by the fact that he found out that the leaks are indeed 'interesting'. This has apparently helped him overcome his previously expressed anxiety over the fact that the King of Saudi Arabia may have a few nights filled with more fitful sleep than usually.
The people in support of WikiLeaks are neither 'left' nor 'right' – they are simply all those who love liberty and harbor a healthy distrust of the State. A distrust that seems perfectly justified in view of the many revelations we have WikiLeaks to thank for.
From the above mentioned Doug Casey interview, there is this interesting comment on the 'right-left' issue as it pertains to WikiLeaks:
“L: In an interesting counterpoint, Reuters reports that Hillary Clinton defended WikiLeaks, even as she arrived in Kazakhstan at the same time as the embarrassing assessment of Kazakh leadership was leaked. Sometimes liberals do defend liberal ideas, like freedom of the press.
Doug: Sometimes. But not if it's politically incorrect press. You can rely on them only to make government larger and more expensive at every turn – that you can rely upon like a Swiss train. Hillary – like any Secretary of State – is a skilled and enthusiastic liar. Her stock in trade is deception. Everything she says is intended to forward her drive to be the President. I wonder if she'd be worse than Palin? But that's like asking if Nero would be worse than Caligula.”
Amen to that.
We would also note, there is a psychological need for people to defend their political idols, even if they are clearly revealed for the blackguards and scoundrels they really are. This is due to the fact that many people don't really want to come to terms with what is being done in their name. This is why e.g. government lies such as 'Saddam Hussein had to do with Al Quaeda's attack on the WTC' in spite of there not being a shred of evidence in their favor, while reams of counter-evidence have been presented – to the extent that the original fabricators of the lie have themselves felt compelled to retract it publicly. And still a surprisingly large percentage of the public clings to this lie. It simply makes it easier to repress the knowledge about the 100,000 Iraqis that have been killed and the four million that have been rendered homeless if one can pretend it has been done for a 'righteous cause' (in this case, presumed vengeance for the WTC attack, or WMD's, or any of the other pretexts that were used to 'sell the war' to the public).
Mr. 'Kill Switch' Springs Into Action
Lastly it behooves us to mention the actions of a man we love to hate, Joe 'Kill Switch' Lieberman. In what has turned into a largely symbolic act due to the internet's redundancies, he immediately moved to pressure Amazon into abandoning its hosting of WikiLeaks. Here is the statement an evidently satisfied Lieberman issued after Amazon had caved in:
“This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the WikiLeaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on WikiLeaks' previous publication of classified material. The company's decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organization that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. WikiLeaks' illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company – whether American or foreign – should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information.”
Not surprisingly Lieberman regurgitates the nonsensical government propaganda about the release 'endangering lives around the world' to justify the secrecy.
I guess we should all be grateful though that someone at the New York Times once believed it would be a good idea to release Daniel Ellsberg's 'Pentagon Papers' even though they represented 'stolen, classified information'. That was another moment that greatly embarrassed politicians and their lackeys and it was instrumental in helping to end a senseless war that imposed an immense cost in both blood and treasure on all involved. How many lives did the disclosure help to save? We will never know, but as a rule, exposing government secrecy tends to save rather than endanger lives. This should be clear to everyone after the tiniest moment of reflection. The biggest mass-murderers in humanity's history have been States and governments, and they continue to be so. This is a fact – there is no need to even debate it. Anything that reduces their ability to deceive us should be welcomed by all free-thinking people.
As Doug Casey notes, echoing the views that we presented in the original 'Kill Switch' article:
“Every advance in technology puts the little guy on a more even footing with those at the top of the intra-human food chain. This is why the Colt revolver became known as "the great equalizer." For the first time, the little guy was not only the equal of the big guy but, because he presented a smaller target, was his superior.
The Internet is the best thing that's happened for freedom since the invention of the printing press. Technology is the biggest force for individual liberty, and politics the main enemy of it. But people idiotically idolize politicians and generals much more than scientists and inventors.”
This danger posed by the internet to the establishment has not gone unnoticed by said establishment of course. Lieberman , a proponent of the 'security state' , a man who would gladly sacrifice all that's left of our liberties in favor of a false idol of 'security', is also the man who thinks it would be a good idea if the governemnt could simply 'switch off the internet' on the pretext of the 'cyber-attack' bugaboo. In reality this is just creating the tools that will enable repression of dissent in the future under the cover of 'emergency'.
His reasoning a the time was quite interesting. Essentially it went: 'China can do it, so we should be able to do it too'.
If we spin this line of thought to its logical conclusion, then one discovers an excellent excuse for the provisions of the Patriot Act that allow the president to declare people 'enemy combatants' at his whim and order their secret imprisonment, torture (sorry, 'enhanced interrogation') and liquidation. After all, 'North Korea can do it too'! So 'we' should naturally be able to do it as well.
Note here once again how politicians like Lieberman use the semantic trick of trying to identify the State with everyone. The ubiquitous use of 'we' when referring to the depredations of the State (it's our 'national security' that is at stake, we need to bomb Iran, etc.,etc.) is meant to indicate that we should all identify ourselves with the antics of the political class – a class that officially exists to 'serve us', which is yet another big lie.
We leave you with a final quote from the excellent Doug Casey interview:
“If information put out by others about you is wrong, defend yourself with the truth. If you have a solid reputation accumulated over years of interactions with many people, your side of the story should get a good hearing. If you've been a jerk to many people, or not always honest, you'll have a tougher time – which is as it should be.
The potential harm that lies might do does not justify giving power to the state to control what other people say – that's a far greater harm. A complete free market in information will necessarily make people much more discriminating, and less gullible. They'll become much less likely to believe things without solid evidence.”
We can only hope that the people who keep voting Lieberman and people of his ilk into office reconsider their choice next time around. The man is a great danger to free speech and liberty, relying on the age old trick of promising us safety if only we relent and let him and his fellow secrecy craving organs of the State do whatever they like.
Don't fall for it.
Militarist statist Joe Lieberman – a danger to everyone on the planet.
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