The outpouring of support WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have received from the usual paleo-libertarian suspects is as illuminating as it is predictable. Take, for example, Ron Paul’s latest attempt at LewRockwell.com to make excuses for the leaking of highly sensitive government data because—as always—the real villain we should be worried about is Uncle Sam:
[S]tate secrecy is anathema to a free society. Why exactly should Americans be prevented from knowing what their government is doing in their name?
In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling, and outright military intervention in the post–World War II era has made us less secure, not more […]
The neoconservative ethos, steeped in the teaching of Leo Strauss, cannot abide an America where individuals simply pursue their own happy, peaceful, prosperous lives. It cannot abide an America where society centers around family, religion, or civic and social institutions rather than an all-powerful central state. There is always an enemy to slay, whether communist or terrorist. In the neoconservative vision, a constant state of alarm must be fostered among the people to keep them focused on something greater than themselves – namely their great protector, the state. This is why the neoconservative reaction to the WikiLeaks revelations is so predictable: “See, we told you the world was a dangerous place,” goes the story. They claim we must prosecute – or even assassinate – those responsible for publishing the leaks. And we must redouble our efforts to police the world by spying and meddling better, with no more leaks.
True to form, Paul doesn’t even try to address the evidence that WikiLeaks is a national-security threat operating against the law and beyond the First Amendment’s protection. As usual when it comes to foreign policy, the self-appointed spokesman of our forefathers is actually on the wrong side of the Founding regarding the necessity of maintaining a certain level of secrecy (see Federalist 64 and Federalist 70). And once again, the Paulite cult’s strange fixation on Leo Strauss pops up. (On that note, I have a suggestion for NRB’s Paulite readers: when you comment on this post—and I know you will—instead of regurgitating the same old complaints, how about explaining to me just what nefarious Straussian teachings we “neocons” are under the influence of?)
The most revealing part of this passage, however, is Paul’s talk of “an all-powerful central state.” Not only does he cast it as the defining evil of our time, against which digital anarchists, missile-happy dictators, and radical Islamists pale in comparison, but he also sees everyone who disagrees with him—even on issues unrelated to the centralization of government power—through the same prism. Conservatives who disagree with me on Iraq and WikiLeaks must do so because they’re secretly in love with big government…never mind how much time and energy those same “neocons” spend fighting statism.
Where does this tunnel vision come from? At one level, it’s an unwillingness to accept just how dangerous and complex the world really is. Humans are naturally tempted to seek simple answers to complex questions, to feel we’re more in control than we really are. We want to solve our problems in as few steps as possible. Isolationist/non-interventionist types seek a quick and easy fix to international dangers like Islamic radicalism. If we don’t have a presence there, they won’t want to bother us here.