WikiLeaks, “Progressivism,” and “National Security”

One of the most overused terms in this age of the overwhelming state is “national security,” and I always am amazed at how people who think clearly on other subjects fall all over themselves when someone manages to breach the secrecy of government agencies. Not surprisingly, when this flimsy “security” line actually is crossed, the typical response is to try to kill the messenger.

One of my favorite bloggers is Tom Kirkendall, a Houston attorney who also runs the Houston’s Clear Thinkers blog, and Kirkendall’s comments on the latest WikiLeaks release of hundreds of thousands of documents involving international wheeling and dealing is on the money. Before looking at his comments, however, I have a few of my own.

The Progressive Era, which really was a massive assault on the constitutional order of the former American republic, was based upon a belief that “intelligent experts” should be in charge of the daily lives of everyone else. People at the end of the 19th Century tended to understand that politicians were corrupt, governments generally wasted tax dollars, and that elected officials could not be trusted. Furthermore, while they did not like that situation, nonetheless they at least could be assured that they could live their lives apart from most governmental influence.

Progressives, however, believed that they could create what everyone else thought to be an oxymoron: “Good Government.” This would be government which had permanent agencies staffed by brilliant and loyal “public servants” who could — and should — make decisions for everyone else. The Progressives also believed that the Constitution was terribly flawed because it gave that corrupt Congress too much authority and did not give the executive branch the free hand that was needed to institutionalize the bureaucratic state. Thus, they sought to change that state of affairs, and what we have today is the result: Bad governance by the “good experts.”

(As an academic economist, I always marvel at just how the “brilliant” policy “experts” in the executive branch have managed to run the once-powerful U.S. economy into the ground, and now claim they can “fix” everything by injecting bouts of inflation. For once, I really wish that someone like Ben Bernanke, who was on the elite Princeton economics faculty before coming to the Federal Reserve System, would admit that by appealing to inflation, he has no answers at all. Instead, we get nonsense like “Quantitative Easing,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for printing money.)

The arena where we most likely will see “rule by experts” is in foreign policy, and the WikiLeaks document release demonstrates just how cynical and dishonest the entire process has become. Furthermore, the release demonstrates how truly mediocre yet egotistical people have come to dominate the process, and how they put millions of people on the hook just to pad their own ego trips.

It is here that Kirkendall really presents some good insights. He writes:

To get at the value of WikiLeaks, I think it’s important to distinguish between the government-the temporary, elected authors of national policy-and the state-the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government. The careerists scattered about the world in America’s intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America’s unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.

If secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents. I suspect that there is no scheme of government oversight that will not eventually come under the indirect control of the generals, spies, and foreign-service officers it is meant to oversee. (Emphasis mine)

What passes for “national security” really is nothing more than a veil of secrecy created to protect the “insecurity” of the bureaucrats and clueless, short-term-thinking policymakers who obligate Americans and others to pay for destructive schemes. Not surprisingly, in the end, the Permanent Ruling Class that the “Progressive” system has created respond by wanting to throw the messenger into prison.

(Since we don’t have television reception at my home, I have not watched any of the talking heads on the various cable shows, but I am sure that the word “treason” has been thrown around carelessly by both liberals and conservatives. As I see it, however, Julian Assange simply has opened our eyes to the egotism and folly of people who believe they are entitled to make decisions for billions of people.)

As if on cue, the New York Times, which really is the Godfather of Progressivism, provides comic relief in the form of claiming that the leaks show just how skillful and brilliant the Obama Regime really is — in contrast to the Bush administration. Once again, we see that Progressives tend to be bifurcated in their thinking, claiming that this latest release of documents falls into both the “Aren’t We Brilliant?” AND “Move Along, Folks, Nothing To See” categories, and the NYT misses the larger point.

What is that bigger picture? In the post-World War II era, the “experts” that run our Administrative State not only have bankrupted this country, they have driven out productive people and productive entities, involved our armed forces in intractable wars (none of which have been declared by Congress, as the Constitution requires), put troops all over the world, and created a police state at home. Furthermore, they have managed to get away with it and have convinced Americans that any attempt to do away with this sorry state of affairs is an act of treason.

And what is the response when this folly is exposed? Yes, arrest those who have exposed it and give more power to those people who have been destroying our economy and our future.

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About William L. Anderson 48 Articles

Affiliation: Frostburg State University

William L. Anderson is an author and an associate professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He is also an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as well as for the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama.

Anderson was formerly a professor of economics at North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina.

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