Shafer offers background on leaks, how they’re used for political advantage, how they’re used by the opposition party. He finishes with:
‘We owe Snowden a debt of gratitude for restarting—or should I say starting?—the public debate over the government’s secret but “legal” intrusions into our privacy. His leaks, filtered through the Guardian and the Washington Post, give us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to place limits on our power-mad government.’
I’m not sure about the ‘power-mad government,’ but I’ve noticed that there is an individual liberty coalescence around the issue, which naturally appeals to libertarians, civil libertarians, the anarcho-left, the ACLU, some liberals, and some libertarian conservatives. There is stronger resistance from the Obama Left (their guy is in power, possibly allowing ideological/political abuse of the DOJ and IRS) and traditional Right (placing more trust in the hierarchy and authority necessary to serve the national interest and common defense).
I’m interested in knowing just what kind of incentives we’ve been creating since the Patriot Act (for the executive branch especially), and where Big Data and Big Government are meeting. I don’t entirely trust Snowden’s motives (likely more responsible than the anarcho-Left, recklessly ideal Wikileaks Assange and rogue Bradley Manning, but perhaps not as much as some previous leakers).
Worth a read. Some commenters take our author, T. M. Scanlon, to task for not getting Hayek quite right.
Apart from the piece, it’s interesting that many folks feel that they have to defend big State liberalism and certain more positive definitions of liberty against libertarian thinkers at the moment. Most libertarians have trouble with liberal definitions of liberty and the Statism that results (liberaltarians like Will Wilkinson likely have less, though still some trouble with them). Yet, conservatives (especially religious conservatives) are having less trouble with libertarians at the moment (will they dump libertarians first chance they get if they win back the White House…do libertarians have it right when they argue that both parties are tied to a big-State machine that imposes upon the individual’s liberty?). If I recall correctly, Hayek was responding to conditions on the ground in Austria (where the socialists were the last line of liberty defense against fascism…and Austria and the Continent sunk again into war).
Often John Locke’s adaptation to Enlightenment developments is a welcome retreat, where life, liberty and property are secured by government, and much else is not. Yet the dangerous impulses of religious believers must also be overcome: Here’s a Locke quote from a previous post:
“7. What is meant by enthusiasm. This I take to be properly enthusiasm, which, though founded neither on reason nor divine revelation, but rising from the conceits of a warmed or overweening brain, works yet, where it once gets footing, more powerfully on the persuasions and actions of men than either of those two, or both together: men being most forwardly obedient to the impulses they receive from themselves; and the whole man is sure to act more vigorously where the whole man is carried by a natural motion. For strong conceit, like a new principle, carries all easily with it, when got above common sense, and freed from all restraint of reason and check of reflection, it is heightened into a divine authority, in concurrence with our own temper and inclination.”
Addition: As a reader points out, this is a state of mind not confined to religious belief, and which many groups, organizations and others, including religious ones will take advantage of to strengthen the group.
Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism. I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty. Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.