Assange and Hayek understand the “enemy”
Julian Assange is not just a real hero in every sense of the word. He is an incredibly smart, thoughtful and nuanced personality. I can’t even begin to imagine the countless things he must navigate with tremendous skill to not only keep himself alive, but to help lead a quite-possibly-civilization-saving organization that requires so much technical skill and ohh so much more. A recent interview he did with Jeremy Scahill for theintercept.com took my appreciation for him to a whole new level while reminding me of how desperately we need F.A. Hayek’s wisdom and how alike Assange and Hayek are.
When talking about Hillary, Trump, and the US administration that has politicians who literally want to have Assange killed, he mentions the following:
Yes, of course there’s groupism operating and probably opportunism as well. But, you know, I don’t think you can cast these people as devils at all. These are people with a range of noble and ignoble character traits. They’re human beings. And they have a worldview, and it really is a worldview. They exist within a particular information sphere, which I find fairly confining and self-referential, and believe some weird things. But I think that’s a product of the information that they receive, their upbringing, their — you know, the networks who are keeping them in a particular bubble. And I don’t think it’s because, with some exceptions, that they are intrinsically bad human beings.
How classy and civilized! It would have been easy to err and classify these politicians that want to kill him as, to borrow Murry Rothbard’s language, the leaders of “a predatory gang of robbers, enslavers, and murderers… a predatory gang of criminals”, or to use the words of another great libertarian econommist, Hans Hermann Hoppe, who refers to government as “an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots — an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.”
But obviously Assange doesn’t, he attributes the harm most of these people do to what comes down to numerous complex factors, but again, “…I don’t think it’s because, with some exceptions, that they are intrinsically bad human beings.” Assange even says the following about Hillary Clinton (who some believe wanted to have Assange droned to death)“I think I would probably like her in person. Most good politicians are quite charismatic in person.”
1974 Nobel laureate in economics F.A. Hayek and other intellectual giants who studied and explained the nature and workings of governments and the entire socioeconomic world in general also saw the harm done by governments as more the result of massive ignorance of how the world works and can work, than just “the bad guys” having power and purposely screwing the rest of us, as so many people erroneously believe, or at least advertise as. This commitment to placing the blame on intellectual error and having a relentless drive to combat such ignorance was a prominent aspect of economists like Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, and Hayek.
“everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle”
Who did Henry Hazlitt blame for the expansion of Communism/Socialism?It is almost as if he blames himself, or those who have the right ideas yet fail to educate the rest and thus prevent them from bringing Socialist/Communist misery upon themselves.
But the hard thing must be said that, collectively, we just haven’t been good enough. We haven’t convinced the majority. Is this because the majority just won’t listen to reason? I am enough of an optimist, and I have enough faith in human nature, to believe that people will listen to reason if they are convinced that it is reason. Somewhere, there must be some missing argument, something that we haven’t seen clearly enough, or said clearly enough, or, perhaps, just not said often enough.
Hayek famously dedicated his classic book “The Road to Serfdom” “To the socialists of all parties”. In a wonderful speech in honor of founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, Leonard Read, Hayek mentions that FEE:
with Leonard Read at its head, and all his co-fighters and friends are committed to is nothing more nor less than the defence of our civilisation against intellectual error.
Hayek continues with a lot of wisdom here:
When I stressed that is genuine intellectual error that we have to fight, what I meant to bring out is that we ought to remain aware that our opponents are often high-minded idealists whose harmful teachings are inspired by very noble ideals. It seems to me that the worst mistake a fighter for our ideals can make is to ascribe to our opponents dishonest or immoral aims.
I know it is sometimes difficult not to be irritated into a feeling that most of them are a bunch of irresponsible demagogues who ought to know better. But though many of the followers of what we regard as the wrong prophets are neither just plain silly, or merely mischievous troublemakers, we ought to realise that their conceptions derive from serious thinkers whose ultimate ideals are not so very different from our own and with whom we differ not so much on ultimate values, but on the effective means of achieving them.
I am indeed profoundly convinced that there is much less difference between us and our opponents on the ultimate values to be achieved than is commonly believed, and that the differences between us are chiefly intellectual differences. We at least believe that we have attained an understanding of the forces which have shaped civilisation which our opponents lack. Yet if we have not yet convinced them, the reason must be that our arguments are not yet quite good enough, that we have not yet made explicit some of the foundations on which our conclusions rest. Our chief task therefore must still be to improve the argument on which our case for a free society rests.
Assange and Hayek understand the “enemy” , in other words, they understand the fact that there is no “enemy” in the traditional sense of the word. Only an erroneous/fallacious sequence of thoughts/ideas which lead people to do “bad” things.
The moment one blames “morality”/“evil” for the immense wrongs caused by government, it becomes as easy and fallacious as naive good(virtuous)/bad(evil) type of thinking and ignores the complex sequence of thoughts intertwined with human nature and circumstance that leads people/leaders to do what they do. We must, and will inevitably, focus on the latter.
“forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” — Jesus Christ