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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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December 22, 2010

In a post on the ABC's Unleashed entitled Life in the WikiLeaks twilight zone Russell Trood, the Liberal Senator from Queensland and Deputy Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, launches an attack on Wikileaks. He says:

perhaps what is most objectionable about the whole affair is the suggestion that Assange and WikiLeaks represent the triumph of pure democracy. At best the WikiLeaks philosophy is grounded in a naive conviction that complete transparency at every level will result in better government. At worst, it represents an anarchistic desire to hobble the institutions of liberal democracy. That it comes dressed up in the sort of sanctimonious anti-American, anti-capitalist rhetoric one might generally expect from first year arts students, washed up flower children and parliamentary members of the Australian Greens, merely adds insult to injury.

This is quite rich coming from a member of the political class in a liberal democracy whose background leaking to the media is standard operating procedure. It is also offensive, given the way that Australia, as a national security state after 9/11 is becoming a surveillance state in the context of the hysteria about Muslims (Islamophobia), the fixation on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in Australia and the frame of an apocalyptic clash of civilizations.

This is a state that endeavours to hide everything it does behind a wall of secrecy while simultaneously spinning and lying to citizens about its activities (eg., the Iraq war) as well as putting in place a system of monitoring, invading and collecting files on ordinary citizens suspected of no wrongdoing. This is a state that sees terrorism everywhere.

Trood says:

Ironically, by attempting to impose transparency by force, WikiLeaks has probably set back the cause of open government by at least 10 years, and the cause of international diplomacy even further. Frank, fearless and candid diplomacy may be only an ideal, but it is one worth pursuing as a precondition for mutual understanding and respect between nations. It is also likely to be the first casualty of the inevitable crackdown on information sharing between governments.

So how does accountability of liberal democratic Australia government work given the above actions and deceptions of the national security state premised on the protection of secrecy in governments? Exactly how is the national security state in the process of becoming an open government?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:00 PM | | Comments (4)


Surely that bloke didn't give a even moment's thought to what he was writing!

Ah... if you've done nothing wrong, then you should have nothing to hide.

I've heard all manner of politicians and bureaucrats using that line of argument for years! So what do THEY have to hide. And why?

Methinks the man doth protest too much. And of course he misrepresents completely what WikiLeaks has actually done. Far from 'complete transparency', they have released only a small fraction of the documents they hold, after consultation with major mainstream newspapers (whom the Troods of this world are curiously reluctant to criticise, even though they have been just as responsible as WikiLeaks for publishing the material so far).

People like Trood take it for granted that 'frank, fearless and candid diplomacy' is only possible if governments lie to the citizenry. It's a model of governance in which the executive government is presumed to be a better judge of what is in the best interests of the people than the people themselves, who are regarded as nothing more than simple-minded morons who will only try to interfere in the work of the Great and the Good if they find out what is being done in their name.

Of course it comes as no surprise that both Labor and Liberal Party hacks feel this way, but I'm somewhat taken aback that they have been so blatant in their defence of elitism and closed government. I don't recall any attempt by anyone to make an empirical argument in favour of secrecy; they all just assume that its benefits are self-evident.

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Ain't it amazing how many people are dead-set against "big" government.... EXCEPT when it comes to funding the national security state?

Oh... and the next time I hear some tory meeja tosser jabber about "leftist elitism"... I am gonna do my nut!

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