Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks puts an end to Leo Strauss and the idea of privileged information

The recent Wikileaks farrago, and indeed all leaks in the Internet age, put an end to the idea that governments can and/or should govern by keeping people in the dark.

The philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was accused by Shadia Dury of teaching that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them." This view of Strauss is, not surprisingly, rejected by Straussians, but the suspicion remains that those in government feel that they are in some way special. The other side of this is the common belief that governments know things that common people do not, which gives them a licence to do the insane things that they do (e.g. invade Iraq).

Whatever the truth of Straussian protected knowledge, the fact remains that anyone in government who commits his/her thoughts to paper or electrons must now think twice: How would this look if it surfaced in the public domain?

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

PS Iain Dale is not happy about Assange.
Are there any lengths, he cries, sounding more and more like Indignant of Tunbridge Wells, to which Julian Assange will not go to slag off America and compromise the security of the west?

I pointed out that he did not complain when Wikileaks published the "climategate" papers, which delayed and diluted the response at Copenhagen. Sauce for the goose...

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