Thursday, June 13, 2013

David Brooks and the Destruction of Society, One Individual At A Time

While reading David Brook's column The Solitary Leaker, I had a terrifying experience. All of a sudden the room went dark, I was struck with sudden blindness! I was terrified and then I realized I hadn't been struck blind, I had merely rolled my eyes so hard, they got stuck in the back of my head.

I'm still following the NSA leaks issue and I haven't made up my mind yet what I think about Edward Snowden but I think Brooks is trying too hard to make him the cause of the downfall of society.
If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.
Ummm... no. Snowden was acting because of his belief in society and the need for the American people to be aware of what the government is doing. I'm sure the British could have used that argument against the Founding Fathers, as well.
This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme. You’re more likely to donate to the Ron Paul for president campaign, as Snowden did.
Again, no. I wouldn't say any of that is distinct only to modern day libertarians. I'd say our founding fathers had a pretty deep suspicion of authority, deep enough to defy the rather large British Empire.

I'm not saying that Snowden's bust should be on display at the capitol next to Washington, Adams or Lincoln but his belief that a free society needs information, needs limits on power is built into the history of our country.

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