The WikiLeaks Critics’ Pathological Obedience to the State

Column by Scott Lazarowitz.

Exclusive to STR

The most recent example of the sheeple’s State-obedience has been the response among many politicians and news media blabbermouths and scribblers to the latest WikiLeaks release. The documents show the utter ineptness of our government officials who have no idea what they’re doing, and the documents also show the bureaucrats’ crassness and attitude toward foreign leaders.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had written on her Facebook page that WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has “blood on his hands.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the document release “threatens our national security.” And U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that Assange should be charged with espionage and that the release “is worse even than a physical attack on Americans; it's worse than a military attack.”
Do we need any more proof that F.A. Hayek was right when he asserted in his book, The Road to Serfdom, that the worst get on top? And by “worst,” I mean morally and especially intellectually.
Now, when I listen to these people – and I try not to, believe me – I can’t help but conclude that it is just imbecilic for Sarah Palin to assert that Assange has “blood on his hands” merely by exposing the incompetence and buffoonery of government officials. One would think that the one with “blood on his hands” would be George W. Bush, who started both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, and both based on either lies or propaganda, or both. Whoever starts wars has blood on his hands, and worse, when starting the wars was clearly based on deception and, even worse than that, for self-serving political reasons – in Bush’s case, to get himself reelected.
It is unfortunate that so many people don’t learn from history, and can’t see into the long term. People just don’t seem to comprehend that the U.S. government’s very policies of interventionism and territorial expansionism are really what have been undermining Americans’ security. Much of what we have been suffering now – an out of control federal government and its intrusions abroad that motivates the inhabitants of those foreign territories to retaliate, and a “War on Terror” police state run amok – is the result of the Elder President Bush’s first Iraq war, also totally unnecessary and based on lies and propaganda, that included the intentional destruction during the 1990s of Iraqi water and sewage treatment facilities that led to surges in cancer and child mortality rates and an even angrier Middle Eastern and Muslim population.
And Julian Assange has blood on his hands?
It is especially unfortunate that the American Fourth Estate – the Press – have abandoned their role and responsibility in challenging the status quo and the assertions put forth by government bureaucrats, whether it’s regarding the government’s assertion of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, or regarding the government’s ramming through Congress a new health care bureaucracy and mandates without debate. The Press have joined Main Street America in what has been an emotional, mystical worship of our centralized federal government as a god that can’t be questioned.
But the American people, in their passively believing the lies of government leaders, and in their allowing policies of institutionalized dependence to be put in place (such as the New Deal’s Social Security system, LBJ’s Medicare, etc.), have unwittingly fostered a system in which they remain children their whole lives, economically, and especially emotionally and intellectually.
Human rights advocate and antiwar writer Arthur Silber has written about the theme of obedience to authority that is instilled in many children who continue their obedience to authority into adulthood, and who merely transfer their internalized parents’ authority onto others later in life (such as political leaders). Silber makes much use of the work of psychologist Alice Miller. Silber notes,
“By demanding obedience above all from a child (whether by physical punishment, by psychological means, or through some combination of both), parents forbid the child from fostering an authentic sense of self. Because children are completely dependent on their parents, they dare not question their parents' goodness, or their "good intentions." As a result, when children are punished, even if they are punished for no reason or for a reason that makes no sense, they blame themselves and believe that the fault lies within them. In this way, the idealization of the authority figure is allowed to continue. In addition, the child cannot allow himself to experience fully his own pain, because that, too, might lead to questioning of his parents.

In this manner, the child is prevented from developing a genuine, authentic sense of self. As he grows older, this deadening of his soul desensitizes the child to the pain of others. Eventually, the maturing adult will seek to express his repressed anger on external targets, since he has never been allowed to experience and express it in ways that would not be destructive. By such means, the cycle of violence is continued into another generation (using "violence" in the broadest sense). One of the additional consequences is that the adult, who has never developed an authentic self, can easily transfer his idealization of his parents to a new authority figure.”

And while such authority figures can often include one’s professor, doctor or boss, as the size, power and influence of the State have grown dramatically over the past century, so have the phenomena of the dependence on, idealization of and obedience toward the authority figures of the State, such as police, soldiers, elected officials and especially presidents.
Contrary to that self-destructive idiocy, the Founding Fathers believed that always questioning the State’s authority is vital to preserve our liberty. But 200 years after the American Revolution, Americans have developed a dangerous blind obedience to the State. Unfortunately, many Americans are very childlike in their idealization of and blind faith in our agents of the State, no matter how much the State continues to lie to them and abuse them.
As libertarian author James Bovard pointed out,
“We now have the Battered Citizen Syndrome: the more debacles, the more voters cling to faith in their rulers. Like a train engineer bonding with the survivors of a train wreck that happened on his watch, Bush constantly reminded Americans of 9/11 and his wars. The greater the government’s failure to protect, the greater the subsequent mass fear — and the easier it becomes to subjugate the populace. The craving for a protector drops an iron curtain around the mind, preventing a person from accepting evidence that would shred his political security blanket.”
Such a phenomenon takes shape early in life. Oftentimes a parent will use emotional manipulation, deception or physical punishment – and, in some cases, sexual abuse – as a means of suppressing the natural expressions and feelings of the child, and to coerce the child into obedience, a scheme that Alice Miller refers to as poisonous pedagogy. And Silber quotes Miller on that:
“Poisonous pedagogy is a phrase I use to refer to the kind of parenting and education aimed at breaking a child's will and making that child into an obedient subject by means of overt or covert coercion, manipulation, and emotional blackmail.”
The poisonous pedagogy of statism and collectivism has institutionalized the sacrifice of the individual, one’s rights and one’s liberty to serve the collective needs of the community, and to obey the will of the State, the community’s hired guns. A telling example of such poisonous statism has been the TSA’s totalitarian policies of “security” at America’s airports, in which travelers have two choices: go through the X-ray scan that causes radiation and is a cancer risk, as well as being a virtual strip search that creates literally pornographic nude images of someone, images that can be and have been saved; or be intimately frisked by TSA workers which includes the “groping” of one’s private parts. And to the disappointment of libertarians there have only been a few complaints about such humiliations and violations of the Fourth Amendment. Most of the passive sheeple remain silent and obedient. “It’s for your own good,” some say, including the “liberal” ladies of the TV show, The View, who seem to think that those who are complaining have sexual “hang-ups.”
Many on the left associate a pedagogy of repressive child-rearing, sexual forbiddance and intolerance with conservatism and religion. However, there can also be repressiveness on the part of those who think of themselves as “liberal” and who advocate sexual “openness,” especially with children. But such a pedagogy can be even more repressive toward children, in a well-meaning yet destructive effort to prevent a child’s later denial or repression of sexuality, in ways that involve over-stepping of physical boundaries that are sexually intrusive of the child. Such attitudes and behaviors have been prevalent for many decades and also play a role in the roots of invasive policies by governments.
Apparently, a scientist who was involved in the development of the TSA X-ray scan had in 2006 offered DHS officials a software fix in which images couldn’t possibly violate a passenger’s privacy. But when I read that the scientist’s offer was turned down by officials, I saw red flags everywhere, and heard alarms going off. “Warning! Warning!” as the little robot on Lost in Space would shout. When the federal government wants to keep the technology in place that can save nude images of any citizen, and refuses to put something simple in place to remedy that situation, then one must conclude that sinister motivations underlie the bureaucrats’ intentions.
As Dr. Miller has noted, a parent’s use of physical intimidation as a means to control the child, stifle the child’s natural intellectual questioning of the status quo, and make the child obedient is all too common. Miller has written about Adolph Hitler’s repressive upbringing by a pathologically domineering father, particularly in her book, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, and elsewhere. Miller writes:
“…by totally denying his pain, his feelings of powerlessness, and his despair--in other words, by denying the truth – Hitler made himself into a master of violence and of contempt for human beings. The result was a very primitive person, incapable of any empathy for other people. He was mercilessly and constantly driven to new destructive acts by his latent feelings of hatred and revenge...
Now, it is not just the neoconservative warmongers who show repressed anger and lack of empathy in their supporting the wars abroad that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis since 1990 and killed many innocent Afghans since 2001, as well as literally have destroyed those two countries. But such destruction and lack of empathy has been exhibited by plenty of people on the left, in their repressive economic policies and intrusions that have extremely destructive long term effects on society, as well as from the left’s highly profitable and murderous abortion industry.
It is sad that so many people prefer to be obedient and believe what their authorities tell them. The Founding Fathers knew that such a blind trust in government was dangerous and that the State must always be viewed with suspicion, and distrusted. The more centralized and powerful a government, the more dangerous it is. The Founders’ big mistake was their Constitution that gives the federal government a monopoly in territorial protection. Without the necessary pressures of competition in the business of security, the agents of the State will abuse the monopoly, and deliberately provoke foreign elements as a means of expanding the power of the State to satisfy the monopolists’ own craving for more power. Another mistake the Founders made was allowing the State – federal or local – to have the power of compulsion over others, and allowing bureaucrats, police or soldiers to be above the rule of law, which, ipso facto, undermines the rule of law.
The U.S. government’s intrusions, trespassing and mass murders abroad for decades and their natural blowback are what have most undermined the security of Americans. All WikiLeaks has been doing is exposing our government bureaucrats for what they are, and the State’s crimes for what they are.
Rather than being obedient sheeple, and rather than prosecuting or murdering Julian Assange and censoring WikiLeaks online, and rather than allowing virtual strip searches and sexual molestation at the nation’s airports, we need to protect ourselves from our government. And that means not only putting a stop to our government’s crimes, but ending centralism altogether, like the former Soviet Union did.
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Scott Lazarowitz's picture
Columns on STR: 16

Scott Lazarowitz is a libertarian writer and cartoonist. Website:


Glen Allport's picture

Scott -- an excellent column! You do a great job of supporting the need for more emotional health in the world -- freedom simply cannot survive without a reasonable level of emotional health in a society, and compassionate treatment of the young is the only way to GET a decent level of emotional health. Most libertarians seem to see this as a tangential, minor issue if they consider it at all. But it's absolutely fundamental, and I'm thrilled to see your discussion of this.

Solid discussion of the value and importance of WikiLeaks also. Thanks for a great read.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Scott Lazarowitz,

Sheeeeesh, Alice Miller?!?!? Judging only by the quotes you have given us, Alice Miller, like so many individuals with letters of psychobabble after their name, was nuttier than a fruitcake. She only had one oar in the water.

Parents can demand obedience because they are "responsible" for their children, and hopefully your parents, like so many others, also told you, right after a good ass whippin', "As long as you are under my roof', [translate that as, "as long as I am responsible for your sustenance and your actions"], 'you will do as I tell you. When you are out on your own [when you take responsibility for your own sustenance and actions], then you can do whatever you damn well please."

With freedom comes responsibility.

The "poison pedagogy" is government schooling, fercrisesake. The moment when fathers and/or mothers began shirking their responsibility to educate their children and handed that responsibility over to the STATE, it was all over and the fat lady was singing. The fox was left guarding the chicks in the hen house. (Thank you, Robert Bissett)

Had we all learned that lesson, in past generations as well as today's, then perhaps we would not have handed that responsibility over to another "parent", the nanny-state.

I apologize for sounding so negative. Please, do not take this to mean that there were no redeeming thoughts within this treatise, because there most certainly were.

Individual Secessionist

Glen Allport's picture

Hello Scott Lazarowitz,

I fully agree (as would any freedom-minded person, I assume) that "With freedom comes responsibility." The question is, do children who are treated with compassion and given freedom and responsibility as they grow up become responsible adults? The answer is yes, absolutely -- it's the one reliable way to create responsible adults, in fact. There is little of such treatment for children in the world and almost none within the pro-coercion institutions that define our culture, but the evidence is very strong that giving children freedom and responsibility, and treating them with compassion in other ways as well, creates healthy adults who understand freedom, who behave responsibly, who respect the freeedom of others, and who feel connected to others and behave compassionately toward them.

I describe some of the evidence for this in my own column for STR titled "Free Societies in the Real World" [ ]. In it, I provide a short excerpt from the Report by H.M. Inspectors on the Summerhill School, 1949 [full text of report is here: ] --

Here is what the school and its children were like in that June of 1949, according to the British report (my emphasis below):

"The main principle upon which the School is run is freedom . . . . the degree of freedom allowed to the children is very much greater than the inspectors had seen in any other school and the freedom is real. No child, for instance, is obliged to attend any lessons. As will be revealed later, the majority do attend for the most part regularly, but one pupil was actually at this School for 13 years without once attending a lesson and is now an expert toolmaker and precision instrument maker. This extreme case is mentioned to show that the freedom given to children is genuine and is not withdrawn as soon as its results become awkward."

". . . the children are full of life and zest. Of boredom and apathy there was no sign. An atmosphere of contentment and tolerance pervades the School."

". . . the children's manners are delightful. They may lack, here and there, some of the conventions of manners, but their friendliness, ease and naturalness, and their total lack of shyness and self-consciousness made them very easy, pleasant people to get on with."

". . . initiative, responsibility and integrity are all encouraged by the system and that so far as such things can be judged, they are in fact being developed."

"Summerhill education is not necessarily hostile to worldly success."

The report backs up that last point with a list of degrees held and careers followed by former pupils. The obvious question here is: would you rather live in a world where people had been raised with love and freedom (whether at Summerhill or wherever), or the world as it is today?

There is a great deal more such evidence (look into Sudbury Valley School, for example) as well as evidence for cruelty to children being a serious danger to society at large -- and yes, Alice Miller did an excellent job of describing that dynamic, including going so far to reprint large sections of the child-rearing manuals in use in Germany before and as the Nazi era dawned. Miller's careful and well-researched work makes the question of "how could the Germans have been so stupid, so cruel, so repressive" easy to answer.

jeffydiver's picture

Besides, all these diversities just only get in the way of the Lunar Lander, or the last launch of the Shuttle Endeavor !