joined in the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on
Mastercard et al., the first full-scale cyber war (or "Internet
War") had begun. I have already expressed my concern (here
that the boycotters of Amazon hadn't provided a compelling justification
for their strategy. In the present article, I'll offer some general
observations that I hope will help libertarians and antiwar activists
to organize their thoughts as the conflict escalates.
MasterCard, et al. have not been torturing prisoners or bombing
civilians; the U.S. government has. At best, these companies capitulated
to very real threats from the government, and at worst they cut
a deal to remove an earlier threat that had been hanging over
them. I personally cannot judge them too harshly, since I may
very well have done the same (though I would have needed to be
waterboarded before issuing the press
release that Amazon gave). Now I understand that some very
committed antiwar activists would have gone to jail under similar
circumstances, but they are in the minority. It is one thing to
say you will stand up to the government; it's something else entirely
when an actual senator is on the phone.
- A silly
Star Wars analogy may help: The boycotters presumably liken
Amazon to Lando Calrissian, who sold out his friend Han Solo in
a deal with the Empire. But this isn't at all accurate. Amazon
didn't deliver Assange over to the authorities; his jilted
lovers did. Amazon's "betrayal" merely meant that
the WikiLeaks site was down for a few hours, and all Amazon did
was end its business relationship with the pariah organization.
It would be as if the Millennium Falcon needed to refuel, and
the first planet they stopped at told them to keep moving because
they were on Vader's blacklist. Now if that had happened
in the movie, and then after hitting the next depot (three hours
away) the rebels circled back and starting firing on the first
place for not selling them fuel, the audience would have been
quite perplexed. That's not what the good guys do. The good guys
study the schematics of the Death Star; they don't figure out
which groups of non-combatants they should punish next for not
joining the rebellion.
- If you allow
yourself to become outraged when someone fails to martyr himself,
you have condemned yourself to a life of constant bitterness and
disappointment. You will be much healthier — and much more able
to further the causes you cherish — if you simply acknowledge
that most people will not stick their necks out if it will put
their careers or families in immediate jeopardy. Better to accept
that basic fact, and build your plans around it.
- It is better
to herald heroism than condemn cowardice. Positive reinforcement
is more productive — and more likely to recruit others — than
- If your
proposed strategy requires the statement, "We're at war!"
to justify it, it is probably a very bad idea.
- If you want
peace, then you should renounce threats, property destruction,
and of course violence. Those are the techniques of the government.
- The world
is very complex, with billions of people reacting to each other.
It is impossible to predict all of the ramifications of our actions.
That's why moral rules are so important. If we set out
to do things "for the greater good," believing that
the ends justify the means, we may realize to our horror that
we have ushered in great evils.
- The American
empire of military occupation and surveillance ultimately rests
on American public opinion. I am ashamed to say that I once was,
what we would now call, a "neo-con" (though the term
was not in usage at the time). But as I delved deeper into the
works of Austrian economists and Old Right conservatives, I realized
my intellectual confusion. It made no sense to oppose the welfare
state and government meddling in the domestic economy, while supporting
the trillions the U.S. government spent on foreign adventures.
Since I personally was convinced of the poverty of militarism,
I know that others can be likewise converted.
commercial operations, let alone engaging in physical property
destruction, will not recruit more Americans to our point of view.
Someone who gets his news about Assange from Sean Hannity will
not be goaded into reading Glenn Greenwald when he can't buy his
Christmas presents after Amazon's site crashes. On the contrary,
he will despise the "America-hating commies" behind
the attacks even more, and will applaud the government's crackdown
on the Internet to "keep him safe" from further acts
- The truth
is on our side. That is why WikiLeaks poses such a threat to the
ruling class; they scurry like cockroaches from the light. Those
who desire peace need not resort to hostility and aggression.
They simply need to bravely speak the truth.
- In the long
run, the truth will out. Good will eventually triumph over evil.
Murphy [send him mail],
adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute,
is the author of The
Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism,
Human Action Study Guide,
Man, Economy, and State Study Guide.
His latest book is The
Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New