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I am a free market proponent - Julian Assange

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Would you call yourself a free market proponent?

Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets. Having lived and worked in many countries, I can see the tremendous vibrancy in, say, the Malaysian telecom sector compared to U.S. sector. In the U.S. everything is vertically integrated and sewn up, so you don’t have a free market. In Malaysia, you have a broad spectrum of players, and you can see the benefits for all as a result.

You’ve developed a reputation as anti-establishment and anti-institution.

Not at all. Creating a well-run establishment is a difficult thing to do, and I’ve been in countries where institutions are in a state of collapse, so I understand the difficulty of running a company. Institutions don’t come from nowhere.

It’s not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I’ve learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I’m a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.

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I did not expect this.

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It’s not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I’ve learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I’m a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.

I see two possible interpretations of this statement, one positive and the other negative. The negative interpretation, as has been commented on by people already, is that this guy is saying that the state's coercive power should be used to bust up monopolies that have arisen out of free market competition. This is obviously an ill-conceived view.

However, several things lead me to believe that Assange means something different. It is, of course, possible that a company will attain monopoly status by using the power of the state against its competitors, rather than becoming the sole company through fair competition. Indeed, a rigorous definition of monopoly demands that we make this distinction very clearly. Thus, a company might lobby Congress for a law which, in effect, alters market competition in favor of that company. This is obviously immoral and a breach of the free market. With this in mind, it is possible that Assange means a free market "ends up as monopoly" because, once companies have a lot of resources, they almost always use some of them to lobby for special legal privileges. I think the fact that Assange says his knowledge of "politics and history" informs this view, rather than "economics," is an indication that he's (at least partly) referring to this phenomenon, rather than something that occurs through the market. In this context, "force them to be free" would mean force them to compete equally by preventing the state from getting involved.

It is also telling that he thinks Wikileaks, an organization with no state power, but only the power to expose corrupt collusion of businesses with the state, can make capitalism "more free and ethical." This also leads me to believe that he equates free with no special privileges for companies, rather than trust-busting.

Of course, it's hard to tell without more context. Maybe he makes additional clarifying statements elsewhere in the interview.

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I see where you're coming from but the fundemental flaw in your more positive theory about his claim is this-

Theory:

Companies will use government power to gain the ability to become a monopoly.

Therefore the government needs to have power over companies so this can be prevented.

The problem is that only by giving the government power over companies do companies have the ability to get undue favor from the government.

Properly the government should have nothing to give or withhold.

A coercive monopoly can only really exist with government involvement.

Notably, the only true monopolies in America are mandated by the government.

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I see where you're coming from but the fundemental flaw in your more positive theory about his claim is this-

Theory:

Companies will use government power to gain the ability to become a monopoly.

Therefore the government needs to have power over companies so this can be prevented.

Oh, if that was his theory, that would also be a grave mistake, for the reasons you've pointed out. I'm just saying I can't tell from that quote alone; I don't see an explicit statement of the "therefore" part.

EDIT: Also, what's up with that Latin stuff in your "Members" spot?

Edited by Dante
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For one, I hope that Assange and anyone who has colluded with him are brought up on charges, and this is besides the rape allegations against him. Nothing, that I can think of, can redeem this man, nor, for that matter, the libertarian, anarchist, communist, socialist, or anti-establishment fools that hold this idiot in high praise.

Additionally, neither of those quotes from the interview are positive toward capitalism. As SapereAude pointed out, his statement is riddled with 'doublespeak,' which is jargon used to reverse the meaning of things in order to disguise real intentions or ideas. The first paragraph quoted can and should be used as a baseline for the second. For example, in the first paragraph, Assange has "mixed attitudes towards capitalism," yet, he "love markets." What type of markets are we talking about, if they're not based on capitalism? Not anything near resembling what we call free-market or capitalism.

His description of the telecommunication sectors in Malaysia and the United States is also revealing about his true meaning, and how he is using the words "free-market" and "capitalism." In the description he declares that the telecomm sector in the U.S. is not free-market because, "everything is vertically integrated and sewn up"; however, Malaysia has a free-market because they have a "broad spectrum of players." Of course, the level of integration a market undergoes has nothing to do with how free it is. With this description, Assange's conclusions are anything but positive toward capitalism, and they don't even come close to using a proper definition of that concept. While his statements here can be chalked up as many things--except capitalist or free-market--I consider it, most likely, just anti-establishment, sociological drivel.

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Additionally, neither of those quotes from the interview are positive toward capitalism. As SapereAude pointed out, his statement is riddled with 'doublespeak,' which is jargon used to reverse the meaning of things in order to disguise real intentions or ideas. The first paragraph quoted can and should be used as a baseline for the second. For example, in the first paragraph, Assange has "mixed attitudes towards capitalism," yet, he "love markets." What type of markets are we talking about, if they're not based on capitalism? Not anything near resembling what we call free-market or capitalism.

Well, try to keep in mind that a very large proportion of Americans have a different definition of capitalism than the one used by Ayn Rand (which ties capitalism to individual rights). A great many people loosely connect the word to companies making profits or something vague like that (for example, I remember reading an article criticizing Ayn Rand for supporting capitalism when her own heroic character Howard Roark passed up on a major contract to make money designing a bank, the reason for the criticism being that a true capitalist would never pass up an opportunity to make money). Thus, their definition tends to encompass what we would call corporatism as well. Of course, this is a definition by non-essentials, and one of the major tasks of anyone arguing for free markets is to bring some clarity to discussions like this, but we have to acknowledge what we are working with in society first. It's difficult to tell what people mean based on a few statements; that's pretty much my point.

His description of the telecommunication sectors in Malaysia and the United States is also revealing about his true meaning, and how he is using the words "free-market" and "capitalism." In the description he declares that the telecomm sector in the U.S. is not free-market because, "everything is vertically integrated and sewn up"; however, Malaysia has a free-market because they have a "broad spectrum of players." Of course, the level of integration a market undergoes has nothing to do with how free it is. With this description, Assange's conclusions are anything but positive toward capitalism, and they don't even come close to using a proper definition of that concept. While his statements here can be chalked up as many things--except capitalist or free-market--I consider it, most likely, just anti-establishment, sociological drivel.

I completely agree with this. He does seem to have some fundamental confusions about how markets work, what makes a free market free, and what a "monopoly" actually is. In a truly free market, different industries will be composed of varying amounts of firms, of various sizes. In industries with large economies of scale, for example, the market would probably result in a few very large companies which take advantage of this aspect of the industry, while other industries would be structured differently. Unfortunately, it is my experience that most people have simply never been confronted with these ideas about how to properly define a monopoly or a competitive environment, and the academics of mainstream economics are not helping matters.

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Julian Assange's old personal blog is still up and available for viewing. This man cannot be pigeonholed into the normal political spectrum based on his comments there. He likely takes from a bunch of different viewpoints as his commentary on his blog is fairly nuanced. These types of people usually have a large amalgamation of views brought up directly from their personal readings and experiences.

Assange's old personal blog:

http://web.archive.org/web/20071020051936/http://iq.org/

The only thing made particularly certain that I can come up with is that this man is quite intelligent, but as we all know intelligence doesn't dictate certain political or other views.

Frankly his political views seem to be irrelevant within his current occupation as far as I am able to tell. His information releases have not shown any particular motive, other than simply that he is anti-corruption and perhaps anti-establishment on a broader level.

As far as the rape charges, he is labeled as witness for that currently based on what I have read about it. The whole thing smells like character assassination to me, which would make sense because no state is likely to target him. He is not integral to their operations, there is the insurance file issue, and with how many interviews etc. he has done he would likely be seen more as a martyr by his supporters more than anything if he was assassinated. The interesting thing about this whole scenario is the technology is now available where if you can get the funding (of which there seems to be plenty of for Wikileaks)and the needed expertise another one of these groups could easily pop right back up. The power of the organization is through its whistleblowers, not through the organization on it's own.

Someone has mentioned that Assange could be labeled as a Crypto-Anarchist, but I feel this political specification is rather narrow and cannot explain the totality of an individuals political views, but it would likely provide some insight into his motivations. This seems to be reinforced by the fact he apparently created something rather robust with open-source software in the 70's or something..I saw it mentioned in a comment on reddit, I haven't looked that up myself.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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This seems to be reinforced by the fact he apparently created something rather robust with open-source software in the 70's or something..I saw it mentioned in a comment on reddit, I haven't looked that up myself.

The only person writing open-source software in the 70's was Stallman. Assange is neither old enough nor smart enough to be hanging with Stallman, but there could be an influence.

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The only person writing open-source software in the 70's was Stallman. Assange is neither old enough nor smart enough to be hanging with Stallman, but there could be an influence.

Thanks for the clarification. I don't know anything about that history so I was taking that with a grain of salt. I am sure you can find his computer-related history online somewhere, I know he had a few run-ins back in the day for computer hacking (i mean..he is a hacker by profession)

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I know he had a few run-ins back in the day for computer hacking (i mean..he is a hacker by profession)

Do you mind reconciling this with your earlier statement that he is "anti-corruption"?

Hacking is an act of force and a violation of rights to my understanding.

Can someone be a rights violator "by profession" and yet be "anti-corruption"?

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Can someone be a rights violator "by profession" and yet be "anti-corruption"?

I would assume the idea is that a corrupt official has already violated rights, so hacking would be a means to fix that injustice by revealing information. Of course, what should be asked is if the official even violated rights, or if it is proper for anyone other than law enforcement to act against a rights violation.

Edited by Eiuol
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I would assume the idea is that a corrupt official has already violated rights, so hacking would be a means to fix that injustice by revealing information.

Ok, lets go with that assumption.

The hacker is still only assuming that the victim of the hacking has done corrupt/rights violating things. They may have some evidence, but they lack proof. Only by violating rights (hacking) can they get the proof to reveal.

How is that any different from breaking into someone's house while they're away to find evidence of wrongdoing you suspect?

The ends can't justify the means.

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Do you mind reconciling this with your earlier statement that he is "anti-corruption"?

Hacking is an act of force and a violation of rights to my understanding.

Can someone be a rights violator "by profession" and yet be "anti-corruption"?

I don't understand why some of the people on this website believe that everyone on the planet not only has read, but agrees with Ayn Rand's philosophy for one. I also don't understand why comments of this nature are assumed to be within a philosophical context rather than the common understanding without the qualifying context to suggest such.

One can be, be viewed, or believe (correctly or incorrectly) they are anti-corruption and be the source of a large variety of different actions, ideas, and so on within the common understanding of "anti-corruption"/"anti-establishment"

At any rate, as far as I am aware he is not hacking at this time, but rather being a public spokesman and editor-in-chief role in the releasing of anonymously submitted information. Obviously, more information about what he did before wikileaks can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange

This whole thing about not damaging harming computers your break into is actually a very interesting part of some hacker cultures and I had to read up a good bit on in incidentally when reading things on hacking, security, and so on for my Philosophy of Technology class last semester. However, thats a discussion all of its own and not terribly pertinent.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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I don't understand why some of the people on this website believe that everyone on the planet not only has read, but agrees with Ayn Rand's philosophy for one. I also don't understand why comments of this nature are assumed to be within a philosophical context rather than the common understanding without the qualifying context to suggest such.

I asked you an honest question and am baffled the nasty tone of your statement.

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There was no nasty tone intended. This is why I try to avoid text conversations when I can...so much gets lost in the transfer of information.

The content of the quote I used above from your response to my question seemed to imply that there was something wrong with my asking the question. My assumption that is was pointed at me was based on your quoting of my statement. If I inferred that in error, apologies.

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