December 11, 2010

The WikiLeaks Revolution

# We live in a world that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth (The Matrix).  

When WikiLeaks decided to publish the 'Collateral Murder' video in April, followed by the Iraq and Afghan War Logs in July and October, I was disheartened (but not altogether surprised) to discover that barely a dint had been made in the Australian psyche. 

After giving the matter some thought, I concluded that much like our US contemporaries, Australians had become numb to the various human rights violations, perpetrated by the world’s most powerful elite in the name of democratic freedom. 

As a society, we have lived through the era of John Howard and George Bush. We have lived through the children overboard scandal, the refugee crisis and the state sanctioned torture and prisoner abuse that took place at Guantanamo Bay. 

We have seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib and we know the story of David Hicks a little too well. We have watched listlessly, as the world’s political criminals emerged from their tenancies with a book deal and their credibility intact. 

So when the first of the 250,000 embassy cables began to trickle down through the Internet, I wasn't anticipating much of a reaction. 

I mean let's face it, if the brutal slaying of innocent civilians, at the hands of the US military, was not enough to arouse Australian's from their Master Chef induced coma, then what hope did WikiLeaks have at capturing public attention with revelations of dishonest politicians?  

For a brief moment, there was the distinct possibility that given enough time and patience on behalf of the establishment, the political storm might just blow over. 

However, when it became apparent that most of the news surrounding the WikiLeaks document dump had centered on potentially damaging and controversial revelations - someone was always going to pay.

When Julian Assange was arrested earlier this week, for matters unrelated to WikiLeaks, a new social and political climate began to emerge. 

The news of Assange’s arrest triggered widespread dissent among the Australian public, with the likes of journalists, lawyers, celebrities, human rights activists and supporters taking to the streets to protest against the Australian’s undemocratic imprisonment. 

One of the most notable proponents of the link between freedom of speech and democracyAlexander Meiklejohn argued that 'democracy will not be true to its essential ideal if those in power are able to manipulate the electorate by withholding information and stifling criticism'. 

Thanks to the Internet, lawmakers and government officials have been rendered powerless to silence the WikiLeaks website with 1,200 copies of the site currently being mirrored online. 

And despite desperate attempts to stop the publication of further classified documents, WikiLeaks had made prior arrangements to continue releasing the cables and sent copies of the encrypted file to supporters around the world. 
However, just yesterday, US lawmakers introduced legislations in the Congress, aimed at stopping WikiLeaks by making it illegal to publish the names of military or intelligence community informants. 

‘The Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act (SHIELD) would give the government the flexibility to pursue Assange for allegedly outing confidential US informants’.

It now appears increasingly likely that the trumped up Swedish rape charges against Assange have functioned, not only as a punitive strategy of government, but also as a decoy designed to shift the debate away from the content of the cables. 

Through the elevation of Assange to cult leader/celebrity status, the corporate media have also been complicit in facilitating this distraction. 

As a democratic society, it is our right and duty to protest against the unethical treatment of Julian Assange, however, we must not lose sight of our reasons for doing so. 

Because ironically, the treatment of Julian Assange has generated more news coverage and a louder public outcry than that which was afforded to all of the Afghani and Iraqi citizens who suffered irreparable human rights violations at the hands of the US government. 

It is these human rights violations that Julian Assange and others like him, have risked their lives to expose. 

The story itself is familiar. 
It is the hero's journey, the struggle between good and evil, the battle between David And Goliath. 

We identify with Assange because he is familiar and because he has been sacrificed as a political pawn. 

Assange is the quiet nerd inside every one of us. He is the activist, the anarchist, the revolutionary, the freedom fighter, the truth seeker, the hero, and all the things we secretly wish we could be. But above all, Julian Assange is the guy from Australia who has attempted to unveil the matrix and bring the evil empire down. 

Until now, the actions of WikiLeaks have largely fallen on deaf ears. However, the arrest and subsequent treatment of Julian Assange has triggered a new social tipping point, one that has the potential to effect real social and political change. 

What matters now is not how we got here, but that we have arrived. And this is precisely why WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are so important.


a.w.berghuis said...

DAMAGE cyber WW3 result: 500k hurt diplomats worldwide. billion soldiers on the side line/out of business (and still insist it's not a war); final 200 nations restuctured. other side:few hackers political imprisoned/their parrents fined. After a short (for many long) war only 1 global transparent free society survives .....never thought WW3 as a joke. Yeah all wars are surprises.

How can a few wise leaders alone solve complex global issues pending ? People need to be involved/need same info on these complex issues to let our global society decide & survive.

We NEED transparency for our global society that we created an cannot control.To many crises.
We'd never gone to Iraq if we read the cables first?

its e-government(power) not e-commerce(money) that changes our world!
If democracy fails, the only solution is MORE democracy. The only way is UP.
This is Far worse for China, than the US. It's your Duty to spread your thoughts.

WL to much Change for Obama?
Know It's a hard path, but harder for our totalitarian enemies.

If democracy fails, the only solution is More democracy.
E-vote(power), not E-commerce(money) that changes our world, stupid! greets from citzen 434234243!

Geoff said...

Good piece, good cogent summary of things. The absurdity of the media cycle and what snags attention is still a matter of mystery to me, thinking of your point about Assange's rights violations versus those of the thousands of dead people. Wonder how many column inches Schapelle Corby got compared to anything else of actual importance...

Misha Sim said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Much appreciated.