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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
I realize that my post yesterday recapping 2010 was perhaps a bit on the pessimistic side. Although 2010 was a pretty horrendous year, there was one bright spot in an otherwise uninterrupted stream of gloom: WikiLeaks.
This is an issue about which I’ve written quite extensively but, at the risk of seeming obsessed, I feel it’s worth revisiting. Overwhelmingly, 2010 was another year in which the ordinary masses were crushed just a bit more under the weight of the corporate heel. The year was notable perhaps only in that the utter disdain for democracy and progressive values became so painfully obvious; it seemed to be a year in which the corporate elite just did away with all the facades and just openly admitted, “We’re soulless bastards on the hunt for maximum profits, so go fuck yourselves.” Granted, their charade of superficially respecting the principles of democracy has always been paper-thin, but this year they really seemed to outdo themselves in terms of their open contempt for us lowly plebes.
The year seemed devastatingly grim in most respects. Our “liberal” president unequivocally revealed himself as the corporate tool he has always been, and, inexplicably, the nation swung even further rightward during the disastrous 2010 mid-term elections, courtesy of the absolutely ridiculous Teawads and their ignorant ilk. The repeal of DADT, while obviously a welcome development, felt more like a slap in the face than a genuine achievement for the progressive movement. It seemed like a carefully contrived political move to appease those “purist” lefties, at precisely the moment when the veil had blown off the Democrats’ face and revealed a money-grubbing elephant with dollar signs for eyeballs. But really, what had we expected?
In the midst of all this doom and gloom we had but one cause for celebration: the emergence of WikiLeaks to counterbalance the as yet unchallenged authority of the global corporatocracy. You can criticize WikiLeaks as much as you’d like, arguing that the leaked documents reveal nothing of importance, or that secrecy is a necessary evil in the shifty world of international diplomacy. You can mercilessly defame the undeniably creepy Julian Assange, implicating him in all sorts of sexual deviancy and narcissistic fancy. But doing so is completely and totally missing the point.
WikiLeaks doesn’t matter. Julian Assange doesn’t matter. What matters is that a movement is emerging which returns power to the hands of the masses, a movement which defies the corporate stranglehold on democracy and freedom around the globe, and allows the people access to information that never should have been hidden in the first place.
Democracy and secrecy cannot coexist. They are by their very natures mutually exclusive. Any diplomacy which claims to require secrecy is a sham. Any government which seeks to shield its actions from the public eye is nothing short of authoritarian. Any politician who asserts that certain deeds must remain hidden is guilty of deception. Complete and total transparency is the only way in which ordinary people will ever be able to retain control, in both politics and business.
WikiLeaks helps strike a blow on both counts, as governments and corporations everywhere realize that the advent of the Internet age has brought with it the potential for an empowered citizenry as yet unprecedented in human history. Information is power, as the old saying goes, and the Internet allows humans everywhere to share information on a scale not imagined even a generation ago.
The battle is ongoing, and the masses are not guaranteed victory. Corporations and governments everywhere will continue to hide their actions from public scrutiny, and in many cases – most, perhaps, they will succeed. The retribution against WikiLeaks has thus far been quite effective, and its demise might be imminent. But perhaps the single most important objective accomplished by WikiLeaks is that it awakened people around the globe to the very possibility of a different way. WikiLeaks helped us understand that real change is possible, and that the armor of the corporatocracy isn’t impenetrable after all.