oh, technology

Menu Close

Oh, the humanity

Predictably, the hand-wringing and hysteria over Wikileaks’ cablegate release is ramping up. Also predictably, the powers-that-be are fishing about for the most damaging moral condemnation of Wikileaks’ action as they can find, as, at least here in the western hemisphere, moralizing is the most effective way of keeping the educated in line. By casting the release of the State Department memoranda as reckless vandalism or even terrorism (the latter charge was even too much Joe Lieberman) governments and their media lapdogs around the world hope to drive public opinion away from not just Wikileaks itself, but the very future Wikileaks represents.

Take, for example, Hillary Clinton’s remarks earlier today.  “This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests,” she claimed, adding that “It is an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.” Standard stuff; but Mama Beeb included another, telling quote in their writeup: “But Mrs Clinton said diplomats often needed confidentiality to be effective.”

Now that last statement, I’ll argue, has a kernel of truth in it. Diplomats often do need confidentiality to be “effective”, but one may well ask why this is so, and whose interest it serves. It makes perfect sense for secrecy to be the coin of the realm when you’re actively working against the interest of the majority of the world’s population. One can’t, however, resist the temptation to apply the US government’s own PATRIOT-Act logic here: if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide, right?

No, they have plenty to hide, and while the released documents contain nothing that should shock a reasonably astute twelve-year-old, it’s not the actual facts that have been disclosed that has Clinton’s club’s panties in a pinch, it’s that anyone, anywhere, had the audacity to release any document not carefully prepared for public consumption. It’s the fact that Wikileaks is a harbinger of a future beyond their control, and boy oh boy do they not like it.

But here’s the thing. Wikileaks, or something for all intents and purposes just like it, is here to stay. The rational response would be to realize that the world has changed, to accept that despotism, command-and-control, and US hegemony are all due their swan song, and begin to act appropriately. Not only is this particular genie out of its bottle, no genie will ever be contained for long ever again. Rail against Wikileaks all you like, Mrs. Clinton, but realize, like Caligula attacking the ocean, you are fighting a losing battle.