I’ve tried to hide myself from the day-to-day political stuff. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t comment on important things, even if they’re political topics. So, I guess I’ll say something about Wikileaks because it will help me talk about how it relates to the bigger topic of tyranny.
First, a word on tyranny. It’s unfortunate that most of us are stuck with a 20th-century conception of the topic. Every infringement of rights is step on the dark road towards totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is the industrial version of tyranny. It is a product of the 20th century. Stop using 1984 as prophecy because we are in the 21st century. The dark road is dark enough, even if it does not lead to absolute darkness. That is, it is still tyranny, even if it is not totalitarianism.
In a democracy, such as what America is supposed to be, the law is king. We are supposed to be governed by laws rather than the arbitrary whims of our rulers. Unfortunately, it seems as if the arbitrary whims are winning. The prison at Guantanamo Bay, which is still open (Thanks, Obama!), is not governed by law. We’ve held people there for years and years, without charges. Some of them have even been innocent people, trapped in a legal black hole. Meanwhile, the US government tortured people. This would be bad enough, but the Bush Administration hasn’t been held accountable for its war crimes. What’s more, they destroyed video evidence of the torture. The law is ignored by our ruling class. The US government has jailed journalists with no charges. I can’t complete this paragraph without also mentioning that our ruling class includes the owners of large corporations. I don’t think it makes sense to talk about government officials and corporate leaders because these are the same people; they freely move from one realm to the other realm — it’s very incestuous. So, the government is helping banks kick people out of their homes at a breakneck pace. Corrupt courts let banks commit fraud and lie. This leads me to believe that our government is already tyrannical, and I have yet to mention the TSA or Wikileaks.
Well, I’ll save the TSA rant for another day. (They’re touching our genitals now?! Really? I mean, fucking really?) Some day I may read this and not know what the hell is going on, so I should provide a quick recap. Wikileaks is an website that publishes leaked documents. They published dumps of documents about Iraq and Afghanistan. They also recently dumped a bunch of documents that were provided by a private in the military. These documents include diplomatic cables and I think evidence of war crimes. The founder of Wikileaks is Julian Assange, who is not an American citizen.
After the latest dump, the rhetoric became especially vicious. Many members of the political commentariat have called for Assange to be killed and even for Wikileaks to be declared a terrorist organization. Glenn Greenwald, whose blog is invaluable on the subject of Wikileaks, said, “The way in which so many political commentators so routinely and casually call for the eradication of human beings without a shred of due process is nothing short of demented.” It reveals an authoritarian mindset. The law is king, and we shouldn’t be jailing or killing people without due process.
Then, there’s the fact that all the documents that Wikileaks has published so far have already been published by other news organizations. It’s already dangerous for the government to arbitrarily declare a group a terrorist outfit and then use violence outside the law. But some journalists are openly calling for their own demise. It’s sad that they cheer on tyranny.
It becomes scarier when donating to Wikileaks could suddenly, and arbitrarily, become giving material aid to a terrorist organization. This can be used as the flimsiest of excuses for the government to grab whomever they want.
Now, I’m not talking about the government actually grabbing people. The issue is that the government will have the power to do this. The issue is that the rule of law will have been replaced by the arbitrary whims of our rulers. In Disney’s Robin Hood, King Richard was just as much a tyrant as Prince John.
Speaking of flimsy excuses to grab people, the arrest of Assange has very suspicious timing. I should withhold judgment about what’s really going on, but it just seems too convenient. My mom mentioned a whistleblower in China who revealed that poison was in milk powder. He was put in jail. She said the US is essentially doing the same thing. I am not quick to disagree. We shall see.
The Wikileaks website has been under attack recently. Amazon dropped its hosting after getting a phone call from Joe Lieberman. Visa and Mastercard refused to take money for donations. So, what happened to Visa and MasterCard? Denial of service attacks. The digital mobs have struck.
A mob is rowdy and violent. It’s not a gathering of people who merely shout their displeasure. If we had real mobs today, they would’ve burned down the mansions of the CEOs who caused our recent financial disaster. So, people no longer burn down mansions or tar and feather people, but it seems they do hack into websites. I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend continued. (I might even take some guilty pleasure in it.) The good thing about mobs is that they scare the ruling class, and that’s when they listen. Of course, the mob also has its downsides. Still, I wonder what havoc future digital mobs will wreak. Will they attack their own government as well?
EDIT: Let me post an addendum. I really enjoyed Umberto Eco on WikiLeaks. As the government invades our privacy, we have begun to invade its privacy. And as they digitally attack the people, the people begin to attack them. Interesting.