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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thanks, but no thanks, WikiLeaks! | Mute magazine


Submitted by saroj giri on Friday, 24 December, 2010 - 06:51

By Saroj Giri

Thanks, but no thanks, WikiLeaks!

-- Saroj Giri

Is ‘exposing power’ through ‘truth revelations’ set to become the new game in town? Is it a mere coincidence that Bradley Manning becomes no Rosa Parks but a mere conduit for ‘digital anarchism’ and ‘infoliberaton’, with WikiLeaks working in tandem with corporate media houses?

Serious questions have been raised about WikiLeaks’ credibility as an autonomous and independent whistle-blower: dubious funding, Assange-centric organizational structure, and close allies in the corporate media that work in tandem with the US administration. More seriously, questions have been raised about its main goal being exposing "despotic regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia" while it is supposed to be striking deals to cover up for Israel. There are reports that ‘WikiLeaks Struck a Deal with Israel over Diplomatic Cables Leaks’ ( New whistleblowers have emerged declaring Wikileaks is a ‘Rothschild/CIA-Mossad-MI6 operation’!

I am not here delving into these charges that may or may not be true. What might be interesting however is to highlight some of the basic presuppositions of the very form and kind of politics and mode of challenging power which WikiLeaks have brought to the fore. I hope this will contribute to formulating strategies of struggle within the left, continuing my argument from an earlier piece with the same objective (‘WikiLeaks beyond WikiLeaks?’,, Dec 16, 2010).

Prairie of truths

Lets start with US vice-president Joe Biden’s recent statement that “the leaked cables created no substantive damage – only embarrassment”. We know that he might not be honest here at all, as on another occasion he seems to be admitting real damage: “he's (Assange) made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends.” But what we can be sure of is that ‘the biggest leak in history’, ‘the 9/11 of diplomatic history’ did not in fact give rise to any serious public outrage or civil disobedience in the US or elsewhere. In this sense, the Wikileaks truth revelations did not act as the proverbial spark setting off the prairie fire, even though it surely might have changed the way diplomacy will be conducted or pushed for adoption of leak-proof cyber technology for state secrets.

In any case, it is perhaps safe to say that WikiLeaks and people like Daniel Ellsberg have all too easily assumed that the revelations will lead to public outrage and bring about change – unless of course they never meant what they were publicly stating. What we can be sure of is that people and citizens in whose name the truth is being revealed are getting deluged by truth – and there are more releases, more truth coming, we are told! The question is: how much more details do we need to know about how evil ‘Empire’ or imperialism is? Or are revelations and exposes set to become another game in town? Not a prairie on fire but a prairie of truths, where truth can easily lose its spark and radical charge. From the information explosion to the truth explosion: truth without the subversive potential, truth without event, hence surely no substantive damage, only embarrassment for US power!

Truth losing its power and punch in triggering off civil disobedience or protests is however very empowering for the US administration. We already heard Joe Biden’s confident remark dismissing the leaks as mere embarrassment. Pro-establishment writers like Dana Milbank display a similar confidence, clearly related to the inability of the leaked cables to trigger any public outcry or unrest. Indeed she goes to the extent of calling the revelations of the leaked diplomatic cables ‘phony facts’, ‘without any political import’ (‘Make Julian Assange Irrelevant’, Washington Post, Dec 18, 2010). She writes that any political import the leaks have, derives from Obama administration’s penchant for rampant “over-classification”, “the trademark of totalitarianism”. “The reflexive classifying has, by creating the perception that the government has much to hide, created a market for WikiLeaks.” What in effect is being said here is that the question of the details of our activities (unjust, immoral and violent) becoming public is a state or bureaucratic decision with no ramifications about inviting public anger or unrest, apart from some routine embarrassment.

Compare this to how much WikiLeaks and its supporters give importance to these ‘phony facts’, as carrying a subversive power. WikiLeaks’ website declares that it “relies upon the power of overt fact to enable and empower citizens to bring feared and corrupt governments and corporations to justice.” That is, truth is not just ‘overt fact’ but that which at the same time “enables and empowers citizens to…” challenge power – truth which awakens people and inspires people to speak out. Most people on the left rightly felt exuberant and hoped that the revelations are going to have a far more serious effect and will majorly destabilize imperialism. But to what extent has that take place or why did it not take place are questions we need to ask ourselves.

People’s self-activity

So we must point out that there is indeed a problem in this mode and practice of challenging power, which has come to the fore with WikiLeaks today. No doubt, Assange’s ‘scientific journalism’ is impeccable when it comes to evidence and facts, so that people can see for themselves and test the sources of the leaks – the unassailable truth. George Orwell is often quoted: “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act”. But we cannot assume people as only passively receiving the end product – the truth being told. This behalfism and indulgent disconnect with the public is evident when Anonymous declares, “we are here for all of you, campaign for all of you”. Against this, let us recall: “The real education of the masses can never be separated from their independent political, and especially revolutionary, struggle”. A handful of elite hackers can reveal the truth but it does not really get embraced and absorbed by ‘ordinary people’ against power, for only their own struggle educates people about the truth. Those incidentally are Lenin’s words about people learning the ‘truth’ about the repressive Czarist regime in Russia in the aftermath of ‘Bloody Sunday’ where scores of protestors were fired upon and killed in St Petersburg in 1905.

ja-main It is the activity and experience of the people which reveals the truth to them, a truth which is inseparable from their struggle. Rosa Parks’ defiance is a case in point – it became a symbol of the struggle against racism in the US. However, in the case of Bradley Manning, his act of defiance in leaking the secret documents seems far less important than the contents of what he released. It is true that the contents of those documents were of unprecedented significance, so they would get the enormous attention and coverage which we are witnessing. And yet, a low-ranking gay soldier’s defiance could have as well triggered off civil disobedience within the army or among ordinary people, instead of inspiring only sundry ‘whistle blowers’ or old members of the Veterans for Peace to come out in the streets. It is no mere coincidence that Manning becomes a mere conduit passing the leaks to WikiLeaks and then to the corporate media houses. The fact of the matter is actually that minus Manning’s act of defiance, WikiLeaks revelations seem more like truth abstracted from the struggle of the people and then served back to them with redactions and vetting by the corporate media.

It is true that Assange and WikiLeaks are at one level part of the larger struggle of the people for justice, freedom and so on. Reports in fact say that Assange had attended the World Social Forum in Nairobi in 2006 and addressed activists in social movements. But this looks like more than a one-time encounter with social movements rather than any engagement or pro-active association.

‘Scientific journalism’

It is therefore misplaced to make the scientific veracity of the revelations, the primary focus – as though ‘evidence’ about the truth being told is all that takes to convince people to come out against power. Assange goes to great lengths to emphasise on the verifiability of their evidence: “Publishing the original source material behind each of our stories is the way in which we show the public that our story is authentic. Readers don’t have to take our word for it; they can see for themselves.” As though the public is not swinging into civil disobedience only since they do not yet have damning evidence of the system’s corruption, WikiLeaks states that “we want readers to know the truth so they can make up their own minds.” One can even trace an unstated attempt here to abstract individuals from their places of work and living, places where their own struggle teaches them the truth about the system, and render them into abstract individuals who have to form their opinion from ‘revealed truth’ handed down to them, from some secret files and so on.

Darkbird18 is keeping up with Wikileaks to see what is really behind this whole event because the information I getting about (Mr. Assange) is not so clear because the CIA and Major Media players keep popping up in different news article about who is behind the links and why they are coming out? This article is one of those article that question the real truth behind Wikileaks. This is just part of the full article so click on the link below to read the full article at Mute Magazine.

Thanks, but no thanks, WikiLeaks! | Mute magazine

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