The violent suppression called western democracy has never been as blatantly exposed as in the Wikileaks episode. That is, to an audience within so-called western democracies and “the international community”, a minority of the global population. The overwhelming majority has long been subjected to this regime and needs no bulletins from corporate central to know what’s been going on. But at the empire’s core there is confusion bred by corporate capital’s media, and citizens trying to truly inform their fellows have become criminals threatened with prison and death. Their heroic attempts have awakened a sometimes dormant public often reduced to obeying the dictates of egoism by using what is supposedly social media to pursue individual activities like making purchases, swapping photos and sharing gossip. No more.
An aroused community sprang to the defense of Julian Assange and his Wikileaks cohorts by forming defense committees and attacking web sites that blocked the group from receiving funds and spreading their message. That message is about ending secrecy posing as democracy and beginning open government, which could lead to something completely different: real democracy. There is serious panic in high places because retaliatory forces have never had more potential for success even if some are not yet willing to accept that fact. But our rulers understand that the threat to their power is more significant than ever, even if some of their subjects are still looking for conspiracies of near mystical and supernatural origin.
At a time of tension within a global system confronting massive debt problems, environmental breakdown and an international class crisis, Wikileaks may represent more change than even its protagonists imagine. The global Internet dominated by corporations and their nation-state subsidiaries has served the market for commodity consumption by an affluent minority while denying a majority population victimized by that same economic system. Rebels among the network of hackers and communicators who do not simply seek ego gratification and market profiteering but demand greater democratic opportunity have found the openings offered by this uncontrollable communications system to offer more possibility for change than ever before.
Western capitalism attempts to resolve its budget deficit by acting on its moral deficit; take more from those who have less in order to take less from those who have more. Nations, states and municipalities weaken the bottom line of support for their citizens in order to strengthen the bottom line of profits for their banks. Jobs disappear, pensions shrink, poverty increases and hardship intensifies, while lavish wealth accrues to a minority of billionaires and trickles down to their affluent servants. This new global middle class exists on top of an ever-expanding global underclass which pays for its affluence with their suffering. This explosive situation of minority profits gained at majority loss is nothing new in political economics, but the present crisis is on a different terrain than any experienced in the past.
Assange confronts this system from an anarchist position that attracts a rebellious class of internet connected people who are against all authority, while Manning represents a class of military workers long opposed to the immorality of war because they know it, first hand. He and Assange utilize new media to confront old authority that has ruled the earth for hundreds of years. They disobey ruling codes of immorality and observe revolutionary codes of morality often preached by religions but totally disregarded by ruling political forces:
Goodness and decency are only to occur within places of worship, but once we get outside to the places of marketing, all hell breaks loose. And that is called acceptable reality.
Manning was repulsed by what he saw and compelled to do what he could to let his people know the truth. He acted on an ancient human impulse that dates to the earliest uprisings against slavery, royalty, and feudal autocracy. Assange is part of the same tradition though coming from a different background but both appear at a time when far more humans can heed the call to solidarity and community. This is what terrifies authority and leads to the most irrational threats by its servants, with liberals mouthing tirades of murderous madness and conservatives opting for a near fascist police state. According to the constitution, of course.
Just as a world community is confronting the fanatic racial supremacies of a minority religious based class in Palestine, the deadly global dominance of a minority billionaire based class over the world economy is called into question as well. And while dominating forces over majorities have always been resisted - with non-violence by the more materially able and violently by those most desperate – we are experiencing a time of more possibility that the temporarily able and the presently desperate could unite to confront the system that afflicts not only them but the human race itself.
There has probably never been such desperate need for humanity to end domination by un-chosen minorities since the very substance of life is threatened by their system of use and abuse of nature in pursuit of private benefit at public cost. The linking of groups in the struggle for creating a new world of possibility by ending minority injustice may be closer than ever before. It will be up to those of us most materially able to demand democracy peacefully, to help end the desperation that makes violent reaction not only inevitable but justified. The social media of information sharing can help resistance to oppression as never before by uniting global communities into a truly democratic movement to permanently retire war and begin an era of peace. This could be a great year for humanity, but it could also bring disaster if humanity doesn’t begin acting like a social entity, and not just a mass of separate individuals. Really social media can help us become a really human race. Let’s become one, and have a happy 2011.