A disturbing number of people around me have expressed misgivings about Wikileak’s disorderly conduct, claiming that progress must be achieved in a more civilized way within the frame of the established government system. Alas, that is not always possible – sometimes a measure of peaceful excess is required to nudge the system out of a local optimum toward the great wide open of better possibilities. To illustrate that, here are a few choice quotes from someone who broke his chains and helped in freeing others from theirs:
“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will” – Frederick Douglass in an address on West India Emancipation (1857-08-04)
If you don’t ask for something, the odds of receiving it are tiny – especially when subjected to more powerful forces. The people have been clamoring for honesty from those who govern them, and not getting it. Now they begin to understand that a struggle is required – and they chose information as their weapon.
The people seeks truth as authority, not authority as truth. But Wikileaks is not about the abstract and impossible absolute transparency – the strawman argument derided by those who oppose it. It is about more transparency in response to a problem : we don’t trust our governments anymore.
Or course, Wikileaks is clearly excessive – but it is only the backlash for the equally excessive treachery that secretive governments have foisted upon their own people.
More balanced views will prevail, but only when trust will have been re-established. Until then, there will be struggle :
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe” – Frederick Douglass in speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. (April 1886)
It remains that whereas governments have been used to the privilege of surveillance over subjects – they are now waking up to a new world of sousveillance, where citizens forcefully take back rightful lordship over their government.
Wikileaks has contributed to the exposure of how broken the covenant between the people and the governments currently is. That covenant will be renewed : the truth that is pouring out of the shadows is the source of hope that will feed it.
“When a great truth once gets abroad in the world, no power on earth can imprison it, or prescribe its limits, or suppress it. It is bound to go on till it becomes the thought of the world” – Frederick Douglass in in speech to the International Council of Women (31 March 1888)
The discussion is now open – more information cures all !
Thanks to Frederick Douglass for the inspiration – the Wikileaks affair underlines the timelessness of his writings.