People in many western countries used to feel very save about their governments. We live in a democracy, the highest form of organizing a society. All the evil violations of human rights are ancient history. The western style democracy are made for eternity. That is the creed of modern democratic statists. If libertarians try to point out that democracies are still states and therefore potential monsters they are often laughed at as being conspiracy theorists. Tyranny can’t happen here.
The last 10 years have been a hard test of that creed. Since the west has started its war on terror, we have seen most of the basic principals of a free society fall. Everyone has become a potential terrorist until proven to be innocent. In the US, which is often described as one of the key democracies, a majority of people is now excepting that state authorities are torturing detainees. As we now know over 100 innocent people have been tortured to death by the US. US authorities have made torture experiments with detainees to see how far they have to go before a human breaks. The people who are committing these crimes no longer hide of fear that if this comes out they will have to face prosecution. No, we have an ex President bragging in his Biography that he personally ordered the torture of detainees. We now even see a US president openly claiming the authority to have the right to kill any person on this planet, including his own citizens without any judicial process. All it needs is that he is personally persuaded that this person is a threat to the US.
In the UK things are not yet that bad. Politicians like Tony Blair still need to be silent about their involvement in torture and war crimes. But even in the UK these politicians still enjoy a great deal of trust with many people and are after all still running around freely.
Clearly to anyone that can see, the myth that western democracies are brave protectors of human rights once and for all has fallen. But up to know there was one thing that still differentiated democracies from tyrannies. There still is the argument that in a western democracy, people have the right to openly protest against their political class. But this freedom is also more and more coming under attack. While we so far have seen subtle attempt to outlaw certain opinions through political correctness, we are witnessing a very open attack on journalism in these days.
The whistleblower platform Wikileaks has come under heavy attacks for publishing secret government information in the last years. That politicians are criticising journalists for their work is certainly not new. But the attacks against Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks go far beyond that. Leading US politicians like Newt Gingrich have called for an arrest and execution of Julian Assange as a terrorist and enemy combatant. Some have even called for an assassination through a drone strike. Companies like Amazon, Paypal or Mastercard have been successfully put under pressure to stop working with Wikileaks. The web address of Wikileaks has been cancelled and it seems like there is a complot against Assange going on under very weak accusations of rape in Sweden.
I am not making the case here that people who have sworn an oath to secrecy have a right to break this oath when working for the state. Certainly when the information revealed are information about crimes the state has committed they have every right if not an obligation to do so. But revealing diplomatic talks is a different story. Nevertheless, it has been a great tradition of freedom that Journalists who get secret information have every right to publish them, if they are in the public interest. When Assange is now called a terrorist for publishing information it shows how far down the road of tyranny we already are. The ruling class, especially in the US seems to openly hold the opinion that whatever is in the interest of the government is in the interest of the country, even when diplomats like Hilary Clinton, who has ordered the stealing of credit card information are committing crimes. Therefore, everyone who is against the political class is a terrorist or a traitor and needs to be liquidated. Needless to say that the government is big in prosecuting whistleblowers, but has not taken any actions to prosecute the people in the government who obviously have committed crimes. I am persuade more than ever that we are witnessing the end of the current political order. The only question is who will win. Will the current ruling class manage to transform the western societies into tyrannies or will the people at some point just have enough and send them all to hell. Wikileaks seems to become a decisive battle in this fight.
December 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm
Technology is not a thread by definition. Protecting the past is.
But maybe this is a good thing in Wikileaks….
We need proper steering mechanism to survive the global society we created with technology.
Whould we have gone to Iraq over Weapons of mass destruction is we were part of the diplomatic cable discussion ?
Better of with more transparency ? CreditCrises / Cable gate shows governments are not so much in control of the global society.
Wasn’t it work of the press to tell us the truth ?
At least the cork out of the bottle. Fact is that secrets are harder to keep anno 2010.
Shutting down is naive. Discuss it is the only option.. Come on free press, have vision ..take the lead.