The media is full of hype about Mr. Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks. The story might be considered trivial at first. However, the hoopla is interesting to observe, highly intriguing and, in my view, well worth analyzing and second-guessing a bit.
The basic story is quickly told: WikiLeaks publishes confidential content (documents, videos, audio files), which is supplied by informants, whose identities are kept secret and protected. Based on this concept, information has reached the day of light which some believe should be public knowledge per default, since it regards the 'work´ of governments, those employed by the people and paid for by the taxpayer.
Governments, obviously, would have preferred to keep the information confidential. Some feel that divulging such information, which was obtained without permission, is criminal. In fact, Mr. Assange has been hunted down on criminal charges – albeit on charges of rape (!?!?).
The whole story is intriguing because it is so full of contradictions, double standards and a good portion of (potentially orchestrated) drama. And, it is worth taking a closer look at in order to raise questions in the context of highly important trends and issues of current times.
More transparency or less?
We live in times of increased regulations and an immense state push for increased citizen transparency. In the face of huge debts and deficits governments have become increasingly aggressive at demanding their rights, namely taxes. In order to pay for their inefficiencies, mis-allocations and socialistic schemes, tax payers are expected to pay. Privacy, a means of potentially avoiding taxes, is not acceptable, not in this day and age.
WikiLeaks turns the table around. It demands government transparency. The WikiLeaks position is that governments have no right to confidentiality versus those who pay their salaries: the people.
These two positions are diametrically opposed. What is intriguing is that the very effect of WikiLeak´s push for state transparency could well lead to the very opposite, namely increased internet censorship, more regulations and less state transparency. In fact, in consideration of the above quote – "a multi-tentacled media machine that has become, for all intents and purposes, a propaganda organ of the state." – we may raise the question whether in fact Mr. Assange, the defender of free speech, is being instrumentalized, consciously or unconsciously, in the interest of his declared enemy. Clearly, no matter how you look at it, the internet is a force that governments are having a hard time keeping in check. It appears they are determined to assert more control, if that is indeed in any way possible.
Blatant double standards of the state
Government officials around the world, including those in Germany, are crying wolf over WikiLeaks and demanding proper regulations of the internet. Such abuse, and the use of illegally — whether it is illegal or not, is question attorneys argue over — obtained data, must be banned!
If the blatant double standard in this were not so very repugnant, it might be amusing: Germany is the state that accepted stolen bank data from a criminal banker and, America, gave that criminal refuge. The data was used to go after German tax payers who allegedly kept funds in Swiss bank accounts to evade taxes. And, the data was sold (!!) by Germany to other countries, so that they might also hunt down their dodgy tax payers.
Cause to be skeptical
What really gives this whole story a bad taste, at least for my taste buds, is this: Why do governments around the world give WikiLeaks such a huge amount of free marketing and media presence, if they indeed want to keep their little dirty secrets out of the public´s eye? This world is full of smoke and mirrors.
There are stories and people to be heard that are far more interesting and, in many ways, more important that Julian Assange´s dirty laundry concept. So far this year, there have been over 150 bank failures in America. The international monetary system is in the process of collapsing. The U.S. administration has no intent whatsoever on repaying its debts. These are stories that should be on the front pages. However, the stories that rank at the top of the news are Mr. Assange, the European debt crisis, the economic recovery in the US and the Climate Summit in Brazil. You need to at least ask the question why this selection was made, and by whom.
WikiLeaks is not the first, and certainly not the only, website that is based on the concept of divulging "secret and dirty state stories". Although some of the information provided on WikiLeaks is abhorrent for sure, there is little that, for those who looked and reflected beyond the mainstream media tabloids, could not have been expected. And that gets us to the very center of why I question the authenticity of this drama unfolding before us:
What hits the front-pages and is seen by the masses is largely controlled by a few 'corporate behemoths´, which again are largely orchestrated by the state. What is not meant to hit the limited attention span of the masses simply won´t.
U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, for instance, makes for a good example in this context. He demands the abolishment of the Federal Reserve. He questions the legal justification of the IRS. He vociferously questions American military presence in the Middle East. In fact, he is against interventionism altogether. He strongly believes in the individual´s right to privacy. And yet, Ron Paul is hardly to be found in mainstream media where he seems to be pretty much blended out. He is present primarily on the internet.
Here, by the way, is what Mr. Paul says about the WikiLeaks affair:
"In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling, and outright military intervention in the post-World War II era has made us less secure, not more. And we have lost countless lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often 'official´ government lies have provided justification for endless, illegal wars and hundreds of thousands of resulting deaths and casualties."
In conclusion, whatever the truth of the WikiLeaks affair really is, we need to be sceptical of anything that is served up in our daily dose of mass media gibberish. This also, and particularly, applies to the mass media news on the economic and financial markets.
So, what to do? I like Mr. Ferdinand Mount´s quote in this context: "One of the unsung freedoms that go with a free press is the freedom not to read it."