Dec. 1st, 2010

turtleshell: (Default)
Something hasn't been sitting right with me vis a vie this whole Wikleaks thing. On the face of it, Julian Assange is a guy who set out to snub the noses of the mandarins, with no regard for how effective his actions are. But I suspect he is playing a much larger game.

How effective have his actions been? To answer that, we have to first determine what his actual goals are. Clearly they cannot be attempting to provoke a public outcry. I must admit that my own initial assumption when I first saw the now-infamous "Collateral Murder" video was that this time people will be upset enough to do something, but the outcry never came. Any initial outrage was rapidly overshadowed by concerns for "national security" and went away with nary a hint of reform or revision of U.S. policies.

But how to explain this latest round of diplomatic cables? They amount to little more than a collection of messages sent between mid- and upper-level members of the government. With the public desensitized to the vile actions taken in their names, leaking a bunch of banal diplomatic cables surely can't be expected to change anything -- at least not in and of themselves.

I submit that the content of the leaks is not important.

Look at who have been involved: there are a few name-brand politicos in this last batch of documents, and more than a few bits of information that is embarrassing to them, but most of the cables were sent to and by the faceless midlevel bureaucrats who help run the world.

Also important is the mere fact that there are leaks in the first place. The U.S. Government, and every other government, is now on notice that what they had done in secret before now stands a strong likelihood of being exposed to the world. (What the world does with this information has yet to be seen.)

If all reports are correct, and Wikileaks is sitting on 5GB of internal Bank of America documents, then the corporations that really run the show are about to find out how transparent their operations will be as well.

I'm encouraged that I am on the right track here by Assange's own writings. To grasp what he's doing, you're going to need a nuanced view of the term "conspiracy." A decent summary of Assange's philosophy can be read here. His original writings are online here (pdf).

I'm not ready to defend what Wikileaks are doing. Nor am I ready to persecute them. I'm still trying to get my head around what they are trying to do, and I think the above documents go a long way towards explaining it. Wikileaks is trying to start a long process that -- if they're correct -- will ultimately restore power to the governed.

Already results can be seen in action. The government-wide security review will no doubt result in a severing of the connections with which Assange is concerned with in his essays.

This is an exciting time we're entering.
turtleshell: (Default)
It would appear that Charles Stross agrees with me on what Julian Assange is doing. It is nice to be ahead of Charlie on an issue for once.

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