The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
– Thomas Jefferson
Even as the worldwide media are going insane with lies and distortions about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, governments are executing cyber attacks on the Wikileaks website and threatening to assassinate a man over publishing information about the crimes they committed.
“But aren’t Wikileaks criminals?” some people may ask. The answer to that comes in two parts:
- Legally speaking, they are not. And it makes sense, too. In a healthy democracy, whisteblowers are protected, because they are the only way a democracy can protect itself from conspiratorial behaviour. These are people who are exposing crimes, after all, and how else are you going to expose crime in high places?
- What about the moral side of it? If you knew that the mayor of your town was working with organized crime, and had committed murder, would it not be your duty to bring these news to light? And would a newspaper (which is all that Wikileaks is, essentially) not be morally right, in the democratic tradition, to publish these news?
“But this is going to endanger people! Human lives are at risk!” someone else will say, echoing the most popular government lie. Again, an answer in two parts:
- Despite the constant repetition of this lie, no-one has been able to find the slightest shred of evidence that anyone has been harmed by the Wikileaks revelations. No-one affected by Wikileaks? Yes, according to U.S. officials.
- Who puts people’s lives in real danger? Illegal wars fought by supposedly democratic governments who see fit to conceal important facts from their electorates, or Wikileaks? If you want to protect human lives, stopping the wars and revealing as much information as possible about the crimes against humanity committed is the only way.
One of the most basic concepts of democracy is that a democracy cannot function without an informed electorate. The government is not supposed to be making decisions on its own, or based on the secret opinions of a small elite: a democratic government is meant to represent the will of the people. If vital facts are being withheld from public scrutiny, democracy is being seriously undermined, and those who help to expose those facts are champions of democratic values.
If you believe in democracy, do you not think that the following facts should not be hidden from the people?
- A cruise missile strike in Yemen by U.S. forced killed dozens of civilians, including 21 children. Even if you are in favour of war, don’t you think the citizens of the United States should know the cost in innocent lives of what their government is doing?
- Should the people of Russia and Italy not know that their leaders may have strong personal financial connections that affect their decisions?
- Should British and American voters not know about the fact that their officials conspired to circumvent the British ban on cluster bombs, a weapon known for inflicting severe civilian casualties, and lied to parliament about it?
- If the Russian governments is using the mafia for its dirty work, is it not the right of the Russian people (and everyone else affected by these tactics) to know? We’re talking about organized crime here – is exposing this really illegal/immoral?
- The Chilcot Inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war, which had already been criticized, is now revealed to be a sham; officials have made promises to the U.S. that guarantee the inquiry will never engage with the real facts. It doesn’t matter if you think the Iraq war was just or not; if you believe in democracy, you know that either an inquiry is an inquiry or it isn’t. If the real facts are withheld, or the results predetermined, how can any self-criticism or analysis ever occur?
- U.S. diplomats spied on the leadership of the UN, directly breaking laws that the U.S. agreed to uphold. This was done with the approval of Hillary Clinton and based on a CIA wishlist. A crime approved by a major politician? Should the American people, as well as member nations of the UN, not know about this?
- Foreign contractors in Afghanistan, hired to train police officers, took drugs and hired “dancing boys.” This is being done in the name of the people, with money taxed from the people; should they not know?
- The U.S. government pressured Spain to stop investigations into torture at Guantanamo and other human rights abuses. Shouldn’t the people of the United States and of Spain know this? How can they make political decisions without knowing?
This is just a tiny selection of facts revealed by the lastest Wikileaks leak. The only people endangered by these facts are corrupt politicians, immoral intelligence agencies and various gangsters. Wikileaks has not attacked governments; it has exposed government corruption and anti-democratic behaviour.
And that’s why we must support Wikileaks; because without government transparency there can be no democracy. And governments are not by nature transparent – because no accumulation of power is. When the built-in safeguards against conspiracy and corruption fail, it is up to the press and the public to make sure that there is not a small, unaccountable elite that makes decisions without asking or informing the people.
Why do you think Hillary Clinton is fuming? Because her crimes have been exposed. It’s not the life of some soldier she’s worried about, she has no problem sending people to their deaths; it’s her political career, her ability to make money by obeying the commands of more powerful entities, that she is worried about. Why do the New York Times attack Wikileaks and distort the facts? Because they are complicit in these crimes, as are the Republicans, as are the Democrats, as are most of the media. They claim that the leaks endanger “security,” whatever that is supposed to mean; but what they do is expose criminals… and they are those criminals.
Think about this for a moment: politicians and media figures are calling for Julian Assange to be assassinated. Assassinated. Who assassinates people? Dictatorships do. Criminals do. An assassin is not a hero – an assassin is a paid murderer. Aren’t democracies supposed to stand against such tactics? Are the United States really so weak, so paranoid, that they must murder someone for exposing a crime? Or are we just seeing a group of criminals wanting to clean up their own tracks?
Assassination and fake rape charges? Is this the level on which a great democracy operates? What happened to principles?
If the United States government, and all the other governments exposed, have nothing to hide, then why the fuss?
Wikileaks has become the focal point of the great struggle for democratic values that is taking place in the world. Their actions are legal, courageous and deeply democratic, and the methods used to opposed them are cowardly, immoral and profoundly anti-democratic.
If you believe in democracy, in human rights, in freedom, in justice: support Wikileaks now. Not tomorrow. Not some day in the far future when maybe you might be in a better position than today.
Now is the time to stand. Now is the time to do something meaningful, to support a movement that really can change the world for the better. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a socialist like me, or a libertarian, or a Democrat, or a Republican, or a Green, or a Social Democrat, or whatever. It only matters that you believe in democracy, in government of the people, by the people, for the people.
History is being made as you read this. Heroes – everyone at Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, everyone who endangers their life by speaking truth to power – are being persecuted, secrets are being revealed, democracy is under attack. These days will be remembered… but how? As another step towards authoritarianism, the days of the final destruction of that great American achievement, the First Amendment, or as the first step towards the light of freedom and truth?
You can make a difference. Right now.
(Edit: Paypal has shut down the Wikileaks account, proving once again that power is power, whether it’s a corporation or a government that holds it, and right now there is no meaningful difference between governments and corporations. But there are alternate means of donating, so please choose one of those instead.)