The Deep Politics of WikiLeaks

How the State uses secrecy to maintain legitimacy and authority
Julian Assange, Founder of WikiLeaks
Julian Assange, Founder of WikiLeaks

The term Deep Politics was created by English Professor Peter Scott to illustrate how cultures, societies, nations and groups of people tend to collectively and involuntarily suppress facts because of the social and psychological cost of not doing so. In other words, humans collectively suppress facts which are inconvenient and difficult to face, and often do this involuntarily, almost at an unconscious level. There is no better time when Deep Politics has been readily manifested in the public lives of Americans than now, when the public has been suddenly forced to face the actions of its Government, all thanks to WikiLeaks.

During the Cold War it was very exciting as a teenager to huddle around a short-wave radio, listening in the dark every evening to The Voice of America. It was not as much the act of listening that made it exciting, although tuning in to the show was actually illegal, but what made such evenings exciting for me was the fact that I knew that every evening the DJ will expose some new criminal act that the Romanian Communist State was involved in; perhaps some new assassination, coverup of murders, a new shooting on the border, and a coverup of a sex scandal by a Party official. You see, during the Cold War, revealing the criminal acts of Communist governments was viewed as a positive thing. And indeed, it was quite positive as truth eventually set millions of people free.

During his visit to China, President Obama was asked a question about the benefit of people all over the world having free access to information. His answer was that “the more freely information flows, the stronger societies are.” The so-called “leader of the free world” publicly recognizes the benefit of information flowing freely, and how knowledge of one's government leads to increased freedom for all.How is it then that the very same Government Mr. Obama serves is now attempting to shutter and stop the free flow of information? Could it be that truly terrifying secrets are the means by which oppressive Governments keep a society weak?

The fundamental paradigm on the WikiLeaks topic is that the Sate had spend decades and even hundreds of years establishing a pseudo-legitimacy in order to govern and project authority. Supposed positive aspects of the State are readily published and made public while crimes and negatives are sealed as “State secrets” and kept under control as much as possible. Thus when “secrets” are exposed, the State loses a significant amount of legitimacy, and the paradigm itself collapses.

This is the only way in which a reasonable person could explain the outrage of Statists over the WikiLeaks releases. How else could we explain the unity of both Liberals and Conservatives in calling for the murder, assasination, trial, arrest, shooting or disappearing of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange?

Or could it be that the WikiLeaks releases have simply revealed more than just ugly secrets, that both Liberals and Conservatives are simply Statists?

You see, for the past two years Julian Assange has revealed thousands of secrets which have little to do with U.S. Policy and wars. He has revealed secrets about BP, and about an Albanian oil company which tried to blow up oil wells belonging to a competitor. He has revealed crimes of former Kenyan dictator Daniel arap Moi, and criminal behavior of Swiss bank Julius Baer. Assange uncovered how a multi-national pharmaceutical company was seeking pay-offs to the World Health Organization in order to carry out drug research in third-world countries. And he revealed how Trafigura, a U.K. based company dumped tons of toxic refuse in Ivory Coast, sickening hundreds of thousands of people.

When American Statists discuss WikiLeaks, they do not mention any of these revelations, instead focusing on vague leaks which “put soldiers' lives at risk,” however when pressed on the details, they are unable to give clear examples of even one specific leak that has actually put someone's life at risk. The truth is that even in this context, Assange has been purposefully releasing information slowly to media outlets asking for help to redact the data in order to avoid putting people's lives at risk.

The most embarrassing leak for the U.S. Government was most likely the “Collateral Murder” video, which was leaked earlier in 2010. The video is footage from an Army Apache helicopter attack on a group of Iraqis on July 12, 2007. It was discovered later that the “insurgents” killed were in fact civilians, including two reporters working for Reuters, an eight year old boy and a four year old girl; both children were severely injured, with the boy suffering from major brain damage from shrapnel. The subsequent investigation of the attack led to false statements made by Army officials in an apparent effort to cover up the facts of the incident.

Rarely do we hear critics of Julian Assange discussing these important issues; indeed it appears that the critics' message is simply and loudly: We are not concerned with truth and facts, we just want Assange dead!

The deep politics of WikiLeaks had truly highlighted the disconnect between truth and nationalism; between one's allegiance to government and ability to discern that government's crimes. In a highly-nationalistic society the ones loving the nation, the “national-ists” often have difficulties seeing the problems within their own nations. This is the essence of deep politics, much in the way in which German citizens were well aware of Hitler's goals to exterminate Jews yet they voted for him due to the nationalistic fervor sweeping through Germany, blinding them to the danger of the National Socialist Party's platform. World history teaches us to be careful about trusting governments which use nationalism as the means by which they maintain secrecy and legitimacy.

Worse yet, the history of our nation is full of similar incidents, where citizens en masse ignored outright criminal activity and shrugged away uncomfortable realities in which they were engaged through their own representative government. The Whiskey Rebellion where Washington led the army to kill citizens over taxation, the Bonus Army incident where veterans met Army bayonets just for asking for their bonuses, the McCollum Memo which showed U.S. politicians goading Japan into attacking the U.S. in order to create an excuse to enter WWII, the Confiscation of Gold from private citizens in 1933, confiscation of guns during Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan shooting civilians for sport and then collecting their fingers as souvenirs. All disturbing acts in the history of our country; all indefensible acts...yet all defended by supporters of the State, both Liberals and Conservatives alike.

There is one problem however with the efforts to shut up Assange through murder or incarceration. His ideas have transcended his physical body, so killing him or locking him up will hardly put a stop to the flow of information. Several hundred mirrors of WikiLeaks have already popped-up all over the world. Files are still being distributed to media outlets daily, and WikiLeaks says it is being flooded with submissions of more and more leaks. A new age of involuntary transparency is here, and it does not look like there is anything or anyone out there able to put a stop to it.

Or maybe there is one very simple way to stop the leaks: government and corporations could stop doing evil things.

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