Fear is the basis of all oppression. I wouldn't be far from truth if I went on to say that fear is the cause for all that is ugly in this world of human beings - fear of being found out, fear of losing what one has, fear of disrepute and much more.
Such is the fear that has gripped the governments and institutions of the world. And the one who has most to lose is most delirious. The American government recently has shown its inability to uphold what it supposedly guards the most and invades every other country in order to establish the same - democracy and freedom. While I have loved the people I have gotten to meet in that country, my disrespect for the government grows every single day. Here is a government and institution which is the ugliest and most hypocritical. While other governments can be blatantly corrupt and murderous, US of A is insidious in its ways and sickens me in the pit of my stomach.
So I take a reality check. I approach an eight year old and ask him things. Here is how the conversation goes:
Me: If I took money from you, should I have to tell you what I spend it on?
Me: If I break your cycle, should I confess to you?
Boy: Why did you break it?
Me: Because I thought I was protecting you from getting hurt.
Boy: But you could tell me first, right?
Me: I suppose I could. What if I go and break your neighbour's cycle?
Boy: Why are you breaking cycles?
Me: Because I think your neighbour is bad and by breaking his cycle I am ensuring that he won't be bad.
Boy: But you could talk to his mommy and daddy?
Me: I could, but I don't have time and I am afraid they might not listen.
Boy: You shouldn't break things which are not yours.
and it goes on thus. At the end I realised that the ethics and clarity an eight year old has is nearly entirely lost as they grow up to create governments. I spared him the questions that highlight actions resulting from fear as I didn't want to inorganically corrupt his mind.
Such is the numbing fear of the US of A that they have passed the Kill Switch bill. This gives the American president the power to turn off networks (private and public sector) for 120 days or so. This means nearly all DNS routing would be lost. Anything hosted on American servers (which is a significant portion of the Internet), would be lost. Your mail service would be lost. Your ability to search is largely lost. I hope you get the picture. One skewed government's sense of threat and security can deprive the entire world of what was once called the borderless world. Other countries (China, Russia) are following suit.
When I spoke to people and asked them about the WikiLeaks, I got answers ranging from "Something happening in the US" to "Some government documents were leaked and the government of the US of A doesn't like it". To me that is a secondary concern. I think the WikiLeaks issue reveals 3 primary issues which, if not dealt with immediately, would destroy all vestiges of freedom and decency that we all cherish.
The American government is extremely ashamed that the truth about their conduct over the past several decades, including war crimes, economic strategies, political moves, foreign affairs etc. has been brought out into the open. Their complaint that the cables were leaked is as stupid as saying that the store is at fault for having recorded my theft. That I stole is not to be discussed. That I killed the storekeeper's daughter is not to be discussed. And anyone who knows it should never disclose it. I will, in the meantime, proclaim myself to be the most ethical man who never takes from others and who considers murder and even violence as something utterly horrible. Now that I have proclaimed all that, you will dare not talk about the store incident.
Somehow, people are not interested in addressing the elephant in the room and are talking about other matters. I think the people of every country are entitled to know the doings of their government as it was elected by them. People instead are talking about freedom and democracy. I think people should first talk about necessity for every government to disclose each and everything that they do. Every citizen must be given free access to all government information, else who is the government protecting? If the government is indeed protecting its citizens, then why hide from them? If they aren't sure whether to trust the citizens or not, then whom are they protecting? Some fictitious image of a country by alienating and indecently oppressing the very people who are citizens of the country?
I think the government should be nothing more than a bunch of people who represent our views and carry out the necessary things for the entire country. They take input from the people, identify needs and goals, prioritise them (based on values that the citizens adopt) and implement them. I doubt there exists even one government which does this without exploiting their own people or superseding their wants and creating an image of the country which they care more about than the people themselves.
The minute we start dealing with images, we run into problems of the ego (individual or collective) and with that comes the fear of being alienated or being proven wrong or being seen as weak, etc. America is going through exactly that. They wish to protect their image of being the greatest country on earth (which they clearly aren't). The very capitalism they think they represent is clearly politicised and corrupt with the government intervening to protect the moochers (so clearly out of Ayn Rand's books).
When the core is flawed, as is the case with the US of A, then being honest and facing the lacuna is far more frightening than covering it up with washed linen and acting as if they represent all that is good. Hence, their fear that China and earlier, USSR might supersede them drove them to pick on them and make life difficult for them, because when a person with a different view succeeds then the people in my club will doubt the greatness of all that I claimed is true. Hence, religions fight, political parties fight, generations fight, heterosexuals and homosexuals fights, Jews and anti-Semites fight, rich and poor fight and countries fight.
When the cables revealed the ulterior motives and sheer barbarianism of the US, the government feared that their own people will lose faith in them and decided to censor the cables. This is the same behaviour that is condemned in China or Russia. But when USA does it, it is national security.
This dishonesty and hypocrisy is the primary concern of mine. If the US of A has its way, then dishonesty and hypocrisy will become the norm. Maybe we will adapt to it and continue to eat our breakfast cereals, but I don't think I will be able to sleep peacefully or speak about truth anymore.
Big Brother Re-Lived:
When the US recognised the threat that the WikiLeaks posed, they decided to twist the arm of Amazon.com, PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and now Bank of America (well, the govt. didn't spend all those hundreds of billions of dollars rescuing them from the financial crash for nothing). Amazon.com which was hosting the WikiLeaks has taken them off, buckling under pressure from the govt. Visa and Mastercard have blocked donations to WikiLeaks and not of their own accord. Julian Assange (editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks) has been arrested on lame charges and held up in the UK. He might be extradited, again, under a lame pretext to the US. A secret grand jury has been suspected to have convened to discuss charges to be levied against Assange.
The US of A will mow down anyone who stands up in favour of the WikiLeaks and will take down any site which hosts the content. If any company does that on their private servers, then that company will be shutdown for sure. Please read about the Kill Switch bill that I mentioned at the outset (and the commenters on Schneier's blog are quick to point out how stupid the US govt. is in assuming that they actually have a switch). If any country hosts these WikiLeaks on their local network, then the US might surely find some weapons of mass destruction and charge! Unfortunately, most countries are slaves of the US and will hand over all those servers and their citizens to the US soldiers to be kicked around and whipped.
This is scary because this means that if the US govt. doesn't like something then we can't like it. If they don't like chocolate mousse tomorrow, I can't legally have it!
Freedom of Speech and Human Rights:
I am reminded of the verse from Tao Te Ching (chapter 18):
When the great Tao is forgotten,
benevolence and moral codes arise.
When shrewdness and cleverness appear,
great hypocrisy follows.
When there is no harmony in the family,
filial manners are developed
When the country is in disorder,
ministers appear as loyal servants.
We are in a world where we need to demand/ask/request/beg for the freedom to speak and human rights. Had the Way been observed, this would never have been the case. Alas, we are left with just this and now, even that will be snatched out of our hands because a power mightier than us, than decency throbs in the valley. I find it vulgar that we even need to ask for the freedom to speak. WikiLeaks assumed that they had it only to be rudely shocked into reality that no one has it till the government that rules allows one to. Had these WikiLeaks been about Britney Spears and Ricky Martin then there is nothing to worry and the petty race can revel in their base entertainment but when the rulers themselves are threatened to be the point of ridicule, all laughter is considered treacherous.
What this augurs is the end of an ethical world to live in. I don't think we can do anything (no matter how much we speak, how much we rant about it, how much we raise slogans). Assange might be tried and found a traitor. We can boycott Amazon.com and stop using our Visa and Mastercards and nothing will change. The only thing that will save the human race is ending the tyranny of governments like in the US. That will never happen. More governments, the world over, will follow the example set by them. Honest ethical living will be given the corner alcove on the first floor of the museum of history.
If you are less cynical than I am, please connect with the likes of Ola Bini and several others who feel strongly about what is happening. Each person has their pet spot to focus on. You can take your pick. I will just spend my time in that alcove in the museum.