Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The woodshed

The crime of Wikileaks was lèse majesté, an insufficient deference to Power.  The cables are instructive.  The Americans could care less about the opinions of the leaders of various nonentities like Saudi Arabia or Great Britain.  What is important is that American diplomats conduct a periodic check-up - like having your teeth cleaned - in order to ensure that everybody knows who the boss is.  Thus, from time to time, world leaders are interviewed by American diplomats who say nothing and just write everything down.  The various leaders struggle to say what they think the Americans would want them to say, and if they meet the test, they are allowed to stay in power.  Just striving to meet the test teaches a lesson.  Perhaps the biggest surprise from the cables is how hard everybody strives to meet the American test of fealty.

We're in the middle of a long social experiment to see what we will put up with.  The plutocrats keep asking for more, and we just give it to them.  There is absolutely no push-back whatsoever.  In fact, all we do is ask for more punishment and deprivation.  The results of this experiment have been so startling to the plutocrats that they have until recently not asked for everything, in fear that perhaps they would awaken a sleeping giant of rebellion.  Nope.  No giant. Just sleeping. The continuing non-reaction to the massive financial theft in Europe and the United States, where the thieves were not only not punished, but massively rewarded, was the final test.  The only reason why we are not all slaves building pyramids to the glory of the plutocrats is that they, in their infinite generosity of spirit, haven't asked us yet.  They will, and we'll start hauling rocks.

Did you note the petulance in Obama's press conference on giving in completely to Republican demands that he extend the tax cuts for the very richest (at a massive cost that will have to be borrowed from China, and which will raise the deficit and have to be paid off by old people living on cat food when the American right suddenly starts worrying about the deficit)?  You know what he was saying?  How dare you expect any backbone from me when you have no backbone yourselves!

On the other hand, note the class consciousness of the other side.  Big corporations like Amazon, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal enforced the will of the plutocracy without the slightest compunction ("It is fascinating to see the tentacles of the corrupt American elite.").  This is also intended to be instructive.  There is no chance in fighting them as they will stick together, even in cases where it appears that their class cohesiveness will cost them money.  Were we smart enough, we might learn something from them.

And what of various institutions, some of which are supposed to be protecting us?  The Swedish government and judicial system, Interpol, the British judicial system, all instantly gave up even the slightest pretense of attempting to follow their own rules, when those rules are all they are really about.  Power wins out over everything.  There is no hope.  Give up even the slightest struggle and save yourselves from being destroyed (although you will have to be slaves).

Many people noted the hypocrisy of the announcement of the American hosting of World Press Freedom Day (the Washington Post, busy not doing the job that Wikileaks has had to do, helpfully explains the meaning of the word 'irony').  And what of the freedom of the internet itself, something of great interest to Hillary when she could use it as a weapon against China?  Wikileaks attempted to use the logic of the freedom of the internet to turn the secret-keepers into knots and thus destroy their conspiracy.  The powerful simply changed the rules to deal with Wikileaks.  They want us to know that they can change the rules.  They can always change the rules.  Eventually, the internet will be completely reserved for plutocrats to exploit us to make money.  We're demonstrated that we are not responsible enough to have freedom of speech.  We've also demonstrated that we won't object when they take our freedoms.

The treatment of Julian Assange and Wikileaks is intended to be over-the-top, hypocritical, offensive, and outrageous ("wholly comparable to the kind of treatment doled out to dissidents in China or Burma").  He's supposed to end up executed in an American military prison.  Wikileaks put a real scare into them, which explains the overreaction.  They want us to be reminded of punishments in the Dark Ages.  It is a lesson to anybody who might present any real challenge to power.
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