Marc Pilisuk: Why the Case of Wikileaks Matters

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Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker of classified materials is being held in jail. Julian Assange was held in jail without being charged and for several days with bail withheld. Networks related to the distribution of the linked materials have been shut off from Wikileaks and avenues of fiscal support for Wikileaks have been cut off. Despite efforts and assurances that material that might endanger individuals was redacted, "perception management" specialists are peddling the view widely that the leaks put people and the nation in danger. Soldiers have been told not to read the leaked documents. University students in journalism and international relations have been told not to view the documents. Attorney General Eric Holder tells us that legal challenges to Wikileaks founder are in preparation and calls for his assassination have been made public in media in among politically visible people. Why the storm? Just what is it that they do not want us to know? And who are "they"?



On one level there are embarrassing details on the role of government officials in condoning and covering up the use of torture (Professor Pilisuk examines "The Matter of Torture" in his book, WHO BENEFITS FROM GLOBAL VIOLENCE AND WAR), deceptions about the failures and costs of military efforts, secret communications with officials of other governments to bribe or to coerce deals favoring free trade agreements, military assurances to governments that violate human rights, communications regarding new military initiatives toward Iran. These are not activities with which public officials would care to be identified and are not parts of their public persona. They are just the unfortunate realities of ordinary affairs, what they consider to be the only way that coercion may supplement persuasion when consensus cannot be reached. But for whom? ...

To appreciate the degree of concern, it is important to go more deeply into what is being protected. Corporate capitalism is in trouble. It relied, since its inception, upon investments that used, and frequently abused, the gifts of human labor and of natural resources to accrue benefits in material wealth. Government funds accompanied by unreimbursed services provided by nature assured breakthroughs in technology. These made possible the advent of consumerism, threats to habitat and, as market values replaced many of the bonds of caring, a loss of community and multitudes of displaced people. Still in every decade of the past century, parents in the developed countries, at least, could anticipate better economic status for their offspring than they were able to enjoy. Wars were fought, governments were created, bribed and coerced to assure market advantages and parts of the environment were ravaged.  Still there was always a new frontier to promise opportunities for growth, development and hope for the future.  That promise has faded. 


Since the 1970s income growth in the developed nations has stagnated. We have run out of frontiers and corporate entities designed to require growth have relied upon credit to propel bubbles of speculation just so the global corporate economy can continue. Daily reminders of the difficulty of returning to the prior state can be seen in the reduction of safety nets, the costs of education and healthcare, and the continuing high levels of unemployment. Even if another bubble of commerce were to provide relief, the jobs that would return would continue the trend of making us work longer and harder for less as wages are trimmed. 


There is a "them." The beneficiaries whom I have tried to identify in Who Benefits from Global Violence and War: Uncovering a Destructive System.  They are among the upper 1% who enjoy the greatest concentration of wealth ever to occur in developed nations. The largest corporate actors have become larger.  These larger corporate sectors represented by Pharma, The Petroleum Institute, The Missile Defense Advocacy Association, and the perception management firms (such as Lincoln and Rendon) that market public disinformation, operate in full glory. The firms flourishing are sometimes recognized, -- General Electric, Lockheed -Martin, Shell, BP, Exxon, Monsanto, Bechtel, Citi- group, Wal-Mart, Nike, Microsoft and more. Their CEO's reside in multiple mansions, in gated communities often expending vast sums for tax-deductible charities as well as for "yacht wars" for prestige among their in-group.  Except among those few who seek political office, and those who identify themselves with support for humanitarian causes, (Soros, Buffett, Gates) their names on not typically in public view. Many of them do meet, sometimes secretly in such venues as the Bohemian Club or the Bilderberg group, where they affirm their beliefs that the system that has propelled them and their parents is the inevitable destiny and a sacred trust. They assume a heavy responsibility of steering the world (for everyone's benefit) and distrust public involvement. They know that democratic elections are their preferred way to sanction their agenda and expend large sums to control the process so that no viable parties can gain power without their support. They are most threatened by efforts to protect water, rainforests, local communities, healthcare, education, job security, media or even elections from changes in a level of control by their courtiers, -- that they believe is needed.  They need secrecy to protect against their greatest excesses. They target whistle blowers like Dan Ellsberg who was called by Henry Kissenger, "The most dangerous man in America." The problem is that without new frontiers to exploit, they continue their status only by reducing the well-being of the rest of us, exploiting the planet, manipulating governments to favor their deals and conducting wars against their primarily civilian adversaries. What to do with this elite for the world to reform the ways in which humans conduct business is a deep and complex question. It begins with exposure of the secret dealings being exposed by Wikileaks. It is a big deal.





Marc Pilisuk, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, The University of California

Professor, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center

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This page contains a single entry published on January 6, 2011 11:14 AM.

State of the Union: presumptive incarceration at the very heart of executive policy was the previous entry in this blog.

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