Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wikileaks and the Power of Corporatism

By Bruce Livesey
The Progressive Economics Forum
As we witness the on-going drama of governments and conservative forces around the world trying to shut down the whistleblower site Wikileaks and imprison and silence its founder, Julian Assange, on very thin grounds of sexual assault (read the British newspaper The Daily Mail’s story on the Swedish police report on the allegations - they are beyond absurd), what we are really seeing is a pure moment of what occurs when the corporate state and corporate sector feel threatened by forces they cannot control.

They are panicking and reacting in a very predictable and draconian and even fascistic (dare I use the word) fashion. They are responding in such a heavy-handed manner even though only a tiny fraction of the 250,000 diplomatic documents in existence have been released so far. And they are more embarrassing to the US and other governments than actually causing much in the way of real damage. And they are probably reacting this way because of fears of what will emerge next, in particular given Assange’s threats to release internal documents from Wall Street, specifically Bank of America.

The retaliation against Wikileaks is stemming from two sectors. First is the corporate state. Clearly efforts by powerful state forces are being levelled against Wikileaks by elements of the US government - probably through the National Security Agency (NSA) and Pentagon - designed to take down the Wikileaks website itself, forcing it to go offline for periods of time. There are also the efforts of the Obama administration and Swedish and British governments to arrest, imprison and eventually try Assange for a bevy of crimes, not just the sexual assault charges. The US Department of Justice is working overtime scouring the legal statutes to find ways to justify having Assange extradited to the US and tried and imprisoned for the rest of his life.

Then there are the actions of the corporate sector to drive Wikileaks offline and deprive it of funding. PayPal and Amazon cut off their services to WikiLeaks while most of the remaining venues through which it’s funded are also freezing out the organization - MasterCard, Visa, and a Swiss bank that WikiLeaks used to process donations. Expect this sort of indirect corporate censorship to continue.

Finally, there is the mass media. With the exception of the four media outlets the documents were released to - The Guardian in the UK, the New York Times, Le Monde in France and Der Spiegel in Germany - the mass media has either condemned the releases, or ignored their contents. Given the monopolized corporate ownership of the mainstream media, this response should come as no surprise.

What we are witnessing in the case of Wikileaks is the consequences of unchecked global corporatism.

What is positive about what’s happening is it reveals the importance of the Internet as a means to disseminate information and get around state and corporate censorship. And it’s heartening to see how many supporters there are of a free media and democracy given the support of Wikileaks is now garnering as a result of this persecution.

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