How WikiLeaks Reveals the Artifice of Power

How WikiLeaks Reveals the Artifice of Power

Nov 30, 2010

When WikiLeaks shines its spotlight on the dark corners of government, the cockroaches scatter.

 How WikiLeaks Reveals the Artifice of Power

A curious thing it is to see the systems of control revealed for what they truly are by WikiLeaks.  No greater truth need be realized than the fact that this madcap collection of hackers, journalists and whistleblowers are pulling back the curtain concealing the Wizard of Oz.  Everyone is seeing that the disembodied head and resonant voice are not those of a wizard, but a frail old man working levers and wheels–the machinery of illusion–and crying, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

Again, think of WikiLeaks and the government response and say aloud: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

Elected officials and bureaucrats, so accustomed to the full spectrum of control–the power and leverage to shape the world and conceal the machinery–are crying foul because they are losing the power to conceal the machinery.  The illusion is slipping, and they are desperately attempting to regain control.

Various methods are being employed to this end: 1) Declare WikiLeaks a foreign terrorist organization (though this is a matter of perception, by nationalism and ideology, amongst other things), 2) Bring WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange in under the Espionage Act (though they know full well he does not fit the criteria of a spy), 3) Claim the delicate balance of civilization is at stake (though it is they who’ve brought us to this critical point, so tenuous it might break), 4) Discredit Assange and thereby WikiLeaks with a smear campaign, and 5) Use cyber attacks to disrupt WikiLeaks’ servers.

It’s worth noting that the cyber attacks are now considered an act of terrorism in this country and abroad. Either some individual pranksters are hacking WikiLeaks’ servers or it’s much larger and extends to governments.  And who is the principle target of WikiLeaks’ efforts in 2010?  Who stands to gain the most from the disrupted servers?  The answer is evident.

What is even more interesting is the very public display of power’s simultaneous obsession with its own death and preservation–the paranoia transferred and visible for all to see in print, online and on television.  The theater of it all is fantastic. The feeling of having one’s back to the wall reversed from the citizenry to the institutions, the mechanisms of power.  It is Guy Debord’s Society of Spectacle rebounding across the aether. It is brilliant.

Governments of the past could control information when the world wasn’t so intertwined in digital and analog forms of information–when there wasn’t a cloud of data (words and imagery) ringing the globe.  That very long honeymoon is over now and governments are finding it harder and harder not only to plug the holes, but prevent information from spreading outward in an instantaneous and modern version of ancient relay leagues of optical telegraphy.  Signal fires that cannot be extinguished.

How sublime it is that the ancient beacon system that allowed a kingdom or democracy to warn its leaders of some gathering threat has now been updated and used to signal something else: the frail machinery of power.  We are seeing power manufacturing crisis–a crisis in democracy.  But WikiLeaks is no threat to democracy, only a threat to the artifice of power.

The outcry against WikiLeaks is merely the theater, the spectacle, of power switching into the mode of paranoid self-preservation and convincing their subjects of a reality that is non-existent.

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain, for his power is at stake.

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