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…it turns out Lady Gaga is friends with Julian Assange.

One of those ‘WTF?!’ moments…

Any history documentary or modern biography of Marx you consult will invariably claim his prediction of a proletarian revolution in Western industrialised nations never came true (although his prediction of one in Imperial Russia was more accurate). It never came true, because, they say, instead of the upper classes maintaining their power over the forces of production and the working classes being squashed under the pressure of poverty and unfairness, the working classes began to become wealthier as GDP was more evenly spread, and material living and working conditions improved as technological progress meant less need for manual labourers in factories. Thus, there was never a need for a proletarian revolution, and the great political and social upheaval that Marx called ‘inevitable’ never came to be.

I think that’s wrong.

Because once the human need to be equal has been met (as much as it can be, in an inherently unequal society), other needs become apparent, and thus the inequality of social classes continues.

So what are these other needs?

In the last decade the world has taken a sharp turn away from business as usual in the worlds of politics, finance and economics. The downfall of formerly ‘cornerstone’ banking institutions first in the United States, then in the UK, and elsewhere in the developed world kickstarted a widespread mistrust of the financial establishment and so ensued the financial crisis that still exists today, despite the premature optimism spread by governments about minute fractions of economic recovery.

The economy is up shit creek without a paddle.

To aid ‘recovery’, governments (be it the US government, the UK, or any of the locomotive European administrations – primarily Germany and France) have supplied forsaken banking institutions with billions of pounds, dollars and euros out of taxpayers’ pockets, only for said institutions to effectively stay the same. Bailouts have done little to revolutionise the way banking works or increase the accountability financial management carries towards the modest wealth of the working classes. Isn’t there still a disparity between the working classes and the politically powerful? Don’t the government and the financial establishment have a good thing going, keeping each other afloat at the expense of working taxpayers who aren’t nearly as wealthy as they are?

We have seen far too many expensive and unjustified wars started under the pretext of ‘spreading democracy’ around the world. Can we really argue that everyday life for working people is safer, happier, more prosperous in Iraq and Afghanistan than it was before the governments of the US and other Western allies decided to conduct invasions there? Don’t we still hear about bomblasts, civilian deaths, single-soldier massacres on the news nearly every day? Apart from the thousands of needless deaths in these nations, haven’t enough personnel in Western forces died in these forsaken wars? Haven’t the taxpayers of these Western powers spent enough on killing? Do we still need more? Couldn’t that money be better spent on education, healthcare, transport and infrastructure for the working people of America and Europe?

In the last decade we have seen an increasing demand on the part of ‘the people’ for transparency in government and in social institutions. There has been an explosion of interest in freedom of information, in institutions and public authorities being accountable to ‘the people’. In other words, there has started an intense public desire for truth – particularly truth from governments. We have seen the advent of social media and global information exchange platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. We have seen the inception of the concept of ‘whistleblowing’ – of stepping away from complacently going along with institutional authorities and revealing the unethical activities they conduct, often secretly and at the expense of less powerful people. Today, WikiLeaks has become the prime example of platforms that operate anonymously and globally to publish authorities’ unethical activities in the public domain to reveal the truth to all people. Now that we know the inside stories of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, and of the CIA and other Western superpower organisations, and of the illegal detainment of individuals without charge or trial, aren’t we eager to demand accountability from those that ‘govern’ us? Don’t we find it unfair that so much injustice has been done and kept secret by the powerful?

I think to deny that Marx’s prediction of a proletarian revolution ever came true is a fallacy. Yes, there was no workers’ revolution in the sense of physical upheaval and bloodshed in the 150 years after the Communist Manifesto was published. But that is not the type of revolution you would expect in Western countries today. We are too tame, too civilised, too comfortable in our one-bedroom flats with central heating to spill onto the streets and slay the politicians and the bankers and institute a ruling workers’ class.

I think there’s still a revolution pending. It’s a little way off, not fully visible to us yet, and in fact we may be in its beginnings right now and not even recognise it. There is a revolution of ordinary working people on the way, a revolution in search of open governance and transparency in all public authorities, in search of heavy accountability in governments both in the decisions they make and the money they spend, and in search of truth. This revolution will not spill much blood, nor, perhaps unfortunately, will it kill many of the authority figures that continue to behave unethically. Instead, it will be a digital revolution – of ordinary, working people taking to Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter to denounce closed government and secret-keeping and to support all organisations that gainlessly act for the exposition of truth. Not satisfied with “#freedom” or “#truth” trending in cyberspace, these people will spill onto the streets not to kill or to take power over the forces of production, but to engage in protest for freedom of speech, freedom of information, and freedom for Assange.

Though not in quite the way he might have intended, Marx’s revolution will come true. Just wait and see.

The libertarian left (of which I have been an ardent supporter for several years) is either making the best of a bad situation (by merging into the two-party system that exists in many Western nations, most notably the US, the UK, and Australia, to have a say in things for a change) or is a complete political sell-out (by merging into the two-party system that exists in many Western nations, most notably the US, the UK, and Australia, to have a say in things for a change), and I can’t decide which.

These days, as the US presidential election campaigns reach the climatic period before November, I’ve been re-watching some speeches of my favourite libertarian-turned-republican, Ron Paul. He’s said some great things about WikiLeaks, like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpc_HXx5bjE&feature=related

And this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soF2uIe8GPk&feature=related

Although these speeches were made some time ago, I think a lot of what he says stands even more strongly today. The US government’s pursuit of Assange is futile (just like Jesse Brown reiterated last week) and, moreover, its logic is faulty. There is no question of treason, nor of threats to national security. No one has been killed as a result of WikiLeaks’ revelations. There has been no question of fabrication of the published material. In other words, the US government implicitly accepts the truth of what has come to light: That it has acted with unethical ulterior motives, and that it continues to do so, now pursuing Assange and other whistleblowers as ‘traitors’ with the effect of distracting both the press and the general public from its unethical activities.

So kudos to Ron Paul for defending WikiLeaks, Assange, freedom of information, and all anonymous whistleblowers who supply classified information for release.

But, Dr Paul: Would you still be defending these fundamental freedoms if you were president of the United States today?

Because it’s hard to imagine that you would, given that you might be considered a political sell-out for turning to the Republicans when your stated beliefs are clearly libertarian. Why did you leave the libertarians? Because they have little real chance of having a say, in power or even in presidential debates, because of the overwhelming dominance of the two-party system. Practically since the establishment of American democracy, competition for political power has been a two-horse race between Democrats and Republicans, and smaller parties have had little weight, or voice, in influencing policy. Many libertarian politicians have felt compelled or coerced to leave genuinely liberal parties to join traditional ones simply because of the political leverage of such parties. Given the little leverage the US Libertarian Party has, it isn’t suprising you changed teams years ago, Dr Paul. For better or worse, you’re a political sell-out. You’re power-hungry, or at least hungry to have a say that people will actually hear. You’re sleeping with the enemy. Whatever you want to call it.

Of course, the type of sell-outness expressed by the small parties currently holding up the UK and Australian coalition governments is a whole different issue not to be discussed here; though I would argue their dilemmas are similar to yours, Dr Paul.

Moreover, at least in the UK, that small party isn’t doing enough to support these fundamental freedoms of people. Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, infamously further left than Labour, might be expected to have their noses deep in the cause to campaign for an individual’s right to political asylum, and to be subject to a law that applies equally to all people. But they don’t, at least not enough. And why not? Because they, too, are formerly feasible leftist/liberal politicians, supporting civil rights and liberties, education and green living, press freedom, peaceful foreign policy, and social equality. And they, too, are now sell-outs, power-hungry, sleeping with the enemy.

Whatever you want to call it, really.

The bottom line is that I’m still skeptical of any support for WikiLeaks and other non-governmental movements fighting for freedom of information that comes from either governments (perhaps with the exception of Ecuador and Latin America) or politicians of major opposition parties, because the source of that support seems as likely to be politically convenient as it is to a reflection of a genuine concern for progressive change.

The thing is, as much as so many people – so many of us – have been applauding Dr Paul’s support of freedom of information, I remain skeptical of his motives, and I won’t be convinced of them until and unless he expresses the same support in presidential office, and acts in support of such freedom. For now, his support is still questionable; it is a convenient criticism against the Obama administration, and it suits his position as a member of the main opposition.

So what support can we count on?

The support we can count on for WikiLeaks, and for all whistleblowers, is support that comes from those who have nothing to gain. Support that comes from people who are risking their welfare or their lives to inform the public of what it does not yet know, and yet who have no direct personal reward – no income, no recognition, no guarantee of safety. People who are willing to lose – to be pursued by governments, to be arrested, to receive contempt from people who want everything to stay the same, stay the same – in order to get information out into the public domain. It’s the support of those people you can count on, because that support has no direct personal rewards; in fact, it can cost them their lives.

People like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq5D2NepOpo

Let’s keep the pressure going on governments to stop this ridiculous persecution and step up to their neglected responsibility to be fully and permanently transparent.

Jesse Brown’s great commentary on the futile persecution of ethical hackers, posted yesterday, is probably one of the most decent pieces of journalism I’ve read for a while:

http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/04/from-assange-to-the-pirate-bay-the-hacker-witch-hunt-is-only-creating-martyrs/

I think the point made about the persecution of ethical hackers being futile in silencing the publication of classified material because of the vast, ‘uncatchable’ nature of digital technologies is fair enough, but in addition to that, the persecution unfortunately distracts the general public’s attention from the real issues: The real issues being those surrounding the content of the published materials and the demanding of accountability from those responsible, not a “What Julian Did Next” saga created by the mainstream press, which has lured the majority of the public into watching the captivity of a lone man like some kind of reality soap opera. So, mainstream press: Get off your complacent arse and start asking questions about the real issues, not this futile, not-enough-guts-to-take-sides trash.

Questions about Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, and the self-serving motives of governments participating in the bloodshed occurring there. Questions about individuals detained indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, with neither charge nor trial. Questions about mass surveillance of everyday individuals and auctioning of intelligence to the highest corporate bidder. Questions about the senseless pursuit of individuals who dare to show us, the public, that we are being deceived by ‘our’ governments. Questions about the wrongness of obeying the law unquestioningly, and of celebrating the ‘neutrality’ of the press as if neutrality were some great virtue on behalf of society, and of shying away from radical progressive change because to stay the same is always ‘safe’.

Questions about whether it isn’t about time all people, everywhere, came together to put strong, decisive pressure on governments to immediately make far-reaching legislative changes declaring their responsibility to practice open governance, including the absolute and immediate transparency of all government decisions.

Assange must be allowed safe passage to Ecuador, and the sooner the better. Because then it will be time for the press to face the real issues: To investigate what has been published, to fulfil its responsibility to inform the public, to explicitly criticise state censorship, and to demand accountability.

Here’s to all those taking huge risks to reveal the shocking extent of today’s unethical governance.

Well, I’ve finally got round to putting up my WikiLeaks support page. If you support freedom of information and freedom of the press and want to see more transparency and accountability in your government, please get informed and involved!

https://happyseptember.wordpress.com/wikileaks/

My paper was rejected.

Outright.

With no peer review.

Honestly, I thought dealing with romantic rejection would have been harder than this, but I’m having second thoughts. You get over it eventually, but until then I’ll be suffering yet another painfully acute episode of Imposter Syndrome, sulking, pouting, and feeling dejected. It’s childish but it’s how I feel.

However much the fact that science seems to be populated with myriad high-flying intellectuals with little room for green up-and-comers like me is actually not a fact at all, that doesn’t help me stop believing it. For all the transparency, we still haven’t achieved that level of meritocracy that will create an intellectual utopia in which all research, regardless of rigour, will be taken for the good things it offers the world.

Ah. Well.

Friend of WikiLeaks

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The Final Countdown

Submission of PhD ThesisMay 1st, 2013
The big day is here. Joy to the world!