Summary: The first sparks of Revolution are invisible to the Proles and considered insignificant by the Outer Party. Only the fierce reaction by the government reveals their importance. The combination of power and ambition gives senior government officials a clarity of vision we lack. Watch these sparks. The opportunity to take sides might not last long, before they get snuffed out. Post your thoughts about these events in the comments. For deeper analysis see the links at the end.
It’s the holiday season! Americans gather in their homes, whining about irresponsible and incompetent government while watching TV and consuming their favorite drugs. Citizens on the extremes wander in their minds, lost in delusions. Those on the Right fondle their guns, dream of insurrection, and vote straight-line GOP. Those on the Left read esoteric theological and philosophical tracts; they dream of Gaia ejecting the proles so they can rebuild Eden.
But a few citizens act against the regime — daring odds no sane man would attempt. Revolutions are not begun by cool considerate men, but by those who live outside the envelope of rational ordered lives. (Revolutions take root if they later attract people of property and calculation.)
As always, we turn first to Glenn Greenwald for description and analysis of these events.
Whatever one thinks of WikiLeaks, it is an indisputable fact that the group has never been charged by any government with any crime, let alone convicted of one. Despite that crucial fact, WikiLeaks has been crippled by a staggering array of extra-judicial punishment imposed either directly by the US and allied governments or with their clear acquiescence.
In December 2010, after WikiLeaks began publishing US diplomatic cables, it was hit with cyber-attacks so massive that the group was “forced to change its web address after the company providing its domain name cut off service”. After public demands and private pressure from US Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, Amazon then cut off all hosting services to WikiLeaks. Sophisticated cyber-attacks shortly thereafter forced the group entirely off all US website services when its California-based internet hosting provider, Everydns, terminated service, “saying it did so to prevent its other 500,000 customers of being affected by the intense cyber-attacks targeted at WikiLeaks”.
Meanwhile, Chairman Lieberman’s public pressure, by design, also led to the destruction of WikiLeaks’ ability to collect funds from supporters.
… Over the past 2 years, then, this group — convicted of no crime but engaged in pathbreaking journalism that produced more scoops than all other media outlets combined and received numerous journalism awards – has been effectively prevented from functioning, receiving funds, or even maintaining a presence on US internet servers.
… The ominous implications of all this have been never been fully appreciated. Recall that all the way back in 2008, the Pentagon prepared a secret report (ultimately leaked to WikiLeaks) that decreed WikiLeaks to be a “threat to the US Army” and an enemy of the US. That report plotted tactics that “would damage and potentially destroy” its ability to function. That is exactly what came to pass.
So this was a case where the US government — through affirmative steps and/or approving acquiescence to criminal, sophisticated cyber-attacks — all but destroyed the ability of an adversarial group, convicted of no crime, to function on the internet.
… But what makes all of this even more significant is the vastly disparate treatment of those who launched far less sophisticated and damaging attacks at those corporations which complied with US demands and cut off all funding and other services to WikiLeaks. Acting in the name of Anonymous, a handful of activists targeted those companies with simple “denial of service” attacks, ones that impeded the operations of those corporate websites for a few hours.
In stark contrast to the far more significant attacks aimed at WikiLeaks, these attacks, designed to protest the treatment of WikiLeaks, spawned a global manhunt by western nations and, ultimately, the arrest of dozens of mostly young alleged hackers, four of whom are now on trial in London …
To understand their significance, place these events in their wider context.
- The Patriot Act, with its immense expansion of the the government’s domestic surveillance powers (including transforming much of the US banking system into a surveillance mechanism; there’s a reason your bank and broker ask so many questions about your affairs).
- The massive expansion of the domestic security services — NSA, “fusion centers”, etc.
- The militarization of the police: growth of their SWAT and spying apparatus.
- The government’s illegal indefinite imprisonment and assassination powers.
- The successful destruction of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, far beyond any legal measures — making examples of what happens to dissidents.
You might sneer and laugh at Wikileaks and Anonymous as quixotic — foolish and vain efforts. But the government knows better, and devotes great effort to stamp out these sparks. Without wider support our ruling elites will successfully suppress these movements. With our support these can mature into powerful engines of reform.
My guess: The government will crush these rebels. More rebels will appear. With them lies our only remaining hope for reform. The Republic’s fate is their fate. What we do now, and during the next few years, will decide its future. That’s the meaning of Democracy: its survival lies in our hands.
For More Information
Articles and videos about sparks of Revolution, and the government’s suppression of them (please post others in the comments):
- See Anonymous’ other video messages at their website or on YouTube here.
- See the Washington Post series “Top Secret America“
- “”An NSA veteran speaks out on domestic spying“, New York Times, 22 August 2012
Posts about protests:
- Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008 — Part One.
- Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008 — Part Two.
- Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008 — Part Three.
- How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
- The first step to reforming America (the final version), 7 December 2009
- The project to reform America: a matter for science, or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010
- Can we reignite the spirit of America?, 14 September 2010
- The sure route to reforming America, 16 November 2010
- Hear the cattle bellowing in the chutes. Will they revolt?, 8 September 2011
- Five steps to fixing America, 19 October 2011
- Ask the mineshaft: how to make America angry and so awaken from our stupor, 11 March 2012
- We are alone in the defense of the Republic, 5 July 2012