We Are On A Crossroads
Humanity has been brought to a crossroads by coming of age with the Internet and digitalisation of daily lives, warned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Australian commentator Robert Manne in a public discussion program Ideas at the House taken place at Sydney Opera House.
Ideas at the House is a public lecture program hosted by Sydney Opera House, promoting intelligent discussion and debate from a broad range of disciplines. On the 2nd anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Sydney Opera House posted online the latest series titled The War On Whistleblowers & Their Publishers, in which Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer David Coombs joined US Journalist and activist Alexa O’Brien and Australian commentator Robert Manne on stage through video conference to discuss the ongoing war between the global elite dictatorship and the mass democracy movement.
Since 9.11, the elites in the West have betrayed mankind. They waged wars in Iraq without justification or legality, and their greed caused the financial crisis, while at the same time they accumulated an astonishing amount of wealth, which is particularly the case in the United States, said Manne.
Now the humanity will have to decide whether the Internet is going to be a mechanism for mass democracy and collective liberation or a tool for total control and complete suppression.
The Conflict Between Elite Dictatorship And Mass Democracy
It is civilisation at the stake if the 99% suppressed lose the battle to the 1% elites. Allowing Washington-based global corporate government to militarise cyberspace is to allow the entire humanity to slip back to the Medieval dark age. In fact, the situation will be much worse since the internet and society have now merged together, therefore the militarisation of cyberspace will effectively mean the militarization of human society.
But the merge of virtual and real worlds can also help humanity to progress in another direction: a leap towards a higher level of civilisation in which information can be better shared, ideas can be better exchanges, consciousness between individuals can be better connected, cooperation among people can be better organised, economic and cultural benefits can be better distributed, and the human race can be better united into a whole.
Thus the clash between these two groups is the battle that will determine the fate of the human civilisation, observed Julian Assange.
Which direction mankind is going to take all depends on whether the 99% prepare to confront the powerful and ruthless ruling elites. Fortunately, we do see individuals who have the resource and courage to force the establishment to be accountable. Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald – these courageous whistleblowers and journalists are like the pioneer warriors braving the hail of bullets to steer the wheel of the vessel away from crashing into the iceberg. But the personal cost of their bravery is huge: some fell on the path, some were severely injured and some are pursued relentlessly by the establishment.
Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer David Coombs pointed out in the discussion that every single day a top-level official in a US administration would leak classified information to the press, for the purpose of either glorifying the administration or propagating the policies the government tries to sell to the public. All these leaks that serve the establishment interest and promote its political agenda were never prosecuted. A case in point is the info related to Osama bin Laden’s death before Obama’s reelection.
But when leaks aim at bringing transparency to the system or expose the government wrongdoing, they are dealt with harsh punishment. Chelsea Manning did exactly what top administrators have frequently done: He approached the NYTS with the classified documents, but the NYTS wasn’t interested, so he tried to find another media outlet and eventually it was Wikileaks who helped to publish the material. Yet Manning has been labelled a traitor and charged for treason.
So it has nothing to do with the politicians’ belief in the rule of law because they only punish those whose leak contrary to their political interest or policy agenda.
Moral Courage Can Be Contagious
Yet the moral courage can be contagious. What Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have done demonstrate that in the internet age ordinary people can make a real impact on the future direction of human civilisation. That is the very essence of mass democracy, which is fundamentally different from American-style elite democracy.