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Wikileaks: the war for information is on

The USA, its intelligence services and right-wing media such as Fox and Sky are waging a brutal world wide campaign against Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange – they are determined to destroy this site and crush the people behind it because it dares to reveal their crimes and refuses to bow the knee to them.

Bullying corporations into line, the US forced a series of sites to breal commercial links with Wikileaks. But this in turn roused a new resistance on a global scale – the mass “Anonymous” movement which is retaliating against the anti-Wikileaks sites and fighting for freedom of information on the internet.

The first revelations in July exposed the murder of Afghan civilians by US-led occupation forces. Subsequently,

WikiLeaks exposed the complicity of the US forces in murder and torture by sectarian death squads. Most recently, the release of US State Department diplomatic cables embarrassed the reactionary Arab regimes, who encouraged military action to halt Iran’s nuclear programme, while maintaining a public stance of conciliation with Iran.

Revenge

Now, the generals and politicians are getting revenge. WikiLeaks has been deprived of its internet domain name in the US, while companies like PayPal and MasterCard, which helped collect donations, have withdrawn their services under pressure. And Julian Assange sits in prison, arrested after weeks of complaining of a politically-motivated manhunt.

The accusations against him are serious. But their timing is suspicious to say the least. Equally suspicious is that Assange has been granted bail but not released pending an appeal and a formal request for extradition by the Swedish authorities. He is not charged with any crime.

Swedish prosecutors had previously dropped the original rape charges against him for lack of evidence, while Assange had offered to cooperate with the investigation from Britain. Suspicion lingers that the real purpose of his detention is to buy time for US prosecutors to charge him with the theft of government secrets.

There is a matter of political principle involved. The Republican politicians now baying for Assange’s blood – some even calling for his assassination – will argue that it is necessary to defend the principle that the state should be able to protect its secrets.

But since 2001, Britain, the US, and many other Western ‘democracies’ have used the so-called ‘War on Terror’ to increase their powers of snooping and surveillance, while giving themselves the power to detain ‘terrorist’ suspects without trial or legal representation.

The state, it seems, is allowed to have secrets. The much-vaunted private individual of liberal theory, however, is not – and even less so the organisations of the working class and the oppressed.

This is because capitalist society is divided into classes – workers and capitalists – with real material interests that are directly opposed to each other.

The state

The police, courts, prisons, armed forces, and all the associated machinery of coercion exist to protect the interests of the ruling class from the rest of society. When required, this machinery will be used to batter our defensive struggles into submission – as it has been in the recent student protests.

But a society in which the ruling class depends only on force would be in a permanent state of civil war. The capitalists and their politicians therefore also have to lie to us.

This is done partly through a subtle ideological indoctrination, in which the education system, the mass media and the family play the major role. But they also have to lie to us about what they are doing and why – and it is exactly this that ‘state secrecy’ is designed to protect.

Defend against repression

We should not only defend Assange and other whistleblowers from state repression, but also demand the opening up of the state’s secrets to public inspection.

Liberals will say that we do not live in an ideal world, and that even in the most ultra-democratic system, we would still have to protect our secrets from foreign governments.

But war and diplomacy are an extension of politics. Our rulers use the police and courts to conduct the class struggle against us at home, and they use the armed forces and the diplomatic corps to conduct it against the global poor – and the ruling classes of other nations – abroad. We have as little interest in protecting the secrecy of the latter as in the former.

The fight against state secrecy is therefore, at one and the same time, part of the struggle against imperialist war, and for the defence of our democratic rights and for the overthrow of the ruling class and its apparatus of secrecy and repression.

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