Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Somehow the sight of people selling out their (apparently deeply held) principles is worse than the sight of people who you knew had no principles acting as you expected them to.

So for example, in the UK the Tory/Lib Dem coalition is carving a swathe of destruction through the land - slashing benefits, creating massive levels of unemployment, making higher education only available to the wealthy, while at the same time offering tax cuts to the rich and to massive companies. The tories I expect this from. It's who they are, it's what they do. A war on the poor is pretty much both their modus operandi and raison d'etre (if I may mix languages). However, from the Lib Dems is somehow much more disturbing - the policies would be wrong and heinous whoever was behind them, but somehow to see a bunch of politicians who claimed to be progressive and let's say "social democratic" completely dump their entire ideology in the space of a few weeks in power is really disturbing. I know power corrupts, but I had no idea it corrupted this quickly.

And so it is with the current rabid US reaction to wikileaks. Now the US has always had this very absolutist view of freedom of speech. I have American friends who can and do argue very eloquently and very persuasively that freedom of speech is an absolute and should be inviolable. (Personally I've been a little somewhat less absolutist about it, perhaps a result of having grown up during an age (in the UK) in which "No platform for fascists" was a part of my political make up). And to be honest, I respect that deeply held principle and all it stands for, even if I've not been 100% in agreement.

But the last couple of days have seen the deeply unedifying spectacle of a US government (and indeed a vaguely liberal US administration - in theory anyway) trampling all over the first amendment in a desperate attempt to silence wikileaks. Pressuring web hosting services, paypal, credit cards, countries and everyone it has some vague influence with to cut them off. It's truly disgusting. Politicians there are even calling for the assassination of Julian Assange. Really. It's utterly shocking and appalling. Difficult for me to imagine myself saying this, given the alternatives, but I hope this whole sorry mess brings down the Obama administration. Any government which has so lost sight of its guiding principles deserves to fall.

As an aside, did you know that you can no longer donate to wikileaks via visa or mastercard, but you can still use those cards to donate to the Ku Klux Klan? What kind of fucked up world is this?

Anyway, as so often these days, Johann Hari in the Independent has said everything I wish I could have articulated about wikileaks.

The past two days have done one thing at my end - they have made me want to donate money to support the work that wikileaks are doing. Though craven and pathetic companies like Visa and Mastercard and Paypal are no longer ways of doing that you can do it via bank transfer and some other methods.