The Dismantling of Government 1.0

WikiLeaks is much like the Napster of 10 years ago, only with the matured anarchist intention of dismantling Government 1.0. My, how file sharing has grown up. It is ultimately irrelevant whether Julian Assange is a Dr. Doom or a Robin Hood: Pandora’s Box has been opened, and no one will be able to close it, as attempts to stop p2p technology have demonstrated in the past. Shut it down, and a thousand similar services spring up in its wake. Resistance is futile.

Even Donald Rumsfeld sees the writing on the wall and has ironically supplemented his autobiography with enough (de)classified information to ensure cataclysmic global boredom. I imagine we will see lots of the overwhelm-the-people-with-what-they-want strategy. This is the diplomatic political equivalent to a denial of service attack: death by inundation.

In Assange’s view, authoritarian regimes depend on and operate in a mode of conspiracy, which depends on secret information being kept secret. Introducing mechanisms to expose these secrets can thus impair the proper functioning of the regime.

How can we reduce the ability of a conspiracy to act?
We can marginalise a conspiracy’s ability to act by decreasing total conspiratorial power until it is no longer able to understand, and hence respond effectively to, its environment.

Furthermore, Assange attributes the ontology of conspiracy as computational in nature.

What does a conspiracy compute? It computes the next action of the conspiracy.

Coming from a somewhat infamous hacking and programming background, Assange has not surprisingly architected Wikileaks to mimic the effects of a DoS attack. If computation is the core method by which conspiracy operates, then simply disrupting the computation will defeat the system. It is of no minor coincidence that Assange coded the first open source port scanner, Strobe. Port scanners peruse systems for listening ports, which can then be subjected to exploits. Wikileaks works by the exact philosophical inversion of this process: imagine if the vulnerabilities voluntarily presented themselves to the port scanner. Wikileaks is a simple fly paper that attracts these vulnerabilities, luring them to publish themselves in the form of classified documents. Voilà, no hacking necessary yet the exploit is accomplished.

On another level, while Wikileaks succeeds to varying degrees with each exposed revelation, it succeeds to a much higher degree in demonstrating that the accountability of a system can be successfully questioned from outside the system, hence questioning the integrity of the system itself, as Slavoj Žižek (referencing Saroj Giri) takes note of :

What WikiLeaks threatens is the formal functioning of power. The true targets here weren’t the dirty details and the individuals responsible for them; not those in power, in other words, so much as power itself, its structure. We shouldn’t forget that power comprises not only institutions and their rules, but also legitimate (‘normal’) ways of challenging it (an independent press, NGOs etc) – as the Indian academic Saroj Giri put it, WikiLeaks ‘challenged power by challenging the normal channels of challenging power and revealing the truth’.[*] The aim of the WikiLeaks revelations was not just to embarrass those in power but to lead us to mobilise ourselves to bring about a different functioning of power that might reach beyond the limits of representative democracy.

Hence the outrage. Status quoticians do not like when the status quo itself is threatened.