Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wikileaks: Dominant and subjugated narratives

There seems to be international condemnation of Wikileaks. The founder, Julian Assange, is at the centre of intense media speculation and a hate campaign against him in, particularly in the US, following the leak of 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

It is clear that most governments, particularly those closely involved with the US, are acutely embarrassed by the leaks. The leaks reveal the duplicitous nature of many governments and the lies and deceptions that characterise governments’ relationships with each other and their own populaces.

Of course, the dominant story from any government is that they are as transparent as possible and that politicians are honest people trying to do the best for their countries.

But the populations of these counties are, to a greater or lesser degree, aware of a subjugated story; this is a story where corruption is rife in many parts of the world, including wherever we happen to live. This story is where politicians routinely lie.  This is the story of our leaders thinking of themselves, not the greater good. This is the story where business deals and politics are blurred, where giant corporations lurk behind decisions to send troops to war. This is the story of atrocities commited in the name of democracy and freedom.

Julian Assange and Wikileaks have thickened this alternative story, and at the same time, thinned the dominant narrative of ‘honest government’.

As the Wikileaks cables are being revealed, there has been a general cynicism evident regarding the process used by FIFA to select the host nations for the 2018 World Cup. Whilst this might be regarded as a joke, it nevertheless casts light on the dubious activities and horse-trading that seems commonplace in international relations.

It is going to be interesting to see how this pans out.  What will the implications be if Assange is silenced?  I think the context is rapidly changing; people are becoming surer of their cynicism of governments, and if Assange is arrested or murdered, this will only serve to thicken the subjugated story and cast even more doubt on the dominant story. It may even prove to be the tipping point and the stories will flip; and this will have serious consequences. People are going to demand something better.