The story of WikiLeaks, from its first foray into the sphere of common knowledge to its current stalemate, is probably one of the most important stories of our time. The issues involved span from the true potential of the internet, the true intentions of a global superpower that seems increasingly distanced from the will and intentions of its citizens, and the true ramifications of civil disobedience during a time of great apathy and malaise in a country founded upon this very tenant.

The revelations brought forth by WikiLeaks and the help of Private Manning are not even all that shattering. There’s no surprise in the fact that heinous acts were committed during the Iraq War. To conduct that war in and of itself was a heinous act propagated by heinous men, and it has dragged on for an obscene amount of time. War involves murder. War involves profiteering. Forever and always. But, the power of WikiLeaks was well understood by those paying attention. The internet began to shine its most altruistic light to date. Here, like a peek behind the curtain concealing the great and powerful, was an opportunity for knowledge to be freed from exclusivity.

Power, according to Michel Foucault, is always granted. As in, at some point, the powerful are allowed to be powerful. But, maybe that submission is rooted in smoke and mirrors, in a certain kind of coercion. If the raw data of the world could be left to our own interpretation, how many doors would be open? What if there was no spin? What if the information we received was not stained by the spin of corporate media? This would impart upon us a great sense of responsibility, but often in these cases of social and cultural evolution, it’s not always about what we directly gain. There is no panacea. We can’t pull some sword from the stone. It’s hard enough to figure out what the problem actually is in the first place. But if we gauge the importance of new discoveries upon the reaction of the power structure, we can find our way. Which is to say that the vehemence of response from the powers that be indicate how important WikiLeaks is. In other words, we don’t get the right answer immediately, but their answer, the wrong answer, is rendered impotent.

Since WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden has revealed the truth about the NSA program and a seemingly endless cavalcade of stories has really not stopped since. The question that still remains is “Why?” Why would the powers that be go to such great lengths to keep tabs upon all its already docile citizens? There are plenty of voices out there that would incite Orwell and tell you the Illuminati is about to unleash the next phase of the New World Order. Certainly, it is hard to see it in any other light. Couple it with the vast redistribution of wealth that has taken place over the past couple of decades and you get a conspiracy theory of the highest order. They are preparing for something.

But what if that wasn’t the case? When one plays out this line of motivation all the way to the end, there is not much besides utter collapse and destruction. The strive for power should contain the knowledge that one needs subjects to rule in order to have power. If we were slaves, wouldn’t we be better taken care of? This massive wealth extraction has disturbed the consumer-based economy. The blind eye for responsibility has put the entire climate and ecosystem in jeopardy. It seems to me that the government is conducting the NSA program because it can, and, to put a finer point on it, because it makes money. An entire economy has sprung out of 9/11, one of government money and homeland security programs. Just like the financial crisis and war contracts, the motives behind this economy are exclusive and insular. They are about instant gratification and lining the pockets of executives and their cronies.

And this is why civil disobedience is needed more than ever on a collective scale. Manning and Snowden are absolutely heroes, and we should be inspired by their example. None of us at any point should tolerate cruelty or injustice. Unjust laws must be broken. Criminality is not a code, it is that which opposes humanity. We cannot afford the time and effort it would take to go through the process of amending some ledger. We live in a time of crisis, albeit a sort of strange slow motion crisis. If we continue to obey unjust laws, we stand to sacrifice our humanity. So much depends on what we value.

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