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    Cultural Identity (what defines us?)

    WikiLeaks, Open Source of Truth in the Global Matrix

    Nozomi Hayase  |  12.Aug.10
    Like many others, when I was young I looked up to larger than life heroes depicted in animation and films. The world of these super-heroes was made up of both the villains and those that take on evil forces of greed and power to fight for ordinary people. I remember a close friend in college once said "I wish I was independently wealthy, so that I wouldn't have to worry about making money and could become a superman to help humanity." His voice occasionally arises in me when I face the many injustices and social problems in the world.

    The release of an explosive 2007 video by a shadowy organization called WikiLeaks titled 'Collateral Murder' recently shook the world. Opening with a quote from Orwell’s 1984, it depicted from the point of view of Americans in an Apache helicopter the gunning down of Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad street. The news of this WikiLeaks group  taking on powerful government secrecy and corruption of power somehow reminded me of my childhood heroes.

    In its three years of existence, WikiLeaks has begun to change the way governments, media and corporations operate by offering an transnational safe haven for whistleblowers from all over the world. In the wake of this video release, Julian Assange, the main public face of the organization stepped forward into the limelight. He shared how the purpose of releasing this footage was to show what the face of modern war really looks like (Assange, 2010). The public profile of WikiLeaks was heightened considerably by this event and as the controversy boiled over, it raised questions for many about government secrecy and importance of transparency as well as legal and moral accountability of powerful institutions.

    When videos and documentation such as this are leaked that give a glimpse of the vast world of secrets routinely hidden from the public by those in power, one may wonder what else about our world and government is being hidden from us? This uncomfortable question makes the film The Matrix even more real to those that really think about it. “The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us, even now in this very room …It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth!” said Morpheus to Neo (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). I began to question why so much of the truth has been systematically being kept from us. What was behind the all pervasive efforts to keep the masses blind to so many important events?


    The word matrix means a framework from which something grows. In the film it is portrayed as a system that enslaves and “grows” humanity for its own purposes. What is this Matrix that surrounds us today and that we are so blind to?  We believe that we live in a democracy, where the rule of law exists to protect all victims of deceit and crime. Yet we see an ever increasing gap between the poor and rich, perpetual wars and spiraling levels of corruption, which governments and corporations are often party to. How has it come to this?


    The rapid industrialization of Western civilization and now materialism in the form of consumerism have been shaping every aspect of our lives. Information itself has become a commodity to be manipulated for private gain. Journalists around the world, especially those who try to expose the root of conflicts in the Middle East are increasingly met with severe censorship. Freedom of expression in Western societies is also becoming somewhat of an illusion in this time of government and corporate secrecy. Assange and others like him began to see how thoroughly the national-security state was embedded in all aspects of life. Leading up to the founding of WikiLeaks, Assange became aware that this institutionalized system intrinsically pushes against altruistic human virtues. “He saw human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution.” and that “truth, creativity, love and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by ‘patronage networks’” (Khatchadourian, 2010). I began to see this interlocking system that Assange referred to as similar to what is portrayed in the Matrix films: a system that depends on keeping the mass of humanity unaware of its true nature, all the while farming their life energy.

    "Anyone who hasn’t unplugged is potentially an agent. Inside the Matrix, they are everyone and they are no one ….  They are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors. They are holding all the keys” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). We are part of this system that holds few options for its members beyond what serves it. It leaves little room to even question the existence of the system itself. After graduation, my college friend struggled with society's expectations of a man's obligation within that narrow prescription. I have now begun to see myself in that same struggle. The system seems to slowly rip off the wings of our humanity, the farther we move into adulthood. He, like many others, became numbed to his pain as he became busy pursuing a career path, preparing to accept what the world handed down to him, and eventually to perform unknowingly as an agent of the system. Wikileaks_386_TLP

    In the Matrix film, the protagonist Neo was allegedly the chosen One, whose destiny was to attain freedom from the system and dismantle it, There have been real life heroes in history trying to change its course. Dr. King, Malcolm X and John F. Kennedy revealed that their destinies were to fight against an unjust system. They were heroes that showed a way to imagine a new future. Yet one by one they disappeared from sight. I saw apathy and cynicism spreading in people. I saw the armored shell of fear that many so often put around themselves. It became harder to strive for something higher, as if the death of heroes killed something in them. I realized how important it is to do something.


    "We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying. This [WikiLeaks] is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards".

    Right -WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange, discusses why he started the WikiLeaks project.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                Photo Courtesy - commons.wikimedia.org
                                                            

    What can be overwhelming is to realize how so many of our problems have become transnational, especially in light of how the interlocking world economy is teetering on a precipice. Today with the WTO and NAFTA, corporate power has extended its reach beyond borders, transforming economies, cultures and nations on their terms. The Matrix is global, expanding into and transforming whole cultures, consuming local and state economies with debt and monetary control, plugging them one by one into a kind of blood-sucking machine.


    The question arose, how can people free themselves from this global Matrix? How can citizens counteract or create an alternative to this system? Sometimes it seems there is little that ordinary people can do. In the darkness that hovers over the world, the actions of that nonprofit truth haven WikiLeaks, shines a light of possibility for a new direction.

    This secret group in a way employs a kind of espionage. It is working for the common people from a global perspective and differs from traditional forms like the CIA, which was developed based on security and preservation of the nation state, as against another state. “We’re not interested in national security. We’re interested in justice…. We are a supranational organization.” said Assange (smh.com.au, 2010).

    Another liberating aspect of WikiLeaks is that it works on the basis and philosophy of open source principles. The idea of open source is best seen in the philosophy behind an operating system known as Linux, based on an African philosophy known as Ubuntu, a concept which bishop Desmond Tutu defines as a way of being and identity that is formed by community (as cited in Battle, 1997). Here, ancient African wisdom typically dismissed by those on the Western path of progress advocates collaboration and sharing. It now inspires and comes onto the global stage as a vehicle to revitalize the impulse for democracy.
     

    In the film, Neo needed a key-maker who could open certain critical doors. In a sense, in our world, the whistleblower is the Keymaker, the witness opening the doors to the source, weakening the actual structure of the powerbrokers and conspiracies. WikiLeaks is a sophisticated self-sustaining gate that allows the flow of light in and the flow of damning evidence out, which eventually dissolves the walls of illegitimate secrecy. When technology is used in this sense for sharing ideas, culture, and circulation of critical information and services, open source can serve as a spiritual source that hacks the Matrix.


    First and foremost, the battle for each person must be with themselves, freeing their own mind that is programmed by the Matrix. In the combat training scene, Morpheus asked Neo “How did I beat you?” Neo responded, “You’re too fast.” Morpheus asked again “Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? … What are you waiting for? You’re faster than this”. Finally Morpheus reminds Neo of a secret weapon within, “Don’t think you are, know you are...” A dehumanizing system teaches us how we are inwardly powerless and impotent, degraded into passive consumers and always driven by fear. Morpheus teaches Neo to undo the programming of the mind and reclaim ones own power to imagine a new future: “You have to let it all go, Neo, fear, doubt and disbelief. Free your mind” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999).


    In light of US wars, sweatshops in Asia, the Israeli attack on the Gaza aid ships and the lack of accountability in the BP Gulf oil disaster, the question may arise, are these the actions of a just and civil society? And, if we can't trust the systems, where can we find hope?

    In the Matrix film, the Oracle prophesied the arrival of the One who would put an end to war and dismantle the Matrix. The Oracle’s prophecy I see being carried out by ordinary citizens. The work of WikiLeaks is shared and sustained by many volunteers. Assange, on a shoestring budget and with no permanent home works relentlessly, spending most of his time at airports moving to the next destination. In Iceland, after WikiLeaks exposure of the bankers rip-off of ordinary citizens, people stood up for themselves with the aid of a newly invigorated fourth estate. They are now working to draft a law that will create a safe haven for whistleblowers. It will protect anyone that exposes crimes or corruption by people in power all around the world (Cohen, 2010). It is not powerful leaders and politicians, but everyday people who I see as the heroes. Deeply rooted in local community values such as sharing and transparency, people everywhere have been pooling their collective efforts, becoming the One that arises from the ashes of the unsustainable and crumbling commercial globalization, where economic exploitation and national security trump human concerns to the detriment of all.
     
    I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin…. Where we go from here is a choice that I leave up to you." (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999)

    WikiLeaks, the open source of truth in a Global Matrix, showed me a door. On the other side lies a truth about the forgotten heroes within. The key to open the door is inside each person and the life of this planet depends us awakening the hero who will bring society into a new era. WikiLeaks is an icon of our time, reaching for the door to tomorrow. It is up to each person to walk through it.



    Citations:

    Assange, J. (2010, May 16). Unpublished political speech presented at the Oslo freedom forum. Norway.

    Battle, M. J. (1997). Reconciliation: The Ubuntu theology of Desmond Tutu. OH: The Pilgrim Press.

    Cohen, N. (2010, February 21). A Vision of Iceland as a Haven for Journalist. The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/business/media/22link.html

    Khatchadourian, R. (2010, June 7). No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency. The New Yorker. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all#ixzz0pWdlAepe

    Smh.com.au. (2010, May 22). The Secret Life of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange. Retrieved June 8, 2010, from http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/the-secret-life-of-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-20100521-w1um.html

    Wachowski, A. (Writer/Director), & Wachowski, L. (Writer/Director). (1999). The Matrix. [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.




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    Comments :

    1. Posted on 04.Dec.10   From: oriana

    bellissimo..beautiful..thanks a lot.

    2. Posted on 27.Oct.10   From: Sarah Wiseman

    An excellent article Nozomi, thank you

    3. Posted on 28.Aug.10   From: Liz

    Nozomi's publications are always thought-provoking; this article is no exception. I look forward to reading more.

    4. Posted on 22.Aug.10   From: Jeff

    This article is extremely enlightening in a multitude of unique ways, all stitched together very skillfully using the movie, “The Matrix”, as an ideal metaphor for our world’s current predicament, and how we can change that predicament. I really like the way Nozomi clearly shows that not only will a more compassionate spirit be needed to reclaim true democracy worldwide, but that radical creative action to thwart the extreme power of corporate tyranny will also be needed. And WikiLeaks is a perfect example of that type of creative action in action. Thank you Nozomi for allowing me to see some key truths much more clearly, and for reminding me of just how utterly significant and positive a development WikiLeaks is to the future of mankind and the planet!

    5. Posted on 18.Aug.10   From: Steven

    Thanks for posting this!

    The comments to this entry are closed.