The Whistleblowers at the Frontier of Digital Liberation

Published on, by Nozomi Hayase, August 13, 2013.

Incarcerated, persecuted and put on show trials, today’s digital dissenters — from Manning and Assange to Snowden — continue to speak truth to power … //

… Computer scientist Nadia Heninger has argued that leaking information is now becoming the “civil disobedience of our age”. The late historian and activist Howard Zinn described the act of civil disobedience as “the deliberate, discriminate, violation of law for a vital social purpose”.  

He advocated it saying that such an act “becomes not only justifiable but necessary when a fundamental human right is at stake and when legal channels are inadequate for securing that right”. Snowden’s act was clearly one of civil disobedience. John Lewis, US Representative and veteran civil rights leader recently noted that Snowden was “continuing the tradition of civil disobedience by revealing details of classified US surveillance programs”.

Snowden is not alone. In recent years, there have been waves of dissent that revealed the depth of corruption and abuse of power endemic in this global corporate system. Before Snowden, there were Bradley Manning and Jeremy Hammond who shook up the trend of criminal overreach within the US government and its transnational corporate and government allies. Private Bradley Manning blew the whistle on US war crimes and activist Jeremy Hammond exposed the inner workings of the pervasive surveillance state. They took risks to alert the world about the systemic failure of representative government and the trend toward a dangerous corporate authoritarianism.

After Snowden was charged with espionage, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called for global support to stand with him: … //

… A Vision of a New World:

These digital dissenters speak truth to power. By way of the new digital medium, they reveal the deep fraud of an arrogant system that enables governments and corporations to look into the private lives of others while concealing their own immoral actions from the public. But, this was not all: these young activists also carry within them a vision of a new world and of a more open and just society. With the release of the classified NSA files, Snowden stated that he was acting in defense of what he cherishes:

I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build and it’s not something I’m willing to live under.

In his chat log, Manning pointed to the idea of open diplomacy, elaborated in a New York Times article as “the opposite of secret diplomacy, which consists in the underhand negotiation of treaties whose very existence is kept from the world.” Discretely referring to the release of Cablegate, Manning described the material as the “non-PR-versions of world events and crisis” and referred to it as “open diplomacy”. Later he noted that “information should be free” as it “belongs in the public domain” and shared his view stating that if information is out in the open, no one can take advantage of it: “it should do a public good.” Here he showed his longing for an honest society where there is some form of transparency for what leaders are doing in the dark.

This vision of the world is tied to certain values that are encouraged by the open structures of the internet. Unlike the age of the printing press, when information tended to be centralized, the era of the internet fosters an interactive and direct peer-to-peer form of communication. Anthropologist Paul Jorion has noted that the inherently democratic nature of the internet means that “there’s no hierarchy and everyone can express themselves.”

The life of the late activist Aaron Swartz exemplified these new values born in tandem with this digital communication medium. Swartz stood up for the people’s right to free information. The 2008 manifesto he co-authored stated that sharing information was a “moral imperative” against the privatization of knowledge: “We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive.” Swartz urged us to fight for “Guerrilla Open Access”. It is his belief in the freedom to connect that led him into a battle to defeat the Hollywood-based Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that was camouflaged as a solution to copyright infringement, but that actually threatened the ability to communicate and share freely over the internet … //

… Nothing can stop this generation infused with a new sense of justice and shared vision for humanity. Just like online connections, where when one link is broken another emerges, when one person is taken out of the global network of digital dissenters, several more inevitably emerge. Courage is contagious. This desperate empire might stop a daring individual like Bradley Manning, but it can never lock up all of us.

Call them whistleblowers, dissidents, hackers or geeks, the digital dissenters of today’s internet generation are uncovering deceit and corrupted state power for all the world to see. Our connections and genuine care for one another are a form of power in the ether, creating networks that can lead us into a future already imagined in our collective heart. Whether or not this generation can help move the world beyond the inhumane system of illegitimate governance is up to us, as we too are a part of this rising internet generation.
(full long text including many hyper links).

(Nozomi Hayase is a contributing writer to Culture Unplugged. She brings out deeper dimensions of socio-cultural events at the intersection between politics and psychology to share insight on future social evolution. Her Twitter is @nozomimagine);
Nozomi Hayase on Wistl Is.


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Transportation Transformation: Building complete communities and a zero-emission transportation system in BC, on CCPA, by Patrick Condon, Eric Doherty, Kari Dow, Marc Lee, Gordon Price, April 19, 2011: This study lays out a plan for a 30-year initiative that would transform the ways in which people and goods move across our province. This in turn will create complete communities with affordable housing choices, more and better jobs, and a better quality of life for all British Columbians … (download the 46 pdf-pages).

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