Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The New Energy - Questions and Answers

A feature I'd like to make a regular part of this blog is an occasional Q&A section drawn from reader comments. There's a particular good set of questions from one commentator on the United States of Wikipedia post.

Lying, truth telling, the question really is, what is most often the motivation behind communication in general? On the Net, on the radio, on the street corner? The attempt to persuade.

My last post addressed this question, but I'll say a little more. There's nothing wrong with trying to persuade people, but the attempt to do so through lies, manipulation, threat, and actually carrying out threats, is motivated not by the desire to persuade, but the desire to control. Not only does control never actually work, it actually impedes the process of persuading others and accomplishing what one wished to accomplish. People who agree with others through coercion, lies, and manipulation, are not really giving their real consent to anything, and thus the power of persuasion hasn't actually been manifested, and so not much ever gets done. The result is stagnation and stasis. However, when one genuinely persuades people based on at least a basic element of truth to a certain point of view or course of action, it has great power. It creates a genuinely fruitful dynamic. If one has merely subtly controlled them through fear, lies, propaganda, manipulation, and coercion, the dynamic is inherently unstable and can't accomplish very much, and will eventually fall apart. As it usually does, after wrecking a fair amount of havoc in the world.

The problem with most human communication both historically and in our times is that it's all too often based on a fearful desire to control other people. "Persuasion" has almost become a dirty word. But communication does not have to be based on these motives. The most effective argument against this form of communication is not the moral one, but the practical one. It simply doesn't work. It works only in a half-assed manner that goes only so far, and creates so much internal tension and conflict that it prevents the realization of the very goals envisioned. Truth, on the other hand, actually works, and brings people together willingly to accomplish things that control could never have done.

When the doctor asks us to open wide and stick out our tongue, sure there is a simply practical request being made, still his tone may be demanding that we hurry up because he has many more customers waiting.

Yes, but we go to the doctor voluntarily with a basic sense of trust that they know what they are doing. We have been persuaded to trust the doctor. If that persuasion was based on false premises, we will find that out and sue the doctor or not go any more. So if the doctor wants to make a good living, he has to be honest and truthful with his patients or his business will suffer. The doctor's tone may be one of the reasons we no longer trust him. Or, it may prove to make for good bedside manner. The key here is being sensitive to what we need, and not intimidated by doctors or other authority figures. At a certain point this just boils down to what actually works for us. There was a time when authoritarianism might have "worked", at least in comparison to what preceded it, but it's hardly the most effective method, and we can start to see better alternatives.

In many of these instances the powers that be control the entire conglomeration. Or at least the same basic guy behind a different mask does. Watch eight hours of television a day, as it is said the average American does -- from the commercials, to the dramas, to the comedies, etc. within only the slimmest margin of difference, say the equivalent between your average Republican and Democrat, are we not only seeing the same angsting of the populace in order to improve the paying customers urge to pay?

There is certainly a huge amount of energy being spent trying to control and subtly influence people, especially through the media. A lot of what the media does is build up fear and anxiety in us in order to control us, influence us, keep us watching, and offer the buying of products as the solution to this fear and anxiety. What we need to observe is whether this method is still working, or whether people have begun to see through this to the point that they don't actually respond in the same way to these methods any more. I think we are seeing a subtle shift away from these old methods and this old energy, and towards something new that works much more effectively in the present and the future world we are moving into. The kind of products people buy out of fear and anxiety are probably quite different from what they would buy based on truth-telling and an appreciation for our real needs, both individually and collectively. There are huge inefficiencies built into the fear and control system of economics we have in the world now, which could be eliminated and replaced by far more efficient ways of doing business including the arts of selling products.

As long as capitalism, or better stated -- personal self-interest, rule the day amongst those that look to control the purse strings, just as soon as a new form of freeing information is designed, a counter measure will be funded to either block it or co-opt it. That is why Fox News for example, is an unprecedented evolution, but an evolution none the less of what came before. Needs created in order to be fed.

What we have in the world today is hardly what would historically be called capitalism. It's more a form of economic fascism, really. And by that I mean a merging of corporate business interests with government institutions such that we can hardly tell the difference between the two, and all of that driven by motives of fear and control, as in fascism. It's just not as obviously jack-booted. The revolving door between government regulators and those they regulate has created a new kind of capitalist state that thrives on government regulation, despite the rhetoric otherwise from doctrinaire conservatives. Corporations love regulation, because they know they can use it to their advantage to keep competition at bay and to exploit consumers who think they have real choices but do not. The economic landscape is hardly what could be called "free enterprise", and the result has been economic stagnation and decay, rather than robust growth.

Are we really witnessing anything like a personal/moral renaissance occurring here, however we may attribute its cause?

This remains to be seen. I think on a spiritual level we are indeed witnessing a profound transformation in the energy of the earth. How we respond to that is an unwritten book.

By which I mean that we can still fuck things up, by reacting to this new energy and refusing to go with it, by resisting it and trying by force of will to impose old-energy patterns regardless of the new environment. Many people are doing just that, and not understanding where their frustration comes from. Take Tea-Partiers, for example. Part of their impulse is a reaction against the control of society by fixed, corrupt, institutional interests such as those behind the financial collapse and bailout. That represents a gut-level rebellion against the bondage of these exploitative old-energy patterns that are not working any more. But an even larger aspect of the Tea-Party is a reactionary rebellion against the new energy, and a fear of losing the old energy pattern that are "taking my country away". They "want their country back", which means they want the old energy pattern they were accustomed to functioning under back, and they are angry that it has been usurped by newer patterns, such as Obama represents in part.

So these people are internally contradictory, since a part of them wants the new, but a part of them is hungering for a restoration of the old. Such people have to learn not just how to let go of the old and embrace the new, they have to sort out their own tendencies and attachments, and through discrimination build an internally consistent approach that can respectfully put aside the old patterns and create new ones while yet retaining some sense of continuity. For the moment, however, we have an emotional chaos in many of these people that simply can't sort out their own motives and impulses toward "freedom" from the very things that have led them into bondage.

Do you really think there is a higher power active, independent of the vagaries of human sideways evolution doing its thing?

I don't think there is any higher power independent of human evolution, I think that any higher power is also deeply involved in our own evolutionary process from the beginning and all the way through it. Clearly, the world works through evolutionary means, including biological and cultural evolution. If this world is a product of a higher power, it must be one that makes these evolutionary processes an inherent part of the whole process of life and spiritual growth here. So the higher power is intimately involved in the life process here, and in every individual's life and mind and action, and the collective as well. We are not apart from that, we are a part of that. That higher power is not separate from our own individuated power to act and create.

A higher power utilizing "the new new" to do more or less the same old, same old?

No, we need to understand this higher power as intimately interwoven with every individual's life and mind and consciousness, passing through various energy phases in its personal and collective development, creating new patterns and adapting to them, the overall effect being an evolutionary process that creates new environments and world-wide energy patterns that we have both created and are responding to interactively, not like some dumb slugs being given revelations from on high, but like Gods-on-earth who are coming to recognize our own power and strength, who we are and where we came from, and learning to create on that basis rather than the old assumptions based on a very limited understanding of our relationship to God, higher powers, and the structure of the manifest cosmos.

Perhaps. If so, is this a spirit you believe descends now and again, say as in The Renaissance? Does it have its equal and opposite that swoops down to create dark ages? This is a theory that makes me curious.

The spirit does not descend from some other place. What we experience as "Divine Descent" is merely a yogic process in our own body-minds by which we open ourselves to our real nature and incorporate that knowledge in our souls, through deep feeling and conscious intent. That higher power we find active in us was always there, but we have kept it dormant through ignorance, and when it activates it might feel like something descending from above and beyond, but it is really just emerging from our own hearts and consciousness. It is us getting to know ourselves and our capabilities better. When it is seen as "apart from us" rather than as "a part of us", we still have work to do integrating this descent of spirit.

Historical developments like the Renaissance can certainly be seen as a part of this process, but it's an ongoing and uninterrupted process, not something that comes and goes by the whim of some higher Deity from elsewhere. What is going on now is not without precedent, but it's a transition to a newer spiritual order based on all the previous movements reaching a tipping point, where the old configuration essentially falls apart and a new balance is achieved. On the level of energy this has already happened and though the energy is still settling down and finding its way in the new grid, it's a fait accompli at this point. Now it's just a matter of it working its way into the grosser patterns of life on earth and us responding to what we have created for ourselves. It's important to recognize that we actually wanted this, and not seeing it as something imposed on us from above by some remote Deity. That's the old energy way of looking at things, and it doesn't work any more to look at these movements of spirit in that manner. It was always a limited way of looking at things, now it's also obsolete and simply unworkable.

If indeed you stand by it, what is your sense of what is behind the forces that guide it? Are they polytheistic, monotheistic, hormonal, limbic,infinitely complex, other?

You could look at it from any of those points of view, if understood inter-dimensionally rather than in the fixed, linear, causal manner. The way the new energy works is through acausal, non-linear and fluid mechanisms and viewpoints. You cannot mass produce the new energy, it is unique and individualistic. I will talk about that more in latter posts, especially those dealing with the astrological aspects of this transformation, including the 2012 phenomena.

So while there is only one God (monotheism) He manifests not just through all of us, but as all of us, making all of us Gods as well (polytheism). And by that, I mean that God also manifests through all the biological and subtle structures of our own bodies and minds. In fact, any configuration of consciousness can not only be seen as an "entity" of some kind, a God of sorts, but it will actually function that way. And thus we are each a God, and a part of many Gods, all inter-dimensionally interdependent, like an infinite series of overlapping Venn diagrams. We like to think that our consciousness is a separate individual, but in reality it is a part of and even an overlord to many individuals, including the cells in our bodies and the earth itself.

Learning to see this multi-faceted "picture" of ourselves is what the new energy is about in many ways, and it doesn't allow us to have a fixed identity as was previously assumed. It doesn't allow anyone or anything else to have a fixed identity either. This represents the transcendence of some of the basic assumptions about the ego and what human beings are, and thus it's a process that is going to take time to take hold in us and become natural enough for us to function comfortably with. We can see already how many people are deeply disturbed by this energy already, even if they can't quite describe why. They have to learn to function in an entirely new way, which means fluidly and without a fixed notion of identity and belonging, but an overlapping sense of both identity and our "place" in the cosmos.

I am waiting for you to let the cat out of the bag regarding the whys and wherefores of who is running the show.

You are.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Truth Matters

Following up on the last two posts on Wikileaks and the general changes going on in the world, I want to describe one of the essential factors in this "new energy", and that's the open society and the end of secrecy. There's some great comments and questions on the Wikileaks post that I want to answer in detail in another post, but I will address the central point here: (And my apologies if this comment didn't get posted immediately. For some reason blogger saw it as spam and segregated it. Will try to correct these things):

Lying, truth telling, the question really is, what is most often the motivation behind communication in general? On the Net, on the radio, on the street corner? The attempt to persuade.

I don't see the attempt to persuade others as a form of lying. There is such a thing as honest persuasion, which is how conversation occurs in an open society. I'm not talking about some ideal society in which everyone agrees on what truth is and how to understand or live it. There are always going to be differences of opinion, perspective, and experience, based on the immense complexity of live in all its multi-dimensional insanity. The question, and it's really very simple, is how are we going to live together in the midst of that complexity, and yes, even insanity? Duality being, you know, dual, there's basic two options: an open society, or a closed one. We don't have to get all new-agey about this, we can also simply use Popper's basic cultural notion of an open society, an open cognitive process, and the tolerance of uncertainty and difference on a grand scale, to see what can come of this. Not heaven on earth, nor hell on earth, but at least an earth in which both heaven and hell can talk with one another.

Now, perhaps even that is a kind of heaven, and if so, fine, but let's not presume it's impossible, because really, it's not asking all that much of the world. It's a realistic heaven, in other words, well within our grasp. I say this because there's already quite a few people who are already living this way in the world. We can see stark evidence all over the place, and I don't just mean in western intellectual circles, but everywhere. In fact, western intellectuals are probably not even the lead edge of this movement, they are in some ways merely responding in an intellectual manner to a process that is much deeper and more profound than they seem capable of understanding as of yet.

In new age circles there's the general suggestion I've come across that the kinds of changes being discussed in the world don't really depend on a vast majority of the people on this planet making this kind of spiritual transformation. Numbers like 0.5%, or about one in two hundred, is often deemed sufficient to create a "tipping point" which slides us into a new stage of human culture. And that 0.5% may not be the people we often think it is. It may be people all over the world who aren't even much involved in new age spirituality or progress politics and so forth. Because it's not an intellectual matter, it's not even about thinking, it's a matter of deep feeling and the conducting of energy in an open way. Yes, that open energy does manifest once it hits the intellect in an open-minded mindset, but that's a reflection rather than the origin of the change.

Ramana Maharshi was once asked about how to change the world, and he replied that "An old woman who finds the peace of God in her prayers does more to change the world than all the intellectuals combined." This is the root of the kind of change we are talking about here, people finding real peace in their hearts, in their prayers, in the relationship with God, and allowing that to simply "bleed out" into the world at large. I'm not suggesting an anti-intellectual bias here, I'm certainly one to talk of course, I'm merely suggesting that the root of change doesn't occur in the intellect, it occurs at much deeper levels of our experience, our feeling, our awareness of self and other.

In many respects, it only takes one person to change the world, because if that person changes at a deep enough level, he creates a different world without even trying, but merely as a result of the fundamental truth that the world emerges from our own mind and psyche, and not the other way around. We are not fundamentally separate from that one person, and thus each of us creates one another. This is not a fixed process outside ourselves that we must attack or transform like a sculptor chiseling on a block of marble. We are the very thing we are shaping, and thus we have a different set of tools at our disposal.

So the commenter above is correct that we need to ask what the motivation is behind either our lying or truth-telling, because that will determine what course we end up taking in relation to either. What we have seen throughout the world as lies and manipulation is not merely some attempt to persuade others to their point of view. It's something a lot more insidious, which is the attempt to control others and to do that by imposing a point of view upon them by force and deception. This is what "cultism" is about, the attempt to control others by whatever means one can. Key to that is lying, deception, manipulation, and the keeping of secrets. It's almost impossible to control others without those tools. Cult leaders and authoritarian politicians are essentially the same animal, motivated by the same desire to control others by deception and secrets. That is why so much of both religion and politics is about keeping secrets and using those secrets to control others.

Therefore if there is to be any real change in this world, these tools need to be taken away from those who would try to control others. And I think we are seeing a long process of just that happening. We could indeed go back many centuries and see a long if slow and inconsistent progress in undermining the use of these tools to control people. What we see in recent decades, years, and now even months is an acceleration of this process. Part of what is different now is a subtle transformation of the energy underlying the planet that makes these tools of control and manipulation increasingly ineffective. It's not that the motive is gone, it's that the tools don't work so well anymore. It's like using an old 120V appliance on a 240V outlet. What used to work now gets burned out, because the energy is different.

This is the result of many, many long hard-fought battles that have gone on here for centuries. But the real battle is not so much the outer one we see in history, or even the intellectual one we see in philosophy and thought, but an inner battle on the level of deep feeling, deep emotion, and spiritual sensitivity. Learning to conduct the energy of the deeper personality into this world is quite a difficult struggle, but it is bearing fruit. It already has happened to a significant degree, and this makes it easier for others to open up and create a wave effect that sweeps more and more of the old energy away.

It's important to recognize that truth really does matter. It's the most powerful force in the world. In the old energy this was recognized, but also feared. The power of truth made people afraid, and the response was to try to control the truth, to own it, to make it into a secret, and to use the power of secrets to control the world. Governments did this, religions did this, even families did this. It became the generally accepted way of doing business. Power was held by those who knew the secrets, and power was withheld by keeping the truth from people. Controlling people became the route to stability and strength, and losing one's secrets was tantamount to losing one's power and energy. So rather than persuading people in an open manner, priests and rulers used different means entirely. They used closed systems of thought and circular forms of logic that were all aimed at controlling the truth, and thus the cult became the principle of most human gatherings, and truth became the victim of every sacrifice made for the sake of the world's order.

But this has long been challenged, and even refuted, by a great many people, and so it's not exactly unknown to most people. In fact, it's all becoming rather obvious. Those who see it as obvious can't help but live a different way, because that is the power of truth. Once you openly acknowledge something as true, you can't get away from it, you have to start living that way. To do otherwise would be to refuse to live by the laws of gravity, say. Good luck with that.

What has been going on in the world for a long time is precisely something that stupid. It's a whole lot of people pretending that the law of gravity doesn't exist and govern our lives. The idea has taken hold in us that truth doesn't really have any power in our lives unless we acknowledge it. Well, it may not seem to us to have power over us, but it does have power, because it's true. Lies only have power over the mind, not the rest of us. It's the Wizard of Oz principle. If we believe in the Wizard, he can control us, but if we look behind the curtain and see that he's really just a scared old man, the fear disappears and so does the whole mindset that accompanied it, and we simply can't go back.

A lot of these dictators are proving to be nothing more than Wizard of Oz characters, and once the curtain is pulled back they just can't be taken seriously anymore. Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, even Qaddafi in Libya have had the curtain pulled back on them. That's not the same as just having some new set of players do a secret coup and take over the controls behind the curtain. That's how changes used to happen, with say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss. Once one catches onto the game, it's not possible to believe in the boss at all anymore. And that's what's been happening around the world, going back to 1989 and the end of the Cold War, but now we are entering a more intense and pervasive phase of the process.

True, some of these Wizard do have guns and tanks and so forth, as we see with Qaddafi. In his case, he still has some loyal followers who haven't seen behind the curtain. But others have, and they just don't believe in his lies anymore. Increasingly, people are just not buying the bullshit they once did. Truth matters, and it has real power to permanently strip away lies.

So that's where genuine progress comes from - truth. One can cover up the truth, true enough, but if one does that, the truth is not less powerful, it is just contained and controlled. But that creates internal tensions that end up destroying things, as in the phenomena of cognitive dissonance. That can only go on for so long before truth breaks loose. And that is part of what is going on right now. Truth is breaking loose, and we are starting to see that the proper relationship to this immense power that truth has is not one of control, but of openness and freedom. That requires some kind of basic faith in truth that doesn't resort to the route of control and manipulation of truth in order to gain benefit from it. The truth is that there are actually more benefits to be gained from truth by making it open and free than by keeping it closed and controlled.

Some people are starting to figure this out, and it is making them very powerful in a way that no one previously suspected was possible. You can actually be richer than a billionaire while still having less money in the bank, if one is able to conduct that energy better. Most billionaires have gotten that way by trying to control their world and manipulate it to their advantage. That has made some people very rich but it has actually limited the total amount of wealth in the world. This world could actually be immensely rich, far beyond what our billionaires even imagine, if we would simply stop trying to control the whole process of life and energy and money. That applies to both businessmen and to governments, who have all been in league with one another to secretly control the world by keeping secrets from the masses and controlling the mechanisms of our life and economy and culture. They are the men behind the curtain, seeming to be great and powerful Oz's but in reality being scared old men desperately trying to get people to believe in them.
So the truth matters. The truth can dispel the illusions that control people, and once that happens there's really no going back. The impulse to control the world is based in fear, and it simply can't succeed, because fear limits the power of this world, it doesn't strengthen it or enhance it. Openness is what will actually make the world grow more powerful and prosperous and successful. We can already see that in many parts of the world where this principle has some support. It merely needs to spread and be seen and the ideologies that tell us otherwise need to be unmasked as impotent pretenders to the throne of Oz.

And yes, this is already happening, slowly in some cases, quickly in others, unevenly and with two steps forward and one back sometimes, but it is indeed happening. And one of the signs that it is happening is the release of secrets, of previously closely guarded truths that have been withheld by those in power. We are going to see more and more of that happening, not just in the news, but in our lives and culture altogether. Surprising things will happen, not all good at first glance, but things which upset the standard order of knowledge, of how things are controlled and assumed to be. It is an interesting time we live in.

There are new tools available for this, and we see them everywhere. The internet is one of those tools, obviously, and so are the new spiritual teachings that have been flooding the world for the last century. Combine the two, and you can get a helluva bang for your buck.

Something Old, Something New

One of the driving forces which led me to embark on this new political blog is the strong sense that there is something deep and fundamental that is changing in the world. As some in the New Age community have long noted, there is a transformation occurring in the energy pattern of the earth during this time which cannot help but manifest in even the outer patterns of our culture and politics.

Normally I don't subscribe to many "New Age" ideas, but in this case I do, and even strongly endorse some of these descriptions of the earth's energy grid as undergoing lasting changes that are worth looking at and taking seriously. Without an understanding of what is occurring at this deeper level, it's difficult to comprehend what is going on in the world.

As an example, in my first post here yesterday I mentioned the phenomena of Wikileaks and the Arab uprisings, and how this has led to a sudden tipping point in which seemingly stable authoritarian regimes have sudden begun to fall like dominos across the middle east. While there are some obvious reasons why they have fallen, it's not as if they were obvious until this year. These regimes, and others like them, have dominated that part of the world for a very long time, and while changes have occurred from time to time, it's usually been more of the same. A cynic betting against the current series of uprisings producing lasting change might think it a wise position to take, since while there have been uprisings before, they usually return to the old pattern soon enough.

But what is going on in the world right now to me is quite different. And it's not because the people are different or the conditions on the ground are different or because the political world has suddenly decided to reform itself. No, the people in power are generally not going to change much at all. What has changed is the fundamental "energy environment" of the world, and it is simply the case that those who are not well-adapted to this "new energy" are not going to adapt and survive very well. The problem with these autocratic regimes is not entirely some internal failure to respond to dissidents and protestors. They know quite well how to suppress and imprison and torture and kill people to keep the general population at bay. They know how to play the propaganda games of intimidation that have served them so well in the past. They didn't suddenly become incompetent at playing those games.

What has changed is that the games they are playing simply don't work in the new energy environment that is transforming the world at its deeper levels. What used to work simply doesn't work anymore. People are not responding as they once did to the same tactics, the same forms of energy that dictators once used very effectively to maintain control and dominance. And so those regimes are falling, like old biplanes trying to fly in icy weather. Their wings are icing up, and so they are crashing to the ground. It's not really that protestors are doing something magical or unusually courageous (though it is that also). It's not really about Twitter and Facebook and Al Jazeera, though one could argue that such things have only arisen because of the new energy in the world. It's that these protestors are responding to an energy which demands that they replace the old regimes with something more suited to this new energy which is energizing them. And so they do, because they now have the power to replace the old energy, which is suddenly weak and almost hopelessly overmatched for reasons that seem otherwise inexplicable.

Everyone has heard the popular stories about 2012 and the Mayan Calender and the alleged "end of the world". Well, these stories are basically true, on the level of energy. The old world really is coming to an end, and a new world is coming into being. This may sound like naive bullshit, but I'm willing to stake a lot on it. And yes, the year 2012 has significance, in that it's an important moment, but it's really this whole time period, the decades leading up to this point and the decades that will follow, where the changes really occur. One basic rule of energy is that energy changes can occur quickly, but its manifestations in life, and particularly in politics, can take time.

So I don't expect massive and sudden political nirvana any time soon. It will take plenty of time for this sort of thing to sort itself out and find a new balance. It's a developmental process, and that can take time, and be very messy. And nothing that changes is every going to be terribly satisfying in any case, so we can't expect heaven on earth now or ever. But we can expect to see an ongoing transformation in the earth's life and culture and even the physical environment itself that will be largely positive and conducive to spiritual growth. These kinds of changes don't happen often, so it can be said that we are living in interesting times. Which is one of the reasons I just can't help blogging about it any more.

The basic pattern we can expect to see is that anything associated with "old energy" is going to weaken, fade, and even die out, while anything associated with this "new energy" is going to strengthen, grow, and eventually dominate. The question to ask is how do we identify and understand what this new energy is about, what the old energy is about, and learn how to see them in ourselves and the world, so that we can best ride this new wave and not get drowned in the process, but instead flourish in the new environment.

Not that I'm going to answer that in this post, of course. It's too large a subject for any one post to explore or explain. This blog will often be looking at various aspects of the current politics and culture, and doing "samyama" on them to see what is new and what is old and how the two relate to one another. Often, it's not as easy as one might think to differentiate between the two, or to understand how to make a peaceful and profitable hand-off between the two. Often, we have both in us, and it can be confusing to feel a part of us dying while at the same time another part of us is growing.

We all have attachments to old energy, and unfamiliarity with new energy, and there are parts of our minds and psyches and even our bodies which have adapted and grown accustomed to the old energy patterns, and don't quite know yet how to work with the new energy. So there's a significant process of adaptation that has to occur in us, and in the culture, and the world of politics, before we can function properly in the new energy environment. That's another part of what this blog is going to explore.

So I look forward to this being an interesting ride here. I hope others think similarly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The United States of Wikileaks

As everyone following the news these days knows, the vast uprisings spreading through the middle east by Arab populaces against their authoritarian governments is quite possibly the most important political event since the end of the Cold War. One can get too optimistic about the short-term prospects for any particular uprising to take hold and deliver genuine democracy and a just civil order to its people, but the long term reality seems to be highly positive. The balance of power in the region finally seems to be tipping in the direction of basic political rights for the people of each nation, and a political order that responds to their needs. I wouldn't expect this to produce miracles overnight, but over the next two or three decades I think we can at last expect to see some very positive changes in the region, with profound implications for the whole of our world political order.

The grievances behind these uprisings of course go back many decades, and are not limited to the current governments. Our own government, the United States of America, has of course been complicit in supporting the authoritarian rulers of some of these nations, often in the belief that stability in the region and the allegiance we thereby win from them is in our national interests. To that end, we have often tried to cover up the failings of these governments, their corruption, and our own misgivings about our relationship to them.

Enter Wikileaks. On Novermber 28, 2010, Wikileaks released a series of diplomatic cables it had gained access to, many of which were very embarrassing to our allies in the middle east. Some of them detailed our own diplomats' candid observations of the vast corruption in many middle eastern countries, and the trouble we had getting many things accomplished as a result. One of the most embarrassing cables detailed the corruption of the Tunisian leader President Ben Ali, his family, political cronies, and other government officials. This created a massive scandal in Tunisia, and helped set the stage for the protests which followed a few weeks later, sparked by the self-immolation of a Tunisian vegetable cart operator Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17. The initial street protests which followed were put down by the government with a heavy hand, but rather than dying out, this merely inflamed the protestors, and against all odds the protests brought down the government on February 28, only three months after the initial Wikileaks document release.

One cannot attribute the whole of these protests and the entire "Arab Spring" which has followed in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries to Wikileaks, but one must see how important these embarrassing leaks were to their governments. The maintenance of authoritarian regimes requires a kind of silent assent between ruler, ruled, and all its outside relations, that one simply doesn't openly speak of the inner dynamic and corruption taking place at its core. Authoritarian regimes require a balance between diplomacy, terror, and theft, all contained by a mutual agreement of secrecy, in which all this is normalized and made the daily habit of society, without anyone upsetting the balance between these elements. When someone exposes this fraud for what it is, people do get upset, and order has to be regained. If the weight of order is pushed to a tipping point by such revelations, however, the whole order collapses, and a new order has to be brought into being. That is why an incident such as Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation could have such a profound effect. A tipping point had been reached, and the most seemingly minor of incidents is enough then to push it over the edge.

One has to credit Wikileaks therefore with helping push many Arab nations closer to that tipping point. One also has to recognize the importance of counter-normalizing information releases like this in bringing that tipping point about. It's important to recognize how ordinary exploitation, abuse, and corruption alone seldom have this effect, because of the normalizing factor of standard information systems, media enterprises, and government influence over the flow of information in society, which tends always to reinforce existing institutions rather than undermine them. The abuses of these Arab rulers have been going on for decades, even centuries, with little serious change resulting, in large part because of the seeming "normality" of it all. When "abnormal" information (what is commonly called "scandal") is released into the public sphere however, this disrupts the balance of information that holds these regimes in place, and disorder ensues. From that disorder, a new balance has to be quickly achieved, and regimes that cannot adjust quickly will fall and be replaced, regardless of their size or apparent power.

One of the primary justifications Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, gives for his policy of releasing government secrets such as these is that it undermines the ability of governments to conspire in secret against the interests of their own people. And we see with these diplomatic cables a persistent pattern by which even our own government was guilty of helping cover up the corruption of Arab regimes and hiding this information not only from the people of those nations, but from our own people. This is an odd consequence of a supposedly open democracy dealing with closed governments. Our own principles become compromised in the process, such that we can't even tell our own people that we are dealing with immensely corrupt regimes, because the global flow of information would immediately make that known to the people of these nations whose leaders we are trying to curry favor with. And so the whole world, even our own supposed democracy, is denied important information about our foreign policy because it might "damage" our relations with these authoritarian regimes.

The result is what Assange calls a conspiracy, not meaning by that that the United States is actively trying to support such regimes (though in some cases that has certainly been true), but that the whole of our relations with such regimes takes on all the characteristics of a conspiratorial enterprise, with secrecy being the primary component that keeps the conspiracy alive. To Assange, the primary need of all conspiracies is secrecy, without which they cannot survive for long, and so the purpose of Wikileaks is to undermine that secrecy, and thus to undermine conspiracy as the primary functional operation of government and its foreign relations.

And of course, for that good deed, Wikileaks and Assange have been labeled as terrorists and threats to our civilized order, and threatened with arrest and even assassination by prominent American politicians. One can understand the reaction to a degree, in that clearly US laws were broken (though not by Wikileaks), and diplomatic secrecy compromised. But as far as actual damage to the US goes, the case seems not merely minimal but quite the opposite. One thing the cables revealed is that many of our diplomats and analysts are actually very bright, perceptive, and not at all delusional. Their insider analysis of these nations seemed uncommonly accurate and timely. Making them public certainly betrayed the trust of some of these regimes, and left our own diplomats with the embarrassment of having their private thoughts exposed in public, but the thoughts in question were pretty good thoughts, overall.

We have to examine the actual effect of having intelligent thoughts made public, and see that it is not a bad effect. We also have to examine the effect of having corruption around the world made public, even by our own diplomats, whether intentionally or not. Again, it's not necessarily a bad effect. It sure looks, so far at least, like a good effect. Corruption was exposed, regimes fell, and the prospects for better American relations in the middle east actually looks pretty good. Not only that, but the general political situation in that part of the world looks a lot better. Seems like a win all the way around.

Shouldn't this cause us to question the value of diplomatic secrecy, especially when it involves our dealings with just these kinds of corrupt, authoritarian regimes? All right, you might say diplomacy requires some secrecy, and one can't argue with that. Everyone expects the common courtesy of a little confidentiality when speaking with others. But in cases like this, is secrecy really to our benefit? All too often government secrecy is used to hide malfeasance, and to perpetuate it therefore. Is that what we want perpetuated in the world? Some might cynically say yes, of course, and they would have a point about some sectors of the ruling classes, even in our own country, but I think the balance of the argument in a democracy has to come out on the side of less secrecy.

More than bringing into doubt the whole question of secrecy, this raises the question of what our own diplomatic mission should be. Is it really in the national interests of the United States to be covering up the malfeasance and corruption of authoritarian regimes around the world? Or even of democratic nations around the world? I would suggest not. I'd like to suggest that the opposite is the case, that the United States, what with all its immense intelligence gathering and diplomatic abilities, is actually uniquely position to turn about this entire equation, and taking the lead from Wikileaks, to actively begin exposing corruption, malfeasance, and exploitation around the world. Even if this has the short-term effect of damaging our relations with some corrupt governments, it has the long term effect of putting the United States in the position of being the clear advocate and leader of open and free democratic societies, an image (and a reality) more than a little tarnished of late.

So, why not a United States of Wikileaks? Rather than just having our diplomatic cables released by rogue activists, such as Bradley Manning, who is being locked away under tortured conditions as a public warning to any other potential leakers that they will face the harshest possible consequences, why not have our own diplomats and intelligence officials make full and voluntary releases of the information we have about corrupt authoritarian regimes the world over, and let their own people decide for themselves what to do about it? I imagine it won't come out terribly well for the authoritarians. Would this really be against American national interests, or would it instead be very much in our national interests? I think the answer is fairly obvious on balance. There are pluses and minuses to any policy, but I see the outcome much more beneficial to us than the current order of things, which normalizes the status quo and freezes it in place, rather than opening it up to natural transformation and change.

I'm not naive, of course, about the immediate prospects for a massive change in American policy on this sort of issue. But shouldn't this at least be discussed openly as a plausible way of going about our affairs? And shouldn't it be employed as a normal course of our foreign policy, even through back channels and the sort of leaks that are already employed by our government? It must be said however, that while getting information out through back channels is useful, the real power of the Wikileaks cable release was that it was clearly our own best diplomats and analysts whose work was being exposed, and that lent it a high degree of credibility. It's one thing for a journalist to run a piece on Tunisian corruption, it's another thing entirely for US diplomats to describe it in detail. And so there's a remarkable power our government has that it isn't using to its advantage. That's a shame.


Here's my first post on this new blog. My other blog, Broken Yogi Samyama, is devoted to eclectic spiritual and religious topics. This blog will comment on politics, science, philosophy, current events, and the outer dimensions of religious and spiritual life, with a more topical slant and oriented towards the wider world rather than my own personal spiritual pursuits. Of course, it will also get pretty weird and wild, I hope. We'll see how far it goes.