Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Dumping

Somewhere recently I read an essay about blog posts condemning exactly the sort of posts I write; saying "No dumping." I can't be arsed to find a link, it looks like I didn't save it anywhere. The weird thing about blog posts is they aren't really conversations, but they do allow for comments and open up the possibility of conversations. My posts are like big question marks without any real sense that someone will answer them.

I write here mostly as a way to put my thoughts in some sort of order. And like the rest of my life my efforts tend more to disorder than to order.

Read Write Web posted a story which mentions a a new favorite tool. My obsession with WikiLeaks can be seem with the links I've saved there. I'm a bit pleased to see the links aren't just WikiLeaks. I use Delicious and have often thought there's a need for good ways to bookmark stuff for my friends using public computers. requires a bookmarklet so it really won't do for that, but there's something simple enough about how it works that it seems on the right track for that sort of thing. Anyhow I do like to use I kept looking at highlights there by "missrogue" and finally followed her to Twitter to discover missrogue is Tara Hunt. I promptly followed her on Twitter.

The past week or so has me addicted to Twitter, primarily as a way to follow the news about WikiLeaks and protests about tuition fee increases in the UK. The Internet is really good for finding others with opinions like our own. It's also good for looking for contrary opinions, but find that part harder. At Twitter I've tried for a a little diversity of opinion with my choices of whom to follow. I haven't been too successful with diversity, really and part of the problem is the links I follow tend to be ones I think I'll be interested in. So even with what diversity there is in my Twitter stream I don't pay enough attention to views very different from my own. Still I try to pay a little attention and glad that Twitter makes that possible.

The photo is of the late Richard Holbrooke the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was not surprising to me that with the news of his death some of the links and comments in my Twitter feed were along the lines of "That bastard!" but I was surprised in going through obituaries and remembrances of him yesterday what seemed a forgone conclusion that Afghanistan is a lost cause. I expected more sentiments like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen:
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Holbrooke's presence would be especially missed this week as the Obama administration finishes its review of the Afghan war, expected Thursday. Mullen said Holbrooke helped write and "deeply believed in" the war strategy.

"That we have been making steady progress in this war is due in no small measure to Richard's tireless efforts and dedication," Mullen said. "I know he would want our work to continue unabated. And I know we will all feel his bully presence in the room as we do so."
Adm. Mullen sent out tweets wishing Holbrooke a speedy recovery after he'd fallen ill. I noted them because General Stanley McCrystal seemed to loathe Holbrooke and that was part of McCrystal's undoing. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence which suggests the military brass hates Obama.

My father is 89 so very much a part of the WWII generation. Towards the end of the Vietnam War almost everyone--despite what many present-day Republicans say--thought the war had been a tragic mistake. Many of the children of the WWII generation got pretty cynical about the USA being a force for good, but I don't really think the WWII generation ever really did. Anyhow my father was interested in the news that Holbrooke had fallen ill. No entirely uncritical of Holbrooke, still in my dad's eyes Holbrooke had a good reputation. I know my dad admires George Mitchell for his diplomacy in the Northern Ireland peace. His sense of a favorable reputation of the two is probably pretty close.

My mother was a New England Republican but Nixon and Vietnam throughly disillusioned her not just about Republican politics but American Empire. She detested Jerry Ford and didn't vote for Reagan. I think my dad has been more conflicted about neoliberalism than she. I shouldn't suggest either one of them had more interest in politics than they have had. The simple point though is my parents, I think typical of their generation, have felt that the USA has tried to act as a force for good internationally even if sometimes the nation fell short of that ideal.

George Bush's re-election in 2004 was in no small part won on the basis of the idea that as a country the USA could be a force for good in the world; as strange as it sounds a force for good in Iraq! I've been against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from the start. My mother died in 2002, but suspect she wouldn't have been in favor of the wars. If my father has sometimes agreed with me in private about my views, he's been uncomfortable about my making them public because they're unpopular. And I've appreciated my father's views as an indication of what people generally are thinking.

Zunguzungu has a post up about Holbrooke where he writes:
The sooner we put his life as the functionary of an amoral state power behind us, the sooner we can bury him and what he represents, the sooner we can close the door on a past that should never have happened the way it did.
Were my mother living perhaps she would have been okay with the notion of "amoral state power," I doubt my father ever will be.

Few of the mainstream remembrances of Holbrooke praised the Afghanistan war in moral terms, Mullen is an outlier in that regard.

It's odd here in the USA how the words "liberal" and "conservative" have become so charged. Neoliberalism is a good term that's hard to use here, I think in part because of the way the words liberal and conservative have come to represent polar opposites. So I think there's a pairing of neoliberal and neoconservative in people's minds where the dichotomy of liberal/conservative is assumed. Really it's more like the neoconservatives are the military wing of the neoliberals.

Richard Holbrooke was certainly a proponent of neoliberalism and a fair reading of his career would seem to make him a neoconservative as well. The sense I got from reading his obituaries and remembrances of him is neoliberals are wary of trumpeting their position these days. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars really don't make any sense and people are wondering how we got into them in the first place. It's not that I detect much serious opposition emerging, it's just the wars have made it more unpopular to praise the neoconservative project.

Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives in the new year and the Democratic party majority in the Senate is quite fragile. Josh Marshall notes that the public has more confidence in President Obama to solve problems than they do congressional Republicans. He notes that in two recent shifts of power in congress, 1994 when Republicans took the lead and in 2004 when Democrats did there was more confidence in congress by big margins than the president.

Despite the political polarization of popular opinion, neoconservatism has seemed up to now a big tent with both Republicans and Democrats under it. President Obama's escalation of the Afghanistan war was hardly a surprise as he campaigned on the issue--still it seems to have taken some by surprise. I suppose it's not surprising that Republicans didn't step up to praise Holbrooke, but on the other hand not doing so feeds the opinion abroad in the land that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't in the national interest. The Republicans are vested in their militarism, so much so they take support for it for granted. I wonder if they are smart to do so?

68% of Americans in polling say WikiLeaks has hurt the USA and 59% want Julian Assange arrested. I'm not sure what that means. An awful lot of Americans seemed in favor of the wars motivated by revenge and these numbers about Assange suggest a similar knee-jerk response.

Representative Eric Cantor will become the Majority Leader in the House. Shortly after the November elections he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told Netanyahu that the Republicans will "serve as a check" on the Obama administration. Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in the House. The Republican House leadership will have to contend with a substantial contingent of the Tea Party in their ranks. That contingent has nativism, racism and antisemitism baked-in. The senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell said after the election that the main goal of congressional Republicans will be to deny Obama re-election in 2012.

I find president Obama's neoliberalism and militarism noxious. But I'm rather surprised by the Republican leadership urge to cripple the president; especially if I'm right that there is an increasing reluctance for Americans to identify strongly with neoliberalism as the prospects of good outcomes of the wars grow dim.

Digby at Hullabaloo is a very smart observer of the American political scene. She has pointed out numerous times the intense political ambition of General David Petraeus. Digby links to an article by Michael Brenner a professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh about Petraeus. While hardly ever mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2012, he is often described as politically ambitious in the press. Bob Woodward reports that in the development of the escalation plans in Afghanistan
During a flight in May, after a glass of wine, Petraeus told his own staffers that the administration was “fucking with the wrong guy.”
If the Republicans are intent on destroying Obama both in his conduct of foreign and domestic policy with an ambitious general in the wings, it would seem to me to risk the broad acceptance by the public of the big-tent of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism can be summed up in the nutshell-slogan: "More power to the corporation!"

Obama has hewed closely to the neoliberal agenda, while rage from the fallout over massive financial sector abuse has simmered. George Bush frequently joked that it would be a lot easier if he were dictator. There's little doubt that captains of industry might agree with him about the usefulness of dictators. It may be there's a steady plan toward that end in progress. My hunch is that Americans are just stumbling towards dictatorship carelessly.

Adm. Mullen was quick to praise Holbrooke and to emphasize that Holbrooke was fully in support of the war. The absence of many others saying as much suggests to me that the support for the effort is waning. Mullen was suggesting that the civilians are in charge of the policy. While it is certainly true that both parties are in the thrall of the military complex, the open question is how the politics will play out when this sentiment against the war turn from a simmer to a boil?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Capitalism and Four Antagonisms

Last night I was chatting online with a thirty-something friend. I knew December 8, 2010 is was the thirtieth anniversary of the murder of John Lennon and there would be a buzz about it. So I asked my friend if he'd ever heard of John Lennon. The answer was that the name didn't ring a bell. I said that Lennon had been a member of the band called The Beatles. He said I follow music much more than he.

Next time we talk I'll have to ask if he's ever heard of Elvis Presley. I bet he has, going on music I know he likes and also the quite possibly wrong premise that Elvis is an international icon.

My friend David Pohl pursued art adventures exploring Elvis. David has an encyclopedic knowledge popular music. The Elvis adventures involved deep reading, travel and emersion in the subject. His Elvis Set provides a sample of some of the art he created (David's Etsy Shop, House of PingTing).

Here's what he says about the set:
This series of images reflects on the mythology of America's king Elvis Presley. 30 years after his death, Elvis continues to mirror the times, reflecting what is both good and bad about American society. The rise and fall of Elvis reflects what has happened or can potentially happen to us, both individually and collectively.
I'm afraid mentioning Elvis is quite off-topic from what I intend to talk about, it's just I can't quite figure out what people mean when they call Slavoj Žižek "the Elvis of cultural theory."

It's easy to associate only with people who share your interests online, in fact the social part of the Internet make this homophily inevitable to some degree. So I've heard words to the effect, "Everyone knows who Žižek is." I'm not so sure about that, what I am sure is people who think they know generally seem to have strong opinions about him. The comparison to Elvis or a rock star probably has less to do with his notoriety, while great doesn't extend so far as popular music artists, but rather to the strong reactions his speaking provokes.

I snagged the picture from the Zeitgeist Films page for the 2005 Astra Taylor film Žižek!. That page has some further links.

I haven't read any of his books so I can hardly provide very much useful commentary about Slavoj Žižek (SLA-voy ZHEE-zhek) but I recently watched a talk he gave posted at the Lacan Dot Com Blog. In the talk he spoke of four antagonism to capitalism and I thought I'd try to sketch those out briefly. The lecture is split among several videos and the bits I'm talking about are mostly in the 3rd and 4th videos at the Lacan blog.

Definitions are always tricky. A short definition of capitalism might be:
An Economic system based on private ownership of captial.
That's probably an noncontroversial definition and I suspect that people who would quibble with it would suggest that capitalism is not only an economic system but a social system as well. It's a good point, but that's where controversy floods in. I think definitions for "socialism" and "communism" are harder to find consensus about because the aspect of a social system seems baked into them. The simple definition for capitalism seems sufficient for understanding Žižek's antagonisms.

The first antagonism is Democracy.

The second antagonism is intellectual property which he also describes as "symbols of social substance."

The third antagonism is bio-genetic property, for example Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The forth antagonism are slums or apartheid.

Žižek notes that the first three antagonisms all represent conflict between the commons and capitalism's ownership of property.

Žižek points out that the prevalent way of linking capitalism to democracy is not a necessary linkage. He notes that China's market economy is not antagonistic to authoritarian governance. Democracy presumes a consensus with political power derived from the people which is not necessary to capitalism. Nevertheless democracy requires a commons to arrive at consensus.

The antagonism to capitalism by intellectual property is illustrated by noting Bill Gates as an anomaly. Likening market oscillations to a heart beat Žižek notes that extreme concentration or monopoly produce oscillations resembling a heart attack.

Bio-genetic property provides antagonism not only from the social ethics involved with the creation of new life forms, but internal changes to people themselves. Intellectual property provokes antagonisms in re external nature whereas bio-genetic property in re internal nature.

Each of these three present contradictions of what people hold in common and what is made private property. He also notes that governments as well as commerce make private property which intrudes on the commons.

Slums are where the excluded live, with the commons made property a chasm between the excluded and included create antagonisms. With each of the three antagonisms related to the commons, slums are the visible result of wide swaths of people not integrated into governance, the symbolic social substance of society nor the social ethics entailed in bio-genetic manipulations.

He does a much better job discussing these ideas than my summary suggests.

This week I've been obsessed with my Twitter feed. A good deal of that obsession stems form an interest about what people are saying about WikiLeaks. Titter is used by about 8% of online Americans with about of them viewing at least once a day. Lots of people, but a small percentage of Americans. What's more because people choose who they follow the content of Twitter streams are quite variable.

At Facebook I've got a few friends who follow and post Tea Party links. So I get to hear that "Obama is a socialist." presented with real acrimony.

Among the other subjects that has had me obsessed with Twitter this week involves fiscal issues and a tax deal which Obama made with the Republicans this week. I do get that social democracy has few followers in the USA. Nonetheless there is very broad support for Social Security. Among the political class there's a steady march towards very substantial restructuring of Social Security which alarms almost everyone paying attention to the issue.

American author Gore Vidal in a book, Matters of Fact and of Fiction: Essays 1973–1976, wrote:
There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party...and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt—until recently... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.
The observation, "there is no difference between the two parties" is kind of a sore spot for many, for one thing there was the role Ralph Nader's presidential campaign played in the 2000 election. There are many other reasons that a difference seems to make a difference even while admitting the kernel of truth that there is only one party, "the property party" or "the money party."

It seems absurd to think president Obama a socialist. The polarization of political rhetoric is extraordinarily frustrating. I'm not interested in arguing against Obama with Tea Party folks, because I'm none too happy with the present politics either. I am interested in discussing the some of the issue raised by Žižek's four antagonisms. I don't need to refer to Žižek, socialism nor communism in such discussions, but it's rather hard not to mention capitalism or the system of property. It's damned hard to get past the hollering about party politics. I'm still trying to dream up ways to initiate and participate in conversations. Mostly I fail.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

You See What You Want

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of spending a little time with an old friend I've rarely seen over the last twenty-five years. In reminiscing and catching up she asked me if I remembered her daughter's birthday party who was five or six at the time. I did remember the party, but was taken aback by her relating a memory from it. Apparently I'd tied-up one of her nephews, who was 10 or 12 years old then. She laughed remembering him flailing and rolling around in the grass. I don't remember that, but I'm sure it's true.

A few summers ago with a family visit here I was effusive in praise of one of my little nieces not allowing herself to be tricked into barking by me. Most of my nieces and nephews are adults now and it's only in their adulthood that I've come to know I was the source of much childhood terror by telling them ghost stories. At first I was incredulous that I had told them ghost stories, but their relating the stories prompted immediate recognition.

An older niece scolded me about trying to trick my younger niece into barking, pointing out that it wasn't nice to make someone seem foolish for my own amusement. She made a good point. Even though I'd managed to trick my sister-in-law into barking and other animal sounds, her wily daughter wouldn't be duped. But the whole charade from my perspective wasn't solely for my amusement; it was more to the idea that a family who howls together is happy. Likewise I'd tied up the boy as a Houdini escape challenge. I feel sure that I knew he would escape with some effort. The pay out was that his escape would bring adulation from the five and six year old party-goers.

This is the silly post has giving me writers block. I'm not sure where I want to go with it, all I know is that I seem to have a lot on my mind. Yet have a hard time developing a story. The best think is probably to simply delete the post; what I'm afraid of is that won't stop the block. So I think I'll put together some links.

The title of this entry comes from a favorite song by Zap Mama Nostalgie Amoureuse

The picture is from a report--links in this précis--by the IEA International Energy Agency. Click on the image to see it larger. It's a graphic that may not provoke a sense of panic in others as it did me.

Lately I've been using a fun Internet tool called It's quite simple and the How Does It Work link at the site is brilliant for it's brevity. I'll give the wrong impression of it with too many word, but here goes. provides a bookmarklet for your browser. It allows you to select a section of text from an article or Web site. A popup window makes it easy to assign tags as well as to edit a tweet which includes a shortened URL. It will then put your highlight on the site along with any tags you've assigned. The first page provides the highlights from various users in chronological order. Each highlight has a little bird you can click on to tweet other's highlights. People who click on the tweets are taken directly to the page where the highlight comes from along with an obvious to close popup of the highlight. It sounds complicated but is easy and obvious in use.

I don't often find myself asking myself, "What did I tweet today?" and then looking, which is easy to do. I do sometimes look over things I've linked to over time at Facebook. And I find that I enjoy looking over the highlights I've made. The highlights are not date stamped. I remember posting three to day which I'll share and the one just before which I posted last night.
“As the cybernetician Stafford Beer once said to me: “If we can understand our children, we’re all screwed.”
Brian Eno "What Happens Next?". . . and then:
“Telling students that they can’t read or discuss the primary documents is “absolutely contrary to any decent practice in international affairs or any other field of study,” Sick said."
Gary Sick who received his PhD in political science from Columbia in 1973 about warnings communicated from the State Department against discussing WikiLeaks. . .and then:
“the system has become so ossified politically that there is practically no way for such nonconformity to be implemented within its official structures”
That's from selections of Vaclav Havel's 1978 essay "The Power of the Powerless". . . and finaly:
“What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.”
Jimmy Carter July, 1979 speech, The "Crisis of Confidence".

I highlighted at various times of the day, so there were hours between posting each of these highlights. Each article was different stuff before and after, yet at the end of the day what's posted seems to have a common thread.

I have no idea whether will find a following. It would be very different if a lot of people do, a world-view collection of great sentences. Well, there may be problems to scaling. But seems quite fun now. I didn't mention that there's a tag cloud at the top of the page. It's easy to see pages of highlights by tag name. So far my favorite thing to do is to look at pages of highlights sorted by user. is worth looking at.

Okay well I think I got this post as a writer's block out of the way.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Gregory Bateson

I've been having writer's block for the last three weeks. I've been trying to find in my mind a way to combine my ordinary banal stories with Slavoj Zizek, the quality without a name, peak oil and the relationships between common general worldviews. Just listing the topics in a row makes it obvious why the post isn't coming together--geez. On top of my thinking about a blog post that won't come together, events with WikiLeaks have been unfolding and occupying my attention.

Sometimes it takes a while for me to get the utility of various Web sites and services. I was signed up at Twitter for a long time before finding it interesting. What changed my opinion about Twitter was when the G20 Meeting was held in Pittsburgh. On the last night there was a major police action in the Oakland section of town, that's where CMU and the University of Pittsburgh are located. I tuned into Twitter for reports about the G20 Meetings and by the time heavy hitting went down I was convinced of its importance. Lately I think I'm probably paying too much attention to my Twitter stream in response to WikiLeaks.

There's a heavy hand of government to suppress news about the recent release of some USA State Department cables marked "confidential." Certainly some news of the release and about WikiLeaks has been disseminated in the mainstream media, especially in opinion pieces. But there is a sufficiently coordinated effort by the government of the USA to control news about them that it's hard to gage to what degree my fellow Americans know the story.

In October news of Robo-Signers got a little traction in the press. I'm no expert in law or economics, but it seemed to me that the story was important in the larger context of the economy, politics and law. But most people I know don't get news primarily online. I found it incredibly difficult to explain why it seemed like such a big deal. Part of the difficulty it seemed to me followed something like this: If it's such a big deal, then why aren't I reading about it in the newspaper and seeing reports on TV? To which I can only wonder why too, but part of it surely has to do with the differences between how news is delivered via newspapers and TV versus on the Internet. For me the implications to the economy from mortgage fraud seem huge, but for most people I've talked with about it the big issue seems to be the people who took out the mortgages on homes. Primarily that's how it's been covered in the mainstream press.

The latest Time cover has a photo of Julian Assange with American Flag duct tape gagging his mouth. The thesis of the cover story written by Massimo Calabresi is:
Rouge activist Julian Assange wants to curb government secrecy, but his massive leak of classified U.S. diplomatic cables is undermining the Obama Administration's efforts to do just that.
The premise has a kernel of truth. One of the first things Obama did as president was to issue a Transparency and Open Government Directive. Not unpredictably the response has been mixed. Notably neither the Department of Justice, which is charged with the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, nor the Office of Management and Budget, which is charged with overseeing large portions of this Open Government Directive, have produced viable responses to it. I haven't found any reporting suggesting that these failures have had any repercussions or that Obama still has any interest in the matter. Certainly the authoritarian responses of the administration, government agencies, and elected Representatives of the government to WikiLeaks making .002% of the State Department cables public suggests Obama has little taste for openness nowadays.

My government's responses to the current WikiLeaks embroiglilo truly frightens me. The State Department has warned students not to discuss WikiLeaks on Twitter and Facebook. The Department of Defense has ordered soldiers under penalty of law about even reading public accounts of them. These actions are just the tip of the iceberg. Glenn Greenwald has a post with more links. Public opinion is bound to become even more polarized when the government attempts to forbid discussion of important news by threats of force. It's a dramatic shift from "-- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." (Video here of the Gettysburg Address)

As always I'm too long in the preliminaries. The picture is from a short video clip on a kinescope of an appearance By Gregory Bateson on TV in the 1950's. I was introduced to Bateson's book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind in 1974 and have been reading it ever since. My copy is battered and falling apart.

"Steps to an Ecology of Mind" is a fascinating book because it's a collection of writing over a fairly long swath of Bateson's career. The Wikipedia article notes that Bateson was an "anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields." So the articles proceed from the perspective of various fields, but taken together suggest a unified focus, if only able to be seen in retrospect. What Bateson was interested in is "the pattern which connects."

As the heat was being turned up on WikiLeaks I was reminded of a lecture that Bateson had given at "Two Worlds Symposium" at Sacramento State College in 1966 entitled From Versailles to Cybernetics" published in the book. I looked to see whether I could find the chapter "liberated" somewhere on the Internet. Excerpts are and there appear to be several sources for the entire book in illegal digital form--I seem to have downloaded a RTF file of the book translated into Italian while looking. But I couldn't find a good link to the article so I'll have to tell a little about it.

Bateson begins by saying that the proverb:
"The fathers have eaten bitter fruit and the children's teeth are set on edge."
and a statement by James Joyce:
"history is that nightmare from which there is no awakening."
had echoed in his mind as he prepared for the talk. Bateson identified two events of the 20th century to that point that had been especially important. As the title of his lecture says these two events are the Treaty of Versailles and the development of cybernetics as a discipline.

Bateson viewed the Treaty of Versailles as a gross betrayal of humanity. He notes that people care less about episodes and care very much about patterns of relationships. If "all is fair in love and war" it doesn't follow that treachery in a truce or peacemaking is fair. The betrayal at Versailles demoralized Germany but also the allied powers who perpetrated it. This change in attitude, "unfair whiplash" set the stage for the tragedies of World War II and more troubles.

Bateson identified cybernetics as the other significant event of the 20th century:
Cybernetics is, at any rate, a contribution to change--not simply a change in attitude, but even a change in the understanding of what attitude is.
Bateson was hopeful that cybernetics might make people more able to change the rules in such ways to break the cycle of violence stemming from Versailles which he likened to the house of Atreus in Greek tragedy. But he was not a cyber-Utopian, rather he was sure that cybernetics held dangers of its own. He wrote:
We do not know, for example, what effects may follow from the computerization of all government dossiers.
There are many complex and subtle issues regarding WikiLeaks, the issues are precisely the sort that require conversations. The polarization about the leaks where one end supports authoritarian control over the conversations--there can be none--strikes me a huge attitude change at least for Americans. It's this shift that tells me that how WikiLeaks has become so controversial is extremely significant. My position is poles apart thinking the only responsible approach is more speech about WikiLeaks. Note that I'm not saying we need more leaks, or that governments ought not to be privileged to keep secrets. The suppression of discussion by government is the appalling change. The privilege of the government to keep secrets follows the consent of the governed.

Governments contend that they need to deliberate in private confidence which seems reasonable within limits. It's an entirely different matter when my government conspires to suppress public deliberation. That's precisely the concerted response of American officials and private business leaders to the recent WikiLeaks release of a tiny portion of confidential correspondences vetted by respected international news organizations. I'm horrified that so many of my fellow citizens side with this effort to make public deliberations under the purview of private hands in the government. It's completely flips the relationship between the people's sovereignty over the government. How that's okay, I cannot even begin to fathom.

Nora Bateson has made a documentary film about her father called "An Ecology of Mind" which was released just recently. Here's a review of the film, the Facebook Page and the film's Web site. One of the quotes from Bateson used in the film is:
The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.
The issues of WikiLeaks and responses to it have very much to do with the way people think. Nevertheless Bateson is right to point out the danger in the disconnnect between how nature works and the way we think. WikiLeaks draws attention to the urgency with which we ought to address the way that we think. The suppression of speech in this matter makes it all the harder to address the major problems facing us all.