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Wikiliquidation of the Empire?

segunda-feira 3 de janeiro de 2011, por Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Boaventura de Sousa Santos

Todas as versões desta matéria: [Português] [Português do Brasil]

The question is, which globalization will benefit from the leaks? The hegemonic globalization of capitalism or the counter-hegemonic globalization of the social movements which believes that another world is possible and fights for it?

By publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, both diplomatic and military, Wikileaks has brought a new dimension to the contradictions and complexities of globalization. The disclosure, in such a short period of time, of documents known to exist but for very long kept unavailable to the large public, as well as of documents of whose existence nobody suspected, dramatizes the consequences of the revolution of information technologies (RIT) and forces us to rethink the nature of the global powers that (mis)govern us and the kinds of resistance that might be summoned to oppose them. Our rethinking must be so thorough as to include Wikileaks itself. Not everything is transparent in the orgy of transparency offered by Wikileaks.

The disclosure is as striking regarding its technology as its content. Just an example: we are horrified to hear the following exchange – “Good shooting.” “Thank you” – as Reuters journalists and children on their way to school are struck down from a helicopter, that is to say, as a crime against humanity is being committed. We learn lots of things. That there is consensus about Iran being a nuclear threat to its neighbors, the question being, which country will attack first, the USA or Israel? That the large pharmaceutical multinational Pfizer, with the connivance of the American embassy in Nigeria, tried to blackmail Nigeria’s Attorney General to avoid paying compensation for undue use of experimental drugs that ended up killing children. That the USA exerted illegitimate pressure on poor countries to force them to sign the nonofficial declaration of the Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, December 2009, so that it could continue to dominate the world on the basis of the pollution caused by cheap-oil economics. That Mozambique is not a totally corrupt narco-state but runs the risk of becoming one. That, in the “Favela Pacification Program” of Rio de Janeiro, the same counter-insurgency doctrine designed by the USA for Iraq and Afghanistan is being applied, that is to say, the strategy used against an “external enemy” is being used against an “internal enemy.” That the brother of the “savior” of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is an important drug dealer, besides being on the CIA’s payroll.

Will the world change after these disclosures? The question is, which globalization will benefit from the leaks? The hegemonic globalization of capitalism or the counter-hegemonic globalization of the social movements which believes that another world is possible and fights for it? It is predictable that the imperial power of the USA will learn the lessons of Wikileaks more rapidly than the movements and parties that oppose it in different parts of the world. A new wave of imperial criminal law is already surging, providing “anti-terrorism” laws to prosecute and dissuade all kinds of hackers. New techniques are emerging as well to render power wikisafe. At first sight, however, Wikileaks has a greater potential to favor democratic and anti-capitalist powers. Two conditions are necessary for such potential to become concrete: processing new knowledge adequately and turning it into new causes for mobilization.

Regarding the first condition: we already knew that global political and economic powers downright lie when they invoke human rights and democracy, since their sole objective is to consolidate the control they have over our lives, using the most violent fascist methods without qualms to achieve it. All this is being proven now, far beyond what the most enlightened people could have ever guessed. More knowledge creates new exigencies of analysis and divulgation. First of all, it is necessary to disclose the distance between the authenticity of the documents and the truthfulness of their statements. For instance, that Iran is a nuclear threat is only “true” for bad diplomats who, unlike good ones, provide their governments with the information they want to hear, rather than real facts. Likewise, that the Favela Pacification Program shares some characteristics with U. S. counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq is the opinion of the American Consulate in Rio. It is up to the Brazilian citizens to interpellate the national, state and municipal governments about the truthfulness of such opinion. As it is up to the Mozambican courts to investigate the alleged corruption going on in the country. The important thing is to know how to make clear that many of the decisions leading on to the death of thousands and the suffering of millions of people are made on the basis of lies, and create organized rebellion against such a state of affairs.

Still concerning knowledge processing, it is increasingly crucial to engage in what I call sociology of absences, that is to say, to consider carefully what remains undisclosed when everything else has been supposedly disclosed. For example, it is very strange that Israel, the country that might most fear the disclosures due to its atrocities against the Palestinian people, remain so absent from the classified documents. There is grounded suspicion that such documents were not disclosed by agreement between Israel and Julian Assange. What this means is that we will need an even more transparent alternative Wikileaks. Perhaps it it already in the making.

The second condition (new causes and motivation for mobilization) is even more demanding. It will be necessary to establish an organic articulation between the Wikileaks phenomenon and the left movements and parties, up until now little inclined to explore the possibilities created by RTI. Such an articulation will facilitate the disclosure of information that is particularly relevant for democratic and anti-capitalist forces. By the same token, it is crucial that such an articulation be achieved through the World Social Forum (WSF) and the alternative media at its disposal. Curiously enough, the WSF was the first emancipatory novelty of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Wikileaks, if duly taken advantage of, may well be the first novelty of the second decade. The aforementioned articulation requires much inter-movement reflexion, capable of identifying the most insidious and aggressive designs of globalized imperialism and social fascism, as well as their unsuspected weaknesses at the national, regional, and global levels. A new mobilizing energy must be created on the basis of the apparent contradiction that capitalist power is more overwhelming than we think and more fragile than what may be guessed from its strength. The WSF, which will have its tenth meeting in Dakar next February, must renovate and strengthen itself, and this may well be the way.