The ruling class response to the continued release of diplomatic emails by Wikileaks is telling.
The US government is attempting to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for espionage. Sarah Palin, the former Republican Party vice‑presidential candidate, has called for him to be “hunted down”. The Swedish government is attempting to extradite him from Britain on rape charges and the website has come under sustained attack and was briefly closed down.
The hostility comes from the simple fact that those in power believe they have the right to keep their information private. They do not want us to know what they think or be privy to the mechanisms they use while in power.
For instance, the leaked list of what the US considers terrorist targets tells us nothing about terrorism, but does tell us what the US considers as vital to its national interest—a complex web of industrial and military sites around the globe.
That those interests need policing politically and militarily is the reason that diplomacy exists in the first place.
The messages reveal only a fraction of the information about how the system is run—which is kept secret. If anything, by redacting the communiqués and releasing them gradually, Wikileaks has not been a threat to the system but too “respectable” and too cautious.
One of the first acts of the Russian revolutionary government of 1917 was to publish secret diplomatic communiqués about the carve-up of the First World War’s spoils.
Announcing the end of secret diplomacy, the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote, “Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests.
“Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level…
“The workers’ and peasants’ government abolishes secret diplomacy and its intrigues, codes, and lies. We have nothing to hide.”