A pro-WikiLeaks campaign by Australian grass-roots political activist organisation, Get Up!

Australian novelist and blogger James Bradley over at City of Tongues has a thoughtful analysis and collection of links relating to this whole WikiLeaks caper.  James writes: ‘I’m not convinced total transparency is either practical or desirable. But by the same token confidentiality and control over the flow of information is one of the tools governments and other interests employ to control the public and manipulate public discourse and opinion’.

I agree with him. Democracies can only work effectively when the populace is armed with information and the truth – surely we learnt all about this in the 2010 Australian federal election, which was a dreadful state of affairs. However, there are times – perhaps very rarely but they do exist – when containing information is an altruistic action that a government can take.

So perhaps that’s the question: is this latest release of classified information by WikiLeaks an altruistic action? My conclusion based on the (albeit limited) reading I’ve done so far is yes. But can I really be sure?

I do have a great fear, however: that governments of all colours and stripes will in future be even more controlling of information, and even more spinny with their communication. So I agree with what others have said that this issue is essentially about the internet. The internet is the community’s tool, and collectively we’ll use it in countless ways to obtain and distribute the information we hunger for.

The best result from WikiLeaks’ activities in 2010 would be if there’s a genuine debate about how governments control information and how much information the community really wants to know. Perhaps at the end of the day we’re just more interested in the price of flat-screen tellies and the cricket score rather than whether or not we are being told porkies about the wars in which our country is involved?

So let’s have it.  Is Julian Assange a terrorist?  (He might be freaky-looking, but that doesn’t make him Osama Bin Laden Mark II.)  Is Wikileaks good for stable international politics and relationships?  How much do we really want to know about how we’re governed?  Perhaps we’re better off thinking/believing that we’re safe rather than actually knowing that we’re not?

Or is it all just a storm in a tea cup?