Of Truth And Leaks

69 Comments

Much has been written about Julian Assange and about Wikileaks these last few weeks. Mainstream American political figures have called for him to be put to death on charges of treason. The full force of American economic, political and technological power has been brought to bear down upon one man, in a brutally ferocious manner of the kind not seen in recent memory. Assange has been condemned by influential voices in the US public space as an anti-American anarchist who has launched an unremitting war against the entire US system, using ironically infrastructure that they created (The Internet after all having originated from a DARPA project), setting into motion a bloodless but perhaps equally damaging 9/11. At the same time, he has also been made into a hero, beatified for using the greatest weapon of mass destruction otherwise known as the truth to bring to its knees the world’s greatest power, a power that invites revulsion and fascination in equal measure from the rest of the world—with the fervor of anti-Americanism being matched only by the desire to emigrate to it given half a chance.

Among the many things that has fascinated me about the whole issue has been the reason that lies at the core of the US administration’s obsession with Wikileaks. Why really is the US so angry? So far no troop positions or operational details of current projects have been revealed (whether it is because Assange is concerned about US troops or because he does not have “current” documents–I guess we do not know). Much of what Assange has let out has been reported previously in different media outlets over the past few years, which is why a lot of the information in the Wikileaks documents are not shocking.  So in that respect, there is no “immediate” security driver that necessitates coming at Assange with the kind of brutality the US has displayed, it’s not that people are dying as we speak based on what has come out through Wikileaks.

However what Assange has done is blown away the US government’s credibility in the international community . While most people knew about US’s policies of rendition, its secret war through proxy in places like Yemen (a justified war I would add since Yemen is, like Pakistan, a hot-bed of Al Qaeda activities), the US always had the power of plausible deniability. Now that is totally gone. And the US, which really cares at how it is perceived at home, as  “the greatest nation in the world” that “fights by the rules”, has been embarrassed. Roundly. And the forces of anti-Americanism, many of whom who stay in US and feed off its prosperity, cannot stop gloating over it.

What I find worth noting is that in the two sides arrayed against each other, the Americans are embarrassed by their truth while the forces of Islamic fascism are proud of theirs. While the US spends an endless amount of resources trying to make their adversaries “like” them, their opponents actually want the exact opposite—-as an example the Indian Mujahideen email with its invectives directed at Hindus, taken straight from Pakistani commentators from Youtube, is proud to announce the organization’s hatred of “non-believers” simply because the principals behind this act derive their support purely on the basis of the articulation of the truth behind their motivations. Which is why Wikileaks is a form of asymmetric warfare, its variety of truth will only harm those like the US who care to look “good” and who at least feel ashamed when their excesses are revealed. As opposed to their opponents whose popularity among their supporters is solely a monotonic function of the brutality they show their enemies. It is also asymmetric because Assange will never get hold of secret documents of the Al-Qaeda or of the ISI because they do not have “whistleblowers” (no Manning there) and they do not keep “records” of their missions. Which means the truth will only hurt one side in the battle and enable the other side. Ironic.

Another thing I find amusing is how when push comes to shove, the US administration has been as myopic and clueless in its response to technological adversaries as most other governments have been when they have found things they don’t like online. One would have expected the US to react in a way which was a bit more sophisticated than countries like Iran and Pakistan. But no. Since the US cannot put their whole country in an Internet lockdown like totalitarian regimes  can, what they have done is try to take Wikileaks offline using every resource at its hand. It has been a PR disaster on multiple counts—-it has not only given Wikileaks more credibility as an opponent but also revealed how much importance the US attaches to the documents that Wikileaks has in its hand. And with its heavy-handed desperation, it has just dug itself a deeper hole, playing perfectly into the narrative of the bully who cannot tolerate any dissent but lectures others on freedom. Censoring the Net is impossible technologically and as Wikileaks is taken down,  copies of Assange’s documents have sprung up on torrents seeding as fast as Kate Perry’s latest albums, with mirror websites carrying the documents all around the world. I had expected the US would have anticipated this and gone after Assange in a more clever, round-about way—–ignoring him in public but working furiously behind-the-scenes to get at him. That they haven’t done so has been surprising, one would have thought the US would have done damage-control much better than this.

The final thing that fascinates me is of course the old chestnut—-is absolute truth a good thing? Would revealing the fact that the Yemeni government is cooperating with the US government make the world a safer place? People like Naomi Klein (a Arundhati Roy clone, a Farheen to her Madhuri), apologists for Islamic terror, think so. Would revealing the fact that the US diplomats find a head of state an alpha-male make things better or worse for the world? And if truth be the highest ideal, why not bring it to a personal level? Would we really want everyone to know the truth as to what we think about them, do we want our children to know *everything* we did when we were their age? What after all is privacy but the protection of one’s ownership over one’s own truth?

Most sensible people would say—-truth needs to be revealed as long as it is in the public good. Like for instance, when people in the Armed force indulge in gratuitous atrocities or when leading industrialists through their lobbyists influence ministries or when politicians use their influence to get prime property or when individuals plan terrorist attacks, we would say the truth needs to be revealed

But the question is who decides which part of truth is for the public good and which isn’t ?

In Wikileaks, Mr. Assange makes that call, revealing only as much as he wants and when he wants it, in a strategic manner (He has a special “insurance” file, like a blackmailer, to be used as last resort). Does it not give one man too much power, considering we have no idea as to what his motives are?

On a more local level, we have seen how transparently our filters of truth work and how “open” they are  when it comes to taking a judgment call on what is worth revealing—like that famous person who insists it was well within her journalistic prerogative to not mention the “truth” regarding one of the country’s premier industrial houses lobbying for a ministry in which they have business interests because she considered it as something too insignificant.

Which means the only truth that is the truth is the whole truth. Anything less than that is a subversion of its ideals. But can we,as a world, handle the truth, even when it ultimately puts nations and peoples at jeopardy? Or was Khulbhushan Kharbanda right when he said in Gupt “Kuch batein gupt raheni chahiye?” [Some things are better kept secret]

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69 thoughts on “Of Truth And Leaks

  1. Thanks for pointing out the fact that everybody seems to have lost sight of in the frenzy thats going on. “truth needs to be revealed as long as it is in the public good” but without forgetting to question oneself if it would “make things better or worse for the world”.
    Since people who are in possession of facts might not have a complete understanding of all the effects of disclosing the fact, the layman has to take a sensible decision to provide the apt response. But thats too much to ask for, eh?

  2. Wikileaks had been there for 4 years. But the way US attacked Wikileaks made it a headline in every news column. Interestingly, the whole thing has resulted in what may be called as first cyber war. First, the wikileaks sites were targeted and now hackers have started attacking Master, Visa, Paypal, and anybody deemed as Wikileaks foe. Precariously placed are Facebook and Twitter which have been used as a means to coordinate attacks. But they have also been the symbol of Freedom of Speech by there very style of functioning. Any actions against wikileaks by them will surely not go down well with the users. The coming days will tell us were this cyber war leads us.

  3. The Yemeni government disclosure is good for the people of Yemen and the world as a whole. By the way, aren’t you picking selective cables and trying to make your case? What about the latest Shell disclosure about Nigeria? You should mention that and many others too.

    The diplomats who are taking decisions on a nation’s behalf are answerable to its people. So WikiLekas is not bringing it down to a “personal level” and any comparison to what “we did when we were their age” is totally unfair.

    Regarding the motive of WikiLeaks, I don’t think that we have any reason to debate that. I have blogged about it too… http://www.mayanklive.com/2010/12/wikileaks-good-to-be-bad.html

  4. The Wikileaks episode exposes Americans for what they are – hypocrites of first order. They relish chiding China, Iran and the Arabs for their draconian control of free speech. Yet, its amazing how the US is desperately trying to get hold of Assange and pull down his sites. All this while he is not the one to have stolen these documents anyway

  5. @GB,
    I feel that there is no universal good, good is very very subjective. What is beneficial to an Indian may be harmful for an American and vice-versa. Example: outsourcing now and American promotion of ISI-Taliban in the late eighties. For any non-American, wikiLeaks confirm some speculations we were hearing about American foreign policy. For any nationalist American this is infuriating.
    In defense of Assange, you can not do anything impactful without making someone angry. Every action you take is bound to hit some vested interest. Americans would have danced if this has happened in Iran or Pakistan or Russia or Venezuela. But this exposure along with taboloid/paparazzi is the price of secrecy in an open society.

  6. Truth will ultimately come out. In its entirety. Whether we like it or not. This is what global communications have been geared to deliver. This is what progress is all about.

    Medieval societies are opaque socieities. Since civilisation thrives through the pursuit of knowledge, it is only to be expected that the more civilised a society, the more intense the desire for facts, and the more sophisticated the mechanisms to supply the answers in real time, real cost and real space.

    This is what the Renaissance was all about. This is what the Enlightenment was all about. The Church may have gone down on its knees, even waging world wars to try and prevent human beings from expanding their knowledge. But it ultimately failed.

    And this is what Wikileaks is all about. If you have Wikipedia, you will have Wikileaks. If one has the facility of posting ones fantastic Ellora photos on facebook for millions to admire, then one has to accept the risks of photos of ones annual visit to the brothel being hosted as well. As simple as that.

    There is no use saying that this is invasion of personal privacy. The world is a fully inter-connected world, and there remains no room for luxuries like privacy. There are webcams. There are satellites. The are mobiles. The beauty of the obscurity of the night was ditched with the invention of the bulb. A new set of rules are emerging, so a new code of morality is required. A new style of living will have to be accepted.

    So either stop going on an annual pilgirmage to the brothel. Or be prepared to bear the consequnces of the increasing risks of its exposure.

    Of course social mores and attitudes have changed. The sheer horror of the revelation of the love that dares not speak its name led a devastated Oscar Wilde to dig his early grave. Today, in many circles, it is deemed a badge of honoùr.

    The future society is not one that can prop itself up on pockets of ignorance. It will be one in which there is perfect knowledge, and yet society is trained to be content nevertheless. It will not be one where people are in bliss because they are unaware of each others` salaries. It will be one where everyone knows what everyone is earning, and is happy nevertheless. The former is a very shakey Nash equilibrium. The latter is a frim and steady state.

    It is not a society where the neighbours accept South Asians because they are unaware that the latter use hands for cleaning bowels, and will faint in revulsions when the truth is out. It will be one which they are aware, accept the diversity, and agree to shake brown hands anyway.

    And what wikileaks is revealing is nothing unexpected. We all know the Saudi overlords are great party-people. We all know that Kevin Rudd is perceived of as a lightweight joker. This is just hard affirmation of loudly hollered whispers. I mean has there been a single revelation which has brought on a state of even mild giddiness? No.

    Which brings us to the ‘WAR’ on terror. Here’s the thing. There is no WAR. There never was. It is only a phoney kid’s squabble. If the world is serious about obliterating Islamic terrorism, then it has to shed this half-hearted approach, and tackle the problem full frontal. Then it won’t matter if Islamists know where the next attack will come from. The issue will be the power of the attack will be so overwhelming and comprehensive, that it won’t matter that the Islamists know.

    In 1n the middle of WW2, it was important for the Russians to maintain surprise. But in the final stages, they had bled the Nazis so much that the Nazis knew exactly where, when and how the Red Army would attack Berlin. The issue was that it did not matter.

    And thus the world will have to deal with anomalies in the digital age. The age of perfect knowledge. They may try to ensure rogue states like Iran and North Korea never get access to nuclear weapons. But they will never be able to prevent it. Especially with allies of the likes of Pakistan.

    I mean can you see the joke? Having Pakistan as your ally in the war on terror is like giving Rommell and Heydrich special guest status whenever the Allies held a war briefing.

    This is nonsense and bound to fail from the outset. The new communication driven society is not one that survives on nods and winks and ciphers. It is one where perfect knowledge, perfect freedom is openly available to all. And one where criminality is not tolerated, or allowed to fester, but uprooted viciously as soon as it raises its ugly head. And uprooted so spectacularly, that future criminals will think very long, very hard before they lift the butcher’s knife.

    This is the hard lesson learnt with the Nazis. The obliteration of Nazis was done with such dedicated thoroughness, indifference, brutality and propaganda, that all traces of medieval barbarism prevalent in this terrorist cult was purged in its entirety. and tbus there is peace in Europe.

    And this is stark question the world will have to no choice but to face with Islamist terrorism. Is it terrorism by a few, or is it the entire belief system? Is it 0.000005% of the faith (the zeros seem to be increasing as days go by !!), or is it something hardwired in to the faith that violence is its very essence? Is it about Harun Al Rashid’s Baghdad? Or is it Jinnah’s horrific Pakistan? Is it the baby, or is it the bathwater?

    Or was the baby quite malevolent to begin with?

    Anything less is a charade. A carousal. Let us enjoy the dance while it lasts. The trajectory of human history suggests that we are due for a paradigm shift in thinking in the near future.

  7. Among the litany of trite talking points that Cablegate has prompted is the idea that America was specifically targeted by Wikileaks, or that this reflects poorly on America alone. Expectedly, this ridiculous complaint was given significant airtime on CNN and Fox News. Those who made the effort to browse through the actual memos know that there are plenty of damning revelations about many different countries. China’s admission that it was behind Google’s attacks, the Qatari govt. using Al Jazeera coverage as a bargaining chip with other countries, Saudi Arabia being the primary source of funding for various terrorist groups, Pakistan’s competing interests, and the list goes on. The Guardian is among very few media organizations that covered all of this.

    Then there’s stuff that has been spun by knee-jerk reactionaries faults of the US State Department (and by extension the entire country), but which actually indicates competence. Like GB, I support the activity of US Special Ops. in Libya and Pakistan. I think it is essential in fighting international terrorism. The US State Dept. is right to be worried about the dangerous political machinations of Turkey and North Korea. To think that this is somehow “evil” indicates quite a naive worldview.

  8. (1) why / how are the practices of businesses / politicians / media in India significantly different from / worse than the practices in other countries, including the US? It is often alleged that companies like Halliburton and Enron conspire to manipulate the media and politicians in America to advance their objectives. What is different / worse about India? Why should India be rated 133rd by the IFC which rates America much higher?

    (2) Isn’t the real story the fact that, thanks to the licensing of telecom licenses at lower prices by Raja’s and Singh’s government, hundreds of millions of Indians today have access to cell phones and Internet more quickly and at lower prices than if Raja-Singh had charged higher prices and / or delayed the licensing process by a more elaborate and elongated competitive process? The whole country has leaped ahead technologically thanks to the so-called Raja-Sigh-Radia-Telecom company collusion. What’s the big deal here?

    (3) If at all India is evaluated for its policies and practices in comparison with other countries like China and America, shouldn’t the yardsticks be appropriately different? Is China less corrupt than India? Were American businesses and government in the 19th century, i.e., when America was about as old as India is today, any more transparent than India is today?

    (4) What gives the government of India the right and entitlement to “sell” licenses to private firms to apply technologies developed by the private sector? Just because American and European governments also “sell” such licenses, does that make the practice legitimate? Shouldn’t private companies be allowed to exploit such technologies without the government getting in the way at all? Once the government gets in the way, why shouldn’t private firms lobby and try to get those who they think would expedite licenses and sell them at low prices? What is inherently wrong with the process?

    John

  9. As you yourself said, other than causing diplomatic embarrassment ( the loss of confidentiality and all) , there was not much harm done to the US informers and troops as it was feared. One curious thing is though, every regime from Iran to USA, have atleast publicly condemned the Wikileaks, casting aspersions on its motives. Thats weird.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/praveenswami/100065779/wikileaks-secrets-reveal-the-paranoid-mindset-of-internet-activists-obsessed-with-conspiracies/

  10. @John Laxmi

    Isn’t the real story the fact that, thanks to the licensing of telecom licenses at lower prices by Raja’s and Singh’s government, hundreds of millions of Indians today have access to cell phones and Internet more quickly and at lower prices than if Raja-Singh had charged higher prices and / or delayed the licensing process by a more elaborate and elongated competitive process?

    The other way of looking at it is that the price charged to the customer would be the same irrespective of the scam, except thanks to the Raja/Singh government i.e. the Indian taxpayer is out of pocket.

    The bottom line is that there SHOULDN’T be a license/government permission at all, they encourage corruption from the person in charge of granting that license and also form a barrier against smaller companies which can’t lobby. Instead if they wanted to raise revenue from telecom simply use the existing mechanisms of taxing business which bypasses any ministry and go straight to the exchequer.

  11. Have you read the Time magazine piece by Fareed Zakaria (no jingoist American supporter by any order) that far from showing US diplomacy in a bad light, Wikileaks shows that American diplomats are fairly skilled and professional. By exposing the internal conflicts in other nations that would be too enbarassing to state openly, wikileaks infact has made the US position stronger. One reason I believe wikileaks may not be all that negative for US is that Ahmedijenad has called them an official plot by the US! Just wanted to get your thoughts. Here is the Time magazine article http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2034284,00.html

  12. I do not have much knowledge of all the information that has been leaked.
    But the ones that seem to be making the most buzz, do not seem to be the ones that effect American interests as much. Some of these leaks may cause more harm to America’s ‘enemies’ than to US, and may force some of America’s dubious partners to choose sides more clearly (almost certainly in favor of the US).
    On the negative side, these leaks show clearly, that the US cannot keep secrets and their classified information system leaks like a colander. Every Tom, Dick and Mary in DC has security clearance of some kind, with many not having a clear understanding of the gravity of information they are dealing with.

  13. Agree with you:

    “I had expected the US would have anticipated this and gone after Assange in a more clever, round-about way—–ignoring him in public but working furiously behind-the-scenes to get at him. That they haven’t done so has been surprising, one would have thought the US would have done damage-control much better than this.”

    I do feel that Assange is a US plant to take minds off the sorry state of the economy or something. Give the media something else to harp about. There has been nothing revelatory in the anything published till now, and its difficult to believe random posts on the internet anyway. The US is actually seems to be trying hard to give it credibility. Or, perhaps I’ve been reading too much Dan Brown and its addled my brains.

    Anyway, I’m enjoying the circus thoroughly.

  14. GB, Thank you for the article, you have in fact raised a very interesting question- one regarding US’s reaction to the Wikileaks. Really, the reaction so far has been puerile and desperate. The wikileaks relied on informal channels of communication like the various blogs/streaming sites to propagate and by providing the massive media coverage, the US has actually fed the fuel wikileaks needed. Why couldnt US just ignore the wikileaks and starve them of the newsprint (like they have done for conspiracy theories on pentagon reports on aliens and the very popular video of fake Apollo mission to the moon). Its easy, just look away and talk about the global warming, baseball, Obama’s religion (a similar reaction to what I got from my parents when the good old “nirod” ad came on TV-pyar hua ikrar hua). So why was it so, that US wasn’t conservative in its response? – GB I like your theory on this one- the leaks blemishes, not internationally but locally, the image of the american pie.
    I havent read every clause in the leaks, but from what I collected so far from browsing the national headlines, none of them sounded sensational; rather obvious, like – Russia has mafia, Australia is worried about China and its growing power in the pacific, Pakistan insincere about fighting terrorism, messi/rooney/barreto is better than ronaldo etc. Its US reaction and media spotlight, that has provided the nourishment it needed.
    I am unsure about Assagne’s strategy of holding back the “black mail”, but it would be interesting to watch how this story reveals itself. Quite a thriller. However when it comes to holding it back strategically none to beat our own guru dronacharya (aswathama incident). And there it starts, the contentious topic of what is the truth.

    ~AD

  15. Hey at macro level, the humanity DOES need some people like Assange to change the status quo. True, the leaks have not been explosive so far and in most cases confirm some information in other domain. But surely contradictory information was also present and layman could be confused whom to trust. So after reading from the Horses’ mouth, the truth gets a better acceptance.
    If not for crusadors (or madman, depends on your viewpoint), the status quo could have been endlessly continued. Like in India we dont know the real finding of numerous commissions / enquiry committees on Emergency of 1975, India’s shameful defeat in 1962 and loss of precious indian soldiers, why the army was caught napping in kargil and more than 500 young indian army personnel had to lose their lives to reclaim our land, what really happened in tashkand and how Shyama Prasag Mukherjee died mysteriously in Srinagar while he was there to protest against NC / separatists. Unless we have a game changer like Assange, such type of information shall be buried forever in name of Official secrets. At least in India we need game changers like Assange. Knowledge is power and liberating, for both sides.
    @H2B2 – looks like you have pwned everybody in this post, including anybody who may post after you. Do u have a blog, if not pl. crease fast. Waiting to subscribe to regularly get your POV.

  16. I am not going to go into a abstract discussion about what is the ‘greater common good’ or what is ‘privacy’. I am looking at the facts.

    1. Wikileaks has not caused loss of lives at any level.
    2. The campaign being run against Wikileaks by the US is definitely a complete PR Disaster.
    3. The revelations about countries like Pakistan, UAE, China, Qatar and Russia are all damning and have ramifications on the entire civilized world.

    Instead of trying to prosecute Assange for causing the US (read some very powerful US government officials) major embarrassment, what the US can do to restore it’s position as the ‘Righteous Watchdog of the World’ is amend some of the clearly wrong relations it has garnered!

    But, will it do that? No! Because, at the end of the day, the fact is, no one wants to displease a powerful opponent (read OPEC).

    H2B2, EXCELLENT post as usual. The problem is that the ‘Allied Powers’ of today are today weak, hugely dependent on imports and fueling their sputtering economies by printing more money! To be a ‘Righteous Watchdog’ which the world very much needs, the US has to be THE most powerful force on the planet. Sadly, it is far from that.

    But, there is still hope. IF it can understand that in this brave new world, there WILL be no alternative for governments to work in the best interests of its populace and the world in general, and there WILL be no way of stopping WikiLeaks or a million more whistle blowers just like Assagne, then it will seek out allies, but this time, instead of looking at petty, short term, geo-political supremacy and currency valuation oriented benefits, it will look at long term benefits to itself and the world.

  17. A very thoughtful article Arnab da, exactly my thoughts. To answer your question about “whether it is good for truth to come out”, my answer to this is following.

    We live in a progressive world where knowledge is key. One of the way progress is measured is how fast information travels from one place to another and transparency is a very integral part of it. Having said that, do I want my kids to know what I did at their age? No, because I am not obligated to tell them about my past life and it is my discretion what they should know and what not. But I, as a tax payer is paying the govt to do some job and the govt is obligated to tell me how it is doing its job, and in that context, yes, truth should come out.

    As of my thought about wikileaks, govt anyways robs us left and right with taxes, helping special interest groups via custom built policies, its nice to see someone can actually scare them (if at all they are scared). In one way Assange is doing what lots of people want to do but do not have the courage/resources to do so.

  18. @H2B2:

    I agree that the big paradigm shift that you are talking about is already happening and will be in the culmination of perfect knowledge. But unfortunately we may not be there to enjoy the bliss that perfect knowledge and perfect freedom brings. Even more sadder is the way our part/or our exit is through this transformation. As we can see in all these major movements (be it the 100 years war before Renaissance or the WW’s that happened over long period of years), there had been enough blood spilt of innocent men and women and voices stifled of people who just wanted to live peacefully. Only if such transformations were peaceful and utopian, how nice it would have been!

  19. As somebody said on Twitter – ” I am still unsure about wikileak, but definitely anti ‘anti-wikileak brigade'” . I guess we should probably wait for Friedman to come up with a big picture !

  20. We are in support of Wiki leaks as it has damning info on the ones we detest like Pak for example.

    Now imagine a scenario where Wiki leaks launches documents on some heroes of our for example the Madam controling the country or even her jr, Babaji or for equality sake, Mr M or Mr ABV will our reactions be the same?

    Just a thought.

  21. I find one message on twitter very apt – someting like “if Assange would have been a chinese / russian, USA would have lobbied to give him noble peace prize”.
    When it comes to hounding upright people, our own govt. is no angel. Anybody remember Emergency and press sensorship ?
    Also see here how the system destroys journalist who dare to expose them
    http://aaloktomar.blogspot.com/

    This journo had written some daring stuff on his website and was severly victimised including being arrested and jailed several times by Delhi Police on fictitious charges as he had written against commissioner of police. Nobody came to his support.

  22. @maddy: your imaginations have come true.
    @GB: Request you to right an entry or update on wikileaks latest releases about caste politics in India.

  23. Excellent taught provoking article !!! Made me think deeply. As you said it does not have any damning new revelations just the already existing stuffs in colloquial language. As you said it has only increased my respect for the US. However they could do better by simply ignoring Lassange.

  24. I like GB’s serious articles even more than his hilarious ones. But I could not find what is the point of this article. Is he asking to support wikileaks or asking wikileaks to keep “kuch baatein gupt”? But if the latter is what he is asking who decides what is to be kept “gupt”? Should it be Assange? Who makes sure what Assange is doing is right?

    I for one support wikileaks whole heartedly. If a nation declares itself as democracy there can’t be any state secrets

  25. @ allen
    Do you also beleive that humans are children of aliens (not allens) and chimps and that Jesus had a twin brother who is still alive?

  26. This is what I fathom would have been put up on the notic board of wiki leaks:

    Wikileaks is in a precarious situation here. If its integrity is ruffled and gets influenced in any way post the cable gate.It might be blowback to our integrity. So please all employees of wiki leaks.

    Guys make sure before coetus that your wiki doesn’t leak and sign a consenual agreement with your partner.

    (-;

  27. Can we officially rename Saina as “Shining Star Nehval”.
    Bravo girl.
    Other similar sounding named ladies (2 very promonent) could take inspiraion from her on how to do country proud.

  28. GB, your twit follower numbers is stuck at 4k odd for a long time. C’mon create some controversy, get a fatwa issued against yourself, make an anti-india statement or atleast make a phone call to Neera.

  29. wikileaks had a chance to be THE whistleblowing site against heartless corporations and cruel states .. exposing stuff that a state regards as confidential and is of no apparent value in improving the condition of people is of no use at all

  30. Hi Hritik, Krishna, Rishi, and ECM3,

    Thanks for your nice comments. There were 3 points that stood out in the comments, which I highlight below.

    1 – Transformation to a knowledge based society may be steeped in resistance and associated violence
    ==============================================================
    Yes, but this depends upon the type of society that forms the backdrop.

    The 2 polarised opposites are the Hindu society and Islamic society.
    In a Hindu society, knowledge is a key aspect of social development.

    Thus there is not one pulpit-haranguer, but thousands of saints propagating hundreds of paths to enhance consciousness. Thus there is Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Laya Yoga … heck, even controlling & channelling lustful sensuousness via Tantra.

    There is not one book freezing truth to its own contemporary medieval standard of backwardness. But hundreds of books evolving spiritual consciousness in line with the development of human consciousness. Thus Vedic hymns give rise to extensive Brahmanaic rituals, evolving in to the razor-sharp intellect of the Upanishads, which point to Raja Yoga, the sharpest tool known to man for attaining spiritual liberation.

    A Hindu society will welcome and rejoice in the New Age of open and free knowledge.

    On the other hand lies the Islamic viewpoint. One book, one prophet, one worldview. My book, my prophet, my worldview. And if you don’t subscribe to it? Oh well, I will OBLITERATE you.

    I will massacre your people as I loot your wealth and women. I will flatten you under my tracks as I steal your country and smash to oblivion your beautiful works of art and culture you have cultivated over millennium.

    Damn your feelings. Damn your beliefs. And damn your soul to hell. Hmm. What’s that? How do I know I’m right? Well I’m the one holding the blood-stained scimitar, innit?

    Perhaps a bit of a generalisation. But the underlying philosophy is definitely so, since the one book espoused clearly says so. And millions of adherents throughout history have proved exactly that. How clearer does it get?

    And thus while there have been brilliant spurts of enlightenment and illumination in the Islamic world, in the glorious universities of Baghdad, Cairo or Central Asia, the orthodox elements in the faith will unfailingly raise their ugly heads, extract state sponsorship, and beam society back to the dark ages.

    And thus while there have been horrible abuses perpetrated under Hinduism, whether in treatment of females or lower castes, sooner or later the inherent thirst for knowledge that is natural to a Hindu will ensure that social evils are left far, far behind in the wayside.

    Western liberal societies are more akin to the polar extremity of Hinduism. Thus while the West brutalised others through slavery and prejudice, it was an intellectual movement itself in the West that drove out slavery. The greatest 🙂 nation on earth did not hesitate to go to war with itself to root it out.

    Brutal dictatorships, extreme ideologies etc draw their inspiration from the same thought-well as Islam. Thus the Nazis had high regard for extremist Islam. Thus China continues to fan the Islamic terrorist conflagration. Communist China will continue to dazzle the world in its scientific progress to advance its petty interests by developing more powerful rockets and nuclear bombs. Yet will the urge for a free cure for AIDs and cancer ever come from this sector?

    2 – When the transformation process culminates in to a perfect society, it is tragic that we may not be around to witness it
    ============================================================
    Yes, but we can enjoy many of the benefits of it now, so no cause for despair. And some posit that it is more exciting to be part of the transformative struggle to achieve it, rather than bask indefinitely in the vegetative ennui of its success.

    Achievements that have swept the world of communications include Chinese paper, Indian numerals, Roman roads, block printing, railways, mass communication devices (telegraph, radio, TV, satellites, and the great Maya-Jaal).

    All ideas & cultures have been unceremoniously flung together. It is now our duty to solidly support and promote the ones beneficial for human development. While at the same time shrilly denouncing regressive philosophies and evil practices. That is the challenge today.

    Rejoice in the challenge. Many sadhus say that Kaliyuga is far more preferable to Satyayuga. In the rarefied faultlessness of Satyayuga it is far more difficult to distinguish one’s development as perfection is the norm. If every student has brilliant tutors and no distractions, and everyone scores 100% in their exams, how can you push forward progress further?

    However, sadhus say that Kaliyug is a high-risk high-reward age. There are innumerable obstructions, distractions and distortions. But for one who can see the correct path, progress is incredible. There are no tutors. There are innumerable distractions in drugs. Everyone scores less than 10% in their tests. So if you persist even moderately in finding the right book, right teacher (guru) and right method, you will shine like a bright star with even 40% marks amidst the dunces.

    These are wonderful times as well. And even if they aren’t always wonderful, they’re the one were stuck with. They are OUR times. So instead of regretting the golden age, let us enjoy the challenge and opportunity to convert the present age to a golden one.
    Isn’t that what life is all about?

    3 – Perfect knowledge may not be the best option – there may be acts we do not want our children to know about till they are mature
    ======================================================================
    I agree. I am not saying the age of perfect information will be beneficial for all on all fronts. However, I am saying that it will happen, whether we like it or not.

    Last week there was a programme on TV on famous French painters. I want my daughter to be introduced to beautiful art, so I was watching it with her. It started nicely with Impressionism & Pointillism. So far so good. The phone rang & I had to get up. When I returned to the TV room, I was horrified to find they had started displaying two nude females. As I scrammed for the remote, my daughter calmly informed me that were Olympia (by Manet) & Odalisque (by Ingres).

    I was amazed. They had not displayed the names of the pictures on TV yet, & yet my daughter knew!! How? My daughter told me that she had been looking at my book “1000 greatest artworks”. I took the book, and quizzed her on 25 pieces. She got 21 correct.

    I was flabbergasted. Now you tell me, should I be more aghast that she has been exposed to nude paintings at such an early age, or the fact that she has started mastering an area of infinite beauty and range?

    And thus the dilemma of the new knowledge based age.

  31. So Naomi Klein is now an apologist for Islamist terror? That’s a new one!

    GB, apparently you need a bit of perspective. Who is a bigger threat to ‘world peace’? A dominant nuclear powered state (acting in cahoots with other similar states when it suits them) or a motivated band of fundamentalists, however bent on destruction they may be? As heinous as 9/11 was, what has happened in Iraq is infinitely worse, for no fault of Iraqi people.

    Regardless of what Assange’s motivations are, the diplomatic cables at least show (for anyone with time and inclination) what really goes on, as opposed to what people are told. And they show that the emperor is skimpily clad.

    Your rah-rahing on anti-Americanism is amusing. So Assange or anyone else questioning or criticizing US policies ‘hates America’?

    And then the final nail in the coffin – do we need ‘absolute’ truth? Well, there is probably no such thing, but looks like for once, you are not ready to digest it. For whatever reasons.

  32. Nand Kishore,

    [edited]. Some view the US attack in the aftermath of 9/11 as an attack on Iraq. Many view it as the first co-ordinated, cogent step the free world has taken against an international system of terror.

    I agree fully with your points on truth. You may find the following quotes from Flaubert (inserted at the end of the Madam Bovar movie) relevant :

    ” a morality which has within it no room for truth is no morality at all.

    Men may dislike truth. Men may find truth offensive and inconvenient. Men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy and the last illusion.

    Truth lives forever. Men do not”.

  33. H2B2: I have told you before. If you want to justify Hinduism’s traditions (which I and many others “weak Hindus” consider retrograde), feel free to do so. However if you want to spew hatred against other religions like a “strong Hindu who shows his bravery on comment threads” by asserting your superiority, please not here. I appreciated the rest of your comment and your brilliant argument on characters and roles and believability though. Which is why I have kept most of the comment and edited a bit of it. In future though, since I cannot invest time in editing comments, I might be forced to remove your whole comment, including the lovely “non-Dharma” parts of them.

    Thank you.

  34. @Nanda.., exactly what “happened” in Iraq that would not have happened if one were to follow your modus operandi? Please educate rest of us about what you would have done if you had all the power of the US govt regarding Iraq.

  35. Arnabda,

    Ok I’ll be FAR more restrained, though I think some of your comments are a bit off the mark. For e.g., I’ve never but held anything but utmost respect for you. Even when you’ve deleted tranche after tranche of my postings (e.g. close links between Islamism & Nazism). I’ve always bowed down to your defeinitely superior judgement & high standards.

    I’ve never even dreamt of you as a ‘weak Hindu’ diluting ‘noble traditions’. You render yeomen service to innumerable Hindus by providing a site widely respected among all parties for its biting satire, side-splitting humour as well as razor sharp observations and vast rservoir of knowledge.

    In fact I agree with you on Sabarimalai, I think it is retrograde. But it is so weakly so, that it does not matter.

    My issue is with NGOs who sift for the faeces in Hinduism and proudly broadcast it as Hindu. They are quoted far and wide as authorities on India … like “70% of Indian children regularly suffer sexual incest”, based ultimately on a ‘secret survey’ of 36, yes just 36 girls in a Delhi school by a Xtian NGO.

    I would also like to point out that my recent (deleted) observations on Islam and Xtianity were not based on hate, but a comment on the underlying philosophies of the faiths. Spiritual liberation is the ultimate aim of Hinduism, thus the customs, or the dos and donts (as raised by Aparna) are the least important part of Hinduism.

    Whereas spiritual liberation is not the aim of the Semitic faiths. Apart from trace elements of mysticism (Kabbalah, Sufism etc) that were soon stamped out by their orthodox co-religionists, the spiritual content in their faiths is dwarfed by Aparna’s “Dos and Donts”.

    Isn’t it ironic that all I am doing is quoting verse and chapter from their religious texts, and it appears so offensive that you are being forced to urge caution?

    I accept your point. I will moderate my language even more. There are certain topics that completely sugar-coated semantics will fail to convey. Alright, I’ll refrain from referring to those ones. After all, my pontification on them is academic, as the true nature of each faith is becoming crystal clear.

    Each religious system, upto a few decades ago, was bound and gagged in artifical constraints. In India, Hinduism was reeling from millenia of persecution and distored propaganda from anti-Hindu elements. Islam was boosted by petro-dollars while simultaneously reeling from the shocks of Turkish moderation and the creation of Israel. Christianity had not been exposed to the competetive effects of consumerism.

    And now that all forces have been lifted and let loose, each faith is reverting to its natural state, its ‘true form’ so as to speak. Those that are losing ground to consumerism may be succumbing to the innate weakness of their message. Those that are hardening in aggressiveness may be baring the true claws erstwhile concealed. And those whose spiritual message is spreading inspite of horrific misinformation, may be illumining their true nature of divinity.

    I assure you that I do not hate Islam. I hate the fact that they definitely hate us with an intense, inhuman vengeance that is impossible to fathom. Otherwise I really do not care about them. Hinduism is a minefield of excitement that can keep spiritual adherents engaged for thousands of births. Why stoop to cheap denigration of other religious pratices?

    For e.g, what is the concept behind the Linga-Yoni union? Our pakistani friends repeat ad-nauseum that it is but coitus popularised by sex-crazed Brahmins. Then we have less venomous observers claiming that it is not sex, but the act of cosmisc creation being celebrated.

    Then answer me this, it is a funny coitues wher the Linga and Yoni are both facing the same way (both to the north). Surely they should be face opposite directions (linga to south, Yoni to north)? So why this fundamental anomaly?

    I’ll tell you why. Shiva-Yoni is a Tantric concept. The Adya shakti (feminine energy) lies buried at the base of the spine. The Shiva energy lies resting at the crown of the head. The objective of is to raise Kundalini so the Adya-Shakti rises to strike the shiva Shakti. And then universl consciousness, or Nirvikalpa Samadhi explodes.

    Thus the associated snake with the Linga-Yoni, representing the rising Kundalini. And thus the Lings and Yoni both face north, and not each other as they would hsve during normal ciongress.

    The natural reversion of faiths to their true selves is clearly unwinding in front of our very eyes. So I pledge to you to SIGNIFICANTLY sugar-coat my language, as the truth ‘out there’ is still quite evident.

  36. H2B2- Took some time to recognize that it was HHBB. Oh my goodness! That first comment was worthy of being a Time or WSJ editorial. Please start blogging. You went to the crux of the problem for sure.

    “Thus the Nazis had high regard for extremist Islam. Thus China continues to fan the Islamic terrorist conflagration.”
    Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

    A Japanese bow and a 21 gun salute for seeing the correlation.

  37. @ HHBB, yourfan 2

    Thought you would find this interesting.

    Recently there was a ‘M’ mob attack in Bagtui, Birbhum, West Bengal.
    Paschimpara Muhharram Commitee organized a Muharram Tazia parade on Friday, December 17th 2010, evening and parade attacked the H shops and houses along the procession route.

    Guess what they were shouting?
    “Hindu Hatao, Desh bhachao”.

    I thought there was some premonitory profundity that particuar slogan.

  38. Dear Great Bong:

    What do you think internet activists should do that will make them more useful than merely writing ‘brave comments’ on your forum ? Do you have any suggestions ?

  39. Hi Rishi & yourfan2,

    Great to hear from you guys. It is very tragic to hear what’s happening in WB (Bagtui, Birbhum). I won’t comment on it too much, as we may be straying too far off the topic in question here.

    I will however just say that my heart breaks when we see report after report of Hindu presecution which the “Delhi NGO lobby” are not even remotely interested in, fixated as they are on the nil risk high publicity “Hindu discrimination in Sabarimalai”. (Note that this is not a side-swipe at GB for participating in the Sabarimalai topic. I have clarified that far from considering GB a part of the NGO lobby, even in his perfect impartiality, GB is a major asset to Hindus & the advancement of knowledge).

    WB is doubly cursed, as both political parties are now fanatically Hindu-hating. When I was young and the BJP was in power with TMC, we tried tooth and nail to convince central BJP to work with the TMC to expand their vote-bank from the restricted middle-class ‘Bhadralok’ Calcutta core to the steadily marginalised Hindus in the mufassils, Grade-II towns and villages, so they could stand opposed to the virulently and idealogically Hindu-hating CPM.

    Whether this would have materialised or not is secondary. The primary issue is that the Centre never even tried. The TMC was then left no option but to expand its base to the far more mercurial Islamist lobby.

    It then became a tug of war between the CPM & TMC to grant even larger and larger gifts to their core vote bank, the Islamist lobby, who were only too happy to be seated in the middle and make even larger, louder and more outrageous claims every day.

    The Hindu lobby is thus not only ignored as a result in WB, it is now actively suppressed, as a key component of the Islamist vote-bank claim is gruellingly marginalising and depriving their Hindu co-claimants.

    The rot in India will ultimately be stemmed, but it may be a bit too late for WB. We are lulled in to a completely false sense of security when we relax on the security of our burgeoning stock portfolios, or the solid and innumerable spires of New Town proudly piercing the dusty Calcutta skies.

    In reality, many roads in Calcutta have been STRIPPED of their young folk, who have emigrated en masse abroad – myself included, though after a long time and a lot of soul searching. There are deserted streets in Salt Lake, where septagenerians hobble out each morning to the bazaar. The next generation are all in the USA, and visit twice a year.

    Our numbers have risen a bit from the influx from the constant bleeding of persecuted Hindus from Bangladesh, but I doubt whether they can overcome their recent trauma and stand ground when the attacks come.

    And I believe the attacks will come. I sincerely pray I am hopelessly wrong, but I think I may be right.

    Right now a significant portion of the extremist lobby is engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel & Europe. Yet the West’s enamourment with Afghanistan may end in 3 yeears. In 3 eyars, they will also have been able to reach their objective of creating a `STABLE BLACK HOLE` in Iraq that will haemorrhage Syria, Jordan and particularly Iran, thus keeping intact the powerbase of Saudi & Israel. I believe this was their objective ab initio, albeit a secondary one.

    So in 3 years, extremist ire will be freed to focus its concentrated rays on India. The South still has a lot of angry Tamils from LTTE, so perhaps not. Gujarat and Maharashtra are blocked. They have demonstrated that they are willing to bleed only so much. If pushed beyond a limit, they still possess the capability and ferocity to respond in multifold rage.

    I doubt whether any major Islamist terror will develop in the NE. China considers this its exclusive pervade, & thus will undermine any potentially anti-Chinese powerbase growing here.

    So its left to the north (Kashmir) & WB. Which one may explode first? It will depend on whether the Kashmir insurrection can feed WB secessionism, or vice versa. I think it will be easier for extremists to light the fuse in WB first.

    Think about it. Kashmir has an extensive army placed there, who, through extra-judicial executions have proven they are seething with discontent. Any major action there can be countered, and brutally so.

    Whereas not only is there virtually no army in WB, there is no opposition from the 55% quivering local Hindus. A 45% Islamist lobby, with numbers boosted by the unending hordes of co-religionists in the neighbouring state, can ransom India ferociously enough to effect secession (think partition. They have a known template in place).

    Kashmir can explode when India is forced to remove a portion of its army to quell disturbances elsewhere.

    And all the while the Chinese Army are ready to help the ‘persecuted minorities of India’ to shake off the Indian yoke.

    I doubt the scenario will not be so simplistic, history never is. New Narendra Modis may be thrown up. Hindus do find in their hearts a well of courage when the ocassion demands. Remember partition was not about Hindus cowering under Islamist violence. They gace MORE than they got. It was because of the disgusting stark idiocy and treachoury by Indian politicians.

    My friend used to comment that Nathuram Godse did far more to prserve world peace than Mother Theresa. Perhaps a `Godse World Peace Prize’ should be initiated!! 🙂

  40. @H2B2 and Rishi Khujur

    But isn’t there a “BJP West Bengal” somewhere in Kolkata. I read somewhere that the ABVP volunteers, along with General Shankar Roychowdhary, voiced their opinion against the anti-India hate speech by Mirwaiz and successfully disrupted the event. I hope they are helping those poor Hindus in Deganga and other areas in Bengal.

  41. @ HHBB
    How r things in the Southern hemisphere?
    Is organizing the expat Bongs down there into useful groups a possibility? Resource crunch is a bottleneck in field work in Bengal right now.

  42. exactly what “happened” in Iraq that would not have happened if one were to follow your modus operandi? Please educate rest of us about what you would have done if you had all the power of the US govt regarding Iraq.

    Huh? Your point is??? What is my modus operandi???

    I’m simply pointing out the kind of damage that a superpower can inflict and couch it in all kinds of justifications (all of which have proved to be false). I guess that is how civilized powers behave as opposed to barbarians.

    H2B2 – so ‘many’ see the war on Iraq is the first cogent response to an international system of terror? Surely clear thinkers, those ‘many’.

  43. i personally find it hard to fathom why anyone who isn’t looking to appropriate power illicitly would want to perceive themselves as a .

    I’d NEVER call myself an ‘Indian Hindu’. Not because I’m effete and hip or lefty, but because it’s retardedly arbitrary. And it’s even more galling to see that people assert that identity as a reaction to someone else adopting a similar stance based on their perception of their own identity (American Christian/Yemeni Muslim wtev)

    It’d be as silly as defining my individuality premised on being a jelly bean eating seinfeld fan. Why would I want to join your silly club? Why would anyone? The only answer I can think of is defining the boundaries of your club and keeping out people who you thought didn’t belong. The Brits were awesome at this which significantly explains their imperialist success.

  44. I think US government hates him so much because he is attacking its status quo more than anything else. As you said, he isn’t really posing any real threat. If he did. they would have had to use drones!(yes! that was bitter sarcasm)

    The fact that he is in charge of a form of mass media that they can’t control is enough to cause a feeling that is anything from mildly irate to deeply threatened.

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