I witness the force of liberation in historical social movements, especially in the Civil Rights Movement, Free Speech Movement in 60’s and more recent social justice movements symbolized by the Battle of Seattle in 1999. Going through the political winter in post-911, I found a more present impulse for liberty through Ralph Nader’s efforts in the electoral arena in his efforts to tackle the deeply corrupted lesser of two evils political system. Struggles toward emancipation from state oppression are all about each person claiming their own civic power. The subsequent Obama win and continued betrayal in the next cycle revealed nothing but just another cosmetic makeover for the corporate state. Yet, at this time, I found that a new force of liberation has now emerged from the Internet.
Power of Free Speech
In the spring of 2010, WikiLeaks’ publication of the Collateral Murder video was a game changer. WikiLeaks was an innovation of new journalism in the global era. While the old media tends to seek permission from authority of governments and bow down to corporate interests, WikiLeaks publishes in a manner that is true to the real meaning of the free press. This transnational whistleblowing site demonstrated to people what uncompromising civic power looks like. Most importantly, WikiLeaks has shown the real power of free speech in the emancipation of people. By means of leaks, WikiLeaks made it possible for whistleblowers to freely speak. By releasing concealed information, it freed perspectives that had been marginalized. As Assange once acknowledged, with the free flow of information fostered in this new digital space, we are now experiencing the “golden age of freedom of speech.”
Accurate Account of History
One of the important things that WikiLeaks revealed to me was how our ability to write history is often hijacked. With the increasing trend of secrecy and control of information, humanity has been uprooted from its own history.
“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future” wrote George Orwell in his book 1984.
In April 2010, Julian Assange took the stage at the Oslo Freedom Forum, pointing out the vital role of human intellectual content for civilization and described how in this age of technology, so much of our interaction is becoming digital.
“We are now approaching the state of Orwell’s dictum, perfect dictum, that ‘he who controls the present controls the past’. He who controls the Internet servers controls the intellectual record of mankind, and by controlling that, controls our perception of who we are, and by controlling that, controls what laws and regulations we make in society.”
Assange made it clear where our history belongs, saying:
“History does not belong to institution that is engaging in the world like National Security Agencies and the State Department. History does not belong to journalists. History does not belong to a media organization. History belongs to human civilization that understands in order to better itself.”
Journalist Sarah Harrison released a statement when she arrived in Germany after making possible the safe passage of whistleblower Edward Snowden out of Hong Kong. At the end of her statement, she said:
“In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution – transparency. If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.
When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged. When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunted, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it”.
By claiming our own history, we can participate in the history that is happening. To take back this history, human civilization depends on our free will to enter the present. We are the linchpin for this timeline and our right to free speech, when it is fully claimed and exercised, will become a spiritual activity that moves all toward liberation of being.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “information is the currency of democracy.” Virtually all communication and human interaction is now moving into the digital realm and money itself has become information. This flow is crucial in determining the current of democracy. The birth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin deepens the battle for free speech and ordinary people’s striving to participate in the making of their own history.
Currency is the first application of the blockchain, Bitcoin’s underlying technology, which is a public asset ledger. This is a distributed database that records the history of transactions in the network without anyone in charge. Once data is verified, no one can undo it. This immutable timestamp goes beyond simple accounting of monetary transactions.
Assange noted how “Bitcoin’s underlying technology breaks Orwell’s dictum.” Its distributed trust network can offer immunity from central control of any historical record. Assange described the basic premise of this technology as a network of consensus. He said that “you can prove a particular statement, particular consensus and particular contract that happened at a particular time globally and it requires the subversion of every single jurisdiction where people are running bitcoin to overturn that.”
I see this revolutionary potential in the underlying technology behind both WikiLeaks and Bitcoin for humanity to set history into motion. In October 6, 2006, with the birth of WikiLeaks, Orwell’s dictum that keeps us in a closed loop of time was broken. In January 3, 2009, Bitcoin open source software was released, continuing this path of permissionless innovation and bringing people around the world to engage in deciding the course of human history.
Hayase, N. (2014, July 4). WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Bitcoin and the First Amendment revolution. Dissident Voice.
The efforts to free the First Amendment have come from outside the U.S. Since 2010, the rise of WikiLeaks and politicized youth on the Internet have started to intervene in the expanding imperial power of the corporate state. This was a revolution of the First Amendment 2.0 with the Internet and its offspring cryptography taking a vital role, as it evolved through 3 primary actors; WikiLeaks, Anonymous and Bitcoin. WikiLeaks opened the floodgate of information exposing the underbelly of U.S. domination. Then came decentralization of identity and relationship with Anonymous and their affinity networks. And with Bitcoin we are now beginning to see the decentralization of finance.