Today the Westminster Magistrates’ Court will decide the fate of Julian Assange, well at least whether or not he will get bail. And so while I haven’t even told you much about last Friday’s rally yet, I had better briefly inform any Sydney readers that there will be another rally at 530pm, again at Town Hall, today. 
Professor Emeritus Stuart Rees (from Sydney Peace Foundation, and my friend and mentor) will be speaking, so if you are Sydney, do come along. It’s sure to be informative, conducive to Assange’s case, as well as a good laugh (if anyone knows Prof. Rees’ humour, you will understand why).
Anyway, returning to the story of the 30 hour Peace vs Defense saga that I began to tell you about yesterday in my entry Protests, Balls, Left and Right.
In one day I attended both the first wikileak rally, and then my friend’s army ball, both held at Sydney’s Town Hall – allowing me to directly access the often polarised worldviews of Peace, and Security, and bringing me to what I will from here on refer to as the Left-Right Paradox.
Although separated by a few hours, I was one of the Lefties outside Town Hall by day, a “Hippy/Communist” as the army boys called us (appologising when I owned up); and lapping up the benefits of our capitalistic security-driven Conservative government (at my friend from the army’s end of year ball), by night.
The rally emphasised the cowardous and inexcusable way our politicians are handling Julian Assange: washing their hands of him and feeding him to the lions den, before proven guilty, is not something any citizen would hope from their country.
You would think they would learn from the case of David Hicks… what happened to being presumed innocent until proven guilty?
The rally also emphasised the citizen right to freedom of speech, freedom of media, and right to the truth.
You have probably gauged from other blog entries the value I place on the “truth” – so as you can imagine, my values were largely aligned with the rally’s speakers.
Later that day I gowned up and entered Town Hall, I also came to understand the other side.
“The information leaked put my friend’s lives at risk.” said my friend who served in Afghanistan earlier this year. “There are bigger questions that have to be asked.”
Let’s consider some of questions:
Should all political information be transparent?
Yes, I would like it to be.
What if this puts lives of Australian soldiers at risk?
Then no, it shouldn’t.
Do the public have a “right to know”?
YES, I think they do.
Do governments have a right to hold some information “confidential”?
Paradoxically YES, I think they do too.
Who should decide what truths should be told, and which should remain hidden?
I guess as a democracy this is the people’s decision, enacted through the government we elect to consider the facts and (hopefully) make decisions like this, hence controlling the information we see, for our own benefit.
While I think Wikileaks is a great resource for accessing the truth of the political, economic and social world we are a part of, in my opinion there are limits to what should be published. Namely nothing that puts the lives of fellow Australians at risk.
What if this puts lives of people from other countries at risk?
It is here we return to the Left-Right Paradox – the dicotomy that positions global peace against national security.
If I prioritise the lives of people from other countries, I can jeopardise the lives of people in my own country. In the political games we presently play, sending our troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond, information is a weapon crucial to our winning or losing the game. So long as we are playing a global game of chess, can we really afford to tell our opponents our next moves?
There are two sides (or more) to every story, and this complicated debate is not going to end any time soon.
There are no easy answers, and there are an endless number of questions:
Are Australia, America, Britain actually democracies, or does the power of the intimate connections between media, politicians, and corporate elites nullify the ideal?
Can the Australian public TRUST their government?
Will the government one day point their finger at someone like me and yell “witch”, just for asking questions?
I hope Australia is a democracy with a government that can be trusted, who respect our questioning and always put the interests and freedoms of their citizens first.
In my opinion, government information should be as transparent as possible and it is nothing but bureaucratic bullshit if the public is held in the dark while institutions we don’t even know about pull the strings.
If I were to discuss this topic with a particularly wealthy and wise friend of mine, his response would be: “It’s all about maintaining The Pyramid.“
THE PYRAMID is a very illuminating idea – that all civilisations are based on a pyramid structure, with powerful rich at the top, and the poor workers at the bottom. Connected to the idea of maintaining The Pyramid, is the game of chess that those in power are playing with many other’s lives. So the question we must ask is:
I don’t have the answers but I do have hope – hope that with collective creative ingenuity we humans can write some new rules, and start playing a game where both parties win.
In conclusion I wish to quote one of the army boys from the ball:
“Everyone just has to chill – chill out! Have a beer, talk about their issues, and then the solutions will appear.”
Cheers to that!
Thanks for listening to my rant… I’m sure everyone has an opinion and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you care to leave a comment below.
This entry is continued from – http://www.julietbennett.com/2010/12/13/protests-and-balls-left-and-right/
My older entries on this topic that might be of interest:
A balanced article I quite liked – http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/42140.html
A little video I shot on the day of Lee Rhiannon of the Greens (NSW Senator Elect).
Wikileaks video and site – http://126.96.36.199/video.html