John Craig writes: Re. “Like MP3s, WikiLeaks will change govt — so why has everyone missed the point?” (Friday, item 1). Your article suggested that most analysts have missed the point on WikiLeaks, because the information disclosed has the potential to change governments, and also to change the way in which information and power is distributed.
However, I submit that there is an even bigger point that is being missed, namely that the information disclosed has the potential to disrupt the diplomatic processes that help humanity to avoid conflicts by promoting effective communication between nations with vastly different: social, political and economic systems; needs; and interests.
If leaks such this as can’t be prevented, than open and frank diplomatic communication must be severely constrained. As Winston Churchill once said, “It is better to Jaw, Jaw, Jaw, than to War, War, War.” However “Jaw-ing” to prevent “War-ing” requires the same privacy that individuals expect.
Your article noted that Julian Assange has a grand theory about demolishing authoritarian, militaristic and corporatist (Western) systems of government. This might very well be a great subject for a book, but: (a) his theory seems to be based on an incredibly narrow understanding of what is actually going on in the world and (b) naively putting it into practice is thus likely to do more harm than good.
Future historians might see the impact of WikiLeaks (and any potential imitators) less as changing governments and the nature of government through sensational disclosures than as creating conditions in which the incredibly complex and difficult economic, resource and environmental challenges humanity faces lead to wars because escalation of international tensions can no longer be avoided through effective diplomacy.
Jim Hart writes: With all this talk about straying diplomatic cables, could we please have a Crikey Clarification about cables? I assume the term is a throwback to the days of those international telegrams that once were sent by the wonderful all-new submarine cable.
I don’t imagine our embassies still employ men with green eyeshades, code books and Morse keys. Probably they don’t have hotmail accounts either. So what exactly is a cable these days?
David Edmunds writes: Re. “Mungo: nuclear debate will end, again, not with a bang but a phut” (yesterday, item 14). Mungo McCallum suggests in his Monday article that The Australian should change its banner to “It’s all about us”, following a strident major piece in the Weekend Australian justifying its stance on climate change, and providing examples over the years of where it has supported action against human-induced climate change.
I was surprised at this article as I had the overwhelming impression as a regular reader that The Australian editorial policy was vehemently opposed to the idea of action against climate change, and subscribed to the “science is not yet in” idea.
I have read the Weekend Australian for about forty years. I used to read it as I saw it as a journal of record, but for at least the last ten years my interest has been to discern how the political right might parse a particular issue.
I suspect the strident self-absorption evident in the recent public statements and attitudes of The Australian suggests that they have found that I am not on my own.
The Australian is in an invidious position. It is owned by a far-right cabal whose idea of fair and balanced is Fox News. The editor of The Australian knows that this is not how his audience sees the world, so has taken a compromise tack, in a valiant effort to sustain the idea of the paper as a journal of record.
The editorial line is designed to appear middle of the road politically, while the substance of the paper is in sync with the beliefs of the right in Australia, right or wrong.
The debate over the NBN is a prime example. The Australian follows an editorial line of extreme skepticism, and demands a business case, and yet never balances this in the context of the disaster of the Howard government’s communications policies and the complete mess it made of the privatisation of Telstra.
Superficially fair and reasonable, while providing unquestioning and uncritical support for the policies of the right in this country.
The ALP and the Greens:
Ailsa Purdon writes: Re. “Here we go again: Labor and the Greens, part XXVI” (yesterday, item 11). Those Labor Party apparatchiks who continue to pit themselves against the Greens don’t seem to understand 21st century politics, the politics of post modernism, the politics of the global economy, however you want to describe the present context.
Quite simply ALP’s old 19th century strategies for privileging the white working class male simply isn’t going to cut it in these times of multi-racial Australia, competing in a global economy which depends on high tech industry with low labour costs which the Australian social infrastructure can’t really support.
We are relying on the natural environment, if we don’t manage that smartly we are finished. Our education system is unable to produce the skilled labour we need and we are dependent upon immigration from other countries regardless of race and cultural background. If we don’t manage that properly we are also finished.
So while they pander to the ideology of the old white Australia in the asylum seeker debate and refuse to resource public education, including higher education and VET, at a level which assumes the social and cultural background of a white middle class then we are not going anywhere.
They are a conservative party with their roots in the conservative working class, and seem unable to engage consistently with any political or philosophical debate.
First Dog on the Moon’s recipe:
Rosemary Swift writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Friday, item 7). I’ve never laughed out loud while reading a recipe before, but Mr OntheMoon’s interpretation of Margaret Fulton’s pavlova was an absolute delight. The Crikey merchandising department should definitely be looking at a First Dog cookbook sometime soon.