The Wikileaks phenomenon is remarkable because it seems to overtake whatever passes for “the discourse” (el discurso) and explodes from within any notion of a temporal news cycle, illuminating a hidden speech that we have always known exists, but could only rely on paranoia to imagine. The sheer volume of the documents cause revelations to burst in a strange, unpredictable rhythm, like the pyrotechnics of a Fourth of July fireworks show observed from a Spanish Harlem rooftop. Los Saudis son los que más apoyan a grupos como Al Qaeda? Why are we in Afghanistan, then? But you knew that. And what’s this about Cristina Kirschner being stressed out?
If Facebook revealed the hopelessly adolescent character of the early 21st century, then the Wikileaks cables seem to paint a picture of a world of competing high school gangs mired in a kind of toxic gossip death match, with the U.S. leading the way in trying to imbue it with a “moral” yet “pragmatic” clarity.
But the scariest thing about all this is how we have all become writers now–spies, generals, diplomats, schoolteachers, roqueros, cocolos–and permanent records of thoughts and opinions we may have wanted to reserve in private are escaping wildly all over the Internet. Todo el mundo ahora sabe que tu crees que tu vecino es un comemierda y tiene una chilla y tambien sabemos el horario de cuando y adonde se encuentren.
The Wikileaks documents are dangerous gossip some times, and others full-fledged indictments of the kind of corrupt and controlling foreign policy that the U.S. and other countries engage in, clearly out of touch with the interests of “the people.” The fact that commentators as “diverse” as Bill O’Reilly and Hillary Clinton have strongly denounced the release of the material show how liberating and subversive the documents are.
There have even been reports of an email sent out to students of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs giving this advice to students thinking of applying for jobs in the federal government:
“DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.”
The leaked documents are on the surface an exposure of “secrets,” but how secret are they to those who don’t control the discourse? Does their cynical nature prove, finally, how extremely flawed the projects of “exporting democracy,” or “identifying and containing nuclear threats” are? By being able to examine this hidden, inner voice of “the powers that be” that directs traffic behind an increasingly fraying media curtain, we might be able to finally confront their motives and goals.
But consider that this may be a runaway freight train that wants to be caught. The amount of information is so massive that it may be forgotten before it is sufficiently absorbed and analyzed. This already seemed to happen after the first bonanza of Wikileak offerings. Most importantly, while we can see a “dark side” in detail, it’s still just a spectacle of slightly embarrassed hegemonic power. It’s still up to us to fill the páginas en blanco that are our history, that are the world’s history.
Feliz Reyes, y’all.