The role of citizens

The role of citizens

The publication of confidential material, or even forged information, and its subsequent channeling to the media has been a recurring practice since the beginning of print. However, back in the days when governments enjoyed genuine, as opposed to simply virtual power, the flow of the “revelations” took place in an organized manner, always in the service of some kind of political aspirations.

The entire idea of leaks draws legitimacy from a moral principle which stipulates that citizens have the right to know, but as citizens’ knowledge broadens, the system – be it political, economic or even religious – is deconstructed without being replaced by a new entity. Supposedly, of course, a new system will arise from all the chaos.

Citizens, whatever the terms means today, were globally informed through WikiLeaks of the content of confidential cables sent by the US Department of State. We very much doubt they became any wiser.

What is certain is that the revelations did not increase their ability to intervene in the forming of US foreign policy in any way.

A few days ago, citizens were informed that various eminent leaders and soccer stars and officials were involved in offshore companies based in Panama. The leak’s first casualty was the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who resigned following the revelations. The source of the leaks remain unknown.

While offshore companies are by all means legal, their use as a tool that allows for anonymity among the very wealthy of this world has now been damaged. Perhaps this signals the beginning of the end for offshore entities, which in tandem with the removal of confidentiality regarding accounts in Western banks will lead to transparency in money transactions.

What is important in this case is that the citizen’s right to know is being put to use in order to bring down security subsystems or privileges built up in the past decades. This has been happening in Greece for the last six years through the discrediting of certain “privileged” social groups. The process is now continuing with the current SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition and will carry on with the next government, whoever that may be.

Nevertheless, the entire process has not led to an increase in citizens’ power. We are simply living in the era of mass democracy. When the power system in the West was at its peak, citizens – not in their entirety early on – had the right to elect their representatives, not manage them.

Now citizens – in the broader and unspecified sense of the term – have become the vehicle if not the bogeyman for the degradation of the existing state of affairs. No doubt the entire process does have a positive side. It’s hard to envision what the outcome will be. What is important in this case is that blood is spilt – both locally and abroad. A system will arise and there is nothing to worry about.

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