A Road Less Travelled: How Satoshi Nakamoto Succeeded While Julien Assange ‘Failed’
It's amazing how frequently, wits, brilliance and ego are found in the same person, or mistakenly identified as such.
If there was one word that came to serve as a rallying call for anti-establishment entities from across the political spectrum – It's Wikileaks.
Since the entity came into fruition, it has since attracted support from a vast number of people, but since then, these same supporters appear to be dwindling in size. This is quite likely due to the fact that they're a little scattered since its founder – Julian Assange – was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy and subsequently arrested this week.
“If you wanted to peruse [an] exclusive stash of Scientology tracts, Sarah Palin’s hacked emails, or Guantanamo detainee manuals,” as one organization naively published back in 2006, when we largely had a more innocent approach towards our governments.
In a time like this, we have controversies like Hillary Clinton's emails, Benghazi or Uranium One to associate with Wikileaks and the ominous political affiliations of its founder. But back in the earlier days of its creation, Wikileaks played a far more pivotal role in informing its vistiors and channeling outrage against the war in Iraq, which had been raging on for three years at that point in time. It played an influential enough role to provide information to disgruntled citizens, which helped to end it in the future.
Along with serving as a system of accountability for conduct in war, Wikileaks has since revealed a great deal about the kind of politics at play behind the scenes of seats of politics. So with this kind of crucial pedigree, why did it end up falling? That is the more pressing question, if we can truly say that it has. And what kind of message is there in this that those in the world of technology should take away?
For as much as anyone could come to understand, the fundamental principle behind Wikileaks, was to break the ability of organizations, political parties, factions or individuals to operate covertly. This is especially true if these same entities were engaging in activities of behaviours that, should the public become aware of it, result in serious backlash.
“During these revolutionary periods the people involved in the revolution need to be able to communicate. They need to be able to communicate in order to plan quickly and also to communicate information about what is happening in their environment quickly so that they can dynamically adapt to it and produce the next strategy.
Where you only have the security services being able to do this, and you turn the mobile phone system off, the security services have such an tremendous advantage compared to people that are trying to oppose them,” These were the words of Julian Assange in the distant past.
One thing that we certainly can agree on is that there is a certain nobility to this kind of cause. If there hung the sword of Damocles for those with bad intentions with heavier costs for their actions, then it's only logical that with such heavy consequences threatened, bad acts would be far less likely to happen.
One of the problems is how exactly we assign definitions and motives to things as bad, and just what are we defining as bad? The whole notion of coordination comes into frame, especially on how it can be fractured, broken or strengthened. This is a pretty important element to take into consideration, as it goes into the real matter of balancing power between what the ‘ruler' can do on behalf of the ruled.
At the greater risk of Godwin's Law being enacted, the National Socialists under Hitler, or the Communist regime under Josef Stalin make for some interesting subjects to consider.
If the nation state operates in such a way as to be a well-oiled active mechanism which operates and co-ordinates in a covert manner, while at the same time, it sows a public climate of fear towards co-ordination, because there's is a general fear of the state.
Or, these same members of the public simply value their privacy, and wish to hold it away from other, less trustworthy members of the public, then we may better understand the kind of societal climate that people lived under in these kinds of regimes. And, in understanding them, be better equipped as a citizenry to avoid it.
So this gets us onto the overarching question – why is it that Julian Assange failed in providing this viral arm of oversight? We would have to conceded that it's because he, as an individual, is very fallable, and while he may have sought to provide Wikileaks as an objective system, he himself is not beyond partisan motives, making him an imperfect pioneer.
In providing oversight, Assange was providing what individuals and organizations have attempted to do for generations. For news outlets during the Nixon administration, for example, such as the Woodward and Bernstein with the WaterGate papers, the New York Times with the Pentagon Papers, they had attempted to expose the more unsavoury behaviour going on behind closed doors.
But, for every victory, there are certain to be failures, and failure is simply an expectation for many, not an exception.
So why exactly is it that we can regard Wikileaks as a failure? It's largely . due to the fact that there was this overt appearance that the site sought to effectively rupture any potential for co-ordinated efforts to be taken on by the government. While to some, this creates a system of glass pipes; with each comminqué being visible to the public. To others, it translates to a desire to overthrow the government, while providing just the desire for transparancy for whatever takes its place.
If there would be a proposed alternative to Wikileaks, then it would be to provide the ability to co-ordinate between citizens, allowing for political activism from the populace, but this is a harder challenge to succeed in doing.
The lesson to take away from this is that, if there is to be any accomplishments from the people, there needs to be co-ordination and communication. If anyone works to break co-ordination and, as a result communication, then you have broken the ability of any organization to achieve anything.
The scenario in mind for entities like Wikileaks is that if people were communication and co-ordinating with others to accomplish bad intentions, Wikileaks would be able to break this ability as it would raise the cost of communication by making the consequences for communicating far higher for these kinds of surreptitious activities.
While on the surface, this should come off as a wholly good thing, the problem is that this would have the consequence of negatively impacting on good ends too. Good and Bad are subjective moral definitions, and communication, regardless of its implied morals, travel across the same lines.
Those more naive may argue that it's only the bad entities that have things to hide and, as a result, something to fear. This is a juvenile argument and opens the door to the same kind of climate of fear we look down on totalitarian regimes during the 1930s. When it comes to the challenging climate of international relations, development, diplomacy and geopolitics as a whole, good reasons have a number of attached multipliers.
Complex matters are easy to just compartmentalize into being ‘good' or ‘bad' in a simplistic way, or arguing that a politician used confrontational politics, or wasn't smart enough to get the subtleties of the politics at play. This is what makes a system like Wikileaks difficult to maintain and, by extension, a figure like Assange challenging to embrace of condemn wholesale.
In many instances, on social media for example, there have been times when he's demonstrated far less political objectivity, and more overt anger.
Wikileaks, as a result, needed to be regarded as part of a broader popular outrage that took place in the mid 2000s against political secrecy and accountability. It served a crucial purpose in what we regard as some of the darkest days during the war in Iraq.
War, according to Claus Von Clausewitz, is the continuation of diplomacy by other means. The logic of Realpolitik proves timeless for many politicians in this day and age, but it stands to reason that diplomacy / politics are a form of warfare in themselves; just as diverse and unconventional as conflict. As a result, this makes any outside observations of politics can be easily misconstrued by those attaching morals.
Emotions, when brought into the world of politics, bring with them a great deal of danger when allowed to rage like an uncontrolled flame. If we allow it to interdict politics, it can leave in its wake a desolate wasteland, equating to a government unwilling to now act in any way outside its remit as a nation.
In the political world, there's a reason that we hold emotions on a short leash: in society, we wear our hearts on our sleeves, as it is core to what it means to be human. But we ought to take a lesson from Ayn Rand in the kind of effect emotions have on judgement – they are intrinsically self-interested – which is not a good trait for politics that may not benefit the individuals directly involved.
“Emotions are estimates of that which furthers man's values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him—lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss.”
Truth itself is a rational element, it harms and helps in varying quantities and doesn't care for emotions. It's for this reason that there was a great value attached to Wikileaks – It championed truth above all things. What we lack is a logical approach to it at times.
The world would be an international idyll were there to be some kind of way to convey truth and logic through a truly objective environment and platform, allowing for the conveyance of information without playing off base, reactionary emotions. In doing so, it erodes the credibility and value of the information.
One of the essential attributes to truth is objectivity, which can only really exist under the right kind of circumstances. Some of these include a significant amount of knowledge, along with the application of experience, emotional self-discipline, and occasionally luck.
The likes of people like Julian Assange, in spite of his shortcomings and failings as an individual, serves as a positive driver for shedding more light in the murky, uncertain world of international politics, providing logical arguments for activists than just angrily yelling into the void.
Individuals like Satoshi Nakamoto, in contrast, have served in such a way as to provide a wholly objective solution to something that individuals and citizens have had time to logically contemplate. Individuals like Nakamoto are incredibly rare by contrast, but that doesn't stop ous from taking insight from them.