A couple of things allowed them to do all this: 1) lame propaganda reasons fed to the public that just enough believed to vote for and give a democratic seal of approval to those action, 2) middle and upper middle class people in government and the corporate media who repeat and reinforce the propaganda and enact and enforce the real policy, and most importantly, 3) those functionaries either looking the other way or keeping their mouths shut about what is really going on.
Over the past few decades, we have seen tiny cracks in that wall of silence as individuals realized that by quietly serving the financial elite, they may be enriching their own family, but they were betraying other families like theirs, their country, and the human race. Daniel Ellsberg, the Church Committee, the Iran Contra hearings, journalists like Gary Webb, insiders who spoke out about the fabrication of intelligence before the Iraq War even started, Ambassador Joe Wilson, each seemed like a rock thrown in a pond that made ripples for a moment before the flat calm returned as if nothing ever happened.
Wikileaks could be different. The sheer volume of material makes you wonder if there aren't a LOT of people contributing material, and the recent State Department document dump shows that it can do real damage both to the propaganda facade and hopefully even the real policy.
Even if Wikileaks itself is shut down, and everyone who ever funneled documents to them is thrown in prison, whistleblowing has reached a critical mass and the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. It is also likely that those who have access to even more damaging information will be emboldened the more other people put out there.
This must scare the shit out the rich more than Nat Turner scared white plantation owners in the 19th century, and it should.
If Washington fails to do their job of making Wall Street, bankers, and the old money, spoiled trust fund babies subject to the rule of law instead of allowing them to make the law, some regulator told to look the other way, a soldier or diplomat asked to carry corporate water when it violates human rights or democracy, or a reporter who actually uses their skills to afflict the comfortable will air their dirty laundry in front of the whole world.
Once Washington realizes that nobody is listening when they say these leaks are treason and a danger to our national security, they will be forced to do one of two things:
- their jobs. Start legislating in the public interest not the interest of the wealthiest few, and bring the few to justice when they harm the rest of us and the rest of the world
- Give up the pretense of democracy and execute the Pinochet Option.
The problem with the latter is it would depend on the same people to execute it who are now leaking like sieves, and in the long run, Americans will have no stomach for persecuting their relatives and neighbors.
The Libertarian wing of the Republican Party likes to entertain the Ayn Rand fantasy of the elite John Galts of the world withdrawing the contribution of their works and talents from the rest of us and the world falling apart, but they have it exactly backwards. First, that financial elite has no talent other than a lack of conscience and a mistaken belief that they are better than those born to the middle and working class, and second, without the willing cooperation of hundreds, even thousands of the working and middle class, they could not manipulate world events, access their fortunes, eat, and in many cases, they could not even wipe their asses since they have always had someone to do it for them.
Wikileaks isn't a crack in the dam of silence of all those people who carry water for the rich, it is the dam breaking, and the wall of water is fast approaching the mansions of those who have treated the rest of us like sheep for the slaughter for too long.