Critics of Wikileaks claim that some things must be kept secret, that governments need to be able to act confidentially, and that ordinary citizens cannot have a significant say in affairs of state because there are some things they should never know. That may be true, assuming your system of government is functioning properly. But as top-level inertia on major global crises indicates, our supposedly democratic Western systems of government are not working properly.
Global warming is surely the most pressing example. Despite decades of scientific evidence and ever-increasing public support for action, our governments (led by Washington) have proven themselves capable of little more than earnest platitudes. Big Business leaders have done everything possible to undermine the science, confuse the public, and successfully lobby against change in the corridors of power. Their efforts have been fully supported by a compliant corporate media.
The Middle East is another intractable problem. The central conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is so heavily politicised that professional Western commentators are reluctant to even discuss today's inhumane apartheid reality in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli lobby controls US government decision-making, while US client states support Washington's auto-reflexive veto of any UN condemnation of Israeli atrocities. Again, the media supports the charade. Well-meaning citizens are somehow brain-washed into thinking that Zionist interests equate to their own, never mind the terrorists being created as a result.
Then there's the financial turbulence afflicting economies around the world, with Ireland, Greece and Iceland only the latest major victims. If banks like Goldman Sachs are a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity" then the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are major tentacles, reaching deep down into the bowels of national wealth. Elite "economic hit-men" do their jobs, the world's mega-billionaires grow ever more obscenely rich, profit-gorging on taxpayer-funded bailouts, and our governments pretend there's nothing they can do about it.
And let's not forget the bloody Energy Wars raging in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where millions of innocent citizens are being murdered, maimed and displaced as a result of Western lies, greed and criminal incompetence.
Enough! Evidently, something has to change. But what can be done? The normal democratic avenues for regulation, accountability and change are simply not functioning as they supposedly should.
Public enquiries have become long-winded wastes of public money. Elaborate cover-ups are orchestrated with the help of willing stooges in the media, parliament and judiciary. Military enquiries are even more farcical. Whistle-blowers are hunted down and exposed, facing legal action and character assassination from the highest levels, while the crimes they reveal are brushed aside.
And don't even think that the Fourth Estate might come riding to the rescue. Independent media outlets face funding dilemmas, smear attacks, and lack of access, while the corporate media is hopelessly compromised by political and business agendas.
In such a deeply corrupted environment, the only remaining solution is for ordinary citizens to pry open the machinations of government and expose the truth to all who care to look. Of course our leaders like to talk about "Open Government", but only during election campaigns (particularly when minor parties threaten their cosy hold on power). The reality terrifies them. But now Open Government has arrived, whether they like it or not, and there is no turning back. The technology utilised by Wikileaks and similar groups is available to anyone.
It is no coincidence that those most loudly condemning Wikileaks have the most clearly vested interests in protecting their own dark secrets. It's also no coincidence that Wikileaks is enjoying huge outpourings of support from the general public. Wikileaks currently has over 473,000 followers on Twitter (up 20,000 in a day), plus over a million followers on Facebook. Attempts to shut down the website have led to the creation of over 1300 "mirror sites" in just a few days. Online discussions around the globe are almost invariably dominated by supportive comments.
Wikileaks is the most recent, potent and visible manifestation of widespread global anger at the ever-increasing confluence of government policy and Big Business interests. We, the people, have been steadily abandoned by our leaders. We want our democracies back, and Wikileaks offers us the hope of real change.
Ordinary citizens have nothing to fear, and much to celebrate, from this new cyber-space revolution.