By Caleb T. Maupin
Published Sep 17, 2011 8:49 AM
The profit-hungry, Wall Street billionaires love “private property.”
They love that while the majority of humanity has to sell their labor, renting out their ability to work to someone else in order to survive, they, the superrich, get to “own” the banks, factories, natural resources, and other “commanding heights” of the economy. They are happy that they can live off the work done by those who aren’t lucky enough to be among their small ruling segment of humanity.
Among the various types of private property that capitalists horde in order to keep their wealth and maintain their power, is one particularly valuable tool: information.
The billionaires and their governments want people to support and fight in their bloody imperialist wars. They also want people to happily accept their massive cutbacks and layoffs. If the people are to do this, the last thing they need to hear is the truth.
The ruling class has its own media, hired and paid to push its interpretation of world events, and often blatant falsehoods, on the people of the world.
So many working people are now excited by WikiLeaks, which let some of the hidden secrets of the ruling circles enter public knowledge. As the call to “Occupy Wall Street” on Sept. 17 went out, some of the forces involved are rallying around the call for “Freedom of Information” as a way to bring down the tyranny of those in power.
They are not alone in this call. It has long been a demand of socialists and revolutionaries that the people be allowed access to the secrets of the ruling class.
Militant unions in the 1930s screamed, “Open the books!” as a revolutionary demand. They called for bosses who said they couldn’t afford to pay decent wages to be required to prove this, by allowing the workers to inspect and see how much profits were being made from the work they did.
One of the greatest victories for freedom of information was the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.
When the workers and oppressed people brought down the czar of Russia, and then the provisional government of capitalists, they revealed all the secrets hidden by the former ruling elites as they built a socialist society.
Secret treaties and agreements never made public by the czar were published to show the true profiteering nature of the world’s capitalist governments, often lurking behind closed doors.
The archives of the czar’s secret police were also opened, and many learned exactly the techniques used to suppress revolutionary organizations through infiltration, deception, and outright terrorist violence.
When activists in the town of Media, Pa., broke into the FBI offices in 1971, they revealed that the FBI did the same things here in the U.S. to attack the anti-war movement along with the Black and other national liberation movements, by releasing numerous classified FBI documents to those who could make them public.
Unlike in capitalist countries, socialist Cuba is a society in which information is readily available to the people. In Cuba, the current economic changes are being enacted after literally millions of Cuban factory workers, students, women, farm laborers, and others were consulted in mass meetings, and given all the information as well as the ability to give input into how society is run.
Socialist societies arm their populations with education and literacy, as well as popular democratic control of the economy, so that no more are decisions and information only accessible to a small segment of society.
The capitalist bosses fear the free flow of information. When BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system cops shot down Charles Hill — the third BART shooting since African-American Oscar Grant’s killing sparked rebellions — Internet and cell phone access was turned off to prevent protests in another sign of the fear of the people’s righteous anger that exists within the halls of power.
The fact that Congress has discussed a “kill switch” for the Internet, also shows how afraid of the people those with the wealth actually are.
The struggle for freely accessible information, and a world where people are empowered to know the truth and use it to rule society, is not just a struggle against corruption, bad government officials or Wall Street’s “influence.”
It is a struggle against the capitalist system itself, which must be overthrown if a better world is to blossom.