Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recognizing the Interests of Peace

It now seems to be official, at least according to Declan McCullagh.  In his Privacy Inc. column for CNET News, he reported this morning that WikiLeaks is among the 241 nominees for the 2011 Nobel Prize.  In fairness McCullagh also reported that it does not take much to get a nomination:

Nominations for the Nobel Peace Price may come from any professor of "social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology," in addition to national governments and former Nobel Peace Prize recipients, under the rules of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Nevertheless, as I observed last December, the nomination itself throws an ironic light on the attitude of large and powerful governments towards the Nobel Peace Prize:

What makes me most uneasy is that the “official” reaction of our government to Assange and WikiLeaks comes dangerously close to the conduct of the People’s Republic of China in response to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiabo.

At a time when our commitment to peace is under considerable scrutiny by many on the world stage, this nomination puts us in an awkward position regarding our desire to prosecute Julian Assange.

McCullagh also reported that the Internet itself had been nominated for the roles in has been playing in revolts against authoritarian governments in the Arab world.  This one strikes me as more of a stretch.  It amounts to a confusion between agents (who would qualify as nominees) and agencies, which simply serve as tools for those agents doing things worthy of winning the award.  As I see it, the day we start thinking of the Internet as an agent is the day we “officially” elect to disregard those social qualities that make us the humans we are.

Does that argument not also apply to WikiLeaks?  While I grant that possibility, I am also willing to entertain the hypothesis that WikiLeaks amounts to a community of like-minded individuals who use the Internet as their primary agency.  I doubt that anyone would view the Internet in its entirety as a “community of like-minded individuals!”

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