Politics of Secrets

There is a messianic underpinning to WikiLeaks. The cyber-dissidents associated with them are trying to liberate people from shackles of deceit and manipulation. Hacktivism thus has emerged as an important model of political activism. These hacktivists try to liberate people from the system of oppression based on secrecy. They think that if the oppressive system is revealed in its secrecy, it will dismantle oppression. The hacktivists are rebelling against the world that they do not want to live in. This is a form of cyber-optimism where the politics of secret is playing a major role. This cyber-optimism is based on a cyber-utopian worldview. The politics of secret has drawn great enthusiasm at the grass-root level among the people who seem to adore these new Wikiangels. We have entered what may be called digital enlightenment which promotes a kind of deep distrust in the human and total trust in the code. This means we like the disclosure of WikiLeaks but wish to protect ourselves from being hacked into by such cyber-dissidents. Paradoxically, we like to break the code of secrecy while we also create other codes of secrecy so as to protect ourselves from such cyber-intruders. While we wish there to be no secrets and adore the Wikiangles, we desire there be Wikiwriters that produce more possibilities of producing a secret. Indeed there is no decryption without encryption.

We like the visibility of the invisible where both visibility and invisibility becomes justice in different contexts. When the Wikiangel reveal the secret that energizes the system of oppression by manipulating us we get justice and when a Wikiwriter protects our privacy we get justice again. This means our quest for justice is haunting the politics of secret that wants some secrets to be revealed and others to be protected. There is always a longing for the coming of justice that reveals and protects some secrets. Hacktivists energize this desire for justice. They reveal and hide at the same time. They reveal by hiding. Indeed they make hidden/classified documents accessible to us. But accessibility does not guarantee legibility and intelligibility. In other words, documents are revealing and hiding at the same time. We have to understand this side of politics of secret so that we are enabled to take a leap away from the either /or thinking that makes us think of life in simplified black and white terms. These oversimplifications of life have fired our politics of polarisation that is dividing humanity all across the world. The digital has become a dividum and doomed us to a large extent. This means simply access to classified information or documents can not be made into an ideological fetish. If this is made so we follow the logic of the market. It makes us think that we can consume the secret once it is revealed. This means transparency is thought to be intelligibility. It is definitely not true. Hence we have to rescue secret from the logic of the market that thinks that it can consume and evaporate it. There is a depth in the secret and cannot be exhausted by the logic of consumption.

Political hacktivism does simplify the depth dimension of secret. It also makes us think that all secrets are real. The secret does not have to be real to exert its power. This is because secret imposes silence on us. There remains nothing to tell when we are bound by the secret. This means the secret is that there is no secret. There is no semantic content to talk about. That means there is nothing to hide. It is a kind of crytophilia that attracts us to the secret and let it have power over us. This is because secret always recedes. It is always threatening to be lost. It always remains on the other side. It has to be kept out. It cannot come into our language. But paradoxically it haunts our language. Linguistic signs always hide as they reveal by indicating. This means a linguistic sign can stand for something radically other than what it is habitually standing for. The extraordinary hides in the ordinary. This means although secrets cannot come into our language, language is deeply marked by them. This is why political hacktivism is set to fail. Visibilizing of the classified information or documents does not necessarily make them legible, intelligible and understandable. We still need interpretation which itself will hide something as it reveals. All interpretations are secretive. They reveal by hiding. There is always the depth, width and height in the written text/spoken language. We can call it sensus spiritualis Hence political hacktivism is not cyber enlightenment. It is itself is in need of enlightenment.

The acceptance of the hidden treasure beneath everything that is revealed is true enlightenment. This means we have to understand that we always interpret politics stirred by hair raising revelations of the hacktivist. Once we admit the interpretive dimension, we will understand how our logic that makes us see the world as only black and white is reductive and banishing mystery from the world by giving us a false sense of mastery over our world. There is more to our world. It is complex and has shades of several colours. We who are colour blind and see the world only in shades of black and white miss the depth experience of the world. Unfortunately, with the rise of digitization of the world, we have become enslaved to think the world in clear polarities. Unearthing the hidden secret from a precious casket is not enough. The secretive side of secret cannot be simply mastered by such leaks alone. We still need to interpret the leaks. This means we are set into an exhaustive politics of secret. We do need Wikiangels as well as Wikiwriters. But most of all we need Wikinterpreters that see the world beyond the polarities that see the world as black or white.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao