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July 27, 2010


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Thanks for posting on this. I have been thinking about your general critique of publicity and its support for communicative capitalism recently - at least since last week - since the Washington Post series on our runaway National Security apparatus. It would seem that the lack of response to it and now the Wikileaks story would seem to confirm your hypothesis. I was reading a blog by an NYU journalism prof, Jay Rosen who wrote the following: "We tend to think: big revelations mean big reactions. But if the story is too big and crashes too many illusions, the exact opposite occurs. My fear is that this will happen with the Afghanistan logs. Reaction will be unbearably lighter than we have a right to expect— not because the story isn’t sensational or troubling enough, but because it’s too troubling, a mess we cannot fix and therefore prefer to forget." This is truly the tragedy of our times - that we have such an excess of media and disclosure, that it is now easier than ever to bury our heads and deny the calamity right before us.

Jodi Dean

Thanks, Alain. I notice an error in my post--it should have said 'there is no change in political will' (line 5). You and Rosen add an important twist: to the extent that there is a change, it could likely be in the wrong direction. Excessive media means we may be likely to flee it, to hide from it, to bury ourselves. That's what I've been doing a fair amount this summer. I feel much more a sense of accomplishment doing the physical repairs around the house (sanding and refinishing floors, painting rooms, building a new sink cabinet) than I do getting stuck in the media flows drowning our society.


i keep thinking about how-- and maybe this is glaringly obvious but nontheless--the administration keeps spinning the wikileaks case as: this is nothing new, no new knowledge has been ascertained while at the same time castigating wikileaks for putting u.s. personnel and general u.s. security at risk. so wikileaks is both inconsequential and critically detrimental to u.s. interests and lives. i don't know what this means but i suspect it is important to understanding this strange and interesting case.

Jodi Dean

Yeah, I was thinking about that, too. At first it seemed contradictory. But maybe not: the stuff leaked doesn't really matter but the fact of leaking/leakage (breaches in security, internal problems of morale and cooperation) does.

Steven Sherman

Its too early to tell. 'This will change nothing' is a useful propaganda line for those who want nothing to change. But they don't know any better than I do. Furthermore, this is a global story. Anti-war sentiment is reportedly quite strong in Germany--apparently German troops in Afghanistan actually wear anti-war messages on their sleeves--will this suffice to push Germany out altogether? The US probably can't continue the occupation without real support from NATO, so this would be consequential. Furthermore, there is the reaction within Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan, among others. The Washington bubble is the toughest to puncture, so I would not expect change to start there.

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