So many people have said so many things in the last days against and in favor of secrets of state that it is really hard not to get lost between the words and the feelings that those words expose. And this is maybe one of the most frustrating realities of the debate: feelings are, instead of ideas, what determine the discussion, which could not be any worse. People from the spheres of political power—plus the military, the media and the most determinant group of the corporations—have reacted with embarrassment, which is understandable due to the nature of the secrets disclosed but unacceptable coming from institutions that carry such authority and therefore such responsibility. The embarrassment has turned into rage, a completely misguided idea of nationalism, abuse of power, and a sense of pride that in not so important circumstances would move us to spontaneous laughter. But these circumstances are extremely important and nobody has the time nor the mood to laugh: we might be reading in a few hours about the arrest of Julian Assange, which—as anybody with no direct interest with nor relation to the spheres of power has pointed out—will inflict without a doubt a terrible harm to basic individual freedoms around the world, since it will imply the intimidation to all supporters of the disclosure of official secrets, and to the whole western notion of journalism that we always have praised and celebrated—sometimes with ugly means, with that patronizing way of being of ours—in front of other civilizations of the world. But the contradiction does not seem to matter to the western leaders nor to the never elected powers of the corporations that have withdrew all guaranties even for the very legal protection of Assange. And though the rejection of these abuses by the civilians from all around the world has been explicit and strong, there are sectors—very important and influential sectors—of the population that remain surprisingly quiet. There is something greater to me than the noise, ultimately produced by deliberate decisions—with which I can agree or not—, and that is the silence of those whose very purpose is to speak out in situations of crisis: the thinkers, the artists, the writers. Clearly, there are some exceptions. Umberto Eco, Slavoj Zizek, Noam Chomsky—among a few others—are some of the names that now and always respond properly to this kind of situations; nevertheless, these handful of names do not represent what we would call, pompously, an international intellectual community. We the readers, the people, are craving the compromise, the strength and the thoughtful expression of a writer like Susan Sontag, for example, who wrote her controversial text “9-11” that very afternoon, after watching both the crimes by desperate terrorists and those of opportunist powers who used the tragedy to increase their control over their own populations and others. We the readers, the people, keep waiting for the sharp dissection of a Maurice Blanchot, who organized in the middle of the xx century an intellectual insurrection against De Gaulle’s abuses and against the criminal Algerian War—one of whose texts shows scarily how very few things have changed in the world since then. Enough of the idiotic premise that liberates the intellectual, the artist, the philosopher of participating in contemporary debates in order to remain neutral or somehow immaculate: “it is as a writer that I signed this text, not even as a political writer, nor as a citizen engaged in political struggles, for do I not participate in them, but as a nonpolitical writer led to comment seriously and firmly on essential problems that matter to him and concern him as such”, says Blanchot, and so must say every public thinker now.
But since we are able to see by ourselves the gap between the speeches of the power and its means, we the readers, the people, demand on top of everything their authority as public figures, we demand to those who claim to be the thinkers to take a stand; those who keep using their websites, blogs and other massive channels of communication to increase their fantasies and to take such good care of their names and reputation, must speak out whether in favor of secrecy or of disclosure, in favor of repression or of freedom or in favor of the institution or of the individual. We do not demand you to agree with us, we demand you to be critical of us as much as critical of the institutions. You are not allowed to remain quiet any longer, waiting cowardly for the end of this struggle in order to have “the right take”. To be right late, in times of crisis, is already a gross failure.