I've been watching this with the detachment that's come from not actively blogging and I'm quite disturbed by what I've seen.
Assange got his hands on some documents that showed how "the world's policeman" (and what an apt description that is!) is behaving in the name of its citizens. The reaction from corporates and governments has been depressing but unsurprising. Amazon, PayPal and MasterCard have cut off any way for Wikileaks to get money. Even the supposedly incorruptible and impartial Swiss have frozen his assets. Assange has been targeted by ludicrous rape charges by the Swedish government, which were on, then off, then on again. Apparently, the Library of Congress is now blocking Wikileaks. Anybody who ever wrote for Wikileaks has had their journalistic credentials revoked.
Needless to say, the British government and police are eager to do their bit to get this annoying man behind bars.
All this from making publicly available information that was already open to access by 2.5 million people, allegedly. Information that was not even classified as particularly sensitive. All it did was shine a bit of a light on what governments do in our name, in the hypocrisy of publicly telling us wars can be won while privately believing they cannot among other, more trivial things.
Depressingly but equally predictably, statists from all sides of the political spectrum have been casting aspersions on Assange and his motivations. To them, the fact that governments have been lying to us about their beliefs in dragging us into wars, using our money on things even they consider fruitless, isn't as important or worrying as the fact that someone exposed them.
It's very, very clear to me that Assange is being vigorously and thoroughly hung out to dry pour encourager les autres, to make sure that anyone who is thinking about rocking the boat of the state is thoroughly discouraged. It's a very depressing state of affairs that the first man to seriously constructively and effectively challenge the state's ethics via the internet is being so thoroughly slapped down.
The problem for the state is that you can't recan these worms. A small corner has been lifted. Some people have seen what is being done in their name and now have their doubts. I'm sure that the comprehensive attack on Assange will also inspire some people to become martyrs in order to continue the fight. And finally, Wikileaks as it stands, is fighting back with hundreds of mirrors around the globe. I don't think that states are actually going to be able to shut it down completely and this heavy-handed action will eventually raise more questions than the leaks themselves.
The only way for the state to survive at all is going to be to realise that they have to accept the transparency they seem to feel they are entitled to demand of us. With a bit of luck, this whole fiasco will be the start of a rebalancing of the relationship between the state and the individual.
I think it's too much to hope that it will be the start of the end of the state, though.