THE NEW SOLIDARITY: “I’ve played hundreds and hundreds of demonstrations, but I’ve never been in the middle of anything like this,” veteran Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello told me when we spoke about his participation in the mass protests in Wisconsin last winter. In August he returned to Madison for a Labor Day concert that took the struggle to the next stage. Morello, Tim McIlrath of the group Rise Against, and the MC5’s Wayne Kramer used the show to kick off the Justice Tour, bringing concerts to the battleground states of Ohio and Michigan, where unions are fighting back against right-wing assaults on labor rights. Proceeds from the concerts benefited The Nation Institute, to support journalism that exposes corporate abuse and highlights union struggles.
Morello was one of the first national figures to show up at the State Capitol in Madison in February, where he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” He has since written a song about the Wisconsin fight—“Union Town”—and is donating profits to the America Votes Labor Unity Fund. He has become a spokesman for the new solidarity that crosses lines of class, politics and musical genres. (In Madison he was joined by Firefighters Local 311 Pipes & Drums.)
“The future of workers’ rights in this country will not be decided in the courts or in Congress, on talk radio or on Fox News,” Morello wrote in Rolling Stone last winter. “The future of workers’ rights in this country will be decided on the streets of a small Midwestern city, on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin. And who knows? Maybe in your city too.” JOHN NICHOLS
CABLEGATE’S LAST CHAPTER: In the first week of September, WikiLeaks published, unredacted, its entire collection of US Embassy cables, 251,287 total, creating what the Australian newspaper the Age described as an “astonishingly comprehensive, publicly available, fully searchable and free archive of US diplomacy covering every corner of the globe…. There are no redactions or deletions.” The controversial move followed a convoluted series of apparent mistakes: a decryption password was published in a book about WikiLeaks by Guardian journalist David Leigh that, according to the group, allowed the public access to a file containing the complete set of unredacted cables. (The Guardian claims that the password was temporary and would have long since expired by the time the book came out.) The file itself is said to have been erroneously uploaded by WikiLeaks supporters.
The revelations contained in the last batch of cables—that former Blackwater employees kept working in Iraq after the firm was banned; that China has bought gold to weaken the US dollar; that American diplomats have sought to advance the interests of Monsanto and Big Pharma; that the US military concealed details of the execution of ten Iraqis by US troops in 2006—were largely overshadowed by the fact that the cables were unredacted. The State Department warned that the cables would endanger the lives of those whose names appear. Defending the decision, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange explained that the information was already available to intelligence agencies around the world and that those who might face retaliation deserved to have access to the records for their own safety. On its website, WikiLeaks announced that it had pre-emptively notified Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the State Department.