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Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
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darkhorse Offline
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Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Administrator's Note:

Below is a copy of a letter written by a member of the WikiLeaks Party. The letter has been reproduced, in it's entirety, with the permission of the author.


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So often in life, all we do is talk.

"Human rights abuse in China - it's a shocking thing.."
"Armies using civilians as human shields - Absolutely deplorable.."
"500,000 people killed in the Rwandan Genocide - How can such evil prevail..?"

But soon enough, we get distracted by the newest iPhone or reality TV show and our outrage at such acts fades. How many opportunities to act do we squander because we are far too egocentric or lacking in courage and enthusiasm to raise our voices above the everyday noise?

And then one day along came Julian Assange. A man who shamed the US government by publishing it's dirty military secrets with nil regard for his own personal safety. A man of no great wealth or political standing who managed to make the world stop and look. A man that I greatly admire for detonating the biggest political H-bomb in history and illuminating the darkest corners where the shadiest deals are conducted. A truly courageous man.

So when I heard about the WikiLeaks Party, I was excited. Here was this Australian political party that shared the same core value as I and that was led by someone who did more than just tut tut over global injustice before sticking his nose in the 4 course parliamentary lunch time trough. I saw the formation of the WikiLeaks Party as an opportunity to finally act against our totalitarian state and inject some democratic honesty into our nation.

So I joined up - Member number 503. And when the AEC rang me to ask if I was a member of this new party, I proudly said yes I was.

I volunteered as soon as call went out and the form appeared on the web-site. And I waited. So I called the contacts on the web-site and was told repeatedly that someone from the Melbourne office would be making contact with me to enlist whatever help I could give. And I waited. And I watched the Facebook page and read the party newsletters which were all shrieking out for volunteers. I filled in that damn volunteer form 4 times and kept ringing the Melbourne office.

"PICK ME - PICK ME, I will do whatever is needed to get done! I will door knock, hand out how to vote cards, coordinate - I don't care!! I just really want to help!!"

And still I waited for the promised return phone call from the Melbourne office, which never came. The federal election drew alarmingly close and still nothing. No e-mails - no calls - no one contacting me to say hey girl, can you canvass for a few hours in the seat next to yours - the most marginal seat in the country, Corangamite?

The election day came and went and I was truly gutted. I felt that this party I had fallen in love with was just as factional as every other party around and clearly whatever faction I was aligned with was the wrong one - not that I was aligned to anything other than the party platform. This wonderful gathering of like-minded people was complete sham and transparent was the last descriptive adjective I would use in conjunction with the party. I never voted for the national council and I had no idea what they were up to! Who were these faceless people that were just too busy to ever return a phone call or bring the road train down to Geelong? Was I really that inconsequential and unworthy that I didn't deserve at least an email from them? I honestly get more love from the Australian Taxation Office that was getting from the party. Clearly the party didn't believe in the power of the individual to make change, it was all about appearances.

And then, to add injury to insult, a complete nobody snatched the last senate seat thanks to preferences. And for a couple of days after that happened, I kept asking myself "what would have happened if more voters were aware of the WikiLeaks Party? Could we have delivered Julian a senate seat and thus brought him home?" And the answer that kept rebounding was yes; if the party was better organised and volunteers were coordinated by the Melbourne office, we collectively could have made the difference.

I have since learnt that there was major trouble brewing in the Melbourne office which led to the complete shambolic attempt of organising ( I use that term VERY loosely) the party faithful into a united force. I have spoken to John Shipton and others about it and have stopped taking it as a personal slur against myself or my local area of Geelong. I can only hope that lesson were learnt from the mistakes of the last election and moving forward from this point, we can all restore our faith in what is really an exceptionally good cause.

And that's kinda how I feel about the whole thing.. Smile

Regards,
Bree
09-28-2013 10:21 PM
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Courtney Dalton Offline
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Information RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Giday Bree, really sorry to hear that . I would have loved to have you help me in Geelong. It was short notice for me too!
I to believe we could have done far better with a more focused effort.
Like all things first time, they rarely go to plan. We did make a presence and I'm sure next election it will be a different game.
It's about change, as you first said....the path is not so important..Smile
Stay with usSmile
Courtney
09-29-2013 10:20 AM
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darkhorse Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Thanks, Courtney and Bree, for contributing to the dialogue.

My reply here relates only to campaign organisational issues. The other issues, such as Party Democratic processes, Preferencing, Left-Right-Left etc. are for another post.

IMHO there were definitely organisational issues across the board. Perhaps people with the right organisational skills and experience were not placed in the right positions. Perhaps those who were there and did have the relevant skills, were not listened to.

Your experience, in relation to the emails that never arrived, appears to have been a common one. I experienced the same thing. Don't even get me started on membership issues. This began to ring alarm bells for me very early in the piece. So did Julian Assanges' glaringly inactive blog on the Party website. (Still not quite as glaringly inactive as Daniel Domscheit-Berg's Openleaks - haha - sorry). This strongly suggested a lack of interest. This was exacerbated by a statement made which stressed the fact that WikiLeaks and the Party were two completely separate entities. I believe this confused members and voters and affected Party support. I didn't get the impression that the statement was made to stop people inadvertently leaking documents to the Party.

In fact, across the board, communication seems to have been an on-going issue. This is ironic, given the fact that the WikiLeaks movement is one centred around the internet where we are all one click away from each other. I have noticed that there seems to be an unhealthy nexus between communication (or the lack thereof) and power, within WikiLeaks, the Party and among supporters. This hasn't helped and is an on-going problem.

Personally, I thought the active part of the campaign started ridiculously late. In many ways it didn't seem to start at all. As you said, Bree, you were willing to canvas and were never asked to do so. I live in Sydney and have cause to travel regularly around the entire Sydney city, metropolitan and outer metropolitan areas all the time. I can honestly say that I have never seen a poster or a hand-bill relating to Wikileaks or the Party anywhere, ever. Not one. That may well be related to finances but I still would have expected to see something.

On Twitter, I told an anecdote about a guy at work being unaware that there was a Wikileaks Party in existence, obviously referring to the lack of media coverage. I received a well-meaning response, from someone in the Party hierarchy, suggesting that I buy a jumper with the Party emblem on it and wear it to work. Oh well.

Apparently there was a 'Social Media Co-ordinator'. Given the lack of campaign funds this, in my opinion, would have been one of the most important jobs in the WikiLeaks Party campaign. Did anyone see any social media co-ordination? I certainly didn't. Can we honestly say that job was given to the most suitable person? Perhaps there should have been a small army involved in that. The only person I saw doing anything like that was Christine Assange, who was great. Maybe some innovators and skilled people need to be deployed in this area.

Having said all that, despite the disappointments and due to a lot of good work, achievements were made. I remember when the Greens Party first appeared on the Australian political landscape. They were seen as a small bunch of hippy tree-huggers for whom few considered voting. They've obviously grown and with work, so can the WikiLeaks Party.
09-29-2013 03:34 PM
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BreeBomberGirl Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Totally concur....

Running a campaign doesn't have to cost a fortune - I would have happily printed materials off at my own cost.. But part of the problem with funds was that the Melbourne office was being paid. Money very much wasted it turns out as they appeared to have sat on their hands for most of the lead up to the campaign.

Darkhorse, I too read some incredibly unhelpful responses on social media that quite frankly made me cringe. Honestly, some of it read like a 15 year old's response to a "yo momma" crack.

Moving onwards and upwards though, I have accepted a co-ordinator's role for Geelong and I am currently waiting on the Geelong members deets so I can ring them all and get some unity happening. As I stated, Geelong encompasses the Corangamite electorate where people swing (in the political sense ha ha) every election so next time, I hope we can rouse the hoards to get out there and educate the masses..
09-29-2013 05:11 PM
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darkhorse Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Good on you.

A bit of ingenuity and drive can go a long way, as can a bit of social-media generosity.

Net-working and team-building are not top-down exercises. We're all involved in that and should support and encourage each other. I don't think I'm being overly idealistic in thinking this is possible, even among WikiLeaks supporters and Party members.

As you know, WikiLeaks twitter has over 2m followers. I would have thought that kind of interest could have been mobilised into something bigger, locally. I guess it was up to a point. Perhaps this will develop more over time.

I can't speak on the actions of the Melbourne office, or the Sydney office for that matter, nor have I ever run a political party so I don't have the information as to what people were doing and not doing. I know there have been a number of great functions organised by the Party. People deserve full credit for these and other things they've achieved.

I was surprised, however, when I read about the wage situation. Perhaps that points to naivety on my part. I suppose there could be an accountability issue there. I suppose the members might be interested to know who is/was being paid and what they are/were doing to legitimise it. I'd hate to think that WikiLeaks and the members weren't getting their money's worth, given the difficulty in raising funds. One has to be careful, however, about inferring inefficiency-related corruption without evidence.

I'm sure most people are/were well-meaning 'true-believers' as you clearly are.

Go get 'em. The seething masses of Geelong won't know what hit 'em.

Darkhorse.

P.S. Maybe you could lobby one of those swinger's parties in Corangamite. Wink
09-29-2013 06:39 PM
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matteus Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Hello,
thanks Bree for your letter, because my experience was very similar and highly frustrating.
Perhaps perversely, its nice to hear that someone else was feeling similarly frustrated, and that we can discuss it and improve the situation.

I expected two things, but did not get either.

1. to be connected to a network of volunteers.
2. to get status updates, like a "heartbeat" message that let me know a bit of what was going on, perhaps how i could help.

Here is a summation of two emails i sent to the vic volunteer coordinator and to contact@wikileaksparty.org.au

The Wikileaks Party did reply that they got my email.

-------

Hello

The Wikileaks Party is an idea, an idea that needs a swarm of volunteers to make it happen.

It is an inspiring idea that activates people, but "you have a very short window of opportunity for appreciating their (volunteers) interest or they will take it somewhere else" (Falkvinge, Swarmwise 2013).

I presume you are all overloaded with things to do, but here are some simple suggestions that would reduce workload and perhaps get better results

Read at least the first 2 chapters of "Swarmwise" by Falkvinge. It is feely downloadable on the internet from the author here
http://falkvinge.net/files/2013/04/Swarm...3Jul18.pdf

The number 1 thing to do is connect volunteers so they can organise / coordinate / support each other

Connect the volunteers to each other in geographical close groups

Let them pick a coordinator and ask them to report back via that coordinator

It seems to me that there needs to be a more active coordination role

regards

Matt
10-01-2013 03:29 PM
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BreeBomberGirl Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Hi there Matt,
Thank you for your words and you hit the nail on the head...
I went to Wikileaks party meeting this evening and everyone in the room shared your sentiment.
I would actively encourage everyone that felt the same as I to come along to a meeting and provide your input for your party..
Anyone is most welcome to email me on breedavis@live.com.au if you don't know how to get a direct line to the Melbourne office or even if you just want a chat.. Please don't be put off by the past sins of the party - look forward to the future..
Thanks again for the love...
10-01-2013 11:33 PM
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darkhorse Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Thanks Matt and Bree for communicating your thoughts and organisational ideas. It's great to see supporters feeling motivated and exchanging info.

There are some interesting ideas in the Rick Falkvinge book, Matt. Thanks for posting the link. I think it's worth reading, even for the interest-value alone. They certainly seem to have successfully put those ideas into practice. It's quite inspiring.

I think the concept of 'connecting volunteers' is also important in relation to supporters, members and activists using the internet. I think this is the case both in relation to Party activities as well as generally in the support of WikiLeaks and our related causes.

It would be great if you could keep us posted on what you are all doing and how you are going. You could also tell us about any events or meetings you want communicated to others or publicised.

Cheers,
Darkhorse
10-02-2013 12:37 AM
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PartyMember Offline
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RE: Letter from a WikiLeaks Party Member
Hi,

I also want to say want to say thankyou for raising this.
All of the above is fair comment and will hopefully help structure tomorrows agenda at the sydney meet. Building on social media and creating more immediacy between members is essential.
In NSW we did somewhat manage to create area teams specifically for the election day, some also held chapter meetings and gatherings, but this has not continued.
I guess I am unsure how we actually go about connecting & reconnecting members, all ideas and input are welcome. Working groups may be an idea but people getting silo'd and disconnected is where we came unstuck last time.

At present, there is no real hierarchy in the party, except for the national council. This may account for some of the organisational difficulties but may also be a strength.
You do not have to wait for anyones permission to do something all members are equal. I have a nominal title of a Coordinator but in essence it means is that I can access the central list of volunteers and send out emails as requested.

In someways Victoria is even more important as the next major state election is there. It is currently operating on a skeleton crew and so we are very keen to get things going again. For this a Victorian social media team is essential. The current election showed that the party will receive no media coverage so the only way to connect is via Social. Being at the polling booth on the day was incremental at best. Putting up posters might work but when your opponents (and friends) have the resources to take them down as soon as they are put up it can be futile. Vetting preferences will be important and relations between the various progressive parties are fairly fractured, so it is important to rebuild those.

How did last nights meeting go?

cheers

Jonathan
10-03-2013 12:19 AM
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