Assassinating the Mess Assange


Julian Assange, defending our democracies (despite their owners’ wishes)

By Charlie Stross

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 should go to Julian Assange (if he lives long enough to receive it).

You don’t need me to point you at the huge mass of US diplomatic cables disclosed by wikileaks this week. Nor do you need me to point to the outrage it has generated, including calls for his assassination and, ludicrously, trial and execution for treason by the US government (Planet Earth to Mick Huckabee: by definition it’s not treason if he’s not an American citizen and isn’t acting within the USA).

But you might be wondering why he’s doing it? If so, read this now.

Around the world, governments seem to be more interested in obeying the goals of industry lobbyists and the rich than in actually governing well; this isn’t an accident, but the outcome of the capture of the machinery of governance by groups of individuals who are self-selecting for adherence to a narrow ideological outlook. In effect we are beset by accidental authoritarian conspiracies — not top-down conspiracies led by a white-cat-stroking Bond villain, but unintentional ad-hoc conspiracies by groups of individuals who work together to promote common interests. By coordinating, they can gain control of our institutions and impose an agenda that is agreeable to their interests (but not to the majority of the public). Familiar examples might include: the music and film industries and their catspaws among the lobbyists attending the WIPO intellectual property negotiations, the oil and coal industries, the religious right, and so on.

Assange has a model of how the abduction of governance by common interest groups — such as corporations and right wing political factions — works in the current age. His goal is to impair the ability of these groups to exert control over democratic institutions without the consent of the governed. By forcing these authoritarian institutions to apply ever-heavier burdens of secrecy to their internal communications, wikileaks aims to reduce their ability to coordinate and, thus, to exert control:

Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.

Assange’s analysis parallels Chomsky’s — modulo having a somewhat different ideological outlook — but he’s gone a significant step further, and is fighting back. His own explanation is here (warning: PDF).

Wikileaks is not attacking the US government; rather, it’s acting to degrade the ability of pressure groups to manipulate the US government to their own ends. Those who benefit the most from their ability to manipulate the State Department are the most angry about this: autocratic middle eastern leaders, authoritarian right-wing politicians, royalty, corporate cartels. Those of us who are scratching our heads and going “huh?” about the significance of Muammar Ghadaffi’s botox habit are missing the point: it’s not about the content, but about the implication that the powerful can no longer count on their ability to lie to the public without being called on it.
In an ideal world, wikileaks wouldn’t be necessary. But the US mass media has been neutered and coopted by the enemies of the public interest.

So we move to the backlash: disinformation, or black propaganda and smear campaigns.

It’s no coincidence that within 48 hours of the latest batch of leaks, Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Assange on charges of alleged rape. (I’m only surprised that they didn’t go the whole hog and accuse him of incest, blasphemy, child abuse, simony, and disrespectin’ the money.)

Obviously I can’t comment on whether there’s any substance to the charges, but Counterpunch suggests otherwise, alleging:

Swedish bloggers uncovered the full story in a few hours. The complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsrörelsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden’s Social Democratic Party. She had invited Julian Assange to a crayfish party, and they had enjoyed some quality time together. When Ardin discovered that Julian shared a similar experience with a 20-year-old woman a day or two later, she obtained the younger woman’s cooperation in declaring before the police that changing partners in so rapid a manner constituted a sort of deceit. And deceit is a sort of rape. The prosecutor immediately issued an arrest warrant, and the press was duly notified. Once the facts were examined in the cold light of day, the charge of rape seemed ludicrous and was immediately dropped. In the meantime the younger woman, perhaps realizing how she had been used, withdrew her report, leaving the vengeful Anna Ardin standing alone.
Ardin has written and published on her blog a “revenge instruction“, describing how to commit a complete character assassination to legally destroy a person who “should be punished for what he did”. If the offence was of a sexual nature, the revenge also must also be sex-related, she wrote.

I think that the timing of the allegations (which first surfaced after the previous wikileaks disclosures) and the INTERPOL warrant is suggestive of a politically-motivated disinformation campaign rather than an actual serious criminal investigation. I also note with interest the way the charges were originally brought, then withdrawn, then brought again. Rape is an extremely serious charge, and generally treated as such in Sweden. So what’s up with this? Your guess is as good as mine, but my guess is this: Assange is stomping on the bunions of the rich and powerful. And while serious people aren’t suggesting murder or prosecution for treason — either of which would make a martyr of him and underscore the seriousness of his project; I’ll note that only un-serious politicians, whoring for newspaper column-inches, are coming out with this crap — I think his enemies are fighting back with that time-honoured tactic of the scoundrel, the carefully-aimed character assassination.

Which, if you think about it, suggests he’s onto something important.

10 thoughts on “Assassinating the Mess Assange

  1. You have to love the reporting of American Propaganda giant, Fox News:

    Interpol issues arrest Warrant for Julian ASSange on sex charges

    julian-assangeJulian ASSange really is a progressive liberal! He would have made a perfect Democrat in America. According to Fox News, Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for the founder of Wikileaks Julian ASSange on sex charges. ASSange has allegedly been accused of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. ASSange’s lawyer in Britain, said the two woman who have accused ASSange of these charges declared that they had “consensual sexual relations” with ASSange.

    “Only after the women became aware of each other’s relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him,” Stephens said in a statement.


  2. Interesting comment in the paper this morning….

    “Australian politicians are embarking on a destructive course in censuring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s endeavours to make public documents that expose the truth about vital issues. He is not the author of thedocuments; he is merely the messenger. By their very nature, these documents are of deep concern to the public.. Assange should not be victimised. He has had the courage to act in the public interest by exposing the truth.”

  3. Sounds like the adult church lady who voluntarily and happily carry’s on an affair with a minister (her own or some famous star), who on later finding out that he has another, or that he wants to end it, then goes crying to everyone about how she has been abused.

    (Yes, I expect some angry comments).

    Women who use the the word rape lightly do incredible harm to genuine victims.

  4. I am horrified to see a ‘Christian’ lady had

    “written and published on her blog a “revenge instruction“, describing how to commit a complete character assassination to legally destroy a person who “should be punished for what he did”. If the offence was of a sexual nature, the revenge also must also be sex-related, she wrote.”

    Is anyone else at all repulsed by her ways? I got shivers down my spine reading that.

  5. Comedian Russell brand with some thoughts on WikiLeaks

    “I’ve come late to the WikiLeaks debacle as I live in Los Angeles and work in the film industry, a combination that does not encourage an investigative perspective of our planet. There are blind, naked mole rats that have more awareness of current affairs. But while surfing the internet for information on pet psychiatrists, hair gels and “me”, I happened upon the diplomatic crisis that is dramatically accelerating our dwindling faith in those who govern us.

    When a cultural phenomenon reaches the point of saturation, I wonder if its authors ever query their choice of name. I wonder if Smeg fridges would do things differently if given a second chance? Or if the Beatles, informed at their genesis that they were about to become the biggest band in history, might have paused to reconsider their “punny” title. WikiLeaks is not a good name for a whistle-blowing website, the contents of which embarrass the powerful and expose clumsy and brutal military activity. It sounds like a West End musical about a bladder condition. Or an unreliable, robot butler. I’m sure I could come up with a better name.

    Dirty petty things
    The information contained in the leaked embassy cables (toxi-tweets?) oscillates from the terrifying to the puerile. In spite of our nagging suspicion that the war in Afghanistan is being shoddily conducted, it is disturbing to read internal reports of civilian murder and deliberate misrepresentation of facts. It is also unnerving to learn of the creeping potency of China and the creaking shifts of the fragile axis of power.

    Most unsettling of all, though, is the petty, snickering attitude of those exposed within. Ambassadors, ministers and spies the world over employ the conceited, insular vernacular of a bunch of oily prefects. Kim Jong-il is described as “flabby”, the former president of Haiti is “an indispensable chameleon character” and Prince Andrew likes falconry. Kim Jong-il is flabby? That’s a bit personal. I can see that for myself – I don’t need a dose of international intrigue to confirm that. And, may I ask, what would an “indispensable chameleon” do? Reptilian First Aid? I’ve never been in a situation where a chameleon could not be sacrificed if necessary. When the pressure’s on, the colour-changing lizards are the first to be dispensed with. They get a worse deal than the travellers. As for Prince Andrew’s interest in falcons: unless he’s about to train a kestrel squad to swoop into Buckingham Palace and peck out the eyes of everyone between him and the throne, I’m not sure that it matters. I’m not saying the Wiki­Leaks site isn’t a valuable resource, obviously it is; I’m just concerned that much of the world of espionage is so snide.

    On this evidence, the real-life 007 would not be a dashing bachelor skiing down mountains firing guns and thwarting Moonrakers, he’d be an insufferable geek sniggering about Blofeld’s pussy and saying that “M” in fact stands for menopause. These documents pertain to the future of our planet, the leaders of our society and our ongoing colonial wars, but reading them is like leafing through Heat magazine for squares. Gossipy snitches are running the show; now they’ve been exposed, the humiliation is heightened.

    The spectacle of implicated governments trying to stifle WikiLeaks is futile and undignified; like watching a duplicitous Victorian widow struggling to keep a fart beneath her petticoats. Alas, the stink is out and cannot be chased back into the burrow by any amount of protest, lavender scent or coy blushing.

    Ever since my hallucinogenic adolescence, I have suspected, and drunkenly argued, that the very notion of “top-secret files” is proof of wrongdoing among the powerful. “Sure,” I reasoned, “some of those files will be military information, necessarily clandestine to preserve our liberty, but the majority of protected information is concealed because if known we’d say: “What?! They killed JFK!” Or: “They knew there were no weapons of mass destruction and yet they invaded?!” Or: “There definitely ARE extraterrestrial nations communicating with our governments!!!” The last supposition, of course, is conjecture and may have been induced by the LSD.

    Action stations
    So, like most people of my generation, I am not surprised by the dishonesty or manipulation but rather amused by the haphazard manner of its execution. This is why I’ve never voted; that is why so few people of my age or younger vote or feel they have any stake in politics. Of course our apathy has allowed this unobserved, unaccountable body to become corpulent and erratic. The current administration, revealed in the Google-grasses (maybe?) to be regarded by the Bank of England as “a pair of whining tits” or something, has inadvertently re-engaged the students by penalising them financially to the point where direct action has become a feasible option again. In addition, the betrayal of the centre left by Nick Clegg has compounded a sense that those who govern have no genuine care for those they claim to represent.

    Now this culture that, whenever possible, elevates the trivial and subjugates the profound has sought to conclude this business by condemning those who highlight these uncomfortable revelations. Julian Assange, the site’s founder, has been conveniently accused of dubious sexual behaviour in Sweden, dragging the matter on to the more familiar terrain of salaciousness and character assassination, the currency of our celebrity pantheon. I hope that the important information revealed in these leaks can galvanise a new class of disengaged, disenfranchised people and help them to recognise that the individuals who govern are not an elite cabal of Machiavellians but a bunch of deceitful, ham-fisted chumps. Then the change that can be brought about by direct action does not seem unlikely at all, but inevitable.”

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