January 31, 2011

THE "GREATER GOOD" AND THE HYPOCRISY OF JULIAN ASSANGE


At some point, all went wrong. I do not claim to know when it happened, and perhaps it had always been there, in Julian Assange's character make-up. It doesn't matter to me, either, because the truth is always and forever in somebody's actions and not his or her claims or explanations.

Some readers will find that the statements I am about to make are to devalue those that were made prior, when i at length talked about the media's obsession with juilan Assange's character, motivations, hell, even the way he dresses. Some may think that what I am about to say in some way, shape or form will make people like James Richardson right. Will make the Guardian and the New York Times right.

That, I must state, is absolute bullshit.

All of the things they did, they did and did so for their own benefit or the benefit of those they work for, with an absolute disregard to the truth, to either sell papers, television minutes or governmental actions.

No. What went wrong is that Assange turned WikiLeaks from an idea to champion informational freedom to an organisation, with him at its centre.

What went wrong is that Assange is so self-absorbed that not only did he run around Sweden, glorified in his own image as a political rebel, fucking groupies and then letting them drop by the wayside (and I can state this, because these are the facts, undisputed by him and have nothing to do with a claim of rape, however truthful that may turn out to be)... he has reached a point, for quite some time now, in which he is exactly like the ones he claims to be exposing.

He is the head of an organisation, and he will do whatever it takes to protect the organisation, but not the idea that founded it. Gosh. That sounds familiar. He is not special in that regard. Look at human history, and you will find an enormous amount of people who have undergone the same transformation, from the Christian Church to the followers of communism to the followers and "champions" of capitalism, all of which rose to fame and claimed that it was not the idea, but them, that put them there.

You may now say, what are the facts that support my claim? Have I been co-opted, swallowed, consumed by those who oppose him? Do I believe that some things are best left secret?

Quite the contrary. It is not me who has changed. It is him.

He has been running around and doing one interview after another, the latest one being on 60 Minutes, and in all of them he has hinted - quite darkly - at a giant database of intelligence that would prove illegal actions by a major bank in the United States, that will prove complicity of the US government in some of Rupert Murdoch's action, that will prove a great many things.
In an exclusive interview with CBS News's "60 Minutes," Assange said his group had a "system whereby we distribute encrypted backups of things we have yet to publish."

"There are backups distributed amongst many, many people, 100,000 people, and all we need to do is give them an encrypted key and they will be able to continue on," he said.

The WikiLeaks founder, who is currently under US criminal investigation over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret military reports and diplomatic cables, said the key would only be released as a last resort.

"If a number of people were imprisoned or assassinated, then we would feel that we could not go on, and other people would have to take over our work, and we would release the keys," he said.
Let us take a look at this argumentation. And do an argumentative analysis. It's easy. It's something you would have learned in the 6th, maybe the 7th grade.

If something were to happen to his organisation or himself, this data is going to be released. You may think that is a brilliant ploy, a great tactic to ensure... what exactly? A death switch is only and forever built to ensure one thing: the survival of an individual or an organisation and its structures.

But WikiLeaks as an idea would be throttled by it, for one must understand the logical conclusion of his claim. And what would that logical conclusion be?
If WikiLeaks continues to operate, if I am safe, these documents, these truths will never be published. You, the citizens, will never know.
You may argue that this is not what he said.

No, he didn't. You are right. He didn't need to.

That is why it is called a "logical conclusion". In other words, you don't look at what is said, but at the negative spaces that are around what is said. Again, something that should have been taught in the 6th grade or so.

That is not freedom of information. That is not caring about the idea of an informed citizenry. That is caring about saving your own ass. Which - I may say - is an understandable impulse. And much has been made about numerous high-ranking politicians and beltway insider pundits who have publicly called for Assange's head on a stake. And you may also say that it is easy for me to come across as all high and mighty, and wouldn't I do the same if I were in his situation?

No. No, I wouldn't.

Because it is at that moment you cross the line. You cross the line and venture deep into delusional godhood. You put yourself at the centre, and you change from an outsider into a player. And perhaps that is what tickles him. As I have said before, he comes across as a Grade A asshole (so do I). And there can be many good reasons for the things he is doing, from a human point of view, from a point of view that values one's own survival higher than anything else.

And I am okay with that. I can understand that.

But then you don't get to run around and state, in the very same interview, that -
In the same interview the 39-year-old Australian denied he was motivated by anti-Americanism or other political agendas, describing his group as "free press activists."

"It's not about saving the whales. It's about giving people the information they need to support whaling or not support whaling," he said.

"That is the raw ingredient that is needed to make a just and civil society. And without that you're just sailing in the dark."
You just don't. You have already made the claim that you are okay with the civil society sailing in the dark, as long as you are safe. How is that different from the reasoning put forward by the US government? Well, uh, yes, uh...

... it isn't. Assange embraces not only, but gently humps - without a condom, I might add, he is just that kind of a guy, it just feels better that way - the notion that has been put forward by anyboy ever in a position of power, that of the greater good.

In the case of the US government(s), it was if people in the Middle East knew that we were supporting a tyrannical regime that oppresses its own people for the sake of stability with Israel, it would ignite a revolution that...

Yeah... that kind of reasoning always comes back to bite you in the ass. It may take a while, it may take decades, but make no mistake, it will come to you, and the longer it is hidden, the sharper its fangs will be, and you just may wind up with another Iran. Well done, CIA! Well done, every US president of the past 30 years. Well done.

It has happened so many times now that somewhere along the line of major fuck-ups, the CIA invented a word, a phrase, a technical term to describe this. It is called "blowback". It describes the negative, unintended consequences of secret governmental action, and if you think that sounds somewhat familiar, you probably remember a certain movie.

"We have a Broken Arrow, Sir," somebody in this movie said.

"A what?"

"A Broken Arrow, Sir. It's what we call when a nuclear warhead has gone missing."

"I am not quite sure what worries me more. The fact that we have a nuke on the loose, or the fact that it happens so often that we actually have come up with a name for that."

Blowback, kids. Remember it. And remember this -

The greater good.

Nothing is more dangerous. Nothing is more hypocritical.

And in Assange's case? The "greater good" is defined in the easiest, smallest way possible.

It is defined as his survival. It is defined as the survival of his organisation. And to ensure that, he barters, he claims, he screams, he threatens, he blackmails. See, if the information was already out there, not encrypted, not a death switch, there would no longer be an incentive for the US government, corporations or whoever to assassinate any WikiLeaks people, not even Assange.

Why? Because the signal is already out there.

And you can't stop it anymore. The lives of those activists would be safe.

But that is not what this is about anymore, is it? For if you withhold some information for the sake of your own survival, if you withhold it to keep your power, your hold over others (even others that I despise, personally), then you are already corrupt.

Then you are a player.

And while they may respect you for that, you are no longer deserving the respect of those that you pretend you are fighting for. If you keep the worst of the worst under wraps, its release TBD, then you are exactly like them.

So don't argue anymore that you are not.

You have decided what the "greater good" is.

And it is great if it's good for you, isn't it?