Assange Arrested

Julian Assange has been arrested.  See the following articles:

“The Assange Arrest Is a Warning from History”

“The 7 Years of Lies About Assange Won’t Stop Now”

“Punishing the Past, Impeding the Future: the Arrest of Assange”

“The Ordeal of Julian Assange”

 

 

The smears keep piling on, including even a comedy skit on Saturday Night Live calling him an “Internet troll” and suggesting that he was stealing passwords and snooping on ordinary people (rather than what he actually did: publish the secret, anti-democratic machinations of the powerful).  But even many of Assange’s supporters make numerous distortions.

First (as implied by Pilger, for instance) is to call his situation a roll-back of press freedoms and a new attack on journalism.  Aside from the deeply chauvinistic aspect of these claims (which constitute journalists talking about how important journalists are), they present a false history.  Specially, they act as if (in the USA), the law protected disclosure of truthful information that government officials wish to keep secret.  While this is one possible interpretation of a constitutional provision, it has never been officially adopted or enforced.  Hence the prosecution of Assange is not a deviation but consistent with a pattern.  What these supporters tend to do, specifically, is distort the Pentagon Papers incident from the 1970s involving Daniel Ellsberg, Beacon Press and the New York Times.  The reason Ellsberg, Beacon Press and the New York Times were not ultimately held legally accountable (though there were legal proceedings initiated against each and every one of them) was because then Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record, and legislators are given immunity from prosecution for actions (and statements) on the legislative floor (though Senate rules were subsequently changed to try to prohibit this from happening again).  Once the “cat was out of the bag” with Gravel’s actions, the legal cases against the leakers/publishers were dropped — but only because the information was in the public record by that point.  There was no grand defense of press freedoms established by the courts though.  People who claim otherwise are distorting the historical record and claiming a false victory in order to push a myth about “press freedoms” that obscures the need to actively work to establish those press freedoms for the first time.

Second, when Jonathan Cook describes Wikileaks as “a digital platform that for the first time in history gave ordinary people a glimpse into the darkest recesses of the most secure vaults in the deepest of Deep States” he is only correct is the most semantic sense by saying Wikileaks is “digital”.  Of course, there was other precedent for ordinary people getting a glimpse into the “darkest recesses of the most secure vaults in the deepest of Deep State”:  the publication of the secret allied treaties in the Bolshevik paper Pravda during WWI.  This is still a major reason for anti-Russian sentiment a full century later!  Cook not so surprisingly avoids mentioning this because to do so would open the door for suggesting that communist politics present a systemic break from the false universalism of liberal “freedoms”.

Agamben has it right here.  He echoes this older sentiment about Assange: “he is not spying on the people for those in power, he is spying on those in power for the people.”  (“Assange Works for the People – Now We Need to Save Him”).  Notice how the SNL skit claims the exact opposite, blaming Assange for the sort of conduct that Facebook, Alphabet/Google, the NSA, the FBI, and countless other organizations do on a daily basis (which, ironically, Assange has helped expose!)?

Wikipedia – A Tool Of The Ruling Elite

Link to an episode of the TV program “On Contact,” with Chris Hedges interviewing Helen Buyniski:

“Wikipedia – A Tool Of The Ruling Elite”

 

Bonus links: “Wikipedia: J’accuse” and “The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine” and “Evidence of Google Blacklisting of Left and Progressive Sites Continues to Mount” and “RYM Shitheads” and The Sublime Object of Ideology

Paul Street – Shameless Hypocrisy

Link to an article by Paul Street:

“Shameless Hypocrisy: Lessons of the Great Khashoggi Kill Story”

 

Street (following Herman and Chomsky) is wrong to suggest that this kind of journalism is hypocritical.  Rather, Domenico Losurdo has explained how this disavowed politics of exclusion is central to the kind of liberalism that these sorts of journalists adhere to.  See Liberalism: A Counter-History (“The political criticism that Losurdo directs towards liberalism is based upon a precise philosophical analysis: he exposes the lack of universalism in this train of thought: its inability to go beyond representing the special interests of the strongest classes.”).

Max Blumenthal & Jeb Sprague – Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider

Link to an article by Max Blumenthal & Jeb Sprague:

“Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media ‘Just the Beginning,’ Says Top Neocon Insider”

 

Bonus links: “Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies” and “Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes” and “Untying PropOrNot: Who They Are” and “Clinging to Collusion” and “Three Variations on Trump Quote”

John Pilger – Hold the Front Page

Link to an article by John Pilger:

“Hold the Front Page. The Reporters Are Missing”

 

Bonus links: Critique of Cynical Reason, and “Three Variations on Trump Quote”, and “The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine”

Bonus quote:

“in the analysis of ideology, it is not simply a matter of seeing which account of reality best matches the ‘facts’, with the one that is closest being the least biased and therefore the best. As soon as the facts are determined, we have already — whether we know it or not — made our choice; we are already within one ideological system or another. The real dispute has already taken place over what is to count as the facts, which facts are relevant, and so on.”

Rex Butler, “What Is a Master-Signifier”

Slavoj Žižek – Three Variations on Trump Quote

“There is an even greater problem with the underlying premise of those who proclaim the ‘death of truth’: they talk as if before (say, until the 1980s), in spite of all the manipulations and distortions, truth did somehow prevail, and that the ‘death of truth’ is a relatively recent phenomenon. Already a quick overview tells us that this was not the case. How many violations of human rights and humanitarian catastrophes remained invisible, from the Vietnam War to the invasion of Iraq? Just remember the times of Reagan, Nixon, Bush… The difference was not that the past was more ‘truthful’ but that ideological hegemony was much stronger, so that, instead of today’s greater melee of local ‘truths,’ one ‘truth’ (or, rather, one big Lie) basically prevailed. In the West, this was the liberal-democratic Truth (with a Leftist or Rightist twist). What is happening today is that, with the populist wave which unsettled the political establishment, the Truth/Lie that has served as an ideological foundation for this establishment is also falling apart. And the ultimate reason for this disintegration is not the rise of postmodern relativism but the failure of the ruling establishment, which is no longer able to maintain its ideological hegemony.”

Slavoj Žižek, “Three Variations on Trump: Chaos, Europe, and Fake News”

 

Bonus link: “Fake News: How to Watch the News, Episode 03”