Assange Arrested

Julian Assange has been arrested.  See the following articles:

“Avoiding Assange”

“Uncle Tom’s Empire”

“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”

“Extradition of Julian Assange Threatens Us All”

 

 

The smears keep piling on, including even multiple comedy bits 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 or lost — but only because the information was in the public record by that point (judges do not necessarily honestly describe this in their written opinions).  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.  Yet Glenn Greenwald has carefully explained how the criminal charges against Assange are still different and more expansive than those levied against those associated with the Pentagon Papers publications.  Though aside from these judicial niceties, as Jim Kavanagh notes, all this may well have a social impact on the attitudes of journalists.

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”.  Really the difference was the speed and volume at which Wikileaks published these things in a “digital” environment.  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”).  (See also “Jónasson: The Icelandic Minister Who Refused Cooperation With the FBI”). 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!)?

T.J. Coles – Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex

Link to an article by T.J. Coles:

“Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex”

 

Note that this identified deGrasse Tyson as an old-fashioned shill rather than part of the “idiot pool”.  Anyway, this article doesn’t explicitly reach deGrasse Tyson’s secular humanist “scientism” ideology which is really what drives his sociopolitical status quo boosterism:

“The relevance of these practices is that they account for Tyson’s scientism as a tactic in a culture war. I’ll lay out some principles of Tyson’s apparent culture to show how the conflict arises. Tyson’s all-business impatience with philosophy and his allusion to progress indicate that he stands not just for the supremacy of science, but for the modern institutions (capitalism, private industry, democracy) that have exploited scientific knowledge. The liberal values (freedom of thought, environmentalism, admiration for underdog scientists) and inchoate pantheism that surface in his series, Cosmos, show that he stands also for secular humanism. Put these together and you have a culture that reduces to neoliberalism, an ideology that’s analyzed thoroughly by Philip Mirowski’s Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste. Neoliberalism is the rebirth of the social policies that led to the Great Depression, which rebirth was made possible by some propagandists’ mastery of the double standard. Neoliberalism is what powerful Republicans and Democrats have in common, the understanding that capitalism runs counter to democracy, but that a semblance of the latter is needed as the noble lie to sustain the magic of the former. Thus, neoliberals are both populists and technocrats, depending on their audience. In any case, in so far as Tyson despises philosophy for being useless in contrast to science, he must approve of the modern applications of science—not just the medical breakthroughs and technological advances, but the egoistic, materialistic mass culture of consumerism that bankrolls the loftier work of scientific inquiry.”

Benjamin Cain, “Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Scientism and the Scapegoating of Philosophy”

Joe Lauria – Clinging to Collusion

Link to an article by Joe Lauria:

“Clinging to Collusion: Why Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in the Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’”

 

Rather curious how much press this unsubstantiated “Russian meddling” trope gets, whereas the old story of tampering with voting machines by Republican party operatives received little: “The Ghost of Rigged Elections Past: New Revelations on the Death of Michael Connell”See also “Reflections on Media Gone Russia-Wild” and “The Utility of the RussiaGate Conspiracy” and “Why Is Russiagate Rumbling Into the 2018 Midterms?” and “The Road to Disaster?” and “The New York Times as Judge and Jury”

Kalundi Serumaga – On Reinventing Europe: An Open Letter to Mr George Soros

Link to an article/letter by Kalundi Serumaga:

“On Reinventing Europe: An Open Letter to Mr George Soros”

 

This pieces raises many excellent points.  But it is also worth pointing out some questionable aspects of its theoretical framework and recommendations.  First, while the article characterizes the essence of Europe as Bonapartism, it does so by applying philosophical standards that originated in Europe, or at least drew from European precedents.  While it may well be fair to call the current hegemonic ideology of Europe (and elsewhere) Bonapartist, to treat all of Europe as monolithic and without counter-currents seems rather reductionist.  Second, the “tasks for EU civil society” include “2. Find out what your countries truly owe, and make them pay it back”  This is basically both a politics of victimhood and an expression of ressentimentFrantz Fanon once wrote, “The colonized man is an envious man.”  That seems accurate in this context, but as a statement of limitation of vision.  The last chapter of Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks explicitly rejected Serumaga’s approach, and that is a big part of why Fanon is a stronger theoretical reference point than what is expressed in Serumaga’s article.  Lastly, the article concludes by saying, “It is time for the North to (once again, after Ancient Egypt) learn from the South.”  This is a dubious offhand assertion of identity politics, yet again in the service of the valorization of victimhood status and ressentiment.

Tom Secker & Matthew Alford – Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War on Behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA

Link to an article by Tom Secker & Matthew Alford:

“Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War on Behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA”

 

Bonus links: Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies and National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood and Hollywood and the CIA: Cinema, Defense and Subversion and Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film and “Modern Art Was CIA ‘Weapon'” and “Booting a Tramp: Charlie Chaplin, the FBI and the Construction of the Subversive Image in Red Scare America”