Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Changing the World

An Australian journo has written a delightful (though disapproving) account of Assange's quasi-religious charisma. (Brendan O'Neill, The Australian)This was something I was already observing with interest too so I thank Mr. O'Neill for collecting the data so industriously.

Oxford English Dictionary: CHARISMA n. compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others: ...from Greek kharisma, from kharis 'favour, grace' (OED online)

The Australian article however mistakenly writes as if Assange does his work alone. He doesn't. Wikileaks was actually more active while he was helpless in solitary confinement.

Assange has explained his personality cult very neatly. “It is my role to be the lightning rod," Assange said. "That is a difficult role. On the other hand, I get undue credit."
(Oct. 2010 CNN)

Agreed Assange has a quasi-religious messianic image but I would say this operates with both his admirers and his attackers. To one side he is a rescuing angelic force to the other a destructive demonic force.

Mr. O'Neill declares "Strikingly, it shows how utterly degraded the idea of truth has become."

Indeed so. For Assange admirers the political process you recommend "political engagement, public debate and critical thinking" have failed. These have little or no influence on the ruling class of each nation.
Instead we have deadly secrets like war crimes, lies about WMD, and enquiries or consultations that merely serve to distract or whitewash. Western societies are more unequal than ever especially the USA and UK.
As a result those who support justice, fairness, equality, who were in despair at the destruction of all these values, now find a blazing inspiration in Assange and Wikileaks.

Should Assange be assassinated as some American leaders have demanded, his messianic myth will never die but grow to haunt Governments for centuries. But if he lives he remains a mighty rallying call. What a dilemma for the ruling classes.
Later edit: Assange has referred today to being a messiah without dying. He says this is a positive way to do it! (BBC interview Humphreys)

On the other side they see him as demonic. A techno-wizard superman villain who suddenly whips his cloak aside to reveal their nastiness. How scary. They got used to neatly hiding their foul doings and suddenly it’s not so easy.

The ruling class for now and some time to come is under pressure to take responsibility for what they have done.
When that includes 20,000 ordinary people including children, killed illegally in war crimes, it is difficult to see the downside. Except for the rich ruling class.

Who have not yet managed to point to one death caused by Wikileaks’ exposures.

I'll end this with an excerpt from the BBC interview.

Q: You want to change the world?

JA: Absolutely. The world has a lot of problems
and they need to be reformed. And we only live once. Every person who has some ability to do something about it, if they are a person of good character, has the duty to try and fix the problems in the environment which they're in.

That is a value, that, yes, comes partly from my temperament. There is also a value that comes from my father, which is that capable, generous men don't create victims, they try and save people from becoming victims. That is what they are tasked to do. If they do not do that they are not worthy of respect or they are not capable.


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