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Book Review Assange: integrity and courage

Assange is motivated by radical, democratic impulses, writes HELEN MERCER

Julian Assange in His Own Words
Compiled and edited by Karen Sharpe
OR Books, £12.99

MOBILISING support for Julian Assange has been an uphill struggle against lies, smears and distortions from a fearsome array of politicians, the mass media and judges. He is constantly denounced as a “narcissist” and “self-publicist.”

A rebuttal to such character assassination comes in this small book, a collection of short extracts from Assange’s many writings, interviews and speeches published before he was imprisoned in Belmarsh two-and-a-half years ago.

What emerges is a man to be admired for his integrity and humanity, an intelligent and considered thinker.  

Assange is motivated by radical, democratic impulses. The internet, he explains, is “the top of the whole neoliberal system” of commercial transaction and property laws which underpin it.

He targets the “privatisation of words”… “the way we refer to our common intellectual record is becoming privatised, with different parts of it being soaked up into domain names controlled by private companies, institutions and states.”

The “investors of a few Silicon Valley companies,” promote a mindset and culture tolerable to their interests, a process he describes as “digital colonialism.”

His response to the “censorship pyramid” was to build “a rebel library of Alexandria.” Operating on the premise that information is “the raw ingredient that is needed to make a just and civil society,” Wikileaks would expand humanity’s “full intellectual record.”

The Marxist philosopher Gabriel Rockhill refers to the “capitalist apparatus of knowledge production.” Assange is no Marxist but this book reveals his understanding of the current technical means of distribution and exchange of “knowledge” or, in today’s speak, “the narrative.”

Wikileaks decisively intervened in this process shattering any lingering illusions that US wars are fought for democracy or liberty and providing a powerful force for peace.

The Iraq and Afghan war logs, the “Gitmo” files and Vault 7 (the diplomatic cables) published through Wikileaks form the core of the US extradition request, making it quite clear that the persecution of Assange intends to stifle dissent to US and Western warmongering.

Karen Sharpe’s painstaking collection should become an essential tool in the campaign for Assange’s  life. At the 11th hour that campaign is gathering pace.

This is adapted from the review published on the website of the Committee for the Defence of Julian Assange, from whom copies can also be obtained.


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