Monday, 20 December 2010

Ass...ange


We face a rising tide of stupidity and subversion; for the two invariably flow together. The Times reported on Saturday that anarchist groups - the people who dominated and guided the recent student demonstrations in England - are planning further exhibitions, including one against the royal wedding. It must not be assumed for a moment that these people are any more significant than they were in the past, but the Internet, the medium of instant communication, the arena of flash mobs, has given them a power that they had never hitherto possessed: the power of concentration and rapid mobilisation.

So, there they are: an army of weirdoes, geeks and hackers, people who smash a Macdonald’s window at one moment and attempt to sabotage the web sites of banks and credit card companies at the next. These organisations have become targets because the digital anarchists, the Jacobins of the net, do not like their boycott of Wikileaks. Hardly surprising this: delinquents are bound to support one of the most delinquent enterprises spawned by the net. They are bound to support that Julian Assange fellow, that alleged sexual predator, in his monumental irresponsibility. He is just like them; they are just like him.

I suppose there is a counter-position here. This one-sided betrayal of the process of diplomacy, which, of it’s very nature, has to be conducted in confidence, in the frankness induced by confidence, has hugely increased my admiration for the United States of America and the way it caries out its business. The leaks have shown American diplomats to be statesmanlike and controlled, in contrast with the hysteria of some of those with whom they do business. It's such a disappointment to the Guardian-reading crowd.

Wikileaks is a joke, a pathetic anti-American conspiracy which turned out to be, well, pathetic, a purveyor of gossip and international small-talk. Assange is little better than a schoolboy saboteur, an ass with ass’s ears, for those with the wit to see the man in his Bottom-like form. But his anarchist, conspiracy monger and UFO-spotting admirers are blind, unable, or unwilling, to see that his revelations also carry dangers.

I think, on further reflection, that they may very well welcome these dangers, a chance for a spot of practical sabotage. His site has identified targets across the world considered vital to American security. A number of these are in my country, which means that the terrorist threat is all the greater, the threat to innocent people who happen to work in, for example, centres for the manufacture of smallpox vaccines.

I simply do not comprehend those who offer encouragement to this sort of thing, these kinds of leaks, one-sided and deeply undemocratic, by a secretive web organisation accountable to no one but itself, whose own activities are far from transparent, beyond the posturing of Assange, its laughable and self-promoting front man. It’s all part of the conspiracy that we face from the geeks of the world, who only need the internet to rampage behind Bottom.


My Oberon! what visions I have seen!
Methought I was enamoured of an ass.

36 comments:

  1. Here's why we need Wikileaks and other organizations like it:

    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-world-growing-beyond-control/?hpid=topnews

    Power feeds upon itself in secret, Ana, and even the best go bad if not held in check. The state cannot be trusted with our power unless we know exactly what it is doing in our name. Of course that makes our servants' jobs harder, but that is irrelevant. If they don't like the work, let them do something else.

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  2. Ah, Calvin, yes I know your views on this. I could wish for perfect transparency, Wikileaks from Moscow and Beijing, rather than this one-sided process.

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  3. This is a complex issue as power corrupts and there has to be a system of checks and balances but there are issues that are truly vital to national security. The problem is when "National security" is missused for personal agendas etc. UFOs are real, most are expirimental aircraft but it is most likely that there are other advanced civilizations in the cosmos. NASA lies ( Never A Straight Answer)

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  4. Anthony, I see it as an attempt to harm the interests, and compromise the security, of the United States. To that extent it has backfired, so much so that the Iranians believe the whole thing to be a hoax.

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  5. It would be fun to re-read some of the histories of the Congress of Vienna imagining that Talleyrand, Castlereagh, von Humboldt and Metternich were tweeting their views on the negotiations.

    I suspect the outcome would have been better: deadlocks would have been broken and Prussian hegemony in Germany might have been avoided.

    Too much modern diplomacy is conducted under protocols designed for the Napoleonic era.

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  6. Leaks from US sources are only one small part of Wikileaks' activities.

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  8. Suciô, it is possible to pick up the diplomatic tittle-tattle of the day in letters, diaries and such, and yes, it is fascinating. On a point of information the last thing the diplomats of were concerned about was Prussian hegemony. Prussia, although important, was still a relatively minor power compared with Russia and Austria. For years after Vienna it was a junior partner in the Concert of Europe. It was only after the understanding between Russia and Austria ended - one of the consequences of the Crimean War - that Prussia began to emerge in its own right. However, that's getting far away from your point about the nature of diplomacy. It can never - no more than business can- be a completely open enterprise. Confidentiality is of crucial importance when discussing sensitive matters. Would you trust someone who automatically revealed all they knew about you and your affairs? Would it be possible to conduct business against such a background? I rather think not.

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  9. Calvin, that's where the fire is directed, though.

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  11. Adam, first the Cold War is over; it's been over for years. Second, I am partisan, something I have never attempted to disguise. My bias embraces an unashamedly pro-American position, a country I have long considered to be a second home. Assange, in my estimation, is just as dangerous as the anarchists who desecrated the streets of London. What I do or do not 'give a fuck about', as you so elegantly put it, is entirely my affair. Once again I write to please myself without fear of the consequences. If the whole world flowed in one direction I would flow in the other.

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  14. Assange is indeed more than a nuisance. He is dangerous.

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  16. Ana, your post focuses on irresponsible saboteurs, as you put it. Related to this, what are your views on those journalists and intellectuals too cozy to the state to be able to critique it properly who are still with us, doing democracy no favors either, those like Bob Woodward, Thomas Friedman, "Bush's useful idiots", as Tony Judt put it, who didn't have much factual information on the Iraq War to go on outside of their coziness to the state? It's hard to believe that a mere ten years ago only a handful of influential news organizations determined the shape of our news. Your post focuses on national security issues, but I would think it's we who now determine the news.

    Likewise, as democracy spreads, the means for being influential and heard broadly may become more desperate, like with what these hackers and weirdoes are doing, but the ends might still be a stronger democracy? I don't know; that's why I'm asking. If the art world is to be of any example, Andy Warhol had once been considered a subversive and a freak; now everyone has to mention at least a little bit about what a Catholic he was. Something to warm the heart of all Catholics, I would assume.

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  17. I agree the Crimean War and Austria's foolish decision to side with France was Prussia's biggest break, but they were groomed for the role of buffer power from Vienna onwards.

    With 20/20 hindsight, the Congress should have restored the pre-Napoleonic status quo ante among the dozens of German "shrapnel" principalities.

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  18. Yule, Dec 21 winter solstice, 0 degrees Capricorn, Oak Moon, total lunar eclipse. Have a good holiday season.

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  19. @Adam: An Xmas present, the pineal gland is the stargate. He who sees with the one eye is full of light. (Jesus)

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  21. Adam, first I see no evidence that the world 'hates' my country, a silly argument that I once tore apart on another site. But even if it did, even if it could be proved that it did, I could not care less. Second, I delight in taking a minority position; I delight in thinking for myself and reaching my own conclusions; I delight in being free. If I were alone I would still argue as I do.

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  22. David, yes, I agree. The sooner he is sent to Sweden the better.

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  25. Stephen, I am in favour of bold, investigative journalism, in favour of the uncovering of all forms of political corruption; it’s an essential part of a free society. I think Woodward and Bernstein did an excellent job in unravelling Watergate. When things are wrong people should say they are wrong. The decision to go to war in Iraq was wrong; Bush was wrong. But there is a huge difference between serious journalism - and intelligent criticism - and the intellectually lazy and questionable Wikileaks, a secretive organisation that releases information with the specific aim of undermining the security of the United States and, in the process, increasing the risk of terrorism in various places across the world, including England. I believe in a strong democracy, but is this the way to achieve it, information released without context by a secretive and undemocratic website for entirely self-serving ends? Certainly not in my view.

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  26. Suciô, too much had changed to allow for a full restoration of the ancien régime. The Holy Alliance was at least an attempt to ensure that there would be no further change, but it's impossible to withstand the pressures built up by the tectonoic plates of history.

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  27. Adam, for goodness sake Blair is gone, amongst other things earning lots of money from the foreigners who allegedly hate him. :-) People do not 'love' other people's nations, not as a rule, anyway.

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  29. Are love and admiration two entirely different aspects ? or different degrees of affection.

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  30. @Adam:It is all about being in the right state of mind.

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  31. Anthony, there is some truth in that, though admiration is generally a more measured emotion.

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  32. Thanks for your views. I was going to extend the argument, wondering whether this really is an isolated nut-job case; after all, there were a lot of snitches involved willing to part with the info. But I'll just offer an interesting take from the technological aspect here,

    http://www.radioopensource.org/wikileaks-a-simulation-of-net-wars-to-come/

    and say Happy Holidays to you Ana and to everyone in England. Stay warm all you lovers!

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  33. Stephen, oh, no, there is more to this than Assange himself; there is more to Wikileaks. I'm convinced the old adage applies here - follow the money, always follow the money.

    I'll have a look at your link. Happy holidays to you too, Stephen, and everyone in America. :-)

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  34. WTF!

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/22/politics/washingtonpost/main7174404.shtml

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