Julian Assange In His Own Words


JULIAN ASSANGE


Compiled and edited by KAREN SHARPE

With a preface by CHARLES GLASS

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About the Book

The WikiLeaks publisher and free speech campaigner Julian Assange has, since April 2019, been remanded at a maximum security prison in London facing extradition to the United States over WikiLeaks’ groundbreaking 2010 publications. Now, in this crisp anthology, Assange’s voice emerges – erudite, analytic and prophetic.

Julian Assange In His Own Words provides a highly accessible survey of Assange’s philosophy and politics, conveying his views on how governments, corporations, intelligence agencies and the media function. As well as addressing the significance of the vast trove of leaked documents published by WikiLeaks, Assange draws on a polymathic intelligence to range freely over quantum physics, Greek mythology, macroeconomics, modern literature, and empires old and new.

Drawing on his insights as the world’s most famous free speech activist Assange invites us to ask further questions about how power operates in a world increasingly dominated by a ubiquitous internet.

Assange may be gagged, but in these pages his words run free, providing both an exhortation to fight for a better world and an inspiration when doing so.

192 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-68219-308-2 • E-book 978-1-68219-247-4

 

About the Author

JA author photo

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Julian Assange is the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks and the author of When Google Met WikiLeaks (OR Books, 2014) and Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet (OR Books, 2012).

Julian has won many awards for his journalism including the Amnesty International UK Media Award, Economist Award, Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, Sydney Peace Foundation Prize, Walkley Award and many more.

Articles by Julian Assange have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and the Guardian. Nominated for the Nobel peace prize on numerous occasions his work as a journalist and publisher, and as a campaigner for freedom of expression, has been recognized at the highest level.

Julian is currently facing a 175 year sentence if extradited to the US for his work as a publisher.

Karen Sharpe lives in Paris and has worked as a teacher, journalist, writer, and editor

Read an Excerpt

Activism

What to do
“People often ask, ‘What can I do?’ The answer is not so difficult. Learn how the world works. Challenge the statements and intentions of those who seek to control us behind a facade of democracy and monarchy. Unite in common purpose and common principle to design, build, document, finance and defend. Learn. Challenge. Act. Now.”

Free press activists
“We are free press activists. It’s not about saving the whales. It’s about giving people the information they need to support whaling or not support whaling. Why? That is the raw ingredients necessary to make adjustments to society and without that we’re just sailing in the dark.”

Courage is contagious
“This is why Tiananmen Square is so heavily policed in China, because it’s a congregation point where courage can spread like a contagion.”

Censorship

An opportunity
“[Censorship] is always an opportunity, because it reveals a fear of reform. And if an organization is expressing a fear of reform, it is also expressing the fact that it can be reformed.”

Who controls the present controls the past
“Important bits of recent history that were relevant to an ongoing presidential campaign in the United States were pulled out of the intellectual record. … Not only have they ceased to exist, they have ceased to have ever existed. It is the modern implementation of [George] Orwell’s dictum: ‘Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past’—because all records of the past are stored physically in the present.”

Empire

True human cost of empire
“Only by approaching this corpus [the State Department cables], holistically—over and above the documentation of each individual abuse, each localized atrocity—does the true human cost of empire heave into view.”

Communications medium is the empire
“The study of empires has long been the study of their communications. Carved into stone or inked into parchment, empires from Babylon to the Ming Dynasty left records of the organizational center communicating with its peripheries. However, by the 1950s students of historical empires realized that somehow the communications medium was the empire. Its methods for organizing the inscription, transportation, indexing and storage of its communications, and for designating who was authorized to read and write them, in a real sense constituted the empire. When the methods an empire used to communicate changed, the empire also changed.”

Threatened by a wild colonial boy
“How could this very establishment in the United Kingdom, which has been in power for hundreds of years, feel threatened? … It has many components: the intelligence services, the banks, the landed gentry… the commercial media. It has the BBC, which is the big propaganda organism that helps keep the country cohesive. It is quite a sophisticated power structure with these interplaying parts. How could they feel threatened by a wild colonial boy from Australia…?”

Internet

A new pre-revolutionary moment
“This is a new pre-revolutionary moment, just like when you had industrialization and as a result you developed skilled workers, and once skilled workers developed the political consciousness as to their own power and position in society, they could act to change the society. The internet generation is in exactly that same position—even in a more advantageous position because the internet is also involved not merely in the control structure of these great and powerful institutions but it is involved intimately in spreading our culture, spreading our knowledge about the world. And it is a replacement media, and it is unignorable.”

Journalism

Like any US publisher
“We’ve actually played inside the rules—we didn’t go out to get the material. We operated just like any US publisher operates.” P. 27

Messengers for the State Department
“As the diplomatic apparatus of the United States, the State Department is directly involved in putting a friendly face on empire, concealing its underlying mechanics. Every year, more than $1 billion is budgeted for ‘public diplomacy,’ a circumlocutory term for outward-facing propaganda. Public diplomacy explicitly aims to influence journalists and civil society, so that they serve as conduits for State Department messaging.”

Throwing the First Amendment in the bin
“If we’re talking about creating threats to small publishers to stop them publishing, the US has lost its way. It has abrogated its founding traditions, it has thrown the First Amendment in the bin, because publishers must be free to publish.”

Justice

Espionage indictment the new Peace Prize
“It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.”

Politics subsuming rights
“Rights are freedoms of action that are known to be enforceable. Consequently there are no rights without beliefs about the future effects of behavior. Unenforceable general rights exist only insofar as they are argumentation that may one day yield enforcement. Hence the Divine Right of Kings, the right of way, mining rights, conjugal rights, property rights, and copyright. The decision as to what should be enforced and what may be ignored is political. This does not mean that rights are unimportant, but rather, that politics (the societal control of freedom) is so important as to subsume rights”.

Anger can be power
“If you are exposed to an unjust situation, rather than collapse, justice gives you an anger that reinforces you. Rather than the pressure causing you to fold, the injustice is the pressure that generates anger that is sustaining …”

Power

The need for transparency
“The greater the power, the more need there is for transparency, because if the power is abused, the result can be so enormous. On the other hand, those people who do not have power, we mustn’t reduce their power even more by making them yet more transparent.”

Understanding power
“I do have a political temperament, which is a combination of libertarianism and the importance of understanding. And what emerges from this temperament is holding power to account through action driven by understanding. So, if you have a libertarian temperament, then you’re temperamentally opposed to authoritarian power. And if you have a temperament that is inclined to understanding, then you want to know what power is about. These two things combined drive forth a position, an intellectual and political position that is about understanding power to such a degree that power is not able to express its most abusive aspects.”

Prison

Calling a political prisoner a political prisoner
“It doesn’t suit the Western establishment narrative, that, yes, the West has political prisoners. It’s a reality, it’s not just me, there’s a bunch of other people as well. … No state accepts to call the people it’s imprisoning, it’s detaining for political reasons, political prisoners. They don’t call them political prisoners in China. They don’t call them political prisoners in Azerbaijan. And they don’t call them political prisoners in the US, Britain, or Sweden. It’s absolutely intolerable to have that kind of self-description.”

Adaptability of humans
“One of the best attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. One of the worst attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. They adapt and start to tolerate abuses. They adapt to being themselves involved in abuses. They adapt to adversity and continue on. In my situation, frankly I have been institutionalized. This is the world, visually this is the world. It’s a world without sunlight but I haven’t seen sunlight in so long I don’t remember it. You adapt. The one real irritant is that my young children, they adapt, they adapt to being without their father. That’s a hard adaption which they didn’t ask for. … I worry about them, I worry about their mother.”

Society

Struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans
“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans; between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence.”

Surveillance

Like having a tank in your bedroom
“I can see there is now a militarization of cyberspace, in the sense of a military occupation. When you communicate over the Internet, when you communicate using mobile phones, which are now meshed to the Internet, your communications are being intercepted by military intelligence organizations. It’s like having a tank in your bedroom. It’s a soldier between you and your wife as you’re SMSing. We re all living under martial law as far as our communications are concerned, we just can’t see the tanks—but they are there. To that degree, the Internet, which was supposed to be a civilian space, has become a militarized space. But the Internet is our space, because we all use it to communicate with each other…”

Hot phone tip
“If you think you have a hot phone, you charge the battery up fully, and then you post it overseas.”

War

Afghan War Diaries shifting perception
“The Afghan War Diaries, which revealed 90,000 different significant acts in Afghanistan, down to the meter where they occurred, the particular locations involved, the deaths of 20,000 different people, individually recorded—that changed the perception of the Afghan War in 2010 irrevocably. … Post the revelations of the Afghan War Logs, the discussion was … how can we get out, that it is a debacle, a quagmire…”

Lied into war, truthed into peace
“Most wars in the twentieth century started as a result of lies amplified and spread by the mainstream press. And you may say, ‘Well that is a horrible circumstance; it is terrible that all these wars start with lies.’ And I say no, this is a tremendous opportunity, because it means that populations basically don’t like wars and they have to be lied into it. That means we can be ‘truthed’ into peace. This is cause for hope.”

WikiLeaks

Rebel library of Alexandria
“WikiLeaks has become the rebel library of Alexandria. It is the single most significant collection of information that doesn’t exist elsewhere, in a searchable, accessible, citable form, about how modern institutions actually behave. And it’s gone on to set people free from prison, where documents have been used in their court cases; hold the CIA accountable for renditions programs; feed into election cycles, which have resulted in the termination of … or contributed to the termination of governments, … the heads of intelligence agencies, ministers of defense and so on. So, you know, our civilization can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilization is. We can’t possibly hope to reform that which we do not understand.”

Scientific method
“So everything we do is like science. It is checkable, independently checkable, because the information which has informed our conclusion is there. Just like scientific papers which are based on experimental data must make their experimental data available to other scientists and to the public, if they want their papers to be published. It’s our philosophy that raw source material must be made available so that conclusions can be checkable…”

Promising sources impact
“We promised our sources impact and we were delivering. If people were going to prison it would not be for nothing.”

In the Media