Twenty-One Thoughts On The Persecution Of Julian Assange
Commentary by: Caitlin Johnstone
1. I write a lot about the plight of Julian Assange for the same reason I write a lot about the Iraq invasion … his persecution, when sincerely examined, exposes undeniable proof that we are ruled by a transnational power establishment which is immoral and dishonest to its core.
2. Assange started a leak outlet on the premise that corrupt and unaccountable power is a problem in our world, and that the problem can be fought with the light of truth. Corrupt and unaccountable power has responded by detaining, silencing and smearing him. The persecution of Assange has proved his thesis about the world absolutely correct.
3. Anyone who offends the US-centralized empire will find themselves subject to a trial by media, and the media are owned by the same plutocratic class which owns the empire. To believe what mass media news outlets tell you about those who stand up to imperial power is to ignore reality.
4. Corrupt and unaccountable power uses its political and media influence to smear Assange because, as far as the interests of corrupt and unaccountable power are concerned, killing his reputation is as good as killing him. If everyone can be paced into viewing him with hatred and revulsion, they’ll be far less likely to take WikiLeaks publications seriously, and they’ll be far more likely to consent to Assange’s silencing and imprisonment. Someone can be speaking 100 percent truth to you, but if you’re suspicious of him you won’t believe anything he’s saying. If they can manufacture that suspicion with total or near-total credence, then as far as our rulers are concerned it’s as good as putting a bullet in his head.
5. The fact that the mass media can keep saying day after day “Hey, you know that bloke at the embassy who shares embarrassing truths about very powerful people? He’s a stinky Nazi rapist Russian spy who mistreats his cat” without raising suspicion shows you how propagandized the public already is. A normal worldview unmolested by corrupt narrative control would see someone who circulates inconvenient facts about the powerful being called pretty much all the worst things in the world and know immediately that that person is being lied about by those in power.
6. Relentless smear campaigns against Assange have given the unelected power establishment the ability to publicly make an example of a journalist who published uncomfortable truths without provoking the wrath of the masses. It’s a town square flogging that the crowd has been manipulated into cheering for. Narrative control has enabled them to have their cake and eat it too: they get to act like medieval lords and inflict draconian punishment against a speaker of undeniable facts and leave his head on a spike in the town square as a warning to other would-be truth tellers, and have the public believe that such a bizarre violation of modern human rights is perfectly fine and acceptable.
7. There are people who worked really hard to get journalism degrees, toiled long hours to earn the esteemed privilege of appearing on the front pages of a major publication, only to find themselves writing articles with headlines like “Julian Assange is a stinky, stinky stink man.”
8. Ordinary citizens often find themselves eager to believe the smear campaigns against Assange because it is easier than believing that their government would participate in the deliberate silencing and imprisoning of a journalist for publishing facts.
9. And yes, Julian Assange is most certainly a journalist. Publishing important information about what’s going on in the world so the public can inform themselves is precisely the thing that journalism is. There is no conventional definition of journalism which differs from this. Anyone who says Assange is not a journalist is telling a lie that they may or may not actually believe in order to justify his persecution and their support for it.
10. Another reason people can find themselves eager to believe smears about Assange is that the raw facts revealed by WikiLeaks publications punch giant holes in the stories about the kind of world, nation and society that most people have been taught to believe they live in since school age. These kinds of beliefs are interwoven with people’s entire egoic structures, with their sense of self and who they are as a person, so narratives which threaten to tear them apart can feel the same as a personal attack. This is why you’ll hear ordinary citizens talking about Assange as though he attacked them personally; all he did was publish facts about the powerful, but since those facts conflict with tightly held identity constructs, the cognitive dissonance that was caused to them can be interpreted as feeling like he’d slapped them in the face.
11. We live in a reality where unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are scrutinized and criticized far, far less than a guy trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies.
12. Assange disrupts establishment narratives even in his persecution. Liberal establishment loyalists in America still haven’t found a rational answer to criticisms that in supporting Assange’s criminal prosecution they are supporting a Trump administration agenda. You now have the same people who’ve been screaming that Trump is Hitler and that he’s attacking the free press cheering for the possibility of that same administration imprisoning a journalist for publishing facts.
13. The precedent that would be set by the US prosecuting a foreign journalist for merely publishing factual information would constitute a greater leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia than the Patriot Act, for America and for the entire world.
14. The billionaire media has invalidated itself with its refusal to defend Assange. They know the precedent set by his prosecution for WikiLeaks publications would kill the ability of the press to hold power to account, but they don’t care because they know they never do that. For all their crying about Jamal Khashoggi and Jim Acosta’s hurt feelings, they do not actually care about journalism or “the free press” in any meaningful way.
15. Whenever I see a blue checkmark account on Twitter bashing Assange I mentally translate whatever they’re saying into “There is nothing I won’t do to advance my career in corporate media. If you’re in a position to promote me I will literally get down on my knees right this very second and let you do whatever you want to my body.”
16. I sometimes feel like I respect professional propagandists who smear Assange more than I respect ordinary citizens who go around smearing him for free. What do these people think they’ll get as a reward for their work as pro bono CIA propagandists? A gold star from Big Brother? They’re like slaves who beat and betray other slaves that fall out of line in order to win favor with the master, except they’re not even achieving that. The professional manipulators are at least cheering for their own class to continue to have its leadership’s interests advanced; ordinary people who do it are cheering for their own oppression.
17. Even lower in my view are the self-proclaimed leftists and anarchists who view themselves as oppositional to the establishment but still help advance this smear campaign. It is impossible to attack Assange without supporting the Orwellian empire which is persecuting him. I don’t care what mental gymnastics you’re doing to justify your pathetic cronyism; what you are doing benefits the most powerful and depraved people on this planet.
18. Anyone who participates in the ongoing smear campaign against Assange and Wikileaks is basically just saying “Extremely powerful people should be able to lie to us without any difficulty or opposition at all.”
19. Everyone should always be extremely suspicious of anyone who defends the powerful from the less powerful. It’s amazing that this isn’t more obvious to more people.
20. Contrary to the narratives promoted by establishment smear merchants, Julian Assange is not hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy. He is hiding from injustice. Everyone who knows anything about the US government’s prosecution of leakers and whistleblowers knows he has no shot at a fair trial, and would face brutal mistreatment at the hands of the same regime which tortured Chelsea Manning.
21. The persecution of Assange is essentially a question that mankind is asking itself: do we want to (A) continue down the path of omnicidal, ecocidal Orwellian dystopia, or do we want to (B) pull up and away from that trajectory and shrug off the oppressive power establishment which is driving us toward either total extinction or total enslavement? So far, A is the answer we’ve been giving ourselves to that question. But, as long as we switch before it’s too late, we can always change our answer.
Caitlin Johnstone: That was fun. So, the best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet new merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.
About the Author: Caitlin Johnstone is a Rogue journalist. Bogan socialist. Anarcho-psychonaut. Guerrilla poet. Utopia prepper.
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