Why They Want to Destroy Julian Assange

Via Mises Wire

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks The exploits of WikiLeaks and its enigmatic founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange's heroic but tragic life is coming to a head in the next weeks. A British court shall soon rule whether Assange, ostensibly a publisher and journalist, shall be extradited to the United States to be charged with espionage. Though many people around the world have followed Assange's hardships on and off during the last decade, it is really now, during this sham trial in London, that the importance of the struggle for political freedom should become clear to all.

In the widest sense, political freedom can be defined as freedom from state coercion. Granted the existence of a state, however small, political freedom is therefore never complete. And it can never be taken for granted; political freedom must always be fought for, if only to hang on to the gains of the past. Though there is more political freedom in the West today than when Bertrand Russell was locked up for opposing conscription during World War I, the state still has no qualms about trampling on individual rights when it deems that its interests are at stake. Assange has been spied upon, incarcerated, and tortured. The right to privacy of millions of ordinary people has been violated through secret, illegal surveillance programs conducted by intelligence agencies, some of which have been disclosed by Assange and the sources he worked with.

Although Assange is not exactly a libertarian, he acts upon the libertarian idea that the state shall have no secrets from the people. In his words, "transparency and accountability [of the state] are moral issues." It is the moral principle that the people have a right to know everything that their state servants say, write, and do; especially when they commit acts that are illegal under the state’s own legal system. Of course, this point becomes more relevant as the State grows in size and scope; if it were cut down to a night watchman state, there would be far less to know.

The public acceptance of the state’s oversized role in society has been achieved over generations through the public education system and an obedient mainstream media. It has been enforced by the threat of violence (or actual violence if needed, as in the case of Assange) in order to deal with serious dissenters. The state requires a compliant public opinion in order to rule and will therefore not tolerate anyone who might weaken the people's tacit acceptance of a state with fingers in all pies.

Since the rise of the modern state, many so-called enemies of the state have been at the receiving end of its power, from Voltaire and Emma Goldman to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The struggle for political freedom is difficult because of the seriousness of the challenge, as Julian Assange is experiencing now. When this struggle starts yielding results it entails immediate dangers, because the state, like any organism, will defend itself; it cannot accept successful attempts to undermine its legitimacy, to curtail its power, to make it accountable, or to expose its secrets. It will start by trying to dissuade and, often successfully, dangle benefits to sway the less determined. If that doesn't work, the state will warn its victims, in true mafia style, and can then decide to ruin careers, imprison, and finally resort to murder if that is required to remove a serious threat.

This is what is happening to Julian Assange, as to many before him. Ironically, the unacceptable treatment of Assange confirms the abhorrent nature of the state. The US government perceives Assange as a serious threat, because he has successfully helped expose its crimes and could continue to do so unless he is stopped. Thanks to Wikileaks, which Assange has led, the public now knows about the US military's war crimes, the CIA's mass surveillance program (Vault7), US political corruption (DNC email archive), and many other illegal acts committed by the state apparatus. Because all such crimes have to be kept secret in order to maintain the illusion of the state's benevolence, the US government has decided to punish Assange for exposing them, thus also deterring others from emulating him.

This frontal attack on Assange by Washington, DC, confirms the particularly unaccountable and deleterious character of the US federal government. European states are far from innocent but behave better in our time because they are more internally and externally circumscribed. Despite this, or because of it, Britain—and Europe—is incapable or unwilling to stand up to the United States, even if it means sacrificing its most fundamental principles as it does its bidding. As John Pilger wrote, "the land that gave us Magna Carta, Great Britain, is distinguished by the abandonment of its own sovereignty in allowing a malign foreign power to manipulate justice."

The US, in collaboration with the UK and the mostly complicit mainstream media, sees Assange as an enemy that needs to be neutralized, Full Article by Finn Andreen @ Mises Wire