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Ghosting: Julian Assange's nonexistent autobiography, by Andrew O'Hagan
February 22, 2014 3:37 AM   Subscribe

"In a lengthy, nuanced essay for the London Review of Books, a version of which he delivered in a lecture in London on Friday, O'Hagan describes working with a mercurial character who was, by turns, passionate, funny, lazy, courageous, vain, paranoid, moral and manipulative. The book deal ultimately collapsed, O'Hagan writes, because 'the man who put himself in charge of disclosing the world's secrets simply couldn't bear his own. The story of his life mortified him and sent him scurrying for excuses. He didn't want to do the book. He hadn't from the beginning.'" (via)
posted by FrauMaschine (107 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got stuck at paragraphs 9 and 10, which collapsed rhetorically, in that the assertions made don't follow from preceding statements and paragraphs. To me, this lack of clear reasoning reveals more the author's political biases than any useful portrayal or critique of Assange. It's not effective writing, and so it's not objective writing; I expect better quality from LRB articles.
posted by polymodus at 3:56 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


O'Hagan, a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books since 1993, describes his own political stance quite a bit further on in the piece:

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the United Kingdom under Thatcher and Blair, those of us who lived through the Troubles and the Falklands War, the miners’ strike, the deregulation of the City, and Iraq, believed that exposing secret deals and covert operations would prove a godsend. When WikiLeaks began this process in 2010, it felt, to me anyhow, but also to many others that this might turn out to be the greatest contribution to democracy since the end of the Cold War. A new kind of openness suddenly looked possible: technology might allow people to watch their watchers, at last, and to inspect the secrets being kept, supposedly in our name, and to expose fraud and exploitation wherever it was encountered in the new media age. It wasn’t a subtle plan but it smacked of the kind of idealism that many of us hadn’t felt for a while in British life, where big moral programmes on the left are thin on the ground. Assange looked like a counter-warrior and a man not made for the deathly compromises of party politics.
posted by FrauMaschine at 4:21 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I got stuck at paragraphs 9 and 10, which collapsed rhetorically, in that the assertions made don't follow from preceding statements and paragraphs.

If you might explain how they 'collapsed rhetorically', I'd be interested. Personally, I thought this was in fact a very lucid and very even-handed piece of writing, where the author's political stance served to highlight Assange's problem, which is that he seems to regard himself as more important than the work he is doing.

Sarah: ‘And that you set out to impregnate girls. It says you said to one of them you would call their baby “Afghanistan”. Well, that does sound like you. I've heard you say that sort of thing, about naming babies after your campaigns.’

I don't even.
posted by Quilford at 4:56 AM on February 22 [10 favorites]


he seems to regard himself as more important than the work he is doing.

Isn't the idea of writing his biography rather than writing to further his work going along with that same idea?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:30 AM on February 22


the man who put himself in charge of disclosing the world's secrets simply couldn't bear his own.

His secrets are largely irrelevant. He is a private citizen and therefore not subject to the same scrutiny to which state actors should be subject. Yes, there is an argument to be made that he decided to become a famous public figure and therefore he's fair game, and I'd buy that argument. But at the end of the day, shining sunlight onto the behaviours of state actors is a far cry from baring your own, personal, secrets.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:38 AM on February 22 [25 favorites]


Human being is flawed and contradictory...news at 11.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:42 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Isn't the idea of writing his biography rather than writing to further his work going along with that same idea?

Biographies are written because the work of their subject deserves to be endorsed, not because their subject's personality deserves to be endorsed. Even if you disagree with that, O'Hagan describes his motive for writing the biography in the first few paragraphs and it certainly doesn't seem to me to be about increasing Assange's celebrity, or his ego.
posted by Quilford at 5:44 AM on February 22


Biographies are written because the work of their subject deserves to be endorsed, not because their subject's personality deserves to be endorsed.

Wha? Do you know how many biographies of Hitler have been written?
posted by Leon at 5:58 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


"He doesn’t want people to see how his mind works." O'Hagan's essay in a nutshell.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:02 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]


Wha? Do you know how many biographies of Hitler have been written?

Er, yeah, that should be 'Biographies that endorse the work of their subject...'
posted by Quilford at 6:02 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


His secrets are largely irrelevant. He is a private citizen and therefore not subject to the same scrutiny to which state actors should be subject.

Do you feel the same way about other people who wield power, mostly behind the scenes? CEOs, Quango members, celebrities with political viewpoints, people who work in finance, lobbyists... whether or not your salary happens to be paid by the state is a minor detail.

He's not a private citizen, he jumped feet-first into politics.
posted by Leon at 6:03 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Selective quoting does you no favours. You ignored the very next sentence: Yes, there is an argument to be made that he decided to become a famous public figure and therefore he's fair game, and I'd buy that argument.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:15 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to point out that you seem to think 'not subject to the same scrutiny to which state actors should be subject' somehow means there's no scrutiny at all.

Varying levels of scrutiny by the public are appropriate in different situations. The work of state actors would have to come at the top of the list in terms of the breadth and depth of scrutiny required. Perhaps more finely, the more someone's work impacts the public, the more sunlight should be shone on those practices.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:18 AM on February 22


The government has secrets. It is not a bad thing always.
posted by stbalbach at 6:21 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Well true. Sometimes they're needed. But I think most rational people would be in agreement that the veil of secrecy in government action has become too pervasive.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:22 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Yes but if a person is harming people around them at what point to we say "The good this person does is worth the collateral damage of people harmed, so turn a blind eye everyone, nothing to see here, people are fallible, what can you do."

That's the mentality that let's those in charge get away with these things to begin with. His behaviors are relevant, particularly in relation to people harmed, not so much in regards to deviation from rather superfluous social norms.

Personally, I feel bad for people who seem to pathologically harm others, as well as for people who are given more power they can handle and become oblivious to the harms they are causing to real people. But doing good on a large scale does not make it ok to harm others. Can a war hero rape women? Is that collateral damage, worth permitting for the good they do? That's the mentality that allows horrible crimes against human beings to be perpetuated by people in power.

I've known a lot of wretched people who have done awful things, and I feel bad for them when they face the reality of the harm they've caused, I really don't want to skewer people even if they are truly terrible. I just want to make sure they aren't allowed to keep doing those things, and the harms they caused aren't swept under the rug "for the greater good" of the other work they're doing; and the people harmed are prioritized over the convenience of everyone else forgetting.

What he's done/doing is a terrifying thing, you probably have to have some amount of nuts to follow through with such high risk endeavors. I think the good he's done can be appreciated while not making excuses for the harms. I also think it's possible to look at people have done truly horrible things, as humans who may have also done good things. However that's a psychologically complicated and painful thing to do. It's easier to provide absolute forgiveness or just erase the persons humanity entirely and kick them out of your life/awareness. The easiest thing is not always the best thing for many people involved.
posted by xarnop at 6:32 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]


His secrets are largely irrelevant. He is a private citizen and therefore not subject to the same scrutiny to which state actors should be subject.

Assange commissioned the book himself. He just freaked out. Did he get an advance?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:33 AM on February 22


Assange commissioned the book himself. He just freaked out.

Yeah, he commissioned it, so he can also cancel said commission if he feels like it. He is under no obligation to spill his personal secrets to the world. As a famous/public figure he is certainly fair game if others decide to dig, but it's not incumbent upon him to spill the beans on his personal life.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:37 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Because the essay is so politically unmotivated, to me it reads in part as a tragedy, however pretentious that may sound: Assange's flaws as a human being impede him from carrying out his momentously important task. I did get a better picture of Assange's character, and I think he is certainly narcissistic and controlling (at least), but I feel more sorrowful about it than angry. Wasted potential.
posted by Quilford at 6:52 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]


To be honest, I was never quite convinced that Wikileaks was good for democracy. I mean, exposing the state department cables just made it hard for diplomats to do their jobs ... and I like diplomacy! Beats war 9 times out of 10. Plus, the stuff they revealed ... no real showstoppers, if you ask me.

Now, Snowden on the other hand, that man's a hero. The NSA surveillance, in my book, truly is poisonous to democracy. That's some shit we need to know about. But I was never quite convinced that Manning and Assange were the heroes that some made them out to be.
posted by evil otto at 7:03 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Say what you will about Assange, but Manning exposed abuses by the US military. That is pretty much the definition of important.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:05 AM on February 22 [18 favorites]


Yeah, he commissioned it, so he can also cancel said commission if he feels like it. He is under no obligation to spill his personal secrets to the world.

My understanding is that he signed a contract (multiple contracts) and received a substantial advance, so in fact he had an obligation, in the most literal sense, to write it. Also, though I've no idea, it's likely that the contracts (or the proposal attached to them) specified a personal autobiographical element, along with a clause mandating return of the advance if the book was not delivered or substantially failed to meet the agreed requirements.

It has been reported that Assange never returned the UK advance, at least, and that the book was published as an "unauthorised autobiography" for this reason.

tl;dr: Assange most certainly did have an obligation to produce something, quite possibly a personal life story, and he did not have the right to "cancel" this at will, without returning what he'd been paid.
posted by oliverburkeman at 7:11 AM on February 22 [7 favorites]


Now, Snowden on the other hand, that man's a hero.

And yet we had a FPP recently about his deficiencies. Which would be fine if it didn't turn into an ad hominem attack on his work in the minds of others.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:12 AM on February 22


Great essay. What a prat.
posted by Flashman at 7:16 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Say what you will about Assange, but Manning exposed abuses by the US military. That is pretty much the definition of important.

I mean, I'm not saying that NONE of the Wikileaks revelations were important. More that Manning and Assange could have been a lot more selective about what they revealed. In fact, if I recall correctly, when Snowden leaked the NSA papers, he purposefully did NOT reveal everything; he chose only to reveal the programs he believed were dangerous to democracy.
posted by evil otto at 7:24 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


One could also argue that releasing in pieces is a life insurance policy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:26 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


(Reading through the full piece now, it seems absolutely clear that the contracts he had signed, and taken money on the basis of, did stipulate his life story)
posted by oliverburkeman at 7:28 AM on February 22


"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:29 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Did he get an advance?

Half a million of our UK pounds, I believe.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:29 AM on February 22


Yeah, he commissioned it, so he can also cancel said commission if he feels like it. He is under no obligation to spill his personal secrets to the world.

Surely Canongate commissioned the book. Assange accepted the commission.

There's a great deal of detail in which O'Hagen goes on about how he discussed with Assange that if he really wants to not do the book, he needs to pay back the advance to Canongate. My guess is that they'd be out a fair bit more than Assange's advance if he did cancel, but O'Hagan was arguing that this was the right and honourable thing to do.

Assange didn't want to pay back his advance and didn't want to cooperate with finishing the book, either.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:33 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I had been under the impression he himself had asked for the book to be written.

Taking the money and refusing to complete is an ass move, entirely in keeping with the sleazy sorts of stuff that seems to be part of his character, and yet is completely divorced from what Wikileaks has done.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:40 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


It's not divorced from what wikileaks has done when people make excuses for him based on what he's done with wikileaks as happened by many many many Assange fans during the accusations made against him and subsequent attempt to put him on trial. Many people do seem to believe the good he does is worth keeping him out of facing consequences. And that is exactly the same scary force that has allowed people and organizations in power to get away with horrible crimes to begin with. It's just worth looking at, not averting our eyes.
posted by xarnop at 7:56 AM on February 22


If people doing harm in course of doing really good work is an ok ethic, then the exposures about abuses in organizations really are irrelevant because the harms are acceptable collateral damage being done in the course of valuable good work that the organizations in questions also do so long as the good is done for many many more people than they have harmed.

If you want to use utilitarian ethics to defend Assange, you're unfortunately defending the same people he's exposing, or at least murking up the relevance of your claims against them. Yeah yeah, people in positions of power are fallible and human and they mess up, news at 11. Right? That should be the response to Assange's exposures of organizational abuses as well, right?
posted by xarnop at 8:05 AM on February 22


It's not divorced from what wikileaks has done when people make excuses for him based on what he's done with wikileaks as happened by many many many Assange fans during the accusations made against him and subsequent attempt to put him on trial.

I don't see anyone here making excuses for him. So, yes, his personal character--which seems to be abominable--is divorced from the work of Wikileaks.

If you want to use utilitarian ethics to defend Assange, you're unfortunately defending the same people he's exposing, or at least murking up the relevance of your claims against them.

I'm not. I don't see anyone here who is. Could you drop the strawman maybe?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:09 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Sorry, it has not escaped my memory the many horrible comments by my fellow mefite's in many prior conversations about assange here. But yes, in this thread, we can pretend that never happened if you like and that the separation is divorced in a simple black and white way in the minds of everyone here, I suppose.
posted by xarnop at 8:12 AM on February 22


[Two comments deleted. Keep it cool folks, this thread doesn't need to be about past threads.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:30 AM on February 22


I would actually say, discussion of Assange character and the public perception and response to him is actually more the point of the article than wikileaks itself. So, divorcing it from wikileaks is fine, but it's still relevant to discuss his harmful behavior and what the social response to that should be which is what we're doing. I disagree that it's a strawman and discussions of how the public has held him on a pedestal and let him off the hook are perfectly relevant to the discussion.

Stop silencing me all my life OMG. : )
posted by xarnop at 8:38 AM on February 22


It's a strawman because you are arguing against something nobody here has said.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:41 AM on February 22


No I'm discussing how fans have treated and perceived him and how that is problematic. That they aren't in this thread necessarily does not make it irrelevant to the topic.
posted by xarnop at 8:43 AM on February 22


I give up.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:44 AM on February 22


(Me and feckless are sorting it out or not sorting it out in memail, my point is that regardless of whether my comment about the publics defense of assange from facing consequences is a strawman in regards to being an ARGUMENT inthis thread, it's a perfectly relevant comment relating to the topic in and of itself and wasn't really meant to be an argument to begin with, just a comment on an important aspect of this topic. Carry on with whatever direction folks like? ) : )
posted by xarnop at 8:56 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Selective quoting does you no favours. You ignored the very next sentence

Sorry, wasn't intentional. But you appeared to be claiming mutually exclusive opinions in the same paragraph, so you can see how I'd get confused.
posted by Leon at 9:07 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


In case anyone wants to read where the "Afghanistan" baby name came from it's in the statement of woman2, in the collected police protocol of the sexual assault that Assange is accused of in Sweden: "They joked that they'd name the baby Afghanistan. He also said that he should always carry abortion pills that actually were sugar pills."
posted by dabitch at 9:24 AM on February 22


I was recently at an informal discussion with an author (mifi's own cstross) that has written about the literary industry, his point about literary contracts was that they were very established through years of case law and very standardized, upholding the rights and protections of both the author(s) and publishers. I expect there are quite strong terms that the publisher can go ahead and run the book no matter how unhappy the author.

There are certainly naive folks that are taken advantage by entering into contracts without thinking through implications, but Assange had lots of lawyers around and is the center of issues of privacy and exposure. Of all the people in the friggn world, Assange should have been savvy about talking into a tape recorder.

From the bits of reviews I could find the book was a first draft and would have been better if there had been editorial cycles that included Assange and from the tone of the O'Hagan's article, cut's about elements would have been made if Assange wanted to leave out his grandfather or such.

I have thought for awhile that wikileaks as a concept and approach to transparency has been hurt by the silliness and self indulgences of Assange.
posted by sammyo at 9:27 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


O'Hagan's insights into the link between Assange's personality and Wikileaks were the essay's crux, for me:

The impulse towards free speech, like Sarah [Harrison] speaking freely in my kitchen or me speaking freely now, is only permissible if it adheres to his message. His pursuit of governments and corporations was a ghostly reverse of his own fears for himself. That was the big secret with him: he wanted to cover up everything about himself except his fame.

Some may find this reductive and/or overly psychoanalytic, but it strikes me as at least plausible. (I support the Wikileaks concept and many of its actions, without being at all inclined to excuse or defend or ignore or cover up Assange's personal failings.)
posted by FrauMaschine at 9:31 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


or woman 1.. I know her name is out, I just didn't want to add to that. Sorry I made it more confusing in the process.
posted by dabitch at 9:39 AM on February 22


many Assange fans

Assange does not have 'fans'. Calling people 'fans' because they defend him against the forces that are obviously out to get him is part of the language of the ongoing smear campaign against him. As is constantly going on about how he might be a 'narcissist': the lunatic US right-wing press starting stoking that one up against Snowden as well, illustrating how multi-purpose and meaningless it is.
posted by colie at 9:59 AM on February 22 [8 favorites]


"He doesn’t want people to see how his mind works." O'Hagan's essay in a nutshell.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:20 AM on February 22


Hmm . . . the article seems to suggest that Assange would have been far better off to just go to Sweden and deal with the charges there in whatever way it worked out.

I know this is a bit speculative, but anywhere here know enough, given the benefit of hindsight, to evaluate this intelligently?
posted by flug at 11:10 AM on February 22


Journalist, Terrorist. What's the Difference?
posted by homunculus at 11:36 AM on February 22


Assange does not have 'fans'. Calling people 'fans' because they defend him against the forces that are obviously out to get him is part of the language of the ongoing smear campaign against him.

He obviously has fans, and you can identify them by the fact that when people criticise his personal behaviour, invariably dismiss those criticisms as political attacks.

That kind of blind hero worship is pretty much what I expect from teenage girls who idolize Justin Bieber or One Direction, not from intelligent adults.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:43 AM on February 22 [12 favorites]


He obviously has fans, and you can identify them by the fact that when people criticise his personal behaviour, invariably dismiss those criticisms as political attacks.

His personal behaviour is only known to you through mediated sources, since you have never met him, and nearly all of those sources are out to smear him. That's the whole point.

That kind of blind hero worship

There is no such thing.
posted by colie at 12:18 PM on February 22


This was a fascinating read; thanks for posting. I did think that he made a good case for Assange's personal flaws and issues being damaging to Wikileaks, outside of the issue regarding the rape charges. Besides that it was a great view into the practice of ghost-writing and what happens when the ghost writer gets caught in the middle, despite his or her best attempts to stand outside squabbles between 'author' and publisher.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:27 PM on February 22


outside of the issue regarding the rape charges

There are no rape charges.

There have been, however, calls for his assassination or execution, made by public officials.

He may or may not have personal flaws.
posted by colie at 12:31 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


He may or may not have personal flaws.

*Everyone* has personal flaws. It's part of being human: if you don't believe someone has flaws, then you're setting yourself up for massive disappointment at some future point. Sometimes those flaws affect their work and sometimes they don't. I think the article made a good argument that Assange's personal flaws have affected the work of Wikileaks, especially in his insistence on loyalty to him as being the same loyalty to Wikileaks - something O'Hagan shows occurring on multiple occasions with multiple parties; you may think otherwise, of course, or you may think the author is lying, misrepresenting facts, or that there are other interpretations, but I can't see how you can think that Assange is without *some* flaws.

There are no rape charges.

It was my understanding that there are charges pending, because that was part of the extradition case. I could be wrong; if so, sorry, but then I'd rephrase it 'aside from the fact that there have been accusations of rape that the Swedish prosecutorial system have though worthy of further investigation and charging Assange with.' My major point is that the article does an interesting job of pointing out the complexity of issues with Assange outside that aspect of his life and how those really are affecting the organization he heads.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:57 PM on February 22


Nor can I see that O'Hagan is part of some cabal out to get Assange - is there some connection that I'm missing about this? Or any evidence that he is part of a smear campaign, apart from the fact that he's written a not very sympathetic portrayal of Assange? I get that there's others who do smear him, but he seems to have slipped far enough from the radar of being enemy number 1 (that seems to go to Snowden) that this seems like an odd time to ratchet up the campaign.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:01 PM on February 22


THE CYPHERPUNK REVOLUTIONARY
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:16 PM on February 22


He took the bucks, he needs to either cough up the book or give back the money.

Personally, I think he'd be better off producing an autobiography, to where he can control what is included and spin the story the way he sees it/wants it to be seen, rather than having a bio written that may or may not paint him in a favorable light.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:30 PM on February 22


the article made a good argument that Assange's personal flaws have affected the work of Wikileaks

It's delicious when x, y or z hack earnestly, melancholically criticises Assange because some subtle aspect of Assange's hitherto unrevealed deep personality has meant that 'the work of Wikileaks' (note that pompous reverence for something that would never have existed if the world was only comprised of hacks making a living out of the mainstream media!) is not as perfect as it could have been!

It was my understanding that there are charges pending


He is wanted for questioning regarding sexual misconduct. He has never been charged with anything, much less rape. Your understanding is presumably based on the many, many, many, many articles in the media that mention 'rape charges', and shows how successful the smearing has been. Five seconds on Wikipedia rather than endless media hand-wringing psychological investigations of a 'total narcissist blah blah' would have improved your understanding.
posted by colie at 1:52 PM on February 22


Five seconds on Wikipedia rather than endless media hand-wringing psychological investigations of a 'total narcissist blah blah' would have improved your understanding.

So let's see what Wikipedia says:
The prosecutor said that, in accordance with the Swedish legal system, formal charges will be laid only after extradition and a second round of questioning. In sworn written testimony which she submitted to the Westminster Magestrates' court for Assange's hearing, she stated: "Subject to any matters said by him, which undermine my present view that he should be indicted, an indictment will be launched with the court thereafter. It can therefore be seen that Assange is sought for the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings and that he is not sought merely to assist with our enquiries."
Emphasis mine.

So Sweden is going to charge him, not just question him. Assange hasn't been charged before now only because he has been hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy, and the Swedes can't lay hands on him.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:36 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


colie: It's delicious when x, y or z hack earnestly, melancholically criticises Assange because some subtle aspect of Assange's hitherto unrevealed deep personality has meant that 'the work of Wikileaks' (note that pompous reverence for something that would never have existed if the world was only comprised of hacks making a living out of the mainstream media!) is not as perfect as it could have been!

Oh, come the fuck on. Aside from his reputation as a novelist and non-fiction writer of some repute, Andrew O'Hagan isn't just "x, y or z hack" - he's the man that Assange himself approved of as a ghostwriter of his own autobiography, and spent hundreds of hours talking to in pursuit of said autobiography. An autobiography which, it seems from the article, Assange had no interest in whatsoever, outside of the money its sale would generate, across some 40-plus territories.

He signed a contract for an autobiography. He engaged a ghostwriter to actually write the thing. He, for his own reasons, disapproved of that ghostwriter's copy. There was nothing to stop him writing the bloody thing on his own; if he was so concerned about being viewed through the lens of other people – and he does seem very concerned, even when we're talking about a writer that he approved of, and who, if we're to believe his own account, bent over backwards to accommodate Assange's thoroughgoing and rather unpleasant narcissism – it seems like he wasn't bothered enough to actually do some fucking work himself by knuckling down and writing his own autobiography. Whether that's because he couldn't be arsed, or because he didn't want to talk about his own driving motivations, or his own personal history is kind of immaterial.

It's not as if he can't string a sentence together – here [pdf] is a great, succinct exploration by Assange of how to use the bureaucracy of the secret state against itself, and it's clear, concise and compelling; he can write when he wants to – but good God, he doesn't half seem intent on fucking over the very people he's previously employed to work for him.
posted by Len at 4:20 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


Are we to believe that O'Hagan (who was initially very favorably inclined toward Assange, if his account of his own views is anything to go by) and the London Review of Books (which has published essays that are very pro-Assange and pro-Wikileaks, including one by Slavoj Zizek) are part of an orchestrated smear campaign? Are we to believe that the instances of Assange's behavior adduced by O'Hagan are factually untrue or otherwise somehow distorted? It is true that I do not know Assange personally and must therefore rely on the media for information about him, but I find this essay compelling -- more so than the man's own take on himself -- and unless I miss my guess, neither does anyone else participating in this thread know Assange personally. O'Hagan's invocation of the "deep sentimental wound" driving Charles Foster Kane (a fictionalized William Randolph Hearst, recall) as a point of comparison seems apt and convincing, to me, and as for the "divorce" between Assange's flaws and Wikileaks as a model and an operation, I think it is up to those who come after him in the pursuit of government transparency and accountability and individual privacy to accomplish that.
posted by FrauMaschine at 5:11 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Assange has some pretty decent info on the publication of "The Unauthorized Autobiography" here.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:45 PM on February 22


It's pretty messy, Slithy_Tove, including what was said at that trial since a prosecutor can't decide before a questioning that the result of that questioning is going to allow for filing formal charges - unless of course she's already made up her mind that she has enough to prosecute, and in that case she should have filed charges already. Also, Swedish law insists this question should be held in London*, so why he's not been question there is a bit of mystery.

* Sorry, this is in Swedish, here's a a google translate version.

Welcome to Sweden, where we convict mentally ill people as our most notorious serial killer, based on no forensic evidence at all just his rambling confessions. Meanwhile the real killers are still out there. Why shouldn't we spend years holding out for a few questions with a man even the victims say hasn't raped them.
posted by dabitch at 8:05 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Robyn Irene:
Andrew O’Hagan, the ghost writer of Assange’s unauthorized biography, has just published a scathing personal account of their relationship, which ultimately is destructive. It deserves considered analysis and response. For it contains lies.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:22 PM on February 22


Robyn Irene:

If I'm asked to trust the account of:

- a person who "was strongly involved in the WikiLeaks Party here in Australia and speak[s] from personal experience and direct knowledge," I.E.: a supporter, a political idealogue, and someone who has a vested interest in countering claims of bad behavior by Julian Assange

OR!

- A writer who was and remains politically sympathetic to the cause of wikileaks, but is relatively politically unaffiliated, recounting a personal experience he had with Julian Assange

I'm going with the latter. Sorry, Robyn Irene.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:05 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Assange has some pretty decent info on the publication of "The Unauthorized Autobiography" here.

You should, you know, actually read the article. He addresses that very press release directly, and more generally provides a much more believable counter-narrative throughout.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:06 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


A writer who was and remains politically sympathetic to the cause of wikileaks, but is relatively politically unaffiliated

Just another liberal then.

I think people need to take sides when the state sends its henchmen to destroy something as important as Wikileaks and I don't care if Assange is a dick or not. O'Hagan's article is now described approvingly as an 'excoriating profile' on the front of the hard-right Daily Telegraph with the headline 'Paranoid, Vain and Jealous'. So that's a lot of 'sympathetic' help its author is giving Wikileaks right there. Expect the same article trashing Wikileaks in all the right-wing press for the next few days. And all because Assange might or might not be a dick.
posted by colie at 5:39 AM on February 23


From the quote from Robyn Irene's article: It deserves considered analysis and response. For it contains lies.

It probably does deserve a considered analysis and response. Robyn Irene's article is not that. As for the lies, she takes one fragment of one sentence – out of an article over 23,000 words long – and quibbles with its semantics, at great, internecine length. Did Assange make other members of the WikiLeaks Party his enemy, in the sense that he spontaneously decided that he didn't like them for no good reason? Going by Irene's account, its seems not. Did he decide, after they'd gone against him, that they were now his enemy? It seems like Irene and O'Hagan would agree on that.

And a minor point about another bit of Irene's article: if she's so concerned about getting the facts right, she could have done better than saying, when noting O'Hagan's "obsession with table manners", "What is it with the English?" Andrew O'Hagan being – and this is even hinted at in the article – Scottish. Maybe, indeed, one of the most prominent Scottish writers of his generation.

colie: I think people need to take sides when the state sends its henchmen to destroy something as important as Wikileaks and I don't care if Assange is a dick or not. O'Hagan's article is now described approvingly as an 'excoriating profile' on the front of the hard-right Daily Telegraph with the headline 'Paranoid, Vain and Jealous'. So that's a lot of 'sympathetic' help its author is giving Wikileaks right there. Expect the same article trashing Wikileaks in all the right-wing press for the next few days. And all because Assange might or might not be a dic

Aside from the basic facts of O'Hagan's story – which is that a man signed a contract for an autobiography, was given more than a million quid in total as recompense, employed a ghostwriter and then refused to actually deliver what he agreed to – this idea that O'Hagan is duty bound to be sympathetic to someone on his own "side" lest his writing be used as fodder by his/their political opponents is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. Take it to its conclusion, and you end up with situations like this:
This week it came to light that when allegations of rape and sexual assault were made against a senior [Socialist Worker's Party] member, the matter was not reported to the police, but dealt with 'internally' before being dismissed. According to a transcript from the party's annual conference earlier this month, not only were friends of the alleged rapist allowed to investigate the complaint, the alleged victims were subject to further harassment. Their drinking habits and former relationships were called into question, and those who stood by them were subject to expulsion and exclusion.
posted by Len at 6:28 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


I agree that Irene's article is not very good.

With the SWP rape allegations, the main point there was that the SWP did not report the allegations to the police for proper investigation. Hardly the same as Assange, who has had the law all over him, was charged with nothing, and yet everyone feels free to write 'rape charges' whenever his name is mentioned.

O'Hagan would have known that his words would be used by the right wing. If all he wants is his cash that's fine but he might not want to contribute to the smearing of Wikileaks through its interchangeability with Assange in the public's mind.
posted by colie at 6:58 AM on February 23


Hardly the same as Assange, who has had the law all over him, was charged with nothing, and yet everyone feels free to write 'rape charges' whenever his name is mentioned.

Probably because the Swiss have been at great pains to say that he will be charged as soon as they get their hands on him. My understanding is that the second questioning is just a procedural requirement, and has nothing to do really with whether they will charge him or not.

Using 'he was charged with nothing' as some sort of defence is kind of hollow in light of what the Swiss prosecutor has actually said on the record, as quoted above.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:44 AM on February 23


colie: With the SWP rape allegations, the main point there was that the SWP did not report the allegations to the police for proper investigation.

Maybe I should have been clearer - or rather included more information. The issue wasn't that the allegations weren't reported to the police for proper investigation, but that they weren't reported to the police for proper investigation because senior members of the party basically said let's keep this in-house and not go to the police since "[we have] no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice".

When you start saying nobody ought to speak out because someone's being a dick/fucking over other people of the same political sympathy/etc. because your political opponents will make hay with it, it leads, ultimately, to a closing of ranks and a wall of silence, which is inimicable to the kind of free exchange of information that Assange is so keen to profess is his life's mission.

On preview: feckless fecal fear mongering, Swizterland, though undoubtedly not fond of the likes of Assange given its paranoid levels of secrecy surrounding banking matters, isn't the country seeking to extradite Assange. That would be Sweden.
posted by Len at 7:47 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


I think people need to take sides when the state sends its henchmen to destroy something as important as Wikileaks and I don't care if Assange is a dick or not.

O'Hagan would have known that his words would be used by the right wing. If all he wants is his cash that's fine but he might not want to contribute to the smearing of Wikileaks through its interchangeability with Assange in the public's mind.

There was a period in 2010-2011, when Wikileaks looked like it could become an immensely powerful force. Nobody can deny that the publication of the diplomatic cables changed the world, by kicking off the various North African and Middle Eastern revolutions in 2011.

Since then...what? There were supposed to be other revelations. Assange talked of a cache of corporate email that would spotlight corruption in finance. That never got released. Even the initial batch of cables, as O'Hagen points out, have never been systematically gone through and catagorized --- there could be much, much more in there. There have been no other Bradly Mannings. Because Wikileaks disappeared up Assange's asshole. Because instead of shaping something that was bigger than him, something that would survive without him, something that could attract the trust of whistlblowers and strike fear into the hearts of governments for decades to come, he needed it to be the Julian Show. And wikileaks passed away like the Pet Rock. Now we're on to the eulogies.
posted by Diablevert at 7:50 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that the second questioning is just a procedural requirement, and has nothing to do really with whether they will charge him or not.

Then your understanding is wrong.

My objection is to the constant media use of the phrase 'rape charges' (as seen in the Daily Telegraph today).

The offence in question, firstly, is not rape.

And above, dabitch pointed out:

"a prosecutor can't decide before a questioning that the result of that questioning is going to allow for filing formal charges - unless of course she's already made up her mind that she has enough to prosecute, and in that case she should have filed charges already. Also, Swedish law insists this question should be held in London, so why he's not been questioned there is a bit of mystery."

Len: The issue wasn't that the allegations weren't reported to the police for proper investigation, but that they weren't reported to the police for proper investigation because senior members of the party basically said let's keep this in-house and not go to the police


That's what I meant. Assange has been fully investigated by not only every police force that felt like having a pop, but also all the secret police in the world as well. The only objection raised from Wikileaks supporters to this is that they should follow due process (such as questioning him in London).
posted by colie at 8:47 AM on February 23


So that's a lot of 'sympathetic' help its author is giving Wikileaks right there.

You can be sympathetic to a cause without going full-bore into "no one affiliated with X can do any wrong."

Expect the same article trashing Wikileaks in all the right-wing press for the next few days.

Telling a true story about your life is not "taking sides," as you describe it. That article was, if anything, extraordinarily sympathetic to Assange, who made this writer's life exceedingly difficult for the better part of a year.

I think people need to take sides when the state sends its henchmen to destroy something as important as Wikileaks and I don't care if Assange is a dick or not.

This could easily be read as "you're either with us or against us." Fortunately, there are many among us who see shades of gray. O'Hagan is one of them. But if you wanna emulate George Bush, that's cool, I guess.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:58 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


We've now reached the point where most people don't even care about Wikileaks anyway, and any conversation about Assange even among educated people is impossible much outside of 'is he a rapist and a narcissist?' (whatever that is).

He's almost finished. On to the next challenge.
posted by colie at 9:09 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


If that's the case, then why are you so het up about the right wing media having a field day with this information?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:21 AM on February 23


I'm so het up because I'm a narcissist.
posted by colie at 10:26 AM on February 23


colie: That's what I meant. Assange has been fully investigated by not only every police force that felt like having a pop, but also all the secret police in the world as well. The only objection raised from Wikileaks supporters to this is that they should follow due process (such as questioning him in London).

I'm now wishing I'd never brought up the SWP thing. I didn't bring it up because the SWP situation was about sexual assault. I brought it up as an illustration of the way that when an organisation – of any political stripe – demands that political symapthisers ignore real questions about how that organisation is run in case they give sympathy to the enemy, and demonstrate their own fealty to the cause, bad shit can get swept under the carpet, all in the name of the greater cause. So Julian's outraged about human rights abuses in China and is doing something about it. Well done him. That doesn't give him license to treat the people sympathietic to him as vassals and servants.

colie: We've now reached the point where most people don't even care about Wikileaks anyway, and any conversation about Assange even among educated people is impossible much outside of 'is he a rapist and a narcissist?' (whatever that is).

He's almost finished. On to the next challenge.


Do you not see the irony in this? That paper of Assange's I linked earlier, broadly speaking, talks about how you can shut down – or at least ruinously minimise – an organisation's efficacy if you ensure it has to direct all of its efforts to refuting or fighting against what other people are saying about it, rather than getting on with its ostensible job. This is what O'Hagan gets at in his piece; if Wikileaks is nothing more than the Julian Assange show, it becomes ineffective as the type of organisation Assange wanted it to be in the first place, because Assange's focus becomes not on exposing corruption and the behaviour of the surveillance state, but on denouncing anyone who doesn't relentlessly agree with him as yet another Judas.

I don't think anybody in this thread is trying to finish Assange; I think that many of them are justifiably saying that the guy's a dick, however much truth he's spoken to power (which, for what it's worth, is plenty).

On preview: I also think that it's pretty uncharitable to imply that anyone who has issues with Assange's conduct is part of some deliberate smear campaign; making the implication that the only reason me (or anyone else) disagrees with you is because we think you're a narcissist, and not because we have actual points to make, furthers that impression.
posted by Len at 10:40 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


Are you het up? Apparently I am.
posted by colie at 10:50 AM on February 23


[Discussion of this is hard enough already; maybe we can do without the imputing of bad motives to other people in the discussion?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:51 AM on February 23


colie, I don't think you're het up, and didn't say you were. But I would like to have an actual conversation. Sorry if I came across as wanting to do anything else.
posted by Len at 10:53 AM on February 23


Regardless of what I think of Assange, he's certainly often described as a rude bore what "eating with this hands" here and wearing smelly socks in other articles, my beef is with the stories taht are ignored.
For a brief moment in time I had hoped that the rape accusations invented by the police would expose how messed up the Swedish judicial system is to the world, where a 14 year old girl is raped by for men who locked her in a room (google translate), but all men are let off because we can't prove what the girl is saying. (Either way, it's statutory rape when you're under fifteen, but it seems the courts conveniently forgot that.) Meanwhile, a man who a woman slept with willingly six times in one night is chased half way across the world for a second round of questioning, and nobody seems to be taking issue with the fact that if Mrs Ny hasn't filed charges yet, she can't legally use the European arrest warrant either. The system here is a joke, nitpicking rules when it suits some bureaucrat and forgetting them for the same reasons whenever they seemingly fancy. There's no justice here.

But oh I forgot, it's the Julian Assange show. A country long admired by the world for its progress and flatpack furniture has a judicial system that's fit for a banana republic and nobody cares. So many stories are lost in the periphery of the Julian Assange show because we're all looking at the Julian Assange show instead.
posted by dabitch at 11:23 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


dabitch – I don't think that it's a case of nobody cares, as much as a case of nobody, outside of Sweden, knows (which is why you had to provide a Google translation of the SVT piece). I mean, people, in general, can barely get to grips with the injustices of the legal system in their own country, let alone the injustices of a system they're never likely to encounter directly. (But yes, you're right in that we assume that it's Sweden! Obviously their justice system is much better than ours! Halo effect, and all that.)  
posted by Len at 11:41 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


You're right of course, but the funny thing is, this halo effect is in full force in Sweden as well. We've known for a long time that a lot was off in regards to the handling of the Assange case, and it's only now that you're starting to see it properly debated in the press. But only by lawyers, and in the legal press rather than daily newspapers.
And this halo effect applies to all cases. The government must be right. They've never done anyone wrong, ever. Unless of course the media decides that we shall suddenly care about a case. Don't question the war with Eurasia.
posted by dabitch at 11:54 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


So Assange is not avoiding 'rape charges' because the offence is not rape and he has not been charged either.

And the questioning is not 'a formality' before his being charged, and could legally take place in London (as he offered repeatedly).
posted by colie at 12:34 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


It would be really, really nice if we could concentrate on what O'Hagan is actually writing about rather than dragging in another argument that has been rehashed a number of times on Metafilter with the same points being raised on both sides with no progress whatsoever. I'm really sorry I even touched on the rape charges, because it's a relatively minor point in a very long and interesting account of trying to write an autobiography of someone who is interested initially but then derails the entire process - but still hangs on to the money. As an account of having to work with an nearly impossible to work with person as a ghost writer (at least according to the author) it is fascinating. Not to mention seeing the gap between what the subject thinks should happen and what the writer knows need to happen for a book to get produced; it's a car crash, yes, but it's a totally interesting car crash. And if even 1/10th of what O'Hagan says is true Assange's delusions about the world are both fascinating and a tad horrifying (right down to the taking the helicopter to the Hay festival and expecting O'Hagan to go with him when a) O'Hagan wanted to stay anonymous and b) it was clear they weren't going to have a book at the end of this process, despite the fact that he was promoting it.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:36 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


rehashed a number of times on Metafilter with the same points being raised on both sides with no progress whatsoever.

But there has been progress on this thread. Several posters who claimed Assange is fleeing from rape charges have been shown to be incorrect. If I had media outlets and blogs casually writing that I was wanted on rape charges every day, like the Daily Telegraph did today (and possibly paid O'Hagan as well) then I would regard this as progress.
posted by colie at 12:46 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


How quickly we go from grokking it to right back to "rape charges".

I only linked the translated police files earlier because this O’Hagan reads from a book about abortion pills and so on.

I thought it was all quite lowering, the book’s interest in his sex life and their interest in the book’s interest. ‘It says here you carried abortion pills around with you that were really just sugar pills.’

Julian: ‘What?’


So I pointed out exactly where that came from. A post-coital conversation in Enköping, Sweden.
posted by dabitch at 12:47 PM on February 23


(and possibly paid O'Hagan as well)

Do you have any evidence that O'Hagan was paid as part of some smear campaign? It's a pretty big claim, especially given that there's a number of moments where he's clearly pulling punches which would create a far more devastating piece. It is possible not to think Assange is a stand up guy and has over the past several years done damage to Wikileaks (nor would he be the first person to prove damaging to something he helped create) without being a Daily Telegraph aficionado.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:05 PM on February 23


Well, as our former equality ombudsman Claes Borgström says about the women who didn't report Assange for rape 'Hon är inte jurist' (She's not a lawyer) - we can't expect O’Hagan to know every letter of the law either, but in his piece he keeps saying "rape charges" too. Even though there are none.

It gets a little tedious, doesn't it? Repeat the lie often enough, etc.
posted by dabitch at 2:23 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Do you have any evidence that O'Hagan was paid as part of some smear campaign?

Of course not and that's not what I meant. I just meant he'll get paid for articles as a result of his Wikileaks experience.

A proper smear campaign conducted by the hardcore media would never involve sums of money doled out to individuals. It's far worse than that. Hacks fall into line behind the establishment-serving line simply because they wouldn't be hacks for much longer if they didn't, and they've absorbed this intuitively. This is just basic propaganda-model Manufacturing Consent Chomsky stuff. Not a radical monstrous thing to say.

The smear campaign at this moment in time consists of the words 'rape charges' and every time you repeat them, you're in on it. Am I really making such a radical point for MetaFilter?
posted by colie at 2:29 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Finally read the article; it's longer than the book would have been! It seems clear O'Hagan is fed up and salvaging what he can from his wasted time. His mixed emotions about Assange came through really strongly, I winced when he wrote "His burst of distrust had shown me he would only ever see me as a servant." That's all anyone seems to be for Assange. Certainly the ghostwriter.
posted by Nelson at 3:42 PM on February 23


by turns, passionate, funny, lazy, courageous, vain, paranoid, moral and manipulative.

yep, preliminary investigations point to "person"
posted by threeants at 3:59 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


What I found interesting was the subplot related to O'Hagan's feelings and approach toward Assange: how he tries to communicate clearly but sympathetically to Assange, his admitted desire to protect Assange from opposing* forces including Assange himself, how at times he may have been overly assuaging*, and what finally causes him to lose faith* and be willing to write this article (I won't spoil it for you!). (* I fear I am putting words in his mouth; read the nuanced article for yourself, as he has clearly chosen his words very carefully.)
posted by salvia at 5:46 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


"He made a massive tactical error in not going to Sweden to clear his name." Maybe, but had he gone, we would only have seen closed doors court hearings and he would probably being hanging around häkte for a really long time before any trial began. The pre-trial custody facility called a "häkte" is called "solitary confinement" in English when it happens to Svartholm Warg / TPB, and the longest on record that somebody has been kept in "häkte" is three and a half years before trial. Assange would most certainly never have been able to release the diplomatic cables and whatever else he's been up to at the embassy while being held in "häkte" in Sweden, so I can understand why he decided it would be better to not "go to Sweden and face whatever charges" as people keep parroting he should.

I would in some ways have liked to have seen him come to Sweden, because perhaps then the worlds journalists would have seen what a farce that case is. I don't for a second believe in honey-traps or whatever he wants to paint it as, I know this is Swedish "justice" and I wish it could change.
posted by dabitch at 6:19 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


What I found interesting was the subplot related to O'Hagan's feelings and approach toward Assange: how he tries to communicate clearly but sympathetically to Assange, his admitted desire to protect Assange from opposing* forces including Assange himself,

For me, one of the things that made the whole piece click was that you could chart O'Hagan's increasing frustration through his increasing unwillingness to cast a blind eye to things that might have, in another context, been seen as eccentricities. The table manners thing was one of those: first you got a few pieces of information, then the fact that he ate the lasagna with his hands and licked the plate clean, and then that he would never do dishes because he had more important things to do. I don't actually think O'Hagan really cared about any of the table stuff, but as he grew more and more irritated with having his time wasted, these things took on increasing importance in the narrative, the way they would in real life, because they're something concrete to hook on to.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:25 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


What, if anything, would be better than "rape charges" as a concise phrase for "wanted for questioning due to suspicion of rape (våldtäkt) of a lesser degree, unlawful coercion, and two cases of sexual offense (ofredande, which has been translated variously as "molestation/ assault / misconduct / annoyance / unfreedom / misdemeanour / harassment")? Would "suspicion of sexual assault" work?

The peculiarities of the Swedish criminal case, especially the authorities' refusal to question Assange in London, deserve scrutiny, certainly.

Also, I thought Assange ate the baked potato and jam pudding with his hands, not the lasagna. LIES!
posted by FrauMaschine at 2:31 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


I think "wanted for questioning on suspicion of sexual assault" would be a pretty decent translation.
posted by dabitch at 8:08 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


(Course, it makes for rubbish headlines because that just won't look snappy on the lead.)

What I really learned from reading all this is that O'Hagan is a good writer.
posted by dabitch at 8:21 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Slavoj Žižek, The New Statesman: What Is An Authentic Political Event?
Jacques Lacan proposed as the axiom of the ethics of psychoanalysis: “Do not compromise your desire.” Is this axiom also not an accurate designation of the whistleblowers’ acts? In spite of all the risks their activity involves, they are not ready to compromise on it – on what? This brings us to the notion of event: Assange and his collaborators enacted a true and authentic political event – this is what one can easily understand the violent reaction of the authorities. Assange and colleagues are often accused of being traitors, but they are something much worse (in the eyes of the authorities) – to quote Alenka Zupančič:
Even if Snowden were to sell his informations discreetly to another intelligence service, this act would still count as part of the ‘patriotic games’, and if needed he would have been liquidated as a ‘traitor’. However, in Snowden's case, we are dealing with something entirely different. We are dealing with a gesture which questions the very logic, the very status quo, which for quite some time serves as the only foundation of all ‘Western’ (non)politics. With a gesture which as it were risks everything, with no consideration of profit and without its own stakes: it takes the risk because it is based on the conclusion that what is going on is simply wrong. Snowden didn't propose any alternative. Snowden, or, rather, the logic of his gesture, like, say, before him, the gesture of Bradley Manning – is the alternative.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:32 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


If we take a guess about the author's motivations here, what percentage would be him trying to preempt any personal attacks by Assange, I wonder. He speaks of it almost as a loss of faith or feeling, but he's also clearly savvy about both the law and his reputation. That makes me wonder whether in part, he's trying to get his story out before Assange starts tweeting @ him.
posted by salvia at 6:49 PM on February 24


Seems a good plan: write at length about what a flawed narcissist Assange is. The entire media immediately agrees with you that Assange is a flawed narcissist. If Assange tweets back that he isn't a flawed narcissist, it's just further proof of what a flawed narcissist he is.
posted by colie at 11:28 PM on February 24


Guy Rundle in Crikey has a critical take on O'Hagan's piece that actually makes some sense:
Overall, one can’t help but feel that the fascination and ambivalence the Left-lib establishment displays towards Assange has something to do with the crisis in its own project — that of the individual conscience, with no real theory of power, exposing falsehood. WikiLeaks, as a campaigning site, was precisely opposed to that conception, seeing mass leaks against conspiratorial power elites as a way out of the impasse that investigative journalism/whistleblowing had fallen into. Assange’s firm understanding of a way in which the world worked, and his application of that to a strategy, is what energised so many of them. That the regard was not returned in kind appears to have been part of the reason — beyond Assange’s unquestionable errors, gaucheries and self-sabotage — why the turn against him is so fierce.
I like the use of the word "a" in "Assange's firm understanding of a way in which the world worked" -- not "the way" the world works, but "a way."
posted by FrauMaschine at 12:15 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


In defence of Julian Assange - "Julian Assange's publisher writes about his experience of working with the much-criticised WikiLeaks founder"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:35 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Summarizing:

- Assange is a socipath.
- His defenders are the enablers of a sociapath.
posted by gertzedek at 11:25 AM on March 9


Here's an interesting one, instead of the usual "rape charges" we have a totally different reason... Julian Assange's Virtual Address at South By Southwest:
Assange, who is still confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London because he faces arrest on espionage charges in the United States and Great Britain, addressed a crowd of about a thousand at the South By Southwest Interactive conference via a live-video Skype connection.
wat?
posted by dabitch at 9:05 AM on March 10


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