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The best bio of Julian Assange you won't read in the US media

Today I point you toward the best history of Julian Assange yet. And it is published outside the routes of celebrity big media where the kings spit and urinate upon the subject, tell him it's raining, and then proceed to pick the body and skeleton clean of all things for sale as tallow for the soap factory.


Originally, it was delivered by the New Zealand Herald and a publication called called The Monthy.


An Australian reader explains:


The Monthly is an Australian magazine giving political commentary and analysis. Small circulation - readership well educated and politically involved - a lot of policy-makers there. By US standards very left-wing but pretty mainstream in Oz. Robert Manne [the essay's creator] is a well-known journalist and author who writes for the large circulation dailies. Discussion about Assange in Australia seems to be more firmly rooted in reality than in the US. Assange's youthful exploits are well-known from Suellette Dreyfus' "Underground" which now has a new edition out with Assange credited as co-author. The last opinion poll that I saw gave about 65% support in Australia for Wikileaks' activities.


And now it's on-line at Cryptome here, entitled The Cypherpunk Revolutionary.


It traces Julian Assange from youth to his contribution to the cypherpunks mailing list and the crumbs he left as "Proff," all the way to the present. (When Crypt Newsletter received occasional mail from him ca. these years, it was always signed from "Proff.")


Many observations stand out. I'll sample two.


First:


Assange had once regarded WikiLeaks as the people's intelligence agency. In January 2007 he sincerely believed that when WikiLeaks published commentary on the Somalia assassination order document it would be "very closely collaboratively analysed by hundreds of Wikipedia editors" and by "thousands of refugees from the Somali, Ethiopian and Chinese expat communities". This simply had not happened. Commentary by the people on material produced by their intelligence agency never would. He had once hoped for engaged analysis from the blogosphere. What he now discovered were what he thought of as indifferent narcissists repeating the views of the mainstream media on "the issues de jour" with an additional flourish along the lines of "their pussy cat predicted it all along". Even the smaller newspapers were hopeless. They relied on press releases, ignorant commentary and theft. They never reported the vitally significant leaks without WikiLeaks intervention. Counterintuitively, only the major newspapers in the world, such as the New York Times or the Guardian, undertook any serious analysis but even they were self-censoring and their reportage dominated by the interests of powerful lobby groups. No one seemed truly interested in the vital material WikiLeaks offered or willing to do their Own work.


It's a demonstration of the well known state-of-affairs in which the publication of unwelcome but necessary information goes unremarked upon, belittled or blocked because it is not delivered by giant media gatekeepers.


For example, in the US, such outside-the-boundaries material is just ignored due to a combination of factors including sheer timidity, slave relationships to official sources, slave relationships to corporate ownership and NIH, or not-invented-here, syndrome.


This apparently led Assange to conclude most of the world would just not pay attention. He was right until WikiLeaks published the "Collateral Murder" video, provided by Bradley Manning.


Assange then allied with the New York Times, the Guardian and others to deliver the rest of Manning's information dump. While this might have resulted in WikiLeaks becoming more powerful and effective, reality just became more tortured.


The resulting fame from delivery through these structures, agencies WikiLeaks was supposed to supersede, has for now coincidentally neutralized the exercise more effectively than any US government campaign against Assange could.


The messenger became the message, writes the article's author, Robert Manne.


The Guardian, Der Spiegel and The New York Times leveraged and monetized Assange and WikiLeaks to the hilt, hard at squeezing every possible dollar out of the organization and its founder's story. Even to the hardened cynic the personal contempt revealed by the unraveling process has been startling.


Colleagues of Assange deserted the operation for many reasons, some of them very well-explained by Manne and connected to the founder's personality and the publicity firestorm and celebrity brought on by Manning's information dump.


Manne writes:


For once, the cliche is true. What happened over the next ten months is stranger than fiction. With the release of the "Collateral Murder" footage, WikiLeaks became instantly famous. At the suggestion of a journalist at the Guardian, Nick Davies, Assange decided to publish the new material he had received from Manning anonymously in association with some of the world's best newspapers or magazines. Complex and heated negotiations between WikiLeaks and the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel were now conducted. Even though these negotiations are one of the less interesting aspects of this story, already three books from the news outlets involved offering their own perspectives have been published. Assange had long regarded the western media as narcissistic. It is likely that his judgment was now confirmed.


"In early April 2010 hardly anyone had heard of Julian Assange," reads the piece near its end. "By December he was one of the most famous people on Earth, with very powerful enemies and very passionate friends."


In its entirety -- here. Highly recommended.


This post was originally published at Dick Destiny blog.

 
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