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Reader ripostes: Assange\'s motives (3)

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8 December 2010 10:35

Below, comments from Scott Burchill and Alison Broinowski. But first, Will Grant:

Just following on the various comments on the motives behind Wikileaks, I think Assange would take exception with Sam's argument that he 'sees no value' in international society.

I'd argue that Assange has a very clear idea of international society, and it's one he values quite highly. Where Assange would differ with your line is that he's not thinking of the international society of states that we currently have. 

Assange is (as his essay notes) explicitly interested in better governance, not the absence of governance that your anarchist description would suggest.  As part of this, his idea of international society is one which is much more transparent and open, and is driven/influenced more by individuals/citizens than state hierarchies and conspiracies. This doesn't take out the state, it just brings it much more under democratic control. It also allows individuals to get a much better idea about what other states are doing, both for good (ie. better public policy) and ill.

To continue on Paul Davies' point about community vs conspiracy, I think Assange would argue that the key difference is exclusivity. If anyone can join a network of actors and that network of actors is transparent, then Assange would be very much in favour. Indeed, he'd say that governance drawing on open communities is inherently better than governance drawing on the strength of opaque conspiracies. 

Either way, I'm sure the debate about what all this means will continue for some time to come. Regardless, the parochialist in me has to say that the first person from North Queensland (let alone Australia) likely to win Time's Person of the Year is somewhat of an achievement.

Alison Broinowski:

This issue is complicated enough without mixing metaphors. As the commentator you quote on Assange's essays should know, the hydra grew heads, not legs. This becomes  more confusing when he goes on about turning off Wikileaks’ brain.

Scott Burchill on Christopher Hitchens, who Sam quoted in the previous post in this series:

Hitchens is confusing (or perhaps conflating) diplomatic confidentiality with diplomatic immunity. There is a big difference and he should know better.