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Assange Extradiction: Can a French Touch Pierce a Neo-Orwellian Farce?
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By offering asylum to the persecuted publisher of WikiLeaks, France’s Macron would enhance his status in myriad European latitudes and all across the Global South.

It’s quite fitting that the – imperially pre-determined – judicial fate of Julian Assange is being played out in Britain, the home of George Orwell.

As chronicled by the painful, searing reports of Ambassador Craig Murray, what’s taking place in Woolwich Crown Court is a sub-Orwellian farce with Conradian overtones: the horror…the horror…, remixed for the Raging Twenties. The heart of our moral darkness is not in the Congo: it’s in a dingy courtroom attached to a prison, presided by a lowly imperial lackey.

In one of Michel Onfray’s books published last year, “Theorie de la Dictature” (Robert Laffont) – the top dissident, politically incorrect French philosopher starts exactly from Orwell to examine the key features of a new-look dictatorship. He tracks seven paths of destruction: to destroy freedom, impoverish language, abolish truth, suppress history, deny nature, propagate hate, and aspire to empire.

Michel Onfray in 2009. (Alexandre López, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)
Michel Onfray in 2009. (Alexandre López, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

To destroy freedom, Onfray stresses, power needs to assure perpetual surveillance; ruin personal life; suppress solitude; make opinion uniform and denounce thought crimes. That sounds like the road map for the United States government’s persecution of Assange.

Other paths, as in impoverishing language, include practicing newspeak; using double language; destroying words; oralizing language; speaking a single language; and suppressing the classics. That sounds like the modus operandi of the ruling classes in the Hegemon.

To abolish truth, power must teach ideology; instrumentalize the press; propagate fake news; and produce reality. To propagate hate, power, among other instruments, must create an enemy; foment wars; and psychiatrize critical thinking.

There’s no question we are already mired deep inside this neo-Orwellian dystopia.

John “Paradise Lost” Milton, in 1642, could not have been more prophetic, when he wrote “Those that hurt the eyes of the people blame them for being blind.” How not to identify a direct parallel with Le Petit Roi Emmanuel Macron’s army, month after month, willfully blinding protesting Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in the streets of France.

Orwell was more straightforward than Milton, saying that to talk about freedom is meaningless unless it refers to the freedom to tell people what they don’t want to hear. And he put it in context by quoting a line from Milton: “By the known rules of ancient liberty.”

No “known rules of ancient liberty” are allowed to penetrate the heart of darkness of Woolwich Crown Court.

A Spy at the Service of the People

Juan Branco is arguably the most brilliant young French intellectual – heir to a fine Sartre/Foucault/Deleuze tradition. The French establishment detests him, especially because of his best-seller “Crepuscule,” where he dissected Macronism – branded as a thuggish regime – from the inside, and the French president as a creature and instrument of a tiny oligarchy.

He has just published Assange: L’Antisouverain” (Les Editions du Cerf), an absorbing, erudite study that he defines as “a philosophy book about the figure of the Anti-Sovereign.” The Sovereign is of course the state apparatus.

Here (in French) is an excellent interview with Branco about the book. There’s nothing even remotely comparable to it in the Anglosphere, which has treated Assange essentially as an unpleasant freak, oozing pedestrian slander and piling up sub-ideology tirades disguised as facts.

The book is essentially structured as a seminary for the hyper-selective Ecole Normale Superieure, the august school in the Latin Quarter here that shapes French elites, a privileged nest of power institutions and reproduction of privileges. Branco takes the reader to the heart of this universe just to make him or her discover Assange from the point of view of one of those students.

Branco was privileged to profit from the interaction between the Ecole Normale Superieure and Yale. He met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in January 2014, “in a state of radical confinement,” and then followed him as a juridical consultant, then lawyer, “day after day,” until meeting him again in September 2016, “getting ready to no less than change the course of the American presidential election and engineer the fall of the one who had sworn to crush him, one Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Branco is fascinated by Assange’s “scientific journalism,” and his capacity to “intervene in the political space without occupying a determined place.” Assange is painted as a contemporary oracle, a maniac for free access to information, someone who “never looked for a reward, or insertion, or juridical protection,” which is a totally different modus operandi from any media.

2016 portrait of Juan Branco. (Yale University, Wikimedia Commons)
2016 portrait of Juan Branco. (Yale University, Wikimedia Commons)

Branco shows how WikiLeaks “allowed whistleblowers to act,” by growing an archive parallel to the “production of data related to the mechanism of contemporary power apparatuses.” Under this framework “every citizen is able to become a researcher.”

So, Assange’s work has been about redistributing power. It’s as if Assange had become a “spy at the service of the people.” And that leads Branco to draw the connection with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests. WikiLeaks releasing the “Macron Leaks” in 2017 legitimized the Yellow Vest struggle for direct democracy.

Branco describes Assange as “a strange figure, a bridge between the pre-history of digital civilization and its definitive penetration as a primordial, structural element of political and social space.”

But arguably his best appraisal is of Assange as “a dissident of his own internal space, mostly interested by the sphere of cultural, economic and social domination in which he was born, that of the American imperium, of which his native Australia is one of the most dedicated allies, and that dominates this cyber-space where he constituted himself as a political actor.”

In what could be construed as the top reason for the United States government’s unbounded thirst for vengeance against Assange, he challenged the fact that “American acts have a natural regulatory function for the rest of the world, a result of their over-dominance of the contemporary geopolitical space.”

It’s All in the Algorithm

A view from the Member’s Gallery inside the New York Stock Exchange, August 2008. (Ryan Lawler, Wikimedia Commons)
A view from the Member’s Gallery inside the New York Stock Exchange, August 2008. (Ryan Lawler, Wikimedia Commons)

And that brings us to the heart of the matter: algorithms. As Branco synthesizes it, the “revelation of raw documents aims at reinvesting in the political space those that have been discarded because of their submission to a word of authority whose algorithms have been masked.”

Onfray had already warned about “destroying words,” “impoverishing language” and clinging to newspeak – but Branco takes it to a new level. Because “the word of power is a word assimilated to the algorithm, in the sense that it benefits from a presumption of truth, it does not reveal, to remain effective, any of its assets, settling to enounce a reality impossible to contest.”

Branco is careful to explain that, “Algorithm would not have become a social power without the support of an ethical presupposition (the consecration of Homo Economicus), a postulation towards scientificism (thus to universality) and a technological rupture (big data).”

ORDER IT NOW

Branco breaks it down to the formula “Algorithmization is the foundation of sovereignty.” And that’s exactly what Assange challenged. And that’s why he’s such a divisive, eternally controversial figure, unlike Edward Snowden, who’s basically an average guy – with a sterling IQ – who simply wants to reform a system.

A Chance for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity?

When he worked on behalf of Assange, Branco essentially coordinated a team of lawyers responding to star judge Baltasar Garzon, who was present at Woolwich Crown Court earlier this week. Last week, Assange’s legal team said they would apply for asylum in France. Branco can’t possibly be part of the team because of “Crepuscule” – which eviscerates Macron.

President Emmanuel Macron celebrating France’s victory over Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow. (Kremlin)
President Emmanuel Macron celebrating France’s victory over Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow. (Kremlin)

Le Petit Roi, for his part, may now be presented with the ultimate global reach P.R. opportunity. Ending a ghastly neo-Orwellian charade, offering asylum to Assange, and ridiculing Trump and Boris Johnson at the same time would enhance his status in myriad European latitudes and all across the Global South.

Yet there should be no illusions. On July 3, 2015, advised by his legal team, Assange wrote an op-ed for Le Monde asking about the possibility of asylum. Only one hour after publication the Elysee Palace – under Francois Hollande – issued a firm denial. There were no leaks on what kind of pressure was applied by the U.S. Deep State.

Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson is under no illusions: “He won’t be pardoned by President Trump, although [a future] President Sanders might do so. I think that’s the objective of the Pentagon — to put him in prison for the rest of his life.”

A measure of the cowardice of all those established newspapers who profited handsomely from the work of Assange and WikiLeaks is this despicable Le Monde editorial that half-heartedly pretends to defend him as a journalist and publisher.

It’s idle to expect from Anglo-American corporate media even a modicum of decency to admit that journalists must not be treated as spies and dangerous criminals. Criminalization of critical thinking – capable of provoking, unmasking and denouncing raw power — is a key plank of the new dictatorship examined by Onfray, and already in effect. Now it comes down to Onfray and Branco not to be lost in translation – and forcefully demonstrate to the Anglosphere that the heart of darkness must not be allowed to prevail.

(Republished from ConsortiumNews by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. I must confess, I had never heard of Branco or Onfray; but if they stand by Julian, then God bless them.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  2. Oh, a parting thought:

    “Information wants to be free.” – Stewart Brand

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    , @PetrOldSack
  3. What on earth is all that “philosophical” blather. Gahhh. What he talkin about?

    But at any rate hell will freeze over a thousand years before Macron saves Assange.

  4. Assange must truly be a criminal, because we in the West do not have political prisoners. The French don’t harbour criminals.

    • Replies: @Parfois1
  5. @Digital Samizdat

    The aphoristic version of Brand’s idea is rhetorically useful, but scratch it a bit and it’s also silly.

    Information doesn’t actually want anything, any more than a mountain wants snow.

    The full Brand extract is significantly less uplifting and decloaks things a bit –

    “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” (1984 version)

    alternatively

    Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better. (1987 version)

    .

    However it’s not the information itself that “wants” information to be expensive. Rather, it’s people whose business models depend on monopoly control of information. They want information to be expensive: they want a profit margin to exist where the characteristics of the product permit rapid, almost-unlimited, almost-free replication and distribution.

    The tension is between the profit motives of such people, and the obvious impossibility of controlling distribution of a thing that can be copied at near zero cost.

    The ‘tension’ is entirely artificial, but the business-model types have exploited the historical attempts by the state to intervene and distort markets in a Canute-style attempt to hold back the inexorable.

    The state began to do that type of intervention after the invention of the printing press – the first time that mass-reproduction of text became possible: ‘copyright’ was explicitly invented to attempt to ensure continuity of control over information. No surprise then, that possession of an unlicensed printing press was a death penalty offence in 15th century France.

    .

    Cory Doctorow put it best:

    I believe that bits exist to be copied. Therefore, I believe that any business-model that depends on your bits not being copied is just dumb, and that lawmakers who try to prop these up are like governments that sink fortunes into protecting people who insist on living on the sides of active volcanoes.

  6. @obwandiyag

    The Frogs are obsessed with trying to elevate their soi-disant ‘public intellectuals’ to the ranks of ‘Philosophe‘ as opposed to the more mundane écrivain.

    It’s just that typical bullshitty Frog thing of trying to make a thing more complex than it is – like having two forms of ‘you’ (sing. & pl.), four words for ‘green‘, and an entire sub-industry based around pretending that some dickhead can reliably tell the difference between $10 and $1200 bottles of wine by blind taste (a claim that has been disproved so often that it’s beyond a joke… the ‘high end’ wine industry depends on dummies still believing it).

    On the language side of things, the Krauts do the stupid unnecessary complexity too – but when it comes to philosophy they sensibly recognised that after Schopenhauer they had most of the structure done, so from then on it was likely to just be self-promoting bullshit-artists doing embroidery – e.g., Sartre, de Beauvoir, Derrida, Lacan, Levi-Strauss and BHL.

    Frog “philosophy” is more about the Frog power elite promoting some retard whose ideas comport with what the palace dwellers want the proles to think. If Tom Friedman was a Frog, he would be just as promoted as BHL.

    It doesn’t get better as you go backwards either: Rousseau and Descartes were both fuckwits; Montesquieu was was better than both of them but not very original.

    That said, I have my favourite Frog thinkers and writers – none of them were philosophers as we understand the term.

    Voltaire saw right through Rousseau, and Diderot was more encyclopaedist than philosopher ‘proper’. Chuck in de la Boétie, de la Rochefoucauld, d’Holbach, Condorcet and Bastiat. Those guys’ work runs rungs around any of the major Frogs.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  7. Seraphim says:
    @Digital Samizdat

    Toads (Fr. crapauds) like Onfrey are the spawn of frogs (Fr. grenouilles) like Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Sartre, Lacan, Derrida, BHL (to name a few, the swamp – Fr. marais- is larger). They just croak (Fr. ils coassent) louder.

  8. @Kratoklastes

    I guess you’re right. Sounds plausible. But what I am objecting to is not necessarily all that background you present. I’m just talking about the impenetrable, intractable, impossible, jargon-heavy, massive latinately obfuscating generalizations after generalizations. (How bout that one. I a philosophe. And how. You betchum.) That’s what all philosophy sounds like to me. Bunch of meaningless generalizations.

    • Replies: @Realist
  9. The unfortunate truth about pro-Israel Assange, skewered with style on 4chan –

    [MORE]

    Sheeple luv ‘muh hero’ Julian Assange, ignore proof Wikileaks was always fraud & so is this week’s UK ‘extradition trial’

    – Sheeple ignore how Assange luvs Israel n says 9-11 truthers, Israel critics are stupid loons

    – Netanyahu long ago told Israeli media Assange was their asset

    – Sheeple ate up hoax re ‘years living in Ecuador embassy’ – just there for photos meetings

    – Assange contact Peter W Smith dead after contacting Wikileaks, Assange chuckles he never got the files HA sheeple don’t see Wikileaks is rat trap to identify silence kill real dissidents; Seth Rich

    – Assange a Rothschild boy, Wikileaked to destroy Rothschild rival bank Julius Baer, shared lawyer with Rothschilds, Rothschild sister-in-law posted his bail HA

    – CIA Brzezinski admitted on TV Wikileaks are from intel

    CIA-Mossad-MI5-MI6 laugh how sheeple will ignore proof Assange is hoax even if in their faces

    – Assange made by NY Times, UK Guardian – media who pump neo-con war schemes, Russia hoaxes, all SJW cultural Marxist bullshite, ignore or abuse real heroes … but sheeple trust CIA-Mossad media for Julian HA

    – Assange lawyers serve MI5-MI6 Doughty Chambers, tho one John Jones was thrown under a train and killed, can’t have people expose Julian is hoax

    – Assange lawyers hide US Dept of Justice files on Virginia federal judge bribery stopping other extraditions incl. Lauri Love from OK, but CIA-Mossad ops not allowed to say this
    https://www.docdroid.net/eVAAjIq/doj-ig-memo-mueller-bribery-extortion.pdf

    – Assange hoax set up ‘Edward Snowden’ fraud, Snowden 1st ‘leaking’ to Dick Cheney’s biographer HA that was stupid so switched to Rothschild gay ex-porno-seller Greenwald, sheeple bought the scam again ‘muh hero’ Snowman, Putin plays along for favours

    ‘Arrest of Julian Assange is Just Theatre – Assange is a Rothschild-Israeli Operative’ – ‘Assange & Snowden are CIA ‘Rat Traps” – ‘Snowden and Greenwald are CIA frauds’
    https://www.henrymakow.com/2019/04/Julian-Assange-Arrest-is-Theatre.html
    https://www.henrymakow.com/2018/11/assange-snowden-rat-traps.html
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/09/21/russia-govt-report-snowden-greenwald-are-cia-frauds/

  10. Parfois1 says:
    @The Alarmist

    Assange must truly be a criminal, because we in the West do not have political prisoners. The French don’t harbour criminals.

    Usually, when one attempts to have a go at sarcasm, irony or satire, one must be careful to word it in such a way that the reader is left “in the know” about the intention.

    Maybe it’s my slowness in the uptake that prevents my detection of a figure of speech in your comment and I’m left with no alternative but to take it at face value, that is, Assange is a criminal. Would you please elaborate on that assertion?

    Otherwise one should remember the old saying that sarcasm is the refuge of a shallow mind, let alone a failed attempt at it.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  11. Parfois1 says:

    Never heard of Branco before – he appears to be too young to have made a name for himself among the “soi-disant” crowd yet. But he appears to be more of the radical variety because his “Crepuscule” is a demolition job on Macron and the French establishment. Perhaps a bete noire in the making.

    Thank you Mr Escobar for the report on Assange’s tribulations. I have come across a headline in a major Australian newspaper stating “Assange is an ordinary criminal, court told” (Must be the source for the commenter Alarmist above!) showing the dismal depth of depravity engulfing the prostituted media everywhere, even in Assange’s country of birth, where one would expect a modicum of sympathy for his fight against the hegemonic beast.

  12. Realist says:

    The fact that Trump does not come to the aid of Assange is disgraceful.

    • Agree: follyofwar
    • Replies: @follyofwar
    , @Seraphim
  13. Realist says:
    @obwandiyag

    That’s what all philosophy sounds like to me. Bunch of meaningless generalizations.

    No surprise there.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  14. Sean says:

    From outside the US, Assange “agreed to assist the rather naive Manning in doing something that placed Manning in far more danger that Assange, namely cracking a password used on a US government system for classified documents and communications.

    Though he claimed he had a large staff of experts (as with his untruthful assertion to have staff working for weeks to ‘decode’ the Collateral Murder video) Wikileaks was only him and Berg doing a bit of Googling them putting the stuff out. As Assange built the website it was by no means secure. When Berg locked Assange out the re engineered second version, Assange publicly lied that it was closed because of a backlog of submissions, then admitted what had happened. Yet even on its submission procedure page visitors were exposed to being identified by interested third parties.

    So, Assange’s work has been about redistributing power. It’s as if Assange had become a “spy at the service of the people”

    My impression is you see Assange (exposing and taking down a huge criminal conspiracy in the interests of truth and justice) as more of a cop playing by his own rules.

    Assange surrendered in London on a Swedish arrest warrant for sexually assaulting two women. After being detained for 10 days Assange was released after got people ( including eminent journalists and scientists) some of relatively modest means, to be sureties. One of them was an ex army captain whose farm Assange stayed at for several months. On May 30, 2012 the Supreme Court rejected Assange’s appeal against extradition. Three weeks later he went into the Embassy leaving a number of them with their saving wiped out. Assang’s host had to borrow the money to pay the surety. After Manning was arrested WikiLeaks continued to publish the material he had provided, but did not provide meaningful financial or other support.

    “Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.”
    (Joan Didion,

    Sexually, financially and legally Assange sees obligation as one way street: only what others owe to him. In his own mind he cannot ever be a victimizer. Folk like that oft times end up in prison.

    • Replies: @Nosquat Loquat
  15. @Realist

    There is a technical term for you and it is “asshole.”

    • Replies: @Realist
  16. How could it possibly benefit President Trump to have Mr. Assange extradited to the US in an election year? After all, Trump proclaimed during his 2016 campaign that he loved Wikileaks. What percentage of US citizens, I wonder, think that Assange should be let free? It is the permanent bureaucracy (which Trump seems to have little control of) that wants Assange to rot in prison. Hillary would personally benefit, as she’ll believe to her dying day that Assange cost her the election.

    Since Assange is not a US citizen, I am unclear how this might work. Does Trump have presidential pardon power over a non-citizen? If he does, does he have to wait until Assange is found guilty to pardon him? Or can he just call Boris Johnson up and tell him to let Assange go?

    Also, I’ve never heard of anyone else expressing this point. But, did Assange make a huge mistake by holing himself up in the Ecuadorian embassy for 7 years? Did not that postpone the inevitable, plus take away 7 years of his life? Perhaps, he would have had better luck with the Obama Admin if he hadn’t gone into hiding, rather than being carried out of the embassy, and facing a torture loving CIA brute like Mike Pompeo. After all, Obama did commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning. So many questions.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  17. @obwandiyag

    I agree. McRon is far too much a stooge of the Empire to risk upsetting his overlords by saving Assange.

  18. @Sean

    You know nothing.

    • Replies: @Sean
  19. Sean says:
    @Nosquat Loquat

    “Reporting or journalism is not an excuse for criminal activities or a licence to break ordinary criminal laws.”

    Laura Poitras didn’t cross the line with Edward Snowden

    But Assange she turned down when he asked her to share some of the documents,

    So of course Assange thought she had some evil plan, and he fell out with her. He is narcissistic.

  20. @Realist

    This being an election year, does Trump have some internal poll telling him that the majority of the US people think Assange guilty, and want him extradited to the US to stand trial here? I find that hard to believe. With everything else going on (Covid-19, the economy melting down), you would think that the last distraction Trump would want would be a sympathetic figure like Assange being bullied around by his intelligence community.

    • Replies: @Realist
  21. Seraphim says:
    @Realist

    The fact that the Australian Government does not even acknowledge the fate of an Australian citizen is even more disgraceful.

    • Agree: Realist
  22. Realist says:
    @obwandiyag

    There is a technical term for you and it is “asshole.”

    Snappy comeback…laugh of derision.

    Why the ad hominem attack?

    I must have hit a nerve. At least you had the presence to understand the implication of my comment.

  23. Realist says:
    @follyofwar

    This being an election year, does Trump have some internal poll telling him that the majority of the US people think Assange guilty, and want him extradited to the US to stand trial here?

    That is one more reminder that Trump is not a statesman, but a Deep State minion.

  24. Saggy says: • Website

    Algorithmization is the foundation of sovereignty.

    Does this make any sense whatever? I know perfectly what an algorithm is, and I think I know what sovereignty is, and I can’t see any connection at all between the two.

  25. @Digital Samizdat

    To be added, not subtracted. Information depends on the receiving processor, and the noise on the transmitters. Together this creates summary Black Swans.

  26. gsjackson says:
    @obwandiyag

    The academese is a little hard to plow through. English is always preferable.

    Macron may intervene, but on behalf of the Deep State. There are those who think Trump wants to bring Assange to the U.S. in order to help bring Seth Rich’s murderers to justice, ideally just in time for the election. Trump feigns not knowing much about Wikileaks, but how could that be possible? He might well owe his election to them.

    It’s just impossible to tell what’s going on with the Trump administration, but for certain Assange could have counted on his destruction at the hands of HRC.

  27. gsjackson says:
    @follyofwar

    The Democrats are almost certainly implicated in Seth Rich’s murder. Assange can help prove that and bring it front and center before the electorate’s attention (though the media will do their best to disappear him if things take a turn in that direction).

    As for Assange holing up all those years, if you accept, as I do, that Obama is an agent of the Deep State, then Assange knew he was toast in Obama’s Justice Dept. Trump, in my view, is much harder to read. He said he loves Wikileaks during the campaign, and well he might have since they gave his campaign a major assist. A year or so ago he said he doesn’t know much about Wikileaks. Go figure.

    I have no idea what Assange’s read on Trump is, but Trump apologists in the Q world say Assange will be exonerated by Trump’s Justice Dept. and ultimately celebrated as a hero.

    I used to think I had sort of a handle on public affairs, but now I feel clueless. Strange times.

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