Interview with Julian Assange

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Hans Lysglimt:
What
is WikiLeaks?

Julian Assange:
WikiLeaks in an international public service. It helps people who
have suppressed information get it out to the public where it can
do some good.

Then once that
important information is public, we keep it public. That is also
a quite difficult thing because of legal attacks and illegal attacks
that are made by governments and corporations when you try to get
something out that may achieve reform.

HL:
The threats to WikiLeaks, and the people in WikiLeaks, they are
real?

JA: Yes,
they are real. There have been more than 100 attempts, legal attempts,
to attack us. Some of them quite serious, all of which we have overcome
succeeded successfully with help from our friends.

We publish
the material which is in the greatest need of a free press. Material
which other people can not publish.

We are a sort
of publisher of last resort for journalists as well as for society.

And, that is
something new. We have never really seen a free press before that
has managed to stay up for more than a small period.

HL: The
ideology behind WikiLeaks is to enable transparency, or is there
more of a thought behind it than that?

JA:
There is. Our goal is justice. Our goal is to have a just civilization.
That is sort of a personal motivating goal. And the message is transparency.

It is important
not to confuse the message with the goal. Nonetheless we believe
that it is an excellent message. Gaining justice with transparency.
It is a good way of doing that, it is also a good way of not making
too many mistakes.

We have a trans-political
ideology; it is not right, it is not left, it is about understanding.
Before you can give any advice, any program about how to deal with
the world, how to put the civil into civilization. How to gain influence
on people. Before you can have that program, first you have to understand
what is actually going on. How does the world actually work. How
do human civilisation and institutions actually work. What are they
doing? Because, any remedy must be based on what is actually happening
in practice. Because, if it is not based on what is actually happening
it is based on some kind of fantasy. And therefore any program or
recommendation, any political ideology that comes out of that misunderstanding
will itself be a misunderstanding.

So, we say,
to some degree all political ideologies are currently bankrupt.
Because they do not have the raw ingredient they need to address
the world. The raw ingredient to understand what is actually happening

HL:
Are you then an anarchic sort of organization? Do you subscribe
to the modern democratic progressive nation state?

JA: Our
belief is more fundamental. It does not matter what your ideology
is. It can not go anywhere good unless you know what is actually
going on. If you are trying to sail to a destination and you do
not have a map you can not get there. You will be adrift in the
political landscape. The drifting hypocrite. The first thing for
any political ideology is to understand what is actually going on.
And then maybe you have a hope of getting there, of charting the
course. But you got to have the map first. We want to draw the map.

HL: In
a sense you are manifesting the possibility of the Internet in its
truest form.

JA: We
have drawn a line in the sand.

JA:
And, no other group yet has drawn that line. And we have done it
consistently.

When we publish
something we will never un-publish it.

We have seen
that by being the free press vanguard, by drawing this line in the
sand, by placing ourselves and our defences there we are opening
up the spaces for everyone else to hide. We are now the status quo
in that we have been publishing for 3 years consistently and managed
to keep ourselves up. Although we are certainly the free press vanguard,
we are a vanguard that has been able to keep itself in our position.
So everyone who publishes less aggressively, is normal. We have
created that space behind us, and we are changing the view about
what is normal and correct publishing.

HL: What
are the threats to WikiLeaks?

JA: The
threat at the moment, is death by a thousands cuts.

It is expensive
running all of this, expenses protecting ourselves against legal
attacks, that we however manage to do successfully. But there is
a cost. Also, as an organization grows there are scaling problems;
in this we are a victim of our own success.

HL:
What is your view of the politician? Is he a prisoner of his circumstances?

JL: Obama
is a good example. Obama has two things that he considers as values,
that he believes are virtues. Number one is compromise. Not as a
means but as an end, that is an inherent virtue to balance the political
forces around. And there is some argument for this, that this is
what a politician should be doing. Not taking sides, just balancing
the power. Remember what is politics, in its essence, about? It
is about allowing transfers of power without bloodshed. This is
where it all comes from. It is where the first parliament came from.
When you sort this out in parliament you do not have to go to war
with each other. So when you see bailing in parliament you should
also understand its success, which is, its basic success is stopping
people killing each other when one groups starts to get more powerful.

Obama believes
compromise is a virtue, an end goal.

And then he
is concerned with some inner quality issues within the United States.

To me it seems
those are the only two things he considers end goals. The first
one I think is a mistake, it is making the method the goal. Just
like WikiLeaks, our goal is justice our method is transparency.
But we do not confuse the goal and the method. To Obama, the goal
is compromise, I would rather say his goal should be justice and
his method should be compromise.

But even if
you do not have this idea that compromise is a virtue, you are limited
in your ability to act as a politician by the forces that are around
you. So we, everyone, an industry an individual shape what a politician
can do by shaping the environment that is around them. And if you
have a purely compromising politician, like Obama, then they are
completely shaped by the forces that are around them. Push a little
bit more here, and you get a different response.

Who is the
actual audience of the material that we release? Is it the politicians?
Is it the general public? Is it actually the organization that it
comes from? The sort of dissenters of that organization?

Many of these
organizations, be they political parties be they conspiratorial
groups of criminals or be they business are only just in equilibrium
with their competition. And because they are acting in a way that
is often inhuman or corrupt or criminal they have lots of opponents.
So, if you cause them to collapse as an organization, to not be
able to communicate with each other internally, to become paranoid
and fall in on themselves. Then they are no longer competitive as
an organization compared to all those organizations that are more
open. So the power of these organizations starts to shrink. And
the market gap is then taken up by the more open organization that
does not have the problem of secrecy.

So that is
a really nice outcome.

HL: Thank
you for this interview Julian.

JA:
You are welcome.

Please
find entire transcript here
.

The original
video and improved audio files are
available here.

Hans
J. Lysglimt [send him mail]
is the publisher of the Farmann
Magazine
(publishing a free email newsletter in English and
Norwegian) from Oslo, Norway. Published since 1891, the classical
magazine regularly featured contemporary writings by Ludwig von
Mises through the early and mid 20th century.

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