Assange-Think

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In When Google Met WikiLeaks, Julian Assange says, “All around the world there are different people observing different parts of what is happening to them locally.” And WikiLeaks is, if anything, an archive of that knowledge, a “total library”. The architect of this library, Assange, has managed to broaden our understanding of words and concepts we have come to take for granted. Here’s a reckoner:

On Censorship:

I describe censorship as a pyramid. On the top of the pyramid there are the murders of journalists and publishers. On the next level there are legal attacks on journalists and publishers. A legal attack is simply a delayed use of coercive force, which doesn’t necessarily result in murder but may result in incarceration or asset seizure.… There are very few people who are murdered, there are a few public legal attacks on individuals and corporations, and then at the next level down there is a tremendous amount of self-censorship… At the very bottom—which is the largest volume—are all those people who cannot read, do not have access to print, do not have access to communication, or where there is no profitable industry in providing such.

On the Act of Archiving:

There are two fundamental justifications. First of all, human civilization, its good part, is based upon our full intellectual record, and our intellectual record should be as large possible if humanity is to be as advanced as possible. The second is that, in practice, releasing information is positive to those engaged in acts that the public support and negative to those engaged in acts the public does not support.

On Activists:

I believe the most effective activists are those that fight and run away to fight another day, not those who fight and martyr themselves. That’s about judgment—when to engage in the fight and when to withdraw so as to preserve your resources for the next fight.

On Courage:

People often say, “You are tremendously courageous in doing what you’re doing.” And I say, “No, you misunderstand what courage is. Courage is not the absence of fear. Only fools have no fear. Rather, courage is the intellectual mastery of fear by understanding the true risks and opportunities of the situation and keeping those things in balance.” It is not simply having prejudice about what the risks are, but actually testing them. There are all sorts of myths that go around about what can be done and what cannot be done. It’s important to test. You don’t test by jumping off a bridge. You test by jumping off a footstool, and then jumping off something a bit higher and a bit higher.

On War and Peace:

Most wars in the twentieth century started as a result of lies amplified and spread by the mainstream press. And you may say, “Well that is a horrible circumstance; it is terrible that all these wars start with lies.” And I say no, this is a tremendous opportunity, because it means that populations basically don’t like wars and they have to be lied into it. That means we can be “truthed” into peace. That is cause for great hope.

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