Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Gaddafi and Assange

As Steve Coll, among others, has noted, Wikileaks may have helped spark the Tunisian revolution and Arab spring (although other factors, not least the price of food, probably played a bigger role). Certainly, Wikileaks has been a target of vituperation by Muammar Gaddafi, a current focus of popular revolt. But the Libyan leader and the Australian hacker may share more than either realize. Indeed, the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is more like Julian Assange than he is like Charlie Sheen.

Gadaffi's vision of Jamahiriya is of direct democracy: all power is to reside in the people while government is swept away. Assange also dreams of demolishing state and corporate conspiracy.

Gadaffi sees conspirators against him everywhere: Al Qaeda and the U.S. government are working in concert against him. Assange reportedly sees a Jewish conspiracy against him (despite support from Alan Dershowitz, among others).

[To be fair to Assange, he is not the only rather confused person out there: as Jonathan Freedland notes, LSE Director Sir Howard Davies has suggested an equivalence between Muammar Gaddafi and George Soros.]

OK, I'm just kidding (a bit). For a more serious analysis of Assange's philosophy and politics see part one and part two of a series on ABC's Philosophy Zone.

P.S. 10 March: another view on Assange from John Pilger. Interesting, although I disagree with the implication of Pilger's first sentence that there should be no intervention in Libya in the form of a no fly zone so long as it is approved by the UN, the OIC etc. See Kristof, Campbell and Sands.

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