Saturday, December 04, 2010

State Terror

"The scientists are in terror," wrote Ezra Pound, "and the European mind stops." If science is the methodical pursuit of knowledge, let us say that politics is the mendacious pursuit of power. When the politicians are in terror, then, the American body stirs. Lashes out.

It is unseemly. I just read a denunciation in a major Danish newspaper of Julian Assange as a traitor. It is a nonsensical claim—Assange is an Australian who has committed a crime, if he has, against America—in this case made by a Danish journalist who doesn't even know how to spell his name.

It is said that Assange should be hunted down like a terrorist, tried and even executed. Who is so afraid of Julian Assange? The state. Treason is a crime against the state. But the pundits forget that it cannot be committed by your foreign enemies (or even your allies abroad), who are free to oppose your policies as they choose. This has always been the crucial ambiguity of terror: are terrorists “criminals” or “enemies”? They are enemies that we want to treat as criminals so that we can feign outrage over their actions. What we forget is that their actions are desperate. A responsible state is careful about the enemies it makes, precisely because a sufficiently desperate enemy cannot be trusted to "behave". Assange, let us say, is being accused of misbehaving.

And, once again, Ron Paul brings us clarity, speaking from D.C. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.” U.S. foreign policy (“spreading democracy and freedom”) is a lie. The truth is much more complicated and we are now in a position to engage with that truth in its complexities, in its details. This makes things difficult for the state. It's not that I don't understand Hillary Clinton's irritation and frustration. I just can't respect her outrage over it. She seeks exactly the same kind of information about her adversaries. The difference is that she would keep that information to herself and use it to her advantage. WikiLeaks immediately redistributes that advantage to everyone.

It is true that diplomacy demands secrecy about exactly the cables that have been leaked. But what commits us to any country's diplomacy? And a country other than our own, to boot? If they want these things kept secret, they should keep them secret. They have failed. Assange, in a fundamental way, seems to be against diplomacy. So you have to keep this sort of stuff away from from him. Don't be outraged about what he does with it when he gets ahold of it. Don't tell him he's making diplomacy "impossible". He knows.

Let’s keep in mind that a so-called “enemy of the state” is always really only the enemy of a state. In this case, the secretary of the relevant state has slid unremarkably from talk about how WikiLeaks threatens U.S. security and prosperity to how it threatens security and prosperity as such. As a top Bush aide once famously said, “We’re an empire now.” And Assange has been quite clear about his loyalties (or lack thereof). To be outraged at his methods is a desperate act. Patriotism is no longer the last refuge of the scoundrel, it seems; even after patriotism becomes irrelevant, the scoundrel can accuse foreign nationals of treason! It would be funny, if it was not so sad, that the person who is directly responsible for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy denounces the “irresponsibility” of someone who has exactly no responsibility for that conduct.

Hillary Clinton, your outrage bores me. You have made an enemy of Julian Assange. Accept it. Your government made an enemy of him long ago, not by its words by but its deeds. But this enemy of yours has proposed only to expose your lies, to tell the truth about your policies. You are making an ass of yourself by suggesting his behaviour is at issue. He does not have to explain himself because he has no power. You have power; you must explain your actions. To say that he is disloyal is such nonsense! He never offered you his loyalty. You failed (your country failed) to win his loyalty long ago. Take it like a statesman, Hillary. The truth was leaked and your mind stopped so abruptly that your face has cracked. You must step down now because your diplomacy, your mendacious pursuit of global power, is impossible. The truth is out. Your successors will have their work cut out for them in their own mendacious pursuits. The state is in terror.

1 comment:

soren buhl said...

thanks, Thomas, I knew I could find a good piece on your blog about this. this issue is getting more sticky by the minute./Soren