The Misguided Celebrations in the Assange Extradition Ruling

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The political underground is hosting a bacchanalian celebration without cause. While it is not quite the indulgence it promised itself in anticipation of the presidential election—an indulgence that it was cruelly denied when the Democrats declared a cynical victory—it may prove to be a cathartic consolation, but only if it eventually achieves a retroactive justification. Today, the subterraneous rabble are cheerfully raising a toast or a joint because a British judge reluctantly declined to send Julian Assange to the United States. This frumpy magistrate clumsily cloaked her verdict, one that explicitly endorsed the American prosecutors’ technocratic claim, in a brutal bellicosity for which she had become notorious—a bellicosity which, it now appears to me, probably betrayed her own disappointed inability to grant the Americans’ request. Accordingly, history will not list her among the bureaucrats who signed Assange’s death warrant, and in the absence of this one bloodstained signature, the unlettered critics of the American Empire have read a proclamation of emancipation. It is for this mistaken interpretation that they are drinking and dancing to their hearts’ content, all too unconcerned about the clerks in the appellate courts, who will gladly authorize the transaction, if they can.

Indeed, the most recent ruling accepts the Empire’s authority in structure and substance, but denies the request for extradition on the basis of a subjective assessment of Assange’s mental health. This evaluation can be questioned, challenged, revisited, revised, and eventually overruled, just like any other medical diagnosis. Having satisfied its claim to unlimited legal power and discretion, all the Empire has to do now is present its own psychologist to contradict the current conclusion. Such is routine and unremarkable for a government of infinite resources and clout, and even the effort is a victory in its own right, for it further complicates and muddles a case that was already distorted to the point of incoherence. The international manhunt for Julian Assange has been the subject of so much propaganda and disinformation that no one, not even Assange’s most assiduous defenders, can honestly claim to understand it completely. By transmuting the story from one of journalism to one of national security to one of international agreements and treaties, the Empire appears to have successfully eluded the general public. What degree of obfuscation will be possible once the complexities of medicine are introduced to the narrative?

Ours is a longitudinal view, one that could prove to be incompatible with the political underground. Accustomed as the underground is to looking downward, it has taken this preternatural opportunity to look up, to cheer Assange’s momentary victory as if it were decisive. Nothing is definite, least of all while Assange remains shackled in a prison in accord with the Empire’s instructions, yet the underground rejoices, as if to say: “Our work here is done.” Unfortunately, we can’t attribute their myopia to the intoxication of high spirits, for the underground is habitually short-sighted. When the Democratic Party executed the Super Tuesday heist to thwart Bernie Sanders’s supporters, the underground responded by predicting certain doom for the Biden campaign. They spoke with such rigid conviction of Biden’s inevitable defeat, almost as if they needed to convince themselves, first and foremost. They couldn’t bring themselves to look past the present horror, to fathom a time in which the masses would reconcile themselves to that horror and, finally, empower it.

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Traitors of Journalism: Suzie Dawson and the Market of Victimhood

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The inherent flaw of any presidential campaign lies in its conception of the prerequisites of human liberation. Invariably, these campaigns attempt to build from the top, to furnish an image, however crude, of the apex of human achievement. The elected president shall manifest this virtuous ideal, one to which the lowly remainder of humanity will humbly seek to adhere. The powerless peasants and commoners are to bask in the leader’s moral radiance and hope, through osmosis, to someday evolve . . . although, in every democratic society with which I am conversant, this day of graduation is perpetually postponed. We cannot trust “the people” with such immense responsibilities, we are told—and so we tell ourselves, overlooking the grotesque servility of our own relationship to our government. Such submission ironically facilitates a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby demagogues command the attention of the masses, manipulate them, exploit them, and drive them to disastrous ends. Until the people learn to trust themselves with knowledge, until they learn to arm themselves, until they agree to build an autarky of their own design—in short, until they learn to overcome the suicidal philosophy of their masters—they will continue to allow the tyrants to displace them.

Regrettably, this elitist strain of psychopathy pervades even those who purport to combat it. I have recently encountered a pitiable example in Suzie Dawson, a mendacious storyteller masquerading as a journalist, and a bully who has spent the last several years of her unhappy existence attempting to create a hierarchal system of political activism. One would think that the paradoxical nature of such a structure—a pecking order for those who are working to dismantle the concept of a pecking order—would have discouraged her from the onset, but just as the pharaohs could not foresee their own destruction, Dawson is ignorant of the instability of her own pyramid. She has developed an elaborate, arbitrary echelon for all who identify as activists, a rigid ranking at the top of which she has, quite predictably, placed herself. The inflamed jealousy with which she protects her castle in the sand is eclipsed only by her astonishing blindness to how foolish it is—but before we venture any further in a psychological portrait of this unfortunate creature, perhaps the reader, who likely does not know who she is, would appreciate a formal introduction.

Suzie Dawson is a former YouTube commentator (a washed-up never-was, to borrow my preferred description of Alyssa Milano) who specialized in commentary on the work of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. A native of New Zealand, she has lived in Moscow for some time now, hiding in plain sight from “western intelligence agents” who, she alleges, attempted to assassinate her—multiple times— by running her car off the road. Why these “western intelligence agents” selected such an impractical method of murder for a visibly unhealthy, over-the-hill bourgeois is beyond my ability to imagine, and even further beyond her ability to explain, never mind her ability to prove. For that matter, she cannot explain why the nefarious “western intelligence agents” despised her so passionately in the first place, save for her public defense of Assange and Snowden and, previously, her involvement in the Occupy Movement. In any event, she has been loafing around in Russia for a goodly while yet, beseeching the public to pay her bills while she petitions the government for asylum.

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“The Social Network” Ten Years Later


Today is the tenth anniversary of the theatrical release of The Social Network, a movie that reflects the hubris, evanescence, and existential futility of the 2010s, perhaps more vividly and clearly than any other film produced in its wake. Such is not to say that the film articulates or even comprehends this singularly postmodern condition, and it may be anachronistic to suggest that it does: how could any person, even the most prescient intellectual, have foreseen the impending fragmentation of the American psyche in its particulars? Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay after spending several years producing propaganda for the Democratic Party, certainly understands the relationship of the media and the mind, but even he couldn’t have composed such an immaculate forecast, could he? As a sociological statement, is the movie only a beautiful error, or am I reluctant to acknowledge a more sinister, convoluted purpose?

Perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. We should try to remember, as best as we can in these amnesiac times, the atmosphere, mentality, and mood of the autumn of 2010. In that season, I was a recent high school graduate, possessed of a relentless dream of becoming a filmmaker, though I could not find or even imagine the means to realize this ambition. We might politely describe this condition as optimism, which the Americans of those days possessed in abundance: we, the liberal bourgeoisie, were still basking in the dull afterglow of the election of President Obama. We were grateful to have survived George W. Bush, and although we hadn’t been especially afraid of John McCain, we all believed we had dodged some kind of bullet in the elections of 2008. Admittedly, the transition to the nebulous greatness that Obama envisioned was taking longer than we expected, and in our listlessness, we might have developed minor anxiety, but for the most part, we were in good spirits, completely incognizant, if not exactly ignorant, of the impending calamity.

This is neither the time nor the place to attempt a comprehensive interpretation of the Obama years as a desperate exercise in staving off the inevitable collapse of the American Empire, but a palpable sense of insecurity is present in the cultural artifacts of that epoch. While not a fatalistic film, and while even less of a political film, The Social Network perceives the vacuity and hollow core of an immobile American society. Filming almost exclusively in the regal halls of Harvard or the pristine conference suites of law firms, the camera gazes about the set, expansive yet oddly claustrophobic, almost as if to ask: “What’s the point? What does it mean?” The American capitalists have pacified entire generations with the broken promise of ineffable wealth, but the millennials, like Nietzsche’s madman who declared “God is dead”, have weighed the offer and scoffed, “Gold is overrated.” It seems that the violent vacillations of neo-capitalism have inspired a conceptual skepticism of the principles of capitalism itself, a spiritual as well as a substantive critique.

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Revolution, BLM, and the NBA and NFL Endorsements


Perhaps the revolution will not be televised, and it probably will not be livestreamed, either, but it certainly won’t be authorized by the ruling class. The implacable ruling class, typically defined by glacial apathy, is furiously nimble in its resistance to any credible threat against its power—which is to say, against its very existence. We mourn Bernie Sanders and his failed democratic revolution, but lest we choke on our tears, shouldn’t we gag on this gibberish we speak? What is a “democratic revolution” if not a contradiction in terms, one which should be struck with brutal cruelty from the lips of a political novice? “Democratic revolution” . . . Do you really believe that “the revolution”, which is meaningless unless it is the lethal termination of the ruling class and the total demolition of their authoritative structures, will take place in the form of an election, an event that is permitted, encouraged, respected, sanctioned, and finally accepted by the ruling class? You are speaking not of revolution but of masochism, which might reveal an awful lot about you, but which takes us no closer toward an understanding of the sadistic elite.

Every authentic democratic exercise is peaceful in its nature, which is its appeal. It is also useless in its nature, which is also its appeal: the electorate believe that they have acted in the moral right and the ruling class maintain their power apparatus. Revolution, on the other hand, is necessarily violent: the ruling class will not capitulate without the threat of bloodshed, at the very least. Even if a democratic exercise could eliminate the power of the ruling class, it would only be through the enforcement of the will expressed thereby that the victory of the electorate is secured; indeed, there is no persuasive rebuttal to the libertarian’s diagnosis of the necessity of force in the nature of the state. Accordingly, the ruling class must resist, through their own forceful means, every attempted revolution, democratic or otherwise, of the ruled. It cannot be a coincidence, then, that those ruled are taught to synonymize democracy and revolution, the former being under the exclusive control of the ruling class.

Until we consider the practical requirements of revolution, until we acknowledge the need for the possibility of violence, we will be incapable of overcoming and overthrowing the ruling class. The ruling class employs every violent method at its disposal to suppress the uprising of the masses, of which the deployment of the militarized police is only the most conspicuous example. Because we are contending with a violent opponent, we cannot afford to deny ourselves every violent resource. We cannot dismiss violence out of hand, and indeed, no sensible person does, lest the right to self-defense be dismissed, as well. This is the argument proposed by Frantz Fanon in his forgotten little book, The Wretched of the Earth, which I have had the good fortune to read for the past few weeks. Fanon, who appears to have been forgotten, too, was a Marxist revolutionary who wrote in support of Algeria’s War of Independence, a subject that should be of some interest to those who champion the Black Lives Matter phenomenon.

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The Tyrannical Television

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On the eve of the twenty-first century, Tyler Durden told a roomful of the most implacably resilient of useful idiots: “Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.” Twenty-one years later, the existential abyss of les enfants américains has been filled with, or at least covered by, an inexorable process of proselytization, though their temperament is so much worse for wear. The interminable war between Left and Right, the details of which are broadcast via the electronic medium of their choosing, claim every moment of their cognitive leisure. Nothing exists unless it can be contextualized, an eerily mechanical euphemism for “consumed by the political obsession”. We speak of the political obsession because everybody shares it, even if only involuntarily: there is not one American left who has not apprehended the hyperpolitical transfiguration of the national culture, and who has yet to develop some opinion thereof.

How should we define this phenomenon? Is it a nightmarish manifestation of the Hegelian social substance, or perhaps the demoniacal evolution of the zeitgeist? Neither of these terms is ethereal enough to convey the vapidity of American culture, a culture that selects the television as its hollow cornerstone. For the record, large sections of the mainstream Internet, including social media, are a democratized extension of television, the entirety of which has been necessarily affected by this process of hyper-politicization: if even one component had been spared the permeating influence, then one couldn’t claim accurately that the culture had been conquered completely. We will define “politicization” as a partial process and “hyper-politicization” as a comprehensive takeover—and in both cases, it is the full range of the electronic media that is, or that are, being affected.

Much of the media was apolitical, to a greater or lesser degree, until the sixteenth of June 2015. A significant shift, both in content and in tone, occurred on that day, when reporters voiced distinctly personal alarm at Trump’s comments about Mexican rapists. The initial tremor was instantaneous, but it didn’t reach its pique intensity for another seventeen months, by which point the pulse, if not the shock, was palpable at every corner of the media: even if a particular program or outlet wasn’t covering Trump and the outrage he inspired, one couldn’t browse the local listings without noticing a fair number who did. While it was not impossible to evade this story, there was no conceivable way to be ignorant of it. We could destroy our television and our smartphone, if we liked, but our odds of overhearing a passerby’s political discussion or debate would still be overwhelming. The media was no longer operating as a feature of the culture; instead, the culture was swiftly becoming a byproduct of the media, and of the politicized media particularly.

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