Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Assange: Take Two with addenda

Assange has a world-view which harmonizes well with that of the PRC or the EU or the Russian Federation, but pushes this mindset far beyond its substantive limits by proposing the US government as the world's worst authoritarian threat and then shutting it down methodically much like HAL was shut down in 2001 Space Odyssey by Keir Dullea in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece.

Author Aaron Bady describes Assange's approach to first uncovering the links in the conspiracies, which JA describes as twine between random nails, with the overarching authority over these links hidden by opaque walls as to break down this mechanism as if it were an organism, as far as I can see. He wants to introduce a sort of Ebola virus into the international virtual body so that it begins to leak from many orifices as the endothelial lining of the veins and arteries deteriorate. The whole body/mechanism begins to suffuse information in a virtual hemorrhaging event, which in turn triggers drastic triage in the immune system by a sort of tourniquet applied to all the links deemed dangerous to keep in working order.

Or perhaps the HAL analogy is closer, and Assange wants to shut down the frontal lobes of the supervising authority and thereby cause a general loss of authority over constituent parts of the body politic, economic, and other advantageous organs in the American general continuum. Bady's own analysis is much more forgiving of the general thrust of Assange's anarchical moves:
Theodore Roosevelt’s words from his 1912 Progressive party presidential platform as the epigraph to the first essay; Roosevelt realized a hundred years ago that “Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people,” and it was true, then too, that “To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship.” Assange is trying to shit all over this unholy alliance in ways that the later and more radical Roosevelt would likely have commended.

This is Teddy in his Mugwump years and Bady goes on to exaggerate Teddy's moral passion as seen by Assange, who sees himself as another "Muckraker" of the sort that Teddy at once praised and then condemned, for not connecting spirituality to the sordid revelations the muckrakers dug up from the mire of industrial capitalism. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress reveals Assange's posturing as a latter-day Puritan without, evidently, some of the restraints on the lower nature the native American Puritan strain of religiosity put on its adherents.

I'll have more to say on Assange's strange philosophy which counts on setting up straw men to knock down as much as it relies on serious analysis. Every analogy limps and his hacker's credo depends on more than opacity and the shut-down of penetrable networks. The Gawker hacking is a foretaste of Assange's philosophy pushed far again beyond what perhaps he foresaw. Suffice it to say for now, that WikiLeaks and Assange and the crew who follow his Pied Piper of Hamelin parade are all hyperventilated by the progress of process, and the success of Zuckerberg's multi-billion dollar startup Facebook, and I fear in turn that they may be blinded to the downside danger of wrecking an edifice like the internet before setting up some sort of alternative communicatons system free from what the paranoid WikiLeaks crews perceive as nefarious capitalistic hi-jinks.
There is a combination of snark and paranoia here which reminds one of the early days of Soviet socialism, when all accidents in industrialization were deemed due to "wreckers." It'll be hard to escape some similar branding if the WikiLeaks Rube Goldberg device continues to cause unintended consequences, a sort of Sorcerer's Apprentice phenomenon from the old Disney movie.

Or in another physical analogy, it may not be worth doing surgery with a dirty scalpel. The infection may be worse than the disorder.

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