Assange’s SXSW Talk

Let me get the direct video link out of the way…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMZzPCFJ8xw

Interesting points:

– 75% of worldwide military expenditure is in NATO. Whoa. I would say “Orwell lives,” but I’m not sure who’s playing which of Eurasia, Eastasia, or Oceania.

– “Whenever you try to do anything seriously, at a sufficient level, you run into into the big state powers — you actually run into the deep state.” Very true.

– Assange describes mass surveillance as a military occupation of “our civilian space.”

No, the Internet has ALWAYS been a military space. I saw one commentator characterize the whole Cliff Stoll / Karl Koch business as (from memory) “the KGB hired some German hackers and lost to the NSA,” which makes you wonder what bits of the story we never heard about.

I would suggest we’re civilians peacefully “occupying” a military installation. Anybody have a drill rig for the SCIFs?

– “Constructing a new society, a new network, a new way of being.” “Like it or not, we are all part of the State.”

Blech, ‘global brain’ theory again. Let me dismiss this with a contemptual ‘techno-fascism’ — ¡Alerta, Antifascista! — and move on.

– Good points on Ukraine, too much to summarize, except where he talks about Yanukovych not being liked by Moscow. This is only half true, as near as I can tell — Putin is/was Yanukovych’s patron, but Yanukovych wasn’t very good at it and Putin doesn’t like that kind of incompetence.

– “The proper strategy for Ukraine has always been to milk concessions from its neighbors,” I sure hope Assange doesn’t run Wikileaks this way! Running a country like that is a surefire route to dependence and eventually getting steamrollered by one or the other power. See Switzerland for an example of doing it right.

– Calling it ‘the Ukraine’ occaisionally… lots of people do this, but it’s a subtle affront to the Ukrainian people (at least the independence-minded ones). ‘the Ukraine’ roughtly translates to ‘the borderlands’ in the sense of ‘the borderlands of the Russian empire.’

– Omidyar: Omidyar may have been motivated by “my money doesn’t buy as much power as it used to,” but that was definitely NOT the only reason he funded Greenwald/Poitras/etc.

From a 2001 interview with Omidyar:

“I wanted to create an efficient market and a level playing field where everyone had equal access to information. I wanted to give the power of the market back to individuals, not just large corporations. That was the driving motivation for creating eBay at the start.[…]

It was letting the users take responsibility for building the community — even the building of the Web site.”[1]

I wonder if there’s an element of Iranian culture which favors this sort of thinking, and which may also have influenced Omidyar. In either case the ‘eBay’ model is clearly at work in First Look, with the company/nonprofit self-sustaining aspect and contributors with responsibility for everything.

– “The big lessons were not geostrategic or intelligence, we were ready for that. It was more lessons of how people you think should be on your side behave when the pressure gets really high.” — Good observation, that.

– Worth quoting, though anyone who thinks they know ‘the real world’ just based on Wikileaks’ disclosures so far is kidding themselves —

“We are actually living in a world that we don’t understand. Before all this material came out, CableGate or what we did with the Iraq war, or Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA, we were going about our business in what we thought was the world. But we weren’t living in the world: we were living in some fictitious representation of what we thought was the world. And we are still living in this fictitious representation.

“We are walking around constantly in this fog where we can’t even see the ground. We think we can see the ground, but we’re wrong. And every so often a clearing in the fog happens when there is one of these grand disclosures. And we see the ground, and we are surprised.”

– “The Pentagon said we would be destroyed unless we stopped” and they did indeed survive, kudos.

– “We’re one of the few media organizations in the world which is in the black.” Ha.

– “Not a single one of our people was fired as a result of the [CableGate/Iraq war logs/etc] conflagration” — mmf, Domscheit-Bert would point out ‘suspended’ and ‘fired’ are pretty close.

– Worth quoting–

“I hope [our success] gives people courage that, in fact, with a bit of help from your friends, with some clear thinking, and with a lot of dedication… in fact, you can can come to a position where you can stand up, yes, against these awful, fearful great powers, you can out maneuver them, you CAN do it.”

[1] http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2001-12-02/online-extra-q-and-a-with-ebays-pierre-omidyar

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