Latest twist on Assange’s extradition: cause for pessimism or optimism?

While an individualist view tends to despondence, there is a positive aspect to British imperialism’s blatant complicity in persecuting free speech.

Proletarian writers

Subscribe to our channel

One section of the working class that has very significantly failed to mobilise in defence of Julian Assange in particular, and of journalism and free speech in general, is the National Union of Journalists.

Proletarian writers

Subscribe to our channel

Reflecting on some of the discussion about Julian Assange’s case on social and independent media, a few points occur to us which, while not interpreting Tuesday’s high court ruling as a great victory, still can provide us with a more positive overview of the situation as things stand now.

‘What they wanted anyway’ – a defeat?

It is perfectly possible to deduce, as many are doing, that the outcome of Julian’s most recent (supposedly final) hearing was not a stay of execution but actually what the US administration wanted to happen. After all, while British judges kicked the can of decision-making a little further down the road they at the same time denied all avenues of future argument on the real merits of the case (Julian’s persecution for journalism that revealed the crimes of British and US imperialism; the fact that this is a political extradition, etc).

Meanwhile, Julian remains incarcerated in isolation in a high-security facility, with his physical and mental health deteriorating, and US president Joe Biden doesn’t have to deal with him arriving on US soil before what looks like being an extremely turbulent presidential election in November.

We have seen some commentators conclude from all this that the last decade of campaigning has been a mammoth waste of their time and their effort, and that Julian’s life has been needlessly sacrificed to an ungrateful and uninterested public.

While we disagree with this characterisation of the mass of workers, it is true that western media and politicians have been largely successful in hiding the facts around Julian Assange’s case – or even the very existence of his case – from large swathes of the population.

It is also true that the British working-class and antiwar movements have not been mobilised – as it clearly should have been – in such a way as to force the politicians and judiciary here to release Julian and drop all their spurious lawfare proceedings against him.

The fact that even journalists, many of whom are well aware of the various undercover plots and legal manipulations that have been targeted at Julian over the last decade, have not demanded that their union mobilise a spirited and public defence is most shocking of all. Can they be unaware that this is a precedent that has implications for every single one of them too?

Yet the obedient stenographers to power who make up the mainstream presstitute fraternity have dutifully reproduced every blatant lie and sophistic legal argument produced by the British state, thus playing a vital role not in alerting the public to what is going on, but in hiding the truth from their readers; not only allowing but actively enabling the perpetration of this attack on their own profession and on free speech in general.

Vital lessons learned – the case for strategic optimism

But despite all this complicity from those who should be working to expose this issue, it is not true that the establishment in Britain and the USA feels under no pressure at all about Julian’s case. There has been enough publicity to cause them serious embarrassment at home and abroad (hence the view that ‘Genocide Joe’ Biden would prefer not to have Julian land on his doorstep just at this moment).

Not only did WikiLeaks’ work open the eyes of huge numbers of workers around the world to the truth about Anglo-American imperialism’s barbaric and corrupt prosecution of the Iraq and Afghan wars, but Julian’s case has brought further and continued attention to those crimes and others.

It is only a result of growing pressure and the difficulty of continuing to be associated in public with such criminal hypocrisy that the Australian parliament was pushed into to declaring that Julian should be sent home, after years of turning a deaf ear to all those who tried to bring the Australian government to a sense of its duty towards this most persecuted of its citizens.

And in recent years, Julian’s case has highlighted the absolute hypocrisy of those who claim that Britain has a functioning and fair ‘justice system’.

As Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed out recently: “The entire justice system of the United Kingdom has become a farce – a laughing stock in front of the whole world. All this is a mockery of human dignity on the part of the monstrously ineffective, punitive British pseudo-justice …

“On the dome of the Old Bailey, the central criminal court in London, there is a statue of Themis. With wide open eyes, she looks to the west – towards America.”

Work to be done

Over the course of the last decade, the numbers of people who are aware of Julian and his plight have grown, and the education those people have received regarding the nature of the British state, its relationship to British and US imperialism, and the total subservience of Britain’s judiciary to those interests, has been revelatory to a group of people many of whom had previously had great faith in the ultimate fairness of the system – or at least in the possibility of forcing it to do the right thing via judicious use of ‘the rules’.

What a small but very significant part of the population is now coming to understand is that Julian’s case is not an aberration, but merely a high-profile illustration of the fact that ‘the rules’ we have been taught to revere have been written to keep us, the masses, in order and policeable. Those who rule over the system feel free to tear up, rewrite or simply ignore whatever ‘rule’ gets in the way of what they want to do.

This valuable education in the nature of the bourgeois state is a vital part of awakening the British people to the need for the socialist transformation of society.

Rather than sinking into despondence over the fact that this vital education has not yet reached the understanding of the majority, we can take heart from the fact that a newfound understanding is undoubtedly reshaping the consciousness of a significant minority of our fellow workers. Just as is the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the blatant complicity of Britain’s media and political class.

Amongst the people who are being awakened by these events, we should be working to attract and train more Marxist cadres, who will be capable of using their own experiences, and the fresh opportunities constantly being created by a system descending into crisis and war, to spread revolutionary consciousness steadily deeper into the ranks of the working class.