I admire what Wikileaks is doing, and I am unable to read more than a few sentences of Assange’s philosophy because it makes me feel too queasy. It has a certain geeky hauteur, but I used to love this kind of tightly-argued a priori waffle before I started to deal with my own depression, and once one notices that one’s philosophical position can shift around radically depending on whether one has taken one’s meds or not, the whole project of getting the foundational ideas rigorously nailed down before you embark on anything starts to look a bit silly, or at least lacking in self-awareness. My current philosophy is that philosophy doesn’t underpin anything: it’s a façade, not a foundation. (See J.E.H. Smith’s recent article on philosophy as an abstraction layer for accountancy if you want to read someone much smarter than I on related topics.)
I have steered clear of the online debate about the Swedish sexual assault charges because it combines two topics – freedom of expression and male sexuality, with particular reference to issues of consent – at which the internet completely sucks.
The media reaction in Australia has been either puerile – “what did they say about us!!!1!!” – or ridiculous. Julia Gillard’s early denunciation of Assange was gutless: I suspect that the ALP are still getting the willies every time they think someone might accuse them of being soft on things that Americans hate.
But I can’t really get that worked up about it, because there are lots of other people who are actually living under totalitarian regimes, rather than just putting on a Guy Fawkes mask and play-acting that they do. It would be nice if the people who are all whipped up about Assange thought the same way about the due process we afford to refugees.