Demand the Unconditional Release of Julian Assange!
24-02-2020 – Julian Assange should be feted as an international hero. The founder of Wikileaks, he put his immense talent not into enriching himself with material goods, but with exposing the manifest crimes of governments worldwide, not least the war crimes of US imperialism. Instead, Julian Assange is facing the barely believable prospect of 175 years in a US jail. It should be needless to say that Julian Assange is not a US citizen, and he has never set foot on US soil. Yet the US government, with assistance from its vassals in the UK and Australia, claim the right to detain and likely torture, an Australian citizen. It should be something from a spy novel, but it is all too real.
Basic and elementary rights at stake
Almost every single democratic right working people supposedly enjoy under the rule of capital is at stake. The right to free speech, the right to a free press, the right to political opinion, the right to political communication, the right to publish information, the right not to be spied upon by “your own” government – all of these and more are gravely threatened. In fact, one could argue that these rights are in the process of being eliminated. For decades, Australian people have held on to a belief that, for all its faults, we are not headed down the dystopian political road of our apparent benefactor, the USA. Yet the most recent example of official restrictions on democratic rights should destroy such illusions. A Federal Court ruled that the Australian Federal Police raids on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) were legal, threw out the case, and ordered the ABC to pay court costs. The ABC had reported a story about the unlawful execution and other misconduct by Australian special forces during the ongoing war on Afghanistan. “National Security” according to the judge, overrode basic democratic rights such as the right to know. Just as Julian Assange is now in grave danger due to exposing the crimes of US imperialism, simple democratic rights are now in grave danger if or when the crimes of Australian imperialism become known.
Working people need to learn, if they have not already, that capitalism in crisis must aggressively stamp out elementary democratic rights if it is to survive. In times of economic expansion or boom, capitalism has few concerns about allowing working people democratic liberties and can even pose as a defender of them. Once capitalism goes into economic decline, however, an opposite effect takes place. During times of economic crisis for capitalism – which is more or less the case since 2008 – the ruling class can no longer take the risk that workers will not use bourgeois democratic rights to organise an insurrection to overthrow the rule of the banks and the stock exchange. It is not only the right to form political parties and build Unions that suddenly becomes a concern for the establishment. The right to be informed of the very acts of the governments taxes pay for has to go.
Working class political leadership is key
One of Julian Assange’s most marked aphorisms is that populations are generally opposed to wars. They have to be lied into it. And if people can be lied into a war, they can be “truthed” into peace. While we acknowledge the peerless courage and bravery of Julian Assange for selflessly standing up to the might of the US Empire, we should note that it is not enough to expose capitalist imperialism – it has to be brought down. No exposure of its litany of crimes will embarrass it or cause it to change course. Telling the truth is indeed a revolutionary act, but in itself it is insufficient. Also, while we stand in awe at the valour and fortitude of individuals like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, whistleblowing can only achieve so much. In fact, unless it is linked to a palpable solution, whistle-blowing on its own can in fact reinforce a sense of political demoralisation.
Fueling this political demoralisation is the dire lack of political leadership of the working class. To our knowledge, not one Australian Trade Union official has made a clear statement defending Julian Assange, let alone seeking to mobilise Union members to defend the basic democratic rights organisations such as Wikileaks uphold. Unions need basic democratic rights in order to operate. Yet there is deafening silence from these very well-paid officials. This includes Julian’s own Union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). This is unfortunately another example of Union bureaucracy attempts to ensure Australian workers remain loyal to US/AUST imperialism.
Following the capitulatory line of the conservative Union officials have been several of Australia’s left parties. After hailing Julian Assange in 2009-10 as a visionary, these left parties soon abandoned him and the Wikileaks project after the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria began. Ruthlessly non-partisan as far as governments go, Julian Assange exposed the Democrats drive to the NATO destruction of Libya, and the enabling role of Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton. He then followed with a similar exposure of their role in arming and funding the barbarian death squads sent into Syria in order to effect arguably history’s most extensive proxy regime change war. For this, these left parties, and the liberal milieu which form their constituency, universally turned against Julian Assange – even as they had backed him for exposing the crimes of the US war on Iraq from 2003.
As a result, only handfuls of activists today stand in defence of Julian Assange. Those that do are critical, but they need to be joined by the only force capable of setting him free – the workers. Unleashing working-class power, however, requires the leadership of a Marxist vanguard party which can lead the struggle for socialism internationally as well as domestically. Such a party would help lead the efforts to free Julian Assange, in the process of building consistent opposition to all facets of US/AUST imperialism. The right to political expression is linked to the dire need for working people to oppose every imperialist war and regime change operation enacted by Washington. And imperialist war itself can only be ended by workers sweeping away the rule of capital. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!
PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012