August 22, 2012
After having been accused in Sweden of several counts of sexual assault, the editor of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, contested his extradition from the United Kingdom where he was residing. He lost his case in the trial court, in the High Court, and in the Supreme Court of England and Wales; but upon this decision, he fled into the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is now in hiding. The UK government has warned that embassies are not to be used for this purpose under the Vienna Convention, and threatens to remove him, while the Ecuadorian government (whose President, Correa, has been interviewed by Assange and knows him personally) accuses the British of imperialist threats. Behind all this is the spectre of the United States. It has not yet indicted Assange, but is plausibly suspected by many of seeking his extradition in turn in order to imprison or ‘disappear’ him, as has happened with Manning and other such cases. In other words, a perfect storm for the left.
A situation which would look very unfavorable for the imperialists, the initial blatant persecution of Wikileaks and its associates in order to cover up the ‘diplomacy’ that underwrites wars and tyrants everywhere, has turned into a source of acrimony and division among the left. In outline, a pro- and an anti-Assange camp has developed, and the situation is reaching levels of heated outrage about an individual that almost put to mind the days of Dreyfus. Contrary to that famous case, however, the individual in question does not come off so well. In order to shield the left from further division and from the strategic pitfalls confronting them, I think it is worthwhile to outline clearly my view on the Assange case, mindful of the fact that one can only judge individual cases to a limited extent and that doing so while events are ongoing can often appear foolish and unwise in retrospect. Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2012
It is a well-known quote, almost by now worn to the point of cliché, that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread”.(1) Most people know this to be a true analysis of what the ‘liberty, equality, property and Bentham’ of the liberal order amounts to; but to see this manifest itself in practice is something to which we in the Western world have perhaps become unaccustomed. The salient point is not even so much that the pure equality before the law itself may hide considerable inequalities of class and status, but at least as much that the supposed neutrality and ‘safeguards’ of legal procedure may turn out to result in very different outcomes in similar cases. It is important to note these cases, as they don’t show impurities and imperfections in an otherwise fair system, as the liberals would have it, but show their true significance as the inevitable results of deep structural problems. Read the rest of this entry »