Well I’ll be damned, it’s about time.
According to a new report by the Sydney Morning Herald, officials from Australia’s High Commission have just been spotted leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London, accompanied by Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson. Robinson confirmed that a meeting had taken place, but declined to say what it was about “given the delicate diplomatic situation.”
So, forgive me if I squee a bit. I am aware how subservient Australia has historically been to US interests, I am aware that those US interests entail the arrest of Assange and the destruction of WikiLeaks, and I am aware that things don’t often work out against the interests of the US-centralized empire. But there is a glimmer of hope now, coming from a direction we’ve never seen before. A certain southerly direction.
Australian officials spotted in mysterious Assange visit https://t.co/Y3A6xfb8PI via @smh
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 7, 2018
If the Australian government stepped in to protect one of its own journalists from being persecuted by the powerful empire that has dragged us into war after war and turned us into an asset of the US war/intelligence machine… well, as an Australian it makes me tear up just thinking about it. It has been absolutely humiliating watching my beloved country being degraded and exploited by the sociopathic agendas of America’s ruling elites, up to and including the imprisonment and isolation of one of our own, all because he helped share authentic, truthful documents exposing the depraved behaviors of those same ruling elites. I have had very few reasons to feel anything remotely resembling patriotism lately. If Australia brought Assange home, this would change.
We Australians do not have a very clear sense of ourselves; if we did we would never have stood for Assange’s persecution in the first place. We tend to form our national identity in terms of negatives, by the fact that we are not British and are not American, without any clear image about what we are. A bunch of white prisoners got thrown onto a gigantic island rich with ancient indigenous culture, we killed most of the continent’s inhabitants and degraded and exploited the survivors, and now we’re just kind of standing around drinking tea as the dust settles saying, “Hmm… well, we’re not stuck-up like the Brits, and we’re not entitled like the Yanks.”
That’s pretty much our entire nation right now. A beautiful continent where the Aboriginal Dreamtime has been paved over with suburbs and shopping centers. We are a warm and charitable people, we value family and community, but we’ve got no sense of who we are and what it means to be Australian.
We try sometimes; there are attempts to uplift Australian art and culture which we call Australiana. I remember going to “bush dances” as a kid where old-timey settler music was played and everyone pretended to have some kind of connection with it. We like meat pies. The footy’s great. But our sense of ourselves has never really taken root.
Which is ultimately why attempts to assert our sovereignty, to leave the British commonwealth and stop having that ugly old woman’s face on our money have fallen short. It is also why we had no problem subjugating ourselves as a functional vassal state of the US as it emerged as a dominant superpower following the world wars. If we’d had a clear image of ourselves, what we stand for, and what our best interests are, this never would have happened. But because of our background we’ve been like the home schooled teenager going to high school for the first time and instantly being absorbed into a bad crowd because she didn’t understand the social dynamics.
I went to a community theater with my family the other day to see Spring Awakening, an English-language musical set in Germany. For no apparent reason, the actors on the stage spoke in American accents. They were Australians playing Germans, not Americans; there was no reason whatsoever for that to happen. But that sort of thing is so commonplace here the only person who pointed it out was my American husband. It seemed perfectly normal to me.
But it isn’t normal. It isn’t normal for a nation of people to be so neurotic and ashamed of their own nationality that they put on a foreign accent rather than their own for no reason. It isn’t normal that we have such a head-down, subservient society that most of our homegrown talent leaves Australia forever because we’ve got a weird slave-culture habit of cutting down the “tall poppies” whenever anyone is perceived to have risen above their station. It isn’t normal that we feel so ashamed of standing tall and shining bright in the world.
Nowadays the closest non-Aboriginal thing you ever see to a display of Australian identity typically involves Southern Cross tattoos, thuggishness, Islamophobia, and a desire to continue the cruel warehousing of human beings on Manus Island. That is plainly gross, and the Aboriginal people now hold their culture secret and close to their chests for completely understandable reasons, so what else is there? What else could there be that could begin to unite us as a people so we can begin to develop a little collective pride and cease allowing ourselves to be used as a tool of sociopathic imperialists?
Well, there’s Julian Assange. He’s something positive that we can all fight for, a clear force of good in the world that we can unify around as we begin a slow, sloppy, completely necessary divorce from the cancer of empire.
Assange confuses Americans in the same way Mountain Dew confuses me. Americans don’t have any cultural hook-ups for the kind of creature he is. In the same way that Mountain Dew looks, tastes, smells and feels like poison to me, they can’t tell if he’s right wing or left, if he’s a hero or a villain, or what motivates him. They don’t trust him because they don’t know what they’re looking at. As someone who grew up around the same time, in the same area, and in similar social circles to him, it seems very obvious to me what he is. And what he is is very Australian.
Every country has its flavor. In my country, we grew up valuing innovation. Most people my age can reel off a list of Australian inventions, from the Hills Hoist to the postage stamp to the bionic ear to wifi. I did not even have to go and google that just now, that’s how much a part of our national conversation and our education is our pride in our use of insight for practical problem-solving.
There are some fundamental values that we grew up with as seventies children in Australia. There was the value of “do the right thing,” the value of “giving everyone a fair go”, and the value of “keeping the bastards honest.” These were key and oft-repeated phrases in my childhood during the seventies and eighties. Remember, we were small when there was a CIA/MI6 coup in our country and our parents were implored by the ousted Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to “maintain the rage” at the unforgivable attack on our democratic sovereignty. That’s in my living memory. When Julian and I were small, anti-establishment sentiment was at its loudest.
We have an inbuilt distrust of authority and a deep hatred of empire which probably stems from our convict roots, and then from the ongoing waves of refugees who were running from famine, wars and despotism. Aside from the indigenous population, we are a country full of people who were forced by empire to come here in one way or another. So we don’t like authority much and we instinctively cut people down before they get too powerful. This is why the unions are still strong and social programs are such a natural fit for us. We like things to be fair. We like everyone to have a say.
Julian Assange’s work is an embodiment of all those values. The initial innovative use of technology to create WikiLeaks, the belief in openness and transparency, the desire to democratize information for the good of the whole, and the joy in keeping the bastards honest — all of that is very Australian. Very child of a strong Mum and brought up in Melbourne. Very me. My seed took root in similar soil. He seems obvious to me.
His work is extraordinary. Never has a single innovation brought power to its knees in such a short amount of time. In an inverted totalitarian system where the ability to suck resources from the people is hidden under a veil of propaganda, the ability to rip through the veil of spin and government opacity is a powerful tool indeed. In just a little over a decade he has managed to make himself the most wanted man alive by the most powerful people on earth. That’s how effective WikiLeaks has been in bringing truth to power.
NEW: Tightly Bound: The United States and Australia's Alliance-Dependent Militarization
Richard Tanter @Nautilus_Inst https://t.co/RSLTyYnr45
Cc: @akaWACA pic.twitter.com/6ZLFgZGE51
— Asia-Pacific Journal (@JapanFocus) June 6, 2018
And those in power don’t like him, and of course they use their propaganda machine to obfuscate who he is and what he is doing, but his actions tell his story even through the fog of the spin machine. His relentless drive to publish the truth no matter which side of the aisle it’s about, whichever powerful faction it is going to piss off, and how that’s going to impact his own living situation says everything you need to know about Julian Assange. He keeps publishing even when it’s clearly to his own personal detriment. He cares less about himself than he does about the truth getting out there. That tells me everything I need to know.
And every day of his detention proves his theory correct. He is keeping the bastards honest and because they aren’t honest, they don’t like it one bit.
Bringing Julian Assange home could be the first step to giving ourselves a bright, shining image of who we are and what we stand for. At the moment, Australia is a lifeless vassal state hooked up to the US power establishment with our every orifice and resource being used to feed the corporatist empire. Anesthetized to the eyeballs and in a state of total submission, the return of Julian might just be the little spark we need to get the old ticker pumping for itself again. Finally standing up for ourselves, for what’s right, and for the things that Julian stands for might just be the very thing we need as a nation to discover who we really are.
Bring him home. It’s time.
I’ll be at the solidarity vigil for Julian Assange in Melbourne on June 19th. Please come join me if you are able. Click here for more info.
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Michael Rynn / June 16, 2018
Most feared words “We are the Australian Government and we are here to help you”!
Michael Rynn / June 16, 2018
I appreciate your skilled article values and measures of our world by them. What I might suspect is that this current Australian Government, tied up with the USA security apparatus, , our servants of corporate ideologist nature exploiters and climate change deniers, and oil energy dependents, are most likely trying to figure out a “get Assange” strategy, rather than a “free Assange” strategy, simlilar to the previous approach, via the Swedish branch of the USA grand jury prosecutorial services, and they are playing legal forces supporting Julian Assange with bait on a hook.
Paranam Kid / June 16, 2018
Thanks for a brilliantly composed, incisive article, something we have become used to coming from you.
Regarding Australia’s government’s subservience to the Empire-in-decline: it even goes as far as committing economic suicide, as this article demonstrates quite clearly:
Dave / June 9, 2018
I’m American and think Assange a hero..out the elite bastards!
Nicole Feied / June 9, 2018
It’s my experience that even educated left-ish Americans have been utterly confused by all the absurd allegations against Assange. They think Wikileaks harms ordinary folk. They think it must be ok to imprison him because some people say he’s arrogant. They never go and listen to his interviews. Fox news was the only network (correct me if I’m wrong) to broadcast an interview with him. It’s easier to go along with the crowd and demand exile or hemlock. One of the greatest heroes of our time. Thank you.
Ken Bonetti / June 9, 2018
Caitlin, you are by far my favorite journalist. Not only do your political sensibilities reflect a higher truth, you are a leader who transcends politics toward spiritual concept of our predicament. You must keep writing to awaken the Caitlin Johnstones among the rest of us. Thank-you! And to hell with the naysayers.
William Maliha / June 8, 2018
I am an American who personally believes Assange is a hero.
Beyond that however, I have lived and worked many times with Australians when working overseas and I never detected any kind of inferiority complex. To the contrary, my Australian friends frequently stood up for their opposition to American foreign policy and were quite proud of their Australian roots and culture. I think the problem as expounded upon may be more the author’s problem than that of the Australian population at large.
One last thought, before you disparage us too deeply, please do remember, Americans were and are steadfast allies of Australia. You have helped us in several wars (justified or not) and thousands of American boys died horrible deaths in WW 2 protecting Port Morsby. That does and should count for something very deep. We all are of the same Anglo Saxon heritage (yes, we have many other wonderful subcultures) and we have the same basic mores and values. What politicians sometimes do does not alwaysrepresent the peoples that they govern.
Carolyn Zaremba / June 9, 2018
I am not of Anglo Saxon heritage. My ancestors came from Eastern Europe and were Slavs. Your assumption that everyone came from England is pretty dumb.
Carolyn Zaremba / June 9, 2018
For instance, Italians, Poles, Russians, Spaniards, the French, the Portugese, Germans, Latvians, Lituanians, Bulgarians, just to name a few are NOT Angle Saxons.
William Maliha / June 9, 2018
Carolyn, my family is from Lebanon of Maronite Catholic religion. I am second generation American. I was referring to the norms of the prevailing culture, laws, and mores. God help us if we lived by Middle Eastern norms, lol.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé / June 8, 2018
Great article for all the “little brothers” out there. Colombia, this week in an election to determine whether or not it has an identity, or values, or a future, very much among them. Wish we had Julian Assange!
JR / June 8, 2018
My country (America) is filled to the brim and overflowing with ignorant sheep. Many of them unjustly hate Assange because they understand nothing, and believe anything, only doing what they are told, believing what they are told, behaving like they’re told. That is a pretty good definition of a sheep.
Living here among these brain dead morons is painful and difficult. Interactions are the worst. They’re best avoided altogether. Whatever “independence” spirit this country once had, it’s long gone. Now it’s group-think, cleaving the country into “right and left” where there is barely any difference between the two sides (both are idiots). I cannot bring myself to write about this anymore – or attempt to find any intelligent life here.
The propaganda machine here is on full volume, incessantly cranking out absolute garbage. It’s nearly impossible now to even find anything of relevance or accuracy here. The ongoing “latest” of absolute insanity and mass propaganda is the complete stupidity over our stolen national anthem. Fuck that. Fuck all of it. Pretend patriots line up like parrots to squawk about “country” while blatantly ignoring inhumanity and rampant crimes and corruption. Fuck them too.
My country is a shithole. I read the travel blog of a Scottish motorcycle rider who passed through my state and much of Amerika. He had it right. Dirty, corrupt, drug induced shambling zombies everywhere. Americans stepping over people lying the streets, oblivious. Rampant greed, crime, corruption and staggering levels of ignorance. Leaving the USA was a relief and escape towards life from this escalating hell. His destination? Mexico – that southern country that Americans love to hate because of the stupid propaganda about immigration.
Americans pretend to care about politics, and the Empire, and the crimes committed, but it’s all complete bullshit. We don’t fake our accents, but we fake our concerns. We’ve got the guns to take our country back but we’re too cowardly to do so. It’s much easier to stand behind Big Brother and make up fake bravado about how “free” we are while we die in record numbers from piss-poor social and medical care programs.
Rampant racism, xenophobia, hatred of all things not America, white or made here haven’t changed us in the slightest. We’ve always been this way, but now this sickening sore is out in the open like an oozing scab, being picked at and revealed with a foul stench for the whole world to see. Our politicians love to pretend about how “great” we are but there is virtually nothing great about America at all. It’s a shithole of a country with a ignorant stupid population of people who think exactly like they’re told.
Assange is the enemy of my shithole country because we do not like being held accountable for our many grievous and egregiousness crimes, nobody here does. So he’s an enemy of state because the Empire say’s so. The people don’t care what happens to him, many are hoping he’s prosecuted and imprisoned, or just simply assassinated because they don’t believe in the rule of law or justice anymore and facts sure as hell don’t matter.
Assange is right about most things, especially about how he will not be treated fairly here or anywhere else. The entire world has devolved into cesspool of self-serving corrupt entities all seeking to claw the eyes out of anyone that would dare defy. Fuck them too.
I understand better now why some people just check out. There is a lot to fight for, but it’s also pretty fucking hopeless. And always grossly misunderstood, even if you try. You are demonized, vilified and ostracized. Any group you devise is instantly infiltrated and subverted. The closer you are to hitting the truth, the worse this all gets. You wind up battling with the wind whirling all about you, finding your targets and enemies protected, privileged and promoted. Jesus fucking Christ – then we got saddled with Trump. A true nincompoop of the worst kind.
It’s dark days here in Amerika. Assange would do well to avoid this cesspool at any cost.
Carolyn Zaremba / June 9, 2018
Honey, throw away your television and encourage your friends to do the same. Constantly post reports from alternative news sources. Don’t give up. I take lots of flak (including threats) from people who are ignorant of the truth. The worst flak comes from supporters of the Democratic party, who hate the working class more than the Republicans do. Grow a pair.
Ken Bonetti / June 9, 2018
You’re right, Clinton and establishment Democrat Party defenders are the worst. They think that because the orange-tinted beast is so god awful they can trash anyone who critiques the Party’s own despicable record.
handsignals4theblind / June 8, 2018
Too bad that white nationalist party Assange endorsed floundered. Enough of turning this man into a martyr he is no MLK , Leonard Peltier. He lied about Seth Richards being the source of those leaks along with the excrement known as Kim .com. He skipped bail, he avoided all possibilities of clearing his name with rape allegations. His so called institution of journalism Wiki Leaks is hardly that. They have an agenda, rarely will you hear anything critical of Russia, Israel or China. Many times those leaks led to ruined lives and deaths -ie Saudi Arabia and Turkey and not a confession of culpability or an apology from this coward who hides in an embassy with his preening ego promulgating to his sycophantic cult of worshipers . Sorry, many are not impressed with this charlatan who remains a man of little temerity who hides in an embassy. Enough, face the adversity Julian and just leave the embassy and face the slings of arrows as many others have who have taken on the system. Adios Mr Assange Australia has far more pertinent things to worry about than this fraud and his cult of personality believers.
JR / June 8, 2018
You’re a fucking dipshit – ignorant of the actual facts.
MMS / June 8, 2018
The last five letters of your handle describe you perfectly.
Harry S Nydick / June 8, 2018
“It isn’t normal for a nation of people to be so neurotic and ashamed of their own nationality ……. ” Well, there are a growing number of Americans who are not neurotic, but who are ashamed of how our country is behaving. I know, Caity, that I have twisted the intent of your words that I quoted, but my response is what they made me think of. I have a family member who is so fed up with the direction of our country that he moved, permanently, to another.
I am a proponent of freedom, equality and democracy – each of which does not exist in the U.S., despite political claims to the contrary. If I had the finances to travel to Australia, I would be at the vigil.
PS I do hope that Australia soon defines and adopts its full identity. The world needs a sense of balance and it needs a free and flourishing Julian Assange.
Dennis A Mitchell / June 8, 2018
I was unaware of the CIAs “concern” for your government. What are friends for anyway?
jean marc peres / June 8, 2018
magnifique texte malgré la traduction automatique. j’ai toujours eu beaucoup plus de respect pour l’australie. que assange puisse vivre libre et l’australie sera une terre d’espoir (hopeland). mais faites un effort envers le peuple arborigène
Marko / June 8, 2018
“….some fundamental values that we grew up with as seventies children in Australia. There was the value of “do the right thing,” the value of “giving everyone a fair go”, and the value of “keeping the bastards honest.” ”
Your leader has spoken , Australia. Listen to her. Reclaim those values and lose your shame. Free your heroic citizen from his captors , current and would-be , and tell them all to take a flying leap. The whole world is begging you.
Don / June 8, 2018
Caitlin is on the right track, but I will believe the deliverance only when I see it. None in Australia’s permanent informal government (PIG) appears to have the gonads to make a moral stand (over Assange), and risk a schekel of their superannuation or ill-gotten gains.
John Pilger, Assange and now Caitlin Johnstone, are new-wave moral leaders of Australia.
Assange is a modern day Anzac-like fighter, a techno-ANZAC, but fighting against the Moloch Empire.
Our parliamentarians, almost without exception, are time serving lickspittles!
WillD / June 8, 2018
One of your most eloquent articles (that I’ve read anyway). As an Englishman who’s lived here for 30+ years, you describe the country well – a refreshing and welcome blast of truth.
I would like to think there is a remote chance of repatriating Assange, but after being reminded how subservient the Australian government is to the USA, it occurred to me that Australia might bring him home and then hand him over to the Americans or allow him to be ‘taken’.
I’m afraid that I smell a big nasty stinking rat. I think this might be a secret deal struck between Ecuador, USA, Britain and Australia. Why? Because a) I wouldn’t put anything past the Americans. We know how low they will stoop to get what they want, b) both the Brits & now the Ecuadorians want him off their hands, and c) the USA has promised Australia something or other.
I don’t think there is anyone in Canberra today that has the guts to stand up to the USA. I hope I’m wrong – on all counts. Like you I could do with a bit of confidence in my adopted country.
Mark Hodgetts / June 8, 2018
This is beautiful Caitlin and unerringly accurate in so many ways. Thank you
Lawrence Beck / June 8, 2018
Thank you Thank you Thank you Caitlin for another well timed and brilliant piece!
It’s well past time to bring Julian home.
It’s well past time for Australia to stand up and give the middle finger to the Empire that’s raining death and destruction to any and all countries unfortunate enough to have Amerika’s resources under their soil! An Empire that has no respect for any country’s sovereignty should be scorned and held to account.
Assange should be richly rewarded and not chastised and punished for what he’s done. History will have the final word on this… and the script has been written.
There should be major demonstrations in Australia to shame your government into doing the right thing.
James / June 9, 2018
– — so you’ve worked & lived with a mere handful of Australians & think that their attitude to World events speaks for the Majority. Have I got that right? Well you’re WRONG !
As the author of this piece & David Thrussell in the Video make clear — Australians in general are apathetic & unless something affects them -they don’t give a $hit! I’m Australian & in my 70s & despair at the lack of awareness to just about everything that affects most Australians. In other Countries people would be marching & protesting about a myriad of events that are totally wrong & need redressing.
We even sat back & let David Hicks sit in a USA Prison in Cuba for many years when even his USA Military lawyer proclaimed him innocent. Australian Government of both persuasions are totally & morally bankrupt.
William Maliha / June 9, 2018
James, You are correct that I have limited experience with Australians and obviously should not generalize. On the other hand, most people everywhere are apathetic and apathy is certainly not limited to Australians. By the way, I am nearing 70 also and have lived in multiple other countries. I too am disgusted by the current state of affairs but I suspect this is the norm throughout the ages and only an enlightened few are truly involved. Bill
cynthia / June 8, 2018
Appreciate your article, but you are mistaken in thinking Americans don’t “get” Assange–the rank and file of America get him very well–and appreciate his work. If not for Wikileaks, we would have no clue as to the depth of corruption in our own country. It is only our government that wants to destroy him for exposing all their filth. Most of us think Assange is a hero.