Who is Julian Assange? Three Profiles of the WikiLeaks Founder

Try­ing to make heads or tails of Wik­iLeaks, which just released 250,000 US diplo­mat­ic cables this week? Then you may want to spend some time with one arti­cle and one video. First, The New York­er pub­lished this sum­mer an exten­sive pro­file of Julian Assange, the dri­ving force behind Wik­iLeaks. A key pas­sage explain­ing Assange’s world view appears below, and you can get the full pro­file right here. Next up, we have Chris Ander­son, the head of TED, in con­ver­sa­tion Assange. The inter­view, run­ning 20 min­utes, tells you essen­tial­ly “Why the World Needs Wik­iLeaks.” And then why not add to the list Forbes’ lengthy inter­view with Assange, pub­lished ear­li­er this week. (Thanks Avi for that.)

He had come to under­stand the defin­ing human strug­gle not as left ver­sus right, or faith ver­sus rea­son, but as indi­vid­ual ver­sus insti­tu­tion. As a stu­dent of Kaf­ka, Koestler, and Solzhen­it­syn, he believed that truth, cre­ativ­i­ty, love, and com­pas­sion are cor­rupt­ed by insti­tu­tion­al hier­ar­chies, and by “patron­age networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that con­tort the human spir­it. He sketched out a man­i­festo of sorts, titled “Con­spir­a­cy as Gov­er­nance,” which sought to apply graph the­o­ry to pol­i­tics. Assange wrote that ille­git­i­mate gov­er­nance was by def­i­n­i­tion conspiratorial—the prod­uct of func­tionar­ies in “col­lab­o­ra­tive secre­cy, work­ing to the detri­ment of a pop­u­la­tion.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion are dis­rupt­ed, the infor­ma­tion flow among con­spir­a­tors must dwin­dle, and that, as the flow approach­es zero, the con­spir­a­cy dis­solves. Leaks were an instru­ment of infor­ma­tion war­fare.

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Comments (9)
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  • Mike says:

    It should­n’t be too dif­fi­cult to pre­dict who will be Time mag­a­zine’s “Per­son of the Year” for 2010.

  • Avi Burstein says:

    Forbes just had a great fea­ture arti­cle on Assange, com­plete with the unedit­ed tran­script of an inter­view with him.

  • Usman says:

    its just a game start­ed by some big play­ers and motives are “a Lie hid­ing betwen the truth” and that lie is the real tar­get to be spread as a truth just keep watch­ing what they are going to do in com­ming leaks auto­mat­i­clay sto­ry will be infront of you those who got the real eyes

  • lizette talbot says:

    I have not always fol­lowed the leeks but I am very proud that there is always an indi­vid­ual that will stand true to what they believe. Make peo­ple ques­tion.

  • Nick Risley says:

    What does he believe?

    That “gov­ern­ments are bad”.
    He did­n’t even stand by that. He went into hid­ing rather than take a STD test.

    He’s an ego­tis­ti­cal, cow­ard­ly, and chau­vin­is­tic jack­ass who’s pin­ing for atten­tion.

  • Fred says:

    What ever hap­pened to this our First Amend­ment rights? The U.S. has always been a police state. Julian Assange has the balls to stand up to our mil­i­tant gov­ern­ment.

  • Cris Markos says:

    The real­i­ty is that Julian Assange is a sociopath who has already put Amer­i­can lives at risk — includ­ing civil­ians. He has implic­it­ly encour­aged ter­ror­ism by pub­lish­ing a list of sites that are crit­i­cal to US secu­ri­ty. He’s also accused of rape. Again: sociopath. He is DEFINITLEY not any­one to admire.

  • J.I. says:

    “He’s also accused of rape. Again: sociopath.”


    No, I mean, seri­ous­ly? Wow. That’s like… the most illog­i­cal thing I’ve ever read.

  • UK Guy says:

    Peo­ple are start­ing to talk about storm­ing the police sta­tion and releas­ing this inocent man and whilst we are about it we should also drag the MP’s out of bed and hold them to account.

    The per­son who leaked the infor­ma­tion made a pledge to serv­er the amer­i­can peo­ple against, both foriegn and domes­tic ener­mies and he did his duty and yet is also behind bars.

    Do you think MP’s stelling mon­ey and giv­ing our mon­ey to the banks is the way to go or do you think it’s time we sort­ed this mess out once and for all.

    Jus­tice in the UK is a joke the world over.

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