What Julian Assange Is Really Doing


Most people know the what about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks – that they publish secret information – but they don’t know the why. And that’s a great loss, because the reason behind all the leaks is both brilliant and illuminating.

It Usually Starts with the Cypherpunks

The first thing to understand is that WikiLeaks, like Bitcoin, came from the cypherpunks. In particular, WikiLeaks was spawned by a cypherpunk group that formed (spontaneously) in Melbourne, Australia.

In other words, WikiLeaks is the creation of some smart guys who were inspired by Timothy C. May, Eric Hughes, Murray Rothbard, and a few others. Assange was part of this group and an intriguing thinker in his own right.

Assange explained what WikiLeaks would be doing, and why, back in 2006, and you can still find copies of that work here((I owe hat tips to Aaron Bady, who addressed this before I did, and to Joe Katzman, for turning me on to it.)). Given the worldwide recognition of WikiLeaks, it’s a little crazy that this is so little known and discussed, but I’ll do my part to change that condition.

The Core Ideas

Assange starts out by describing modern governance as conspiracy. He invokes Teddy Roosevelt, who said, “Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

Assange calls these conspirators “neocorporatists,” referring to the entire complex of legislators, bureaucrats, and the corporations who purchase laws from them.

He goes on to describe them as existing in elaborate networks, a theme that Jonathan Logan and I examined in The New Age of Intelligence and that was the subject of a landmark study in 2011 by Vitali, Glattfelder, and Battiston, entitled The Network of Global Corporate Control.

These networks – the real power behind the apparent power – are WikiLeaks’s actual targets, not the governments they may seem to be addressing. This is the first thing to understand about WikiLeaks.

What Assange wants to affect is communication inside these networks. This passage explains why fairly well:

[W]e see conspiratorial interactions among the political elite… the primary planning methodology behind maintaining or strengthening authoritarian power… these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers.

WikiLeaks was designed to hurt power that hides its intentions.

But merely unmasking those intentions is not the goal; Assange, brilliantly, goes after something deeper than that.

Preventing Obscured Power from Using Power

Assange writes:

Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator even though all are connected. Some are on the fringe of the conspiracy, others… [may] be a bridge between important sections or groupings of the conspiracy.

He goes on to say that such a network can be disrupted by “distorting or restricting the information available to it,” by “unstructured attacks on [its] links,” by dividing the network by cutting links. Then he adds this:

A conspiracy sufficiently engaged in this manner is no longer able to comprehend its environment and plan robust action.

This is Assange’s goal: He wants to stop the “conspiracy” from trusting itself.

The goal of WikiLeaks is to prevent a network of this type from communicating with itself.

So, when WikiLeaks publishes the Democratic National Committee’s dirty secrets (to pick just one example), it’s not trying to drive public outrage, as reasonable as that might be. Rather, it’s trying to make the conspirators distrust each other, and especially to distrust their communications, because if those links go, networked power goes with them.

And It Gets Even Better

I hope you can see how brilliant the WikiLeaks strategy really is. They’re not reacting after the events, as in exposing dirty laundry. They are acting in advance, disrupting their enemy’s ability to function in the future.

And here’s where it gets even better: A network of this type invariably reacts to leaks by closing itself tighter against untrusted links. And so, by closing itself off from intrusion, the network becomes less and less able to engage with anything outside itself. And the less it engages with things outside itself, the less it can enact power outside itself.

Once the obscure conduits of elite power become so paranoid that they can no longer conspire among themselves, WikiLeaks has won. As Assange writes:

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie… in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit….

What Led to This?

As noted above, I find this a brilliant strategy. More than this will be required to bring our world out of its current barbaric age, but this is a fascinating and important part.

Before I close, I’d like to aquatint you with the mindset that produced this. And so, here is an edited passage from Assange’s book, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet:

The new world of the internet longed for independence. But states and their friends moved to control our new world. They leached into the veins and arteries of our new societies, gobbling up every relationship expressed or communicated, every webpage read, every message sent and every thought googled, and then stored this knowledge, undreamed of power, in top secret warehouses, forever.

And then the state reflected what it had learned back into the physical world, to start wars, to target drones, to manipulate UN committees and trade deals, and to do favors for its vast network of industries, insiders and cronies.

If this isn’t the kind of world you want, I encourage you to get busy creating a better one. Watching and complaining will never give you what you want.

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

23 thoughts on “What Julian Assange Is Really Doing”

  1. Paul Rosenberg writes:
    “I hope you can see how brilliant the WikiLeaks strategy really is. They’re not reacting after the events, as in exposing dirty laundry. They are acting in advance, disrupting their enemy’s ability to function in the future.”
    Wikileaks folks may have read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”: “Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success.” Hey, maybe Paul’s read it, too. };^D

      1. Snowden is there mostly to comply with the natural born citizen qualification that Assange could never meet, but I’d add William Binney as the Director of National Security:-)

  2. Watching and complaining will never give you what you want.
    It may come down to the meaning of words, but “watching and complaining” is about all we CAN do now, isn’t it? I would include this column under the “complaining” banner. It’s meant to educate, of course, but more importantly, it’s meant to convey the message, “You should not be content with the status quo.” If enough people get that message, no one will need to pick up a gun to stop government thugs from trying to run our lives; they will simply topple of their own weight.
    Thanks for this elucidation of Assange’s strategy.

    1. There are lots of things that we can do right now: Start building the cryptocurrency economy, start biohacking, 3D printing, homeschooling, micro-agriculture (many types), open source machines, delivery drones, encryption, anonymity tech, and on and on.
      All these things are parts of the new, decentralized world that’s forming right around us. As my old friend Sammy used to say, “Let’s get busy!”

      1. Bitcoin, if hacked or somehow shut down or disconnected would be worthless because it is purely digital backed by fiat currency. You’re better off with Goldmoney. But Gold and silver rounds or coins in million of individuals possession are necessities to eliminate the fiat monetary controls of the central bankers, Add in passive resistance as many more are starting to do, not participating in their tax and redistribution of wealth schemes, and now you have a real society of the people and for the people. I no longer wish to elect others to rule over me. This has note worked out well for the majority, ever and it has given us perpetual war and recessions.

        1. Harry, Bitcoin is NOT backed by fiat. (And, btw, it is not the enemy of metals.) But more importantly than that, there are always plenty of “ifs” to frighten us from doing anything. If you don’t like BTC, start biohacking.
          Piling up coins for a day that never comes equals “doing nothing.”
          Again to repeat Sammy: Let’s get busy.

          1. You pay for it with fiat and unless you buy gold or silver with it and take possession, it’s just digital, much like most fiat. That’s what I meant, sorry. Just be really really careful with it. Oh, I’m doing much much more. I finished my book last year The Achilles Heel; the IRS Notice Of Federal Tax Lien. The liens that the have all the county clerks file are almost all legally insufficient as valid liens. Their still enforcing them but that is another issue. I’m looking for an Attorney, by the way, here in florida that will assist a client in suing a title insurance company. title Insurance companies are acting as collection agencies for the IRS because they won’t issue title insurance unless the liens which are invalid, are paid off. I was also a named plaintiff in the case We The People vs US. Been fighting the fight a long time. I now pick and choose my battles carefully.

          2. God bless, Harry, but please consider that the US guv doesn’t give a damn about those rules. They’re only for show.

          3. Of course I know. They put a couple a my friends in prison for 5 years on fraudulent chargers. They were helping people set up trusts here in Florida for really cheap prices and they big boys didn’t like that. The didn’t even attack any of the trusts. Conspiracy to defraud the US Gov. 3 people on the jury could barely speak english. Total railroad job in a kangeroo court. Most don’t want to believe how bad it is.

          4. Yeah, people really should sit in on a few criminal trials… it would open their eyes.

      2. To be sure, one can try ignoring the government, and maybe as you hope that will lead to a better society, but my guess is that the government will need to be directly confronted before its tyranny will end.

        1. “my guess is that the government will need to be directly confronted before its tyranny will end.”
          Certainly not an irrational guess, but the better plan is to work around them, and to increasingly ignore them. If people simply stopped jumping when they said jump, they would fold up on their own…. a lot like the USSR did.

  3. Contemplating the evils exposed by the Cyberpunks isn’t enough; action needs to be taken against the evils detailed.
    Notice also that legislation based upon transparency is always destined to collapse against those who wish for this legislation. It doesn’t do much good to want laws like Net Neutrality, when the result will be against what the proponents want.
    At the conclusion, society doesn’t need an excess of laws; it needs excessive laws eliminated. Yet very few propose the elimination of many of these laws. The ones that do make these proposals are slammed by the critics. And loudly. (Ron Paul, for example).

    1. I agree with Bucky Fuller on this:
      You never change anything by fighting the existing. To change something, build a new model and make the existing obsolete.

      1. Neighbour groups. turn them into tribes. residents associations, turn them into neighbour tribes. Neighborhood after neighborhood becomes a little tribe looking out for eachother, trading, the tribes link up and trade and become bigger tribes and the entire world changes, neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street, corner by corner.

    2. Good point. Americans fall into the trap of just acting shocked, then going on about our business.

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