Thank you Julian Assange: you have shown your true colours and got George Galloway to show his

by Rob Marchant

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks currently claiming asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy, is only the last in the long line of distinguished anti-Western campaigners, so adored by the liberal left.

Assange may or may not be guilty of rape, and you may or may not agree with the motivation of Wikileaks as a liberating force for the masses. That said, we might start to smell a rat if we scratch the surface, to find that Wikileaks also includes the rather unpleasant Israel Shamir, whose overt racism and sexism, not to mention connections to the odious regime of Belarus, the great Bob from Brockley exposes here.

But, leaving that on one side, the case is very simple: Assange is on the run from prosecution for a serious alleged crime, in Sweden a country which is hardly well-known either for its unfair legal system, or for its propensity to do what the US tells it to (as one wag commented on Twitter, if it were any less minded to do American bidding, it’d be China).

Along the way he has jumped bail and, at the very least, let down his friends who put up the money in good faith. And, within the Stockholm Syndrome world of those who support Assange, there is a strong desire to misinform about the case (if you want to know the real facts, a good place to start is to follow the excellent legal blogger David Allen Green. It is also deliciously ironic that he has sought asylum at the embassy of Ecuador, a country recently criticised for human rights abuses, and which is fast going the same way of the demagogic Hugo Chávez’ Venezuela.

The pattern is familiar: the person starts off seeming like a freedom fighter, sticking it to the man; the man in question being the establishment, the government or simply the west.

A short time later, the same person, puffed up by their loyal supporters, feels that ordinary rules and laws do not apply to them: feeding off their own ego, they gradually say or do more and more unacceptable things, until finally, the liberal left reaches its tipping point and switches to criticism. Only in rare cases, however, are they entirely disowned, because people have already invested much emotional energy in them, and no-one likes to be wrong. Instead they are benignly classified as “part of the broad church of left-wing thought”.

But such people are not benign, and they are not really “left”, either. The psychological profile is often that of someone at once intelligent, manipulative and with a worrying lack of empathy for humanity.

And so it is with some irony we find our old friend, Respect MP George Galloway, taking up the cause of a man with which he shares a number of such traits. And in the most bizarre, and stomach-churning way: Galloway yesterday decided not only that Assange should not stand trial for rape, but that the reason for this is that sex with a sleeping woman does not require her consent.

To remove any doubt as to his views, he later tweeted:

“I think the whole thing is a setup. I don’t understand how so many of you can’t see that. If he did these things, he’s a rat. But the United States empire, the British empire, the imperial system that around the world is slaughtering human beings by the million, cutting their throats, starving them to death, leaving them to die of poverty and avoidable disease in their millions, is a much bigger rat, no…So why would you want Assange to be delivered to the United States and silenced for ever, unless you were on the side of empire.”

In other words, in a moral relativism which is base, even by Galloway’s rather low standards, it’s ok to rape someone, because the US does worse things. And, in this insane anything-goes-as-long-as-you-hate-the-West logic, you have the nub of what the two share: a sort of low-rent, amoral messiah complex.

It is no surprise to those of us who have followed the career of George Galloway that he thinks in this way, or that his extreme-left views rather resemble those of the extreme right; that he has scant respect for the rights of women or gays, because he defends people who openly advocate their maltreatment; that he has famously praised dictators such as Saddam Hussein and has been one of the last supporters of the genocidal Assad, even though he now lies about it; or that he regularly presents on PressTV, the mouthpiece of the odious Iranian regime, closed down in the UK by Ofcom. This is not hyperbole, but verifiable fact.

The only people who can like George Galloway are surely either those who do not know him very well or who choose not to (one of the popular ways of choosing not to, by the way, is to interpret any criticism as a conspiracy of the Western media against him).

What can we glean from this sorry tale? First, that Julian Assange is not a great liberator being oppressed by nefarious global powers, as some of the Occupy crowd still seem to think; but hopefully that, by now, is obvious.

Moreover, that Respect is not, as Left Futures, or Galloway’s Labour friend Jeremy Corbyn seem to think, an acceptable part of the broad church of the left; in fact, Galloway’s views on the Assange trial alone brand him a fairly unpleasant human being.

Respect is by no means the fluffy love-and-peace brigade that its activists would like to have us believe. The party contains people with extremely unpleasant views (if you disagree, try watching this video of their chair in Tower Hamlets), who both advocate and execute violent action. And in a party where Galloway is the leading figure, one might worry with good reason about their “respect” for women, gays or democracy.

One last, perhaps fanciful, thought: it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to picture a future evening, where a relieved Assange, having escaped trial, might sit down for a celebratory dinner with his friends and supporters. Among them, perhaps, sit a smiling Galloway, and emissaries from those bastions of democracy and human rights, Ecuador, Russia, Syria, Iran and Venezuela, all eager to engage with these useful idiots.

The rulers of countries, which perhaps in their younger selves might have generated apprehension, now welcome them with open arms; and we are minded of the final lines from Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the pig revolutionaries have come full circle back to the dictatorship of man:

“No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Although there are differences between Assange and Galloway, their fundamental personalities are rather similar; and, most chillingly, both have become the friends of the despots and demagogues that their supporters might just once have railed against.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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24 Responses to “Thank you Julian Assange: you have shown your true colours and got George Galloway to show his”

  1. Nick says:

    Anything to defend Blair and what crimes he committed whilst in charge.

    Tony Blair. Supplying Paralympic athletes to the UK by going to war so often.

  2. Frederick James says:

    Excellent piece. The only thing I disagree with is your implying that the smug rentagob, Owen Jones, is part of the “liberal left”. Nothing liberal about him as I understand the word.

  3. Neil Lochhead says:

    Agree wi Freddie Jones above,excellent piece and peach of a tag line….low rent n amoral in many senses. Also believe OJ to be a good guy and if bein rentagob means you,re liberal left then Zizek is in big trouble and so am I cos I listen to him as a clear voice. Thanks for this n keep knockin it out.

  4. Rob Marchant says:

    @Nick: that’s funny, I didn’t mention Blair once – you did. In fact, this piece has nothing whatsoever to do with Blair. And your little “joke” about the Paralympics is in very poor taste indeed.

    @Frederick: thanks. Well, at least he managed (for once) to dissociate himself from the unpleasant left, having seen which way the wind was blowing.

  5. Jonathan Todd says:

    Thank you, Rob. Good analysis.

    “You may or may not agree with the motivation of Wikileaks as a liberating force for the masses”. You are much more likely to think it such a force if you are an anarchist, like Assange, and, therefore, do not see states or state secrets as legitimate. Rob is spot on in his analysis of Assange but I often feel that the fact that he is an anarchist is a little overlooked in explaining him.

    The fact that Assange is motivated by a philosophy quite different from that which drives the Labour Party is not always obvious from his pronouncements. “The US must stop its witch hunt against Wikileaks”, he declares. Leaving aside the question of whether what the US is doing can be fairly described as a witch hunt, it does beg the questions: Why? And who are you to make such a demand? Clearly, he is the indulgent character that Rob describes, which goes a long way to explaining who he is and why he demands what he demands, but he’s also an anarchist, so he does not think that the US, like all states, can legitimately hold any secrets.

    Of course, there is an important debate to be had about what is put into the public domain and what is not. I’m proud that Labour gave us the Freedom of Information Act and suspect that further openness with information held by public bodies is possible and desirable. But it seems hard to reconcile Assange’s anarchism and rejection of the validity of state secrets with the kind of security that well-functioning states, acting upon such secrets, seek and tend to provide to their citizens.

    There is a trade-off, it seems to me, between transparency and security. I was never able to understand who Assange thought he was to decide upon where this balance should be struck and to haphazardly release information in way that threatened the security of others. But he knew best. Of course, he did. In his supreme arrogance, as hubristic as the worst excesses of George W Bush’s presidency, he always does. And so – in an act that brings into question their judgment at least as much as their past support for the Liberal Democrats – did the Guardian.

    I hate to say I told you so but it was always obvious to me that this chap was a complete charlatan. But he, along with the ill-judged actions of the FCO, has managed to unite the whole of South America in opposition to the UK and he continues to retain the support of a non-trivial number of people. It is, therefore, urgent that the public, legal and diplomatic cases against him are swiftly and decisively concluded.

    It would seem to me helpful in this regard if the US could clarify their position. Rob is right to pick up upon the nature of relations between Sweden and the US. Certainly, extradition terms between Sweden and the US are less generous to the US than between the UK and the US. Why, then, should the US seek his extradition from Sweden when they have not sought it from the UK?

    We are left to assume that they will not but Assange and his supporters insist they will, which feeds into a wave of anti Anglo-Americanism coming from Latin America. What oxygen remains in this argument would be extinguished by the US clarifying their position and confirming that, having not sought his extradition from the UK, they will not seek it from Sweden.

    I support the legitimacy of the US as a state and their right to hold state secrets and their right, if they so decide and the legal basis exists, to seek the extradition and prosecution of Assange, but a little more candor on this point would, I feel, be useful. To them, the UK, and the forces of good sense everywhere. And the US’ treatment of Bradley Manning, like the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay and the use of drone attacks, saps at the moral authority of the US; increasing in number and providing succor to those, like Assange, who wish America harm.

    Say what you like about Assange but he has lived by his values, which are, as it is important to recognise, anarchist. So long as America’s moral authority is being undermined, it is not living by its values. In an era of contested modernity, little is more urgent than that this is corrected. Liberal-minded people can only sensibly disagree with this if they conclude that Europe is able to project liberal values globally. Which is a belief that would require the delusion of an Assange supporter to be sustained.

  6. PC says:

    Tell Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad Alzery about how fair the Swedish legal system is.

    If you were in the slightest bit aware of what happened to them, you wouldn’t write such utterly contemptible bollocks about “…Sweden [being] a country… hardly well-known either for its unfair legal system, or for its propensity to do what the US tells it to.”

  7. Angie Pedley says:

    Good article. I would add George Galloway’s hypocrisy in supporting China against the Tibetans while the respect party claims to oppose oppression. He also disrespects the dalai lama in a very divisive way – claiming himself to be pro-Muslim while never answering properly the questions about his marriages or indeed if he has actually converted.
    He gained votes from impressionable young voters who will become disillusioned with mainstream politics, thereby doing more harm than good for Bradford.

  8. Rob Marchant says:

    @Jonathan: Wow. A whole article! Where to start?

    Yes, a good point about Assange being an anarchist. It should be patently obvious to anyone who is not an anarchist (i.e. a democrat) that they are not going to be aligned with him past a certain, fairly basic, point. It is quite right to say that all countries, to have a functioning state apparatus, will have not to tell everything to everyone, all the time. No company functions like that, why should the state? Therefore, there will be secrets. The important debate, as you point out, is where you should draw the line between what is secret and what is not. While there is a perfectly valid (and probably true) case that in the West we make more secret than we have to, it’s quite different – and massively impractical – to say nothing has to be secret.

    Furthermore, given that we are where we are with the existence of spooks, whether we like it or not, it is highly questionable, not to say irresponsible, to release information which might prejudice their very safety. Assange does not seem to care about this, for him these people are obviously expendable.

    The extradition case to the US is clearly misinformation, as David Allen Green has pointed out. It won’t happen. On the other hand, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the US to confirm that it won’t, I suspect they want to reserve this card, as they don’t gain much by playing it right now.

    One point: I am fairly sure that this will not affect at all relations with South America: that continent is already going its merry way irrespective, in a direction which is a little disturbing. Apart from Brazil and Chile, I’m not sure which countries will stand apart from the anti-US momentum being built up.

    I am unsure about the “moral authority of the US” argument: while there are some worrying developments, there is much froth about the US and how fascist/imperialist it is. Jeez, it’s got its most liberal president for three decades. If Obama won’t close Guantanamo now, it is unlikely to close for a long time, unless its purpose is clearly and visibly done, because either he’ll be there or someone else way to the right.

    “Liberal-minded people can only sensibly disagree with this if they conclude that Europe is able to project liberal values globally. Which is a belief that would require the delusion of an Assange supporter to be sustained.”

    Amen to that. Europe is not really in much of a position to project anything at the moment, because no-one’s listening: outside of itself, it is currently seen as a sclerotic, backward-looking, economically-stricken, bureaucratic, big-government backwater. And I say that as someone who loves Europe. We really have a long way to go.

  9. Owen Jones says:

    I’m definitely not “liberal left” for a start – I’m a socialist. And I didn’t wait to see which way the wind was blowing. I’ve always made clear that I support Wikileaks but want Assange to face allegations of rape, and that’ been the position of a fair chunk of the left.

  10. Owen Jones says:

    As for the “rentagob” comment, I think this case should show that I always say what I believe, even if that puts me on a collision course with political allies.

  11. Rob Marchant says:

    @Angie: agree: Galloway’s position on Tibet is contemptible. That is a real fight for freedom, and he’s nowhere to be seen, or rather on the side of the autocrats, as usual.

    @Owen: fair enough, you class yourself as a socialist rather than liberal left. On this issue I’d say your opinions are in tune with the Guardian-reading fraternity, but that’s only my opinion.

    On the waiting to see which way the wind was blowing, I guess what I meant was, that it was pretty easy to see what kind of a person Assange was from the start, long before this affair, Wikileaks or no Wikileaks. I don’t understand why you and so many others were taken in by him. He is not a socialist, as Jonathan points out, but an anarchist; essentially, he has very little in common with Labour. However, on reflection, it was an intemperate remark, which I retract.

  12. Ben says:

    “In other words, in a moral relativism which is base, even by Galloway’s rather low standards, it’s ok to rape someone, because the US does worse things.”

    A totally inaccurate conclusion to draw from Galloways remarks. Whatever your views about his interpretation of rape, I think it his clear here that his point is that if someone is drawing attention to the plight of, and fighting on behalf of, millions, it’s a lesser evil to allow him to speak than to prosecute him for his treatment of an individual.

    Additionally, as far as I’m aware, Assange has agreed to go to Sweden to face these charges if they pledge they will not see him extradited to the US for different charges (ie. those regarding Wikileaks).

  13. MickleMas says:

    An accurate and well-rounded article. Assange and Galloway are two of a kind. If Galloway, hypothetically, got arrested and bailed which Embassy do you think he might run to? Ecuador? Iran? Venezuela? Also, now that Assange is ensconced in his latest B and B will he use the opportunity to to a Wikileaks on Correa?
    A short message to Owen Jones:I like a lot of what you say and how you say it (apart from when you get volatile and irrational as soon as the words ‘Blair’ and ‘Iraq’ enter your brain – it’s as if you’ve had a “mind-meld” with George Galloway) but you have to admit: you are definitely a rentagob. You appear (incessantly) on all types of show from the informative to the pathetic. The producers of these shows love you because of your staus as an articulate rentagob.

  14. Henrik says:

    It seems to me that Assange’s reluctance to go to Sweden has far more to do with a wish to avoid being interviewed over a set of allegations of behaviour which, however we regard it in the UK, is definitely criminal under Swedish law. His fear of extradition to the US is odd, when one considers that the UK is wildly enthusiastic about extraditing folk to the US and in fact has specific bilateral arrangements to make this easier. Assange has been availing himself of our hospitality and the adulation of the liberal Left for many months now; if he were going to be extradited to the US at all, this would have been the time for it to happen.

    As far as I know – and I welcome any addition or correction anyone might have – the US have not issued any sort of extradition warrant for Assange – and the chances of any extraordinary rendition measures being invoked where the subject is as high-profile as Assange seem fairly slim.

    On balance, anyone to whom the President of Ecuador and George Galloway gives unconditional support is probably a wrong ‘un.

  15. john P reid says:

    Mickiemas, has kind of given credit to the allegation of Renta gob made agaisnt you Owen, regarding Assange,let’s get this straight Allegations have been made of sexual assualt, Not rape and it’s allegations, he hasn’t been charged or suspected by Police yet, it’s Allegations,

    I take it Goerge Galloway,the guardian and Owen jones all now feel that those accused of rape should have anominity, which is strange as they ran Julie Bindel articels saying those falsely accused of rape haven’t had their lives ruined… which of course is twaddle.

  16. Rob Marchant says:

    @Ben: all I can see from your remark defending Galloway is that you follow the same awful moral relativism. It’s also like saying that just because you believe in someone’s cause, they can do what they like; they are above the law.

    @MickleMas: thank you. My money’d be on Iran. I would conjecture that PressTV probably has some close links with their embassy, given that they are a state propaganda service.

  17. david patterson says:

    I agree with Owen Jones. I hate being identified as liberal-left when what I am is a socialist.

    The middle class bon-viveurs are a greater enemy in this than the rich. They offer the false hope of an alternative but are as much a part of the establishment as the bankers.

  18. Rob Marchant says:

    @Henrik, quite. There is no chance of Assange ending up in the US, as many have already established.

    @JohnPReid: more importantly, Galloway actually linked to an article which named the victims. One thing, though: the reason he has not been charged is because Swedish law works differently. It seems almost unthinkable that, had the charges originated in the UK, he would not have been charged.

    @davidpatterson: what I can’t really understand is that you and Owen are so bothered about being classified, but can’t seem to bring yourselves unequivocally to condemn Galloway (the person, not the actions), like almost everyone else in the country.

  19. Mike Homfray says:

    As expected, I entirely disagree.

    The entire Assange case including the trumped up charges and honey trap, is in order to get him to return to Sweden who will then deport him to America so the Yanks can get rid of him for good. Sweden can come over here and interview him. But they know the charges are trumped up and merely a ruse to get him there ready for extradition

    The only reason the UK won’t play their poodle role and send him back to the US is because of the controversy caused by the McKinnon case. the Government are wriggling in trying to find a way to send him to the US when they promised not to in opposition.

    As America’s court system is utterly corrupt, there should be no agreements at all with this country with regard to extradition until they have abolished capital punishment and measures such as removing votes for convicted persons.

  20. jon says:

    Assange’s supporters ought to be wary one blogger who has sought asylum in Ecuador is now facing extradition to Belarus

  21. Rob Marchant says:

    @Jon: and, as it says in the article, it’s rather ironic. Because Belarus, once described as “the last dictatorship in Europe”, has some close connections to Wikileaks.

    That is the kind of company Ecuador keeps.

  22. jon says:

    Yes Rob I have come increasingly to despair of the behaviour of the left over this, if you want an example of the sort of moral relativism then look at Neil Clark a man who once described Slobadan Milosevic as a Socialist hero

  23. Mark Horner says:

    In this country sex with a sleeping woman without her consent is not rape, if the man has reasonable belief that she would consent. The details of this couples relationship has been widely leaked and it is certainly arguable that Assange had reasonable belief.

  24. MickleMas says:

    to Mike Homfray: you say “the US court system is utterly corrupt”!!!! You ‘avin’ a larf? Clearly, your views of what constitutes ‘corrupt systems’ is the utter antithesis of the truth. Might I suggest you read ‘The idiots guide to democratic governance’ before you express your views in print.

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