Barrett Brown on Intellectual Dishonesty, Excuses, and Knowing What the Hell You’re Getting Yourself Into in Activism

As posted previously on Facebook:

Men who obtain power by stirring up hatred against racial and religious minorities are the enemy. Anyone who supports such men are also the enemy, regardless of whether you’ve also done important work in the past, and regardless of whether you’ve been oppressed by other powerful men.

I know of no serious revolutionary movement that has made allowances for one’s personal well-being and accepted such a thing as an excuse for lying to supporters and cooperating with a despicable regime. Nonetheless, I’ve been approached over and over again with that very excuse vis-a-vis Assange, including by some of his close allies.

That this particular revolutionary movement is largely a matter of information warfare, espionage against the state, and the like, doesn’t change the fact that a certain degree of discipline and self-sacrifice is necessary to any successful struggle against powerful entities. If people aren’t willing to face the prospect of arrest, incarceration, and beatings by police, they shouldn’t be taking on roles that lead to those consequences. Hector Monsegur, who I do have some sympathy for, nonetheless should not have pursued a career as a revolutionary that was likely to end in his arrest when he knew full well that he had small children in his care which the FBI could use as leverage to force his cooperation.

Assange likewise knew that he was doing very public damage to a criminal empire and its partner institutions, and that this empire seeks to destroy those who counter its ambitions. Pressed into confinement, he sought to engage with the prospective new rulers of that empire even as Wikileaks publicly denied colluding with any political campaign. He was wrong to have done so, and nothing that the previous regime did to him, or to me, or to anyone else justified this. Had there been some real, cogent strategy here, it would have at least been defensible in some respect. But aside from the bullshit mental gymnastics that he and some of his supporters have engaged in to prove that Trump was a candidate worth assisting, it’s becoming clearer and clearer from what I’ve been told by those trying to win me back that this was not about policy. Indeed, a couple of these individuals have publicly argued the case entirely on the grounds of Assange’s own situation, even aside from the others who are doing so in private, and in more explicitly pragmatic terms.

A soft movement that accepts cowardice and dereliction of duty as forgivable and even understandable will never accomplish those things that must be accomplished. We are not just opposing entities that perform vast and heartbreaking instances of oppression against the defenseless; we are doing so in a place and time where personal comforts and amusements are so deeply instituted among the citizenry that the sacred argument that the good have a duty to oppose the evil is almost impossible to make through the hum of cheap distractions.

The people that we need if we are to establish a reasoned, moral civilization will eventually respond to a movement that shows itself to be seriously intent on achieving that. The next generation will learn self-sacrifice and duty in the face of authoritarianism if they are given examples to spur them on. We must insist upon seriousness, and we must provide the examples.

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One Comment

  1. raincoaster says:

    Reblogged this on The Cryptosphere and commented:

    Another great essay from Barrett Brown, calling out those in the movement who long ago folded, but are pretending they’re still in the game.


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