Toronto Quito is a fascinating mile-high city and Ecuador is a very interesting country. I have many friends there and have worked with them for years to try and figure a way that ACORN could support organizing there. One day, as we say! I also have a lot of respect for President Rafael Correa and his efforts to shape a progressive government there. It’s a difficult project and though his performance may not have been perfect in every regard, his project has been worthy of praise and support. Some years ago I was honored to speak at a conference he organized on the future of progressive movements and to attend my one and only official state dinner anywhere in the world.
But having said all of that, I have to wonder what in the world Julian Assange, “principal founder of Wikileaks” as the Times called him, might be thinking he might do in Ecuador if by some wild miracle he was able to both get the asylum he is seeking now as he is holed up on the lam in London in their apartment sized consular headquarters trying to jump hundreds of thousands of dollars of bail put up by some of Wikileaks last and truest believers? Is this crazy or what?
Assange has never been one to simply walk a straight and narrow path and god knows I do believe he is sincere that he at least believes that “they” are trying to get him, but he must know over the last year he has been little more than a bird in a gilded cage and now with this last stunt he is categorically signaling that Wikileaks is totally dead. For Assange, as all of us who have supported him must now be clear, it’s all about him now!
Wikileaks had already been crippled by Assange’s decreasing ability to generate any resources to support its work and his distracted and diverted attention to having to spend most of his time and energy trying to save himself from extradition to Sweden. Now clearly he couldn’t raise a dime for Wikileaks or anything he might be managing with a ski mask and a gun.
His sudden sneak out to the Ecuadorian consular office seems a total admission that Wikileaks is now history, no matter how valuable and worthwhile in its moment, and that he is ready to become the Bobby Fisher of the progressive forces, just a crazy voice yelling from the deep forest, crying to be heard every couple of years.
Assange is a bright guy and when on his game, brilliantly effective. I read an interview with him a couple of months ago that was hugely insightful in looking at the future, if one filtered out all of the weird and paranoid rants. And, I’ll give him this, some of his paranoia over time was no doubt justified, but, frankly, that was then, and not so much now.
I wish that Assange would have gone to Sweden, faced the music, weathered the storm, and reemerged wiser and more effective.
If he miraculously gets asylum from Correa, and then somehow manages to catch a flight despite the Interpol red tag and other problems, I can’t imagine exactly what he will do in Quito other than learn and perfect his Spanish. He doesn’t seem to be the settle down and move forward kind of guy who would just fall for a lovely senorita in Quito and call it a day. He certainly won’t be able to resuscitate Wikileaks.
What could he be thinking? And, why? And, how disappointing for the rest of us that hoped Wikileaks would continue to make a contribution.