As Julian Assange is close to being prosecuted for practicing journalism, the rest of humanity is facing a similar fate to that of Julian. Liberty is slipping away at an alarming rate, and throughout most of the civilized world. And while the arrest and extradition of Assange wouldn’t be the concluding event in history, it would mean we’ve moved closer to a totalitarian science fiction nightmare than ever.
The signs of fascism are all around us. To see them, you just need to look past the illusions of normalcy that dictatorships are often surrounded with. In Nazi Germany, the privileged citizens who didn’t speak out against the regime didn’t feel like they were living in a totalitarian society. Their daily routines of work and family life were going on like was the case before the takeover happened, since the propaganda and policing mechanisms of the Third Reich didn’t usually reach into these facets of people’s experience. As the state-controlled media ubiquitously portrayed Germany as a victim of Allied and Jewish aggression, glorified Hitler, and demonized the Jews while hiding what was happening in the concentration camps, mass consent was accomplished.
Totalitarian propaganda, a Gestapo-esque police force, and concentration camps are all realities in America. The creation of the American surveillance state since 9/11 and the U.S. government’s recent war against whistleblowers are just the basic outlines of the fascistic takeover that’s going on. As migrant children have been separated from their parents, put in inhumanely run prisons, and sometimes forced to sleep on gravel, the rest of the country is also under the control of a brutal police state. America’s mass incarceration paradigm is getting worse as the Trump White House boosts private prisons, and the militarization of American police that came from the War on Terror has exacerbated state violence against the country’s poor people and people of color.
The power of this American Gestapo is expanding in ways both subtle and not; the recent creation of an armed private police force for Johns Hopkins University is one example of how the tools for social repression are being put into more and more facets of society. And the government’s new practice of detaining and interrogating journalists, activists, and lawyers at the U.S.-Mexico border shows how a totalitarian paradigm has started to creep into how the country functions.
The torture that Julian Assange has experienced, wherein he’s been kept in confined isolation and deprived of crucial medical attention, is similar to what his captors in the American security state do to their other prisoners. Torture is normal for American prisons, both in the migrant detention facilities, in the Guantanamo prison camp (where the abuse of prisoners is ongoing), and in the American jails where solitary confinement is used.
Things like this are happening worldwide. Mass surveillance, increased police power, and intensified political censorship are going on both in the U.S. and throughout Europe-most notably in France, where police have been treating Yellow Vest protesters with increasing amounts of violence. Those in Russia and China are also living under a police and surveillance state. There’s also been the rise of 21st century authoritarian strongmen like Recep Erdogan, Jair Bolsonaro, Benjamin Netanyahu, the leaders of Poland’s neo-fascist Law and Justice Party, Viktor Orbán, and his similarly illiberal successor János Áder. Democracy is in decline around the world, as are the free and honest journalistic institutions that democracies need to survive.
Just as scary as Trump’s efforts to incite violence against reporters is the hostility to democracy that’s now coming from the liberal and “progressive” media. Amid the anti-Russia frenzy that’s gripped the Western world in recent years, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks has taken on an unprecedentedly McCarthyist form. Assange is frequently characterized in the media as a Russian agent and a tool of Trump, despite WikiLeaks’ publishing of documents that expose Russia’s surveillance state and despite the Trump administration’s aggressive efforts to arrest Assange. The eagerness for Assange’s prosecution that this smear campaign has created among American liberals shows just how much liberty is at risk right now.
Can we really accept a dystopia in which @maddow is the picture of journalistic integrity and Julian Assange is a criminal?
— Johnny Akzam (@JohnnyAkzam) April 16, 2019
If Assange is convicted, we’ll see the partial end of American press freedom. Numerous constitutional experts and civil liberties groups have concluded that if Assange is prosecuted for the Manning leaks-as the DOJ plans to do-it will set an unconstitutional precedent for the government to go after all media outlets that publish the secrets of government officials or powerful financial actors. And this is just one of the implications.
The prosecution of Assange would mean not just the virtual codifying of an unfree press. It would mean the defeat of much of the recent efforts of the civil liberties movement, and of the independent journalists who’ve worked so hard to defend Assange from the establishment’s character attacks. It would solidify the government’s ability to dehumanize and torture the enemies of the state, and it would be a victory for the propagandists who seek to trick the people into cheering for the death of liberty.
The “Resistance” Democrats who call for Assange’s prosecution don’t know what would happen to civil liberties if they get their wish, and they don’t seem to care whether his imprisonment would be based in actual legal grounds. They usually seem to want him eliminated because of how much they personally dislike him, and not because they can argue that a prosecution for the Manning leaks wouldn’t hurt press freedom. The operation to manufacture consent for the persecution of Assange is a series of Two Minutes Hate sessions, where endless headlines which vilify the man have taken away people’s ability to approach the issue of Assange’s prosecution rationally.
This is how the state will continue to take away our freedoms. Changes will keep being made towards despotism, and the media propaganda apparatus will try to manipulate people into either ignoring it or supporting it. The next step could be when the U.S. government starts to use the military to police the American population, a practice which was made legal under the 2012 NDAA act and which was recently prepared for when Trump sent troops to the southern border. Another prospect is the fulfillment of the goals of last year’s Authorization for Use of Military Force bill, a currently dead senate proposal which would give the president the right to arrest any American who dissents against U.S. military policy. There’s also the potential implementation of a nationalized 5G network in the U.S, which would give the state unlimited ability to digitally surveil the population; Trump’s 2020 campaign has already made government-controlled 5G a policy goal.
These and other moves towards totalitarianism could easily happen in the event of a national crisis, real or manufactured. The Trump administration’s effort last year to justify its border troop deployment by creating a bogus narrative about a migrant “invasion” shows how authoritarians are able to propagandize Americans into accepting more state control. The persecution of Assange, and the emotionally manipulative tactics used to get people to consent to it, represent the political nightmare that our entire civilization is undergoing. #FreedomsUndone Click To Tweet
We must refuse to accept this. It’s time to fight for the future of humanity and build movements to dismantle governmental and corporate power. Let’s respond to what’s happening by following the maxim recently put out by the organization Communist Mexico: “Do not let injustice sadden you. Let it radicalize you.”