While WikiLeaks and its leader Julian Assange have long garnered support from people on the political left, it’s never been clear how strongly they backed the left. Now, an interview with Assange and actions taken by a WikiLeaks-affiliated party in Australia are making it apparent that WikiLeaks is not a leftist organization. The two groups may share some aims, but WikiLeaks is decidedly right-wing.
WikiLeaks’ overt anti-American rhetoric and commitment to complete government transparency has appealed to activists who view western and American imperialism as the greatest threat to world stability. Leftist luminaries, from Noam Chomsky to Michael Moore, and leftist leaders, like Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chávez and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, have all embraced the organization. Indeed, Correa’s government has been sheltering Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, preventing him from being extradited to answer rape allegations in Sweden.
However, in an interview with Campus Reform, Assange praised America’s political right. He called former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and his son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the “only hope” for liberty in America. “The libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice really in the U.S. Congress,” Assange said in the interview, adding that he was “a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the U.S. Congress on a number of issues.”
The Pauls, of course, are known to have been very cozy with fringe racists groups. Indeed, Rand Paul co-authored his campaign book with a man who calls himself “The Southern Avenger.” Rand Paul has said the Civil Rights Act was wrong, as was the Americans With Disabilites Act. These things are evidently not deal-breakers for Assange, however.
Indeed, on the one social issue Assange cited, he agrees with Rand Paul. Rand Paul supported a “heartbeat bill,” which would effectively outlaw abortion. Assange cited that approvingly, along with opposition to taxation in any form.
“So, non-violence: well, don’t go and invade a foreign country. [...] Non-violence: doesn’t extort taxes from people to the federal Government with a policeman. Similarly, other aspects of non-violence in relation to abortion that they hold,” he said.
Assange’s views are of a piece with radical libertarianism, which holds that government can do little but provide a minimal police force to defend property rights. This is, needless to say, about as far from the political left as one can get.
Assange’s statements might be viewed as a one-off, or a misunderstanding, if not for the actions of his political allies in Australia. There, the WikiLeaks Party, which has been trying to gain a seat for Assange in Australia’s Senate, allied itself with the far-right Australia First Party, an overtly nationalist and nativist minor party. It’s also thrown its lot in with The Nationals, another right-wing party, ahead of the Greens.
The party has tried to downplay the uproar since this became public, citing “administrative errors” as the reason behind their decisions. Still, it was noted by many that Assange had criticized the Greens’ policies on asylum-seeking as “simplistic and foolish,” and Crikey reported that it had been told off the record that the move was intentional.
What is abundantly clear is that Assange and WikiLeaks are not leftist or liberal, but libertarian in their worldview. That is not to say that there are not some issues where the two groups might ally; libertarians are non-interventionists by nature, and leftist groups may still find common cause with WikiLeaks on issues related to government transparency and military intervention.
On a whole host of other issues, however, from women’s rights to immigration, from the well-being of the poor to the rights of minority groups, WikiLeaks is not the left’s ally. It is the left’s enemy. And that should make any progressive concerned.
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