June 19, 2011

Artists Interview Assange

. . . at length, at e-flux here and here.

(Image: "Proposal for a Multi-Jurisdictional Logo: Can a visual presence be created, and dismantled, based on domains based in different jurisdictions, switching on and off? Courtesy of Metahaven.")

An excerpt:

Censorship is not only a helpful economic signal [i.e., if an organization is expending resources to suppress info, then it may be surmised that the org fears that the info might reduce its power and therefore that, out of the very large domain of info in the world, such suppressed info might be expected to be among the most useful in bringing about change; thus, censorship is always also] an opportunity, because it reveals a fear of reform. And if an organization is expressing a fear of reform, it is also expressing the fact that it can be reformed. So, when you see the Chinese government engaging in all sorts of economic work to suppress information passing in and out of China on the internet, the Chinese government is also expressing a belief that it can be reformed by information flows, which is hopeful but easily understandable because China is still a political society. It is not yet a fiscalized society in the way that the United States is, for example. The basic power relationships of the United States and other Western countries are described by formal fiscal relationships, for example one organization has a contract with another organization, or it has a bank account, or is engaged in a hedge. Those relationships cannot be changed by moderate political shifts. The shift needs to be large enough to turn contracts into paper, or change money flows.

HUO: And that’s why you mentioned when we last spoke that you’re optimistic about China?

JA: Correct, and optimistic about any organization, or any country, that engages in censorship. We see now that the US State Department is trying to censor us. We can also look at it in the following way. The birds and the bees, and other things that can’t actually change human power relationships, are free. They’re left unmolested by human beings because they don’t matter. In places where speech is free, and where censorship does not exist or is not obvious, the society is so sewn up—so depoliticized, so fiscalized in its basic power relationships—that it doesn’t matter what you say. And it doesn’t matter what information is published. It’s not going to change who owns what or who controls what. And the power structure of a society is by definition its control structure. So in the United States, because of the extraordinary fiscalization of relationships in that country, it matters little who wins office. You’re not going to suddenly empty a powerful individual’s bank account. Their money will stay there. Their stockholdings are going to stay there, bar a revolution strong enough to void contracts.
. . . there is an idea that these great American companies, Facebook and Twitter, gave the Egyptian people this revolution and liberated Egypt. But the most popular guide for the revolutionaries was a document that spread throughout the soccer clubs in Egypt, which themselves were the most significant revolutionary community groups. If you read this document, you see that on the first page it says to be careful not to use Twitter and Facebook as they are being monitored. On the last page: do not use Twitter or Facebook. That is the most popular guide for the Egyptian revolution. And then we see Hillary Clinton trying to say that this was a revolution by Twitter and Facebook.
Much more at the links above.

B.t.w., there's a new website providing clear, helpful info about the status of the legal proceedings against Assange, at swedenversusassange.com.

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