Thursday, September 26, 2013

Made this street sticker...


and I intend it for re-use and repurposing by anyone, under the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license. Original file here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chomsky on Postmodernism



Relatedly, here's Martha Nussbaum's mordant clearing of Judith Butler's extruded mess. It's great. An excerpt:
It is difficult to come to grips with Butler's ideas, because it is difficult to figure out what they are. Butler is a very smart person. In public discussions, she proves that she can speak clearly and has a quick grasp of what is said to her. Her written style, however, is ponderous and obscure. It is dense with allusions to other theorists, drawn from a wide range of different theoretical traditions. In addition to Foucault, and to a more recent focus on Freud, Butler's work relies heavily on the thought of Louis Althusser, the French lesbian theorist Monique Wittig, the American anthropologist Gayle Rubin, Jacques Lacan, J.L. Austin, and the American philosopher of language Saul Kripke. These figures do not all agree with one another, to say the least; so an initial problem in reading Butler is that one is bewildered to find her arguments buttressed by appeal to so many contradictory concepts and doctrines, usually without any account of how the apparent contradictions will be resolved. 
A further problem lies in Butler's casual mode of allusion. The ideas of these thinkers are never described in enough detail to include the uninitiated (if you are not familiar with the Althusserian concept of "interpellation," you are lost for chapters) or to explain to the initiated how, precisely, the difficult ideas are being understood. Of course, much academic writing is allusive in some way: it presupposes prior knowledge of certain doctrines and positions. But in both the continental and the Anglo-American philosophical traditions, academic writers for a specialist audience standardly acknowledge that the figures they mention are complicated, and the object of many different interpretations. They therefore typically assume the responsibility of advancing a definite interpretation among the contested ones, and of showing by argument why they have interpreted the figure as they have, and why their own interpretation is better than others. 
We find none of this in Butler. Divergent interpretations are simply not considered--even where, as in the cases of Foucault and Freud, she is advancing highly contestable interpretations that would not be accepted by many scholars. Thus one is led to the conclusion that the allusiveness of the writing cannot be explained in the usual way, by positing an audience of specialists eager to debate the details of an esoteric academic position. The writing is simply too thin to satisfy any such audience. It is also obvious that Butler's work is not directed at a non-academic audience eager to grapple with actual injustices. Such an audience would simply be baffled by the thick soup of Butler's prose, by its air of in-group knowingness, by its extremely high ratio of names to explanations. 
To whom, then, is Butler speaking? It would seem that she is addressing a group of young feminist theorists in the academy who are neither students of philosophy, caring about what Althusser and Freud and Kripke really said, nor outsiders, needing to be informed about the nature of their projects and persuaded of their worth. This implied audience is imagined as remarkably docile. Subservient to the oracular voice of Butler's text, and dazzled by its patina of high-concept abstractness, the imagined reader poses few questions, requests no arguments and no clear definitions of terms. 
Still more strangely, the implied reader is expected not to care greatly about Butler's own final view on many matters. For a large proportion of the sentences in any book by Butler--especially sentences near the end of chapters--are questions. Sometimes the answer that the question expects is evident. But often things are much more indeterminate. Among the non-interrogative sentences, many begin with "Consider..." or "One could suggest..."--in such a way that Butler never quite tells the reader whether she approves of the view described. Mystification as well as hierarchy are the tools of her practice, a mystification that eludes criticism because it makes few definite claims. 
Take two representative examples:
What does it mean for the agency of a subject to presuppose its own subordination? Is the act of presupposing the same as the act of reinstating, or is there a discontinuity between the power presupposed and the power reinstated? Consider that in the very act by which the subject reproduces the conditions of its own subordination, the subject exemplifies a temporally based vulnerability that belongs to those conditions, specifically, to the exigencies of their renewal.
And:
Such questions cannot be answered here, but they indicate a direction for thinking that is perhaps prior to the question of conscience, namely, the question that preoccupied Spinoza, Nietzsche, and most recently, Giorgio Agamben: How are we to understand the desire to be as a constitutive desire? Resituating conscience and interpellation within such an account, we might then add to this question another: How is such a desire exploited not only by a law in the singular, but by laws of various kinds such that we yield to subordination in order to maintain some sense of social "being"? 
Why does Butler prefer to write in this teasing, exasperating way? The style is certainly not unprecedented. Some precincts of the continental philosophical tradition, though surely not all of them, have an unfortunate tendency to regard the philosopher as a star who fascinates, and frequently by obscurity, rather than as an arguer among equals. When ideas are stated clearly, after all, they may be detached from their author: one can take them away and pursue them on one's own. When they remain mysterious (indeed, when they are not quite asserted), one remains dependent on the originating authority. The thinker is heeded only for his or her turgid charisma. One hangs in suspense, eager for the next move. When Butler does follow that "direction for thinking," what will she say 
What does it mean, tell us please, for the agency of a subject to presuppose its own subordination? (No clear answer to this question, so far as I can see, is forthcoming.) One is given the impression of a mind so profoundly cogitative that it will not pronounce on anything lightly: so one waits, in awe of its depth, for it finally to do so. 
In this way obscurity creates an aura of importance. It also serves another related purpose. It bullies the reader into granting that, since one cannot figure out what is going on, there must be something significant going on, some complexity of thought, where in reality there are often familiar or even shopworn notions, addressed too simply and too casually to add any new dimension of understanding. When the bullied readers of Butler's books muster the daring to think thus, they will see that the ideas in these books are thin. When Butler's notions are stated clearly and succinctly, one sees that, without a lot more distinctions and arguments, they don't go far, and they are not especially new. Thus obscurity fills the void left by an absence of a real complexity of thought and argument.
Last year Butler won the first prize in the annual Bad Writing Contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature, for the following sentence: 
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power. 
Now, Butler might have written: "Marxist accounts, focusing on capital as the central force structuring social relations, depicted the operations of that force as everywhere uniform. By contrast, Althusserian accounts, focusing on power, see the operations of that force as variegated and as shifting over time." Instead, she prefers a verbosity that causes the reader to expend so much effort in deciphering her prose that little energy is left for assessing the truth of the claims.

Sheesh.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Greenwald's Liberal Blindspot


Glenn Greenwald has recently been getting some well deserved grief over his refusal to honestly assess Islam as a source of violence, specifically pertaining to the Boston Marathon attacks. Andrew Sullivan:

"we have a mountain of evidence that Tamerlan was far more extremist
than 99.9 percent of the entire American Muslim population. Why will
Glenn not acknowledge this?"

Why? Perhaps it has something to do with Greenwald's very public libels against Sam Harris and the New Atheists last week. In the face of criticism, he dug himself in fairly deep.

After recommending to his twitter followers an abject and dishonest quotemine distorting Harris' views, he defended himself against backlash by analogizing Islamically inspired violence with violence committed by the other major religions, leaving unsaid of course the obvious qualifier that today, religiously inspired terror afflicts us primarily from a single religion which I needn't even name. Never mind that in the same breath he analogized state motives with religious ones, parrying our alleged "Islamophobic" terror bias with hey, look, the Iraq!

Surely there are a number of terrible reasons to commit violence, but it must be acknowledged that among them religion is a very significant one, and that between the world's great religions, one is today less reformed, less tolerant of blasphemers and apostates, and more resistant, natively, textually, and in its current practice, to liberal interpretation and modernization. Any burgeoning reformation is therefore a heavy lift, albeit one that should be encouraged.

Greenwald has fortified himself inside a windowless citadel of Islamic sensitivity hardly penetrable by even the most blatant assault. He no longer tiptoes around Islamic criticism but has floated off into some far orbit of it.

It seems a school of post-colonial-guilt ridden apologists feel liberally obliged to remain blind to any differences between today's flocks. I submit that as we oppose illiberalism in society we should do so in religion, and that attention should be appropriately directed to those religious traditions which are more illiberal or otherwise liable to inspire violence than others. The Jains may be irrational, but not only am I not scared by them, I am unscared. 

Greenwald and the authors whose views he endorsed allege that this mere observation would place me amongst "Islamophobic" bigots, scientifically rationalizing and masking a crypto-racial hatred. They have shown themselves blind to the obvious point that combatting an ideology - not a race or unchangeable class - cannot by any strained definition constitute racism.

In his response Greenwald has claimed that merely tweeting an article is not necessarily a full or even partial endorsement, which is true. But Greenwald did endorse the libel, both in his tweet and in his response to criticism. Decide for yourself:

Note that the "very revealing quote" is the one that is most dishonestly mined. Here's Harris' email exchange with Greenwald.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Postmodern Stress Disorder

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”
                         - Orwell, Politics and the English Language.

Mitt Romney’s dominance over the President’s inexcusable nap during the first debate was certainly one of conduct, but his win was also reliant on a litany of untruths and whiplashing reversals. He denied that his plan to slash cross-bracket tax rates by 20% would indeed be the 4.8 trillion dollar cut which the independent Tax Policy Center calculated based on the Governor’s own unwillingness to name closeable expenditures. With many words of little substance, Romney re-morphed into a seeming advocate for government regulation of the financial sector after two years campaigning on the opposite. Perhaps most jarring was the facility with which Romney lied that his healthcare plan would cover those with pre-existing conditions. Aside from the fact that there has been no specific health care plan to come out of the campaign, such a guarantee is made practically impossible without the broadening of the insurance pool accomplished by the individual mandate provision within the Affordable Care Act, legislation Romney vows to repeal as a first order of business. The following day the campaign corrected their own candidate to admit that, in fact, only those continuously insured would be so protected under the Romney “plan.” Of course those who are already insured, are already insured.

Deceit is of course unsurprising to anyone following Republican campaign strategy this year, what with race-laced untruths that a foreign-born, “food stamp” president has done away with welfare work-requirements in what time he managed to spare from sympathizing with terrorists on his global apology tour. But this decade has seen Republican political discourse game its way past the zone of “post-truth” politics and into something worse, something more like postmodern politics. It’s a strategy that has for the most part gone unpenalized by a media which
seems resigned to playing sportscaster when its real duty is referee, having manacled itself with the irrelevance that comes in the service of “balance.”

Since I’ve used the term, I should explain postmodernism as an effort by mostly discardable French Marxists to counter the hegemony of Western culture, and the modern privileging of the scientific method and objective truth. Defining the term too rigorously is difficult and possibly undoable — a blur for which it has only itself to blame. So here I use the term in reference to postmodern politics, which borrow from academic postmodernism its three most common faults: a startling ability to obscure language and its meaning, a rejection of objective truth, and the delegitimization of established institutions.

Consider the following assault on conceivable reality, committed by the overgrown child who the Republican party considers its intellectual head:

“I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

So Newt Gingrich campaigned on an invented threat from an unspecified other, threatening a logically strained, atheistic nation somehow dominated by Islamists, not because he is stupid per se, but because the allowances of the Republican party are now so postmodern that it doesn’t matter whether his statements track with the universe. Gingrich knowingly fused discrepant fears in order to fuel hatred of an allegedly alien president, because he could. Once a party can manufacture and swallow statements like the one above, in course with the likes of death panels, brownshirt analogies, racial dog-whistles, preternatural shapeshifting and crimes against history, it might be fairly accused of having read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four as a manual instead of a warning. Indeed the party has nearly perfected a language of doublespeak and historical manipulation.

It hasn’t been easy fitting into this dress. Traditional Republican deference to authority and the legitimacy of institution does not fit effortlessly under a philosophy that is somewhat anarchic and radically skeptical of institutions in principle. But utility Trumped fidelity, and Republicans have, in fact, abandoned a number of moral/political convictions.

Fiscal balance, due process, proscriptions against torture, cautious use of the military and defense against the state’s penchant to overpolice, are traditionally conservative principles which have surrendered to the Bush tax cuts, careless warmindedness, the normativity of torture, and the Patriot Act.

In May 2012, House Republicans defeated a bill affirming the Due Process Clause and ending indefinite military detentions without trial with a 219 Republican majority against 189 Democrats supporting. That neither party has well defended American values as they pertain to civil liberties is incontrovertible, and the Obama Administration deserves condemnation for signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (its having issued a waiver abrogating the most egregious Fifth Amendment infringements is small consolation), but the difference is one of scale and severity.

The GOP’s delegitimization of governmental institutions is more aggressive than ever. The standing filibuster on the most routine functions of the Senate has fixed the body in a broken state.In an utterly irrational tantrum which cost the U.S. one of its triple-A credit ratings, House Republicans wantonly kidnapped and threatened to flush the full faith and credit of the United States, went their demands unmet. And in a sort of self-serving feedback, the resulting gridlock infects voters with a hatred of government to which Republicans kindly offer the cure of its dismantling.


More comically, during the hissy fit otherwise known as his presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich suggested, in what would be a radical fusing of powers, that justices with whose rulings he disagreed should be subpoenaed before Congress and jailed if they failed to report. Mercifully, Gingrich will never be in a position to try this, though if he ever were he’d be rudely sobered by the neutering that congressional subpoena power underwent during the Bush Presidency. Oh, and when it comes to the office of the presidency, you must have heard by now: a black man holds it illegitimately.




Everybody knows that the French only exist to be mocked, so it may seem ironic that the right has adopted a baby conceived by midcentury French philosophes and raised it to speak in a way that would, did afterlives exist, wake Orwell from the grave. But perhaps it shouldn’t come as a great shock that the right has taken so long to see the benefits of a postmodern approach. For half a century, postmodernism was rightly seen as the domain of an academic left having long availed itself of “contextualizing” cultural practices, and hungering for any luddism that could hysterically permute the words rape, earth, capitalism and industry into some sort of lament over the virus of Western culture. Not anymore. The unempirical wind typically blown by the arugula-gorged high priests of the humanities has a stronger countervail on the right, where broad scale rejection of fact is default, as reconfirmed last week with the outright dismissals of polling data, and likewise with the outrageous libeling of the BLS statistics showing unemployment down to 7.8%.

So as not to leave them unpunished, the left also convinces itself with unevidenced scaremongering over the safety of vaccines and genetically modified foods. But these sorts of wrong are neither as widespread nor as dangerous as the broad scale denials of fact by the right pertaining to anthropogenic climate change and the rejection of knowledge hard won by science. There is simply no intellectually honest way to equate the strength and consequence of mainstream support for denialism between the two parties. And it is not disqualifyingly biased to point out that the dysfunction of one party’s relationship with reality objectively eclipses another’s.

Sometimes, nonsense can make sense. Empirical immunity and doublespeak can work as indispensable armour for a party that manages at once to be both rigidly and infideliously ideological. Unembarrassed by reality, political language can be freed entirely for utility to power. It’s how one can with a straight face claim to “protect the vote” by suppressing the vote and support “family values” by promoting bigotry. It’s how one can in the age of the Higgs field and the human genome, deny scientific consensus and maintain that both climate change and evolution are liberal hoaxes, while preserving their social views in the permafrost they deny is melting.

This is dangerous, but unsustainable. Take for instance the venom with which ever more powerful minority blocs are treated, alienating demographics that will decide electoral outcomes in the near to foreseeable future. Republicans seem content to march themselves blindfolded to the gallows of harsh reality for one last taste of the power of white fright. Among the inner party, there must be either a resignation to this fate or, more probably, a plan to expediently change color, the model for which could be, rather conveniently, the chameleon candidate himself.

Perhaps the best nose to detect the first whiffs of a decaying modernism belonged to George Orwell, who urged that the preservation of objectivity and reason was dependent on sincerity in language. I think it would even be right to say that the control of politics through the erasure of fact, manipulation of history, and distortion of language is the true antagonist in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Throughout the book, a list of slogans doublespeaking the party line reappears:

  • WAR IS PEACE
  • FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
  • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

That same decay can be smelled today, with Romney its mere simulacrum:


  • Freedom is warrantless wiretaps.

  • Freedom is indefinite detention.

  • Equal rights are only for those that are more equal than others.

  • Religious freedom is absolute unless invoked by Muslims or the godless.
  • The fact of anthropogenic climate change is fiction.


  • The American innovation of the separation of church and state is un-American.

  • Spending doesn’t create jobs. Defense spending does.

  • It is racist to suggest that someone or some view might be understood as racist.

  • The fact of evolution is fiction.

  • Torturing is our right to protect ourselves from those who hate human rights.

  • Family values is denying families to others.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Problems with Infinities


John D. Barrow in +plus magazine:
So infinities in modern physics have become separate from the study of infinities in mathematics. One area in physics where infinities are sometimes predicted to arise is aerodynamics or fluid mechanics. For example, you might have a wave becoming very, very steep and non-linear and then forming a shock. In the equations that describe the shock wave formation some quantities may become infinite. But when this happens you usually assume that it's just a failure of your model. You might have neglected to take account of friction or viscosity and once you include that into your equations the velocity gradient becomes finite — it might still be very steep, but the viscosity smoothes over the infinity in reality. In most areas of science, if you see an infinity, you assume that it's down to an inaccuracy or incompleteness of your model.
string diagram
Two particles meeting form a sharp corner (left) but two loops coming together are like two pairs of trousers sown together. (The trouser diagram has time going downwards and space horizontal.)
In particle physics there has been a much longer-standing and more subtle problem. Quantum electrodynamics is the best theory in the whole of science, its predictions are more accurate than anything else that we know about the Universe. Yet extracting those predictions presented an awkward problem: when you did a calculation to see what you should observe in an experiment you always seemed to get an infinite answer with an extra finite bit added on. If you then subtracted off the infinity, the finite part that you were left with was the prediction you expected to see in the lab. And this always matched experiment fantastically accurately. This process of removing the infinities was called renormalisation. Many famous physicists found it deeply unsatisfactory. They thought it might just be a symptom of a theory that could be improved.
This is why string theory created great excitement in the 1980s and why it suddenly became investigated by a huge number of physicists. It was the first time that particle physicists found a finite theory, a theory which didn't have these infinities popping up. The way it did it was to replace the traditional notion that the most basic entities in the theory (for example photons or electrons) should be point-like objects that move through space and time and so trace out lines in spacetime. Instead, string theory considers the most basic entities to be lines, or little loops, which trace out tubes as they move. When you have two point-like particles moving through space and interacting, it's like two lines hitting one another and forming a sharp corner at the place where they meet. It's that sharp corner in the picture that's the source of the infinities in the description. But if you have two loops coming together, it's rather like two legs of a pair of trousers. Then two more loops move out from the interaction — that's like sewing another pair of trousers onto the first pair. What you get is a smooth transition. This was the reason why string theory was so appealing, it was the first finite theory of particle physics. (h/t 3qd)

Progress

is slow, but it looks like this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

QFTD

"As a local GOP official after President Obama’s election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies. 

In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change- a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them...

Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity." - The newly ex-Republican from Delaware, Michael Stafford.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Section 13 Is Doomed

I'd never even heard of Section 13 until last week when, mercifully, Canadian Tories killed the provision allowing single complainants to criminalize ostensibly offensive speech (let's be honest - those with fringe or politically incorrect views were most likely of all to be caught up in 13's tuna net). Here's Jonathan Kay, eulogizing the speech-stifling subsection of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
Five years ago, during testimony in the case of Warman v. Lemire, Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) investigator Dean Steacy was asked “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?” His response: “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”
Those words produced outrage. But there was a grain of truth to what Mr. Steacy said: For decades, Canadians had meekly submitted to a system of administrative law that potentially made de facto criminals out of anyone with politically incorrect views about women, gays, or racial and religious minority groups. All that was required was a complainant (often someone with professional ties to the CHRC itself) willing to sign his name to a piece of paper, claim he was offended, and then collect his cash winnings at the end of the process. The system was bogus and corrupt. But very few Canadians wanted to be seen as posturing against policies that were branded under the aegis of “human rights.”
That was then. Now, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the enabling legislation that permits federal human-rights complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet,” is doomed.
Good fucking riddance.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spanish Artist Prosecuted for Blasphemy


Add Spain to the disturbing trend of Western countries cowering to religious bullying. The long working Spanish artist Javier Krahe "has been taken to court by a Catholic legal association… for "offending religious feelings" - a little known offense. The Catholic association says the law has never before been applied in Spanish legal history."

And so again the supposedly established liberal value of free speech is eroded by this familiar acid, and the bullies are rewarded with propitiations and deference while the victims are punished.

Any law allowing for the prosecution of "offending religious feelings" sets up a de-facto privileged class, consisting primarily, at least in the Western world, of the two monotheisms Islam and Christianity (can you recall the last time you read of a Jewish-led blasphemy charge?).  Inevitably, that power will be abused by the religious to threaten their way to ever more robust inoculations from challenge and insult, all the while backed and legitimized by the state. 

I'm offended by a good portion of the tripe in Catholic doctrine, and by even more of Islamic doctrine, but I can't sue the churches for any offense caused to me. Nor can a rights activist sue a racist (at least not in the U.S., and rightly so), nor a capitalist a marxist.

What's obvious of the religious interests pushing for an internationally enforceable blasphemy resolution at the U.N. is one of two things. Either they don't foresee any complications by the fact that much of the three major religions are, definitionally, blasphemies against one another (will they be taking each other to court, en masse?); or that otherwise, with a wink and a nod, they agree to a sort of absurd mutual immunity to each other's "crimes."

There simply is no freedom of speech without license to offend. And the most important protections are those afforded to the offenders of Dogmas, be they of state or church. 

There exists no human right to unhurt feelings. Grow up.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sagan, Malick


Watching, or rather meditating, through the breathtaking Tree of Life, I could almost hear Sagan narrating the sublime, spine-crawling beauty and loneliness of the facts of our creation. Now, someone's gone ahead and made explicit what Malick's unrushed opening sequence implies, by pairing those five minutes with their equally visionary filmmaker soulmate.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Look at this mental barf.


This is what happens when quacks try to justify fake medicine.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rameny


I apologize for having conflated these things in your mind, forever.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm Not Holy

A running thread Andrew Sullivan has on the phenomenon of glories reminded me to share this truly awesome shot I managed to catch of myself inside of one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Storming the Citadel


From KulturFilms.

That Fraud, Julian Assange, Ctd

AFP Photo / Geoff Caddick
The indispensable Nick Cohen keeps a focus on the hypocrisies with which the megalomaniac continually soils himself and all who unthinkingly embrace him:
Assange allowed Israel Shamir, a genuinely sinister Holocaust denier, to take unredacted US State Department cables to Belarus. These were pure gold for Lukashenko’s KGB because they contained the names of opposition figures who had spoken to American officials. 
Shamir boasted in the far-left US magazine Counterpunch that Wikileaks had ‘revealed how… undeclared cash flows from the US coffers to the Belarus “opposition”.’ (His scare quotes.)
Lukashenko’s goons could not have been more appreciative. Shamir arrived in Belarus shortly after street protests against the dictator’s theft of the rigged 2010 general election. The KGB beat, arrested and imprisoned hundreds of demonstrators. The Belarusian state media said that Shamir had allowed the KGB to ‘show the background of what happened, to name the organizers, instigators and rioters, including foreign ones, without compromise, as well as to disclose the financing scheme of the destructive organizations’.
Among the figures the state press said Wikileaks had ‘exposed’ as America’s collaborators were Andrei Sannikov, widely regarded as the true winner of the election; Oleg Bebenin, Sannikov’s press secretary, who died in suspicious circumstances, as Lukashenko’s opponents are wont to do; and Vladimir Neklyayev, a writer and former president of Belarus PEN, who is now under house arrest.
Shamir’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories clearly did not bother Assange — in a furious phone call to the editor of Private Eye Assange claimed that Jewish journalists in Britain, several of whom weren’t Jews at all, were conspiring against him. He has also proved himself a loyal friend to post-communist autocrats — as he showed when he took a job on Russia Today — Putin’s English-language propaganda station.
Meanwhile Wikileaks’ grassing up of the Belarusian opposition is hardly a secret, although Assange tried to cover it up. When reporters and rebellious staff inside Wikileaks protested, Assange tried to pretend that Shamir had never worked for him. Privately Assange told Shamir that he could avoid embarrassment by working under an assumed name. When the BBC’s Panorama revealed Assange’s double-dealing, his lawyers accused the BBC of using stolen documents to expose their client — a priceless accusation for the apostle of openness to level after he had received 250,000 stolen US cables.

Saturday, February 18, 2012