Assange Chris Hedges Original

Hedges: Assange Affirms the Existence of Another Kind of Human Nature

Beyond his great public service with WikiLeaks, it is his unwillingness to surrender his integrity and dignity that is key to understanding why the powers that be continue to crucify him.
Original illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges / A Statement made at the Belmarsh Tribunal in New York City

We know what Julian did. We know the great public service he provided. We know that he and WikiLeaks, aided by courageous figures such as Chelsea Manning, gave us the most important journalist coup of our generation, ripping back the veil erected by the ruling political, military, and financial elites to expose their mendacity, their corruption, and their crimes. We know that populations around the world, from Haiti to Tunisia, were empowered by this information to hold these elites accountable. 

But today I want us to reflect on Julian himself. For Julian, endowed with precocious skills, could easily have been someone else. He could have sold his talents to Silicon Valley, to Wall Street or to intelligence and surveillance agencies, who would have paid handsomely. He could have built a lucrative career, one where he was financially secure, perhaps wealthy. He could have obtained the possessions we are told in our consumer society we should aspire to, an opulent house, luxury cars, financial security, fine clothes, and the status that comes with material acquisition and advancement within the structures of power. No worries. No controversy. No persecution.

But to follow this route, a route many have followed, would have required Julian to surrender his integrity and dignity. It would have required him to forsake justice and freedom to suppress and control the aspirations of the vast majority locked outside the golden gates of privilege and power. It would have placed him within the interlocking systems designed by the ruling elites to concentrate privilege, wealth, and power among themselves. It would have required Julian to become a cog in the megamachine, to play a part in constructing our corporate totalitarianism. 

Julian chose not to do this.  He turned away from the siren call of success, at least as it is defined by the powerful. He set out on the difficult road taken by all who fight the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed. 

A life of meaning is a life of confrontation. When you resist radical evil you jeopardize your career, your reputation, your financial solvency and at times your life. It is to be a lifelong heretic. When you stand with the oppressed, the crucified of the earth, then you are treated like the oppressed. You too are crucified. And that is what is happening to Julian. 

Those that care the most, are targeted and killed by those who care the least. 

Prometheus, in defiance of the divine prohibition, gave fire to humankind, making possible knowledge, art, science, technology, and civilization. For his empowerment of mortals, the gods sentenced Prometheus to eternal torment. He was bound to a rock and an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, the emblem of power, ate out his liver by day. At night his liver grew back. The next morning it would be painfully torn out again in a never-ending cycle. Julian’s story is the modern version of this ancient myth.

Julian gave us knowledge and with that knowledge he gave us power. For this act of defiance, he will never be forgiven by those he exposed. 

Albert Camus writes that “one of the only coherent philosophical positions is revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it.” 

“A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object,” Camus warned. “But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.” 

Julian affirms the existence of another kind of human nature. He refuses to be classified as an object. His example calls upon us to confront radical evil, no matter the cost. To stand with Julian is to stand with yourself. To abandon Julian is to abandon yourself. And if you abandon yourself then your life becomes “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”

Juilan Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. Photo credit: David G Silvers
Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

31 comments

  1. Bless this man for showing us what truth is. For showing us true bravery. Let us Not forget him and remember ‘they’ are still out there. “They” have now created another war that may be our end. “They” don’t care for now “they” have their game to play and we’ll all be dragged into it . His end will be our end too.

    1. Nech Boh žehná a ochraňoje toho muža ďakujeme za pravdu a život

      [Google translate says: May God bless and thank the man for the truth and life]

  2. It’s abrupt to see your sunny face after traveling into the deep shadows of Camus, into the certainty that we’ve lost the light of consciousness if we’ve lost Julian Assange’s story. If we don’t care about him, who do we care about? Perhaps just for this news, can we have back your justifiably solemn demeanor?

  3. I’ve really been enjoy your thoughts lately. Especially the Ukraine pieces, and today’s philosophical piece on Asange and the path towards a meaningful life. Thank you!

  4. Yes. Well said Chris Hedges.

    The Rich who own everything want to nail Julian Assange on a cross.
    They want to make an example of him.
    There is nothing the Rich fear more than a Free Press.

    “Without a free press, there can be No Democracy”
    Thomas Jefferson

  5. This is one of the most beautiful tributes to another person I have ever read. Thank you for showing Julian Assange the way I and so many others see him and appreciate him.

  6. Julian’s courage is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. There is no moral leadership from our politicians, no reprieve from the brutish arrogance of his jailers — just an awful silence. Without truth we cannot navigate our lives. Watching the relentless torture of Julian Assange, it is hard to have hope.
    A moving commentary, Chris Hedges.

  7. Thank you Chris. No one could have said it better. in a way, you too are like Julian.
    This (and truth) is painful on all levels. Yet, what are we without the truth?

  8. The paranoid psychopaths who rule, are using Assange as a sacrificial lamb/warning/threat to any other journalists or Truth Tellers who might consider exposing the ruthless tactics of the MIC and their slimy political parasites.

  9. Assange and the others will go down in history as truthtellers, as heroes with integrity. The war criminal presidents and lawmakers, and the minions seeking riches while ignoring sovereignty will get their place in history as well. Their mendacity and hypocrisy comes screaming through their propaganda machinery loud and clear.

  10. It isn’t just what has and IS happening to our hero, Julian Assange. This silence, this anomie, has become a plague of epic proportions throughout our Western culture and society. People shrink away from genuine conversation. It’s as if there is little curiosity any longer about anything, let alone the real iggy biggies like purpose, where did Life come from and what is true Love.
    Humanity is not at rock bottom yet, although the ensuing hockey stick metaphor used by Michael Mann will rule the day soon enough.
    Few question, although Jesse Ventura encourages us all to “Question More”. Some of us have suffered lifelong isolation for our viewpoints. These POVs are simply ideas, thoughts expressed through words; i.e., talking points. That’s the key.

    For me, all of this, whether it’s been the scamdemic, where survival is @99.7% or the thug’s push into Ukraine, it’s a long list…is merely the last-ditch efforts by The Empire to sustain itself. Decline or collapse; those are mere semantics for a dying way of life. Will a phoenix rise?
    “Fear sells until you stop buying it.”

    1. @John Gabriel Otvos
      I agree, but it goes beyond shrinking away from genuine conversation. With only a few rare exceptions, I feel like I can’t have a lot of conversations with people any longer regarding certain issues, because they’re not only totally brainwashed and thus illogical regarding those issues, but they’ve also been conditioned to be so vehement in their baseless positions that I risk being ostracized from a group if I state my position. Russiagate, COVID-19 vaccines, the Kyle Rittenhouse self-defense claim, and now Putin/Russia are perfect examples of this. So I state my position as diplomatically as I can and then STFU. These are basically good people, formerly underground types (punk rockers, musicians, former radicals, etc.), who have been brainwashed to the extent that they now believe whatever the establishment tells them and act like they’ll fight to the death to defend the propaganda they’ve been fed.

  11. I m proud to be Australian because of Julian Assange and he should be Australian prime minister.

    1. I am ASHAMED to be Australian WHY? because Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a neo Con like John Howard will make sure Julian dies in Prison WE the supporters also will VOTE him out for sure

  12. That’s so funny. I was just thinking the other day that America IS Macbeth.

  13. Humanity’s true nature is evident in each human being. Two key implications: 1) We don’t need authority to illustrate human nature. 2.) It is each of our mandates to discover this evidence, and this process involves a.) discovering, first hand, among a number of available individuals, then b.) exchanging results among wider numbers of individuals to determine an overall verification of the hypothesis. There is abundant historical evidence, but istorical accounts of how birds fly are not helpful to birds. They must each learn to fly independently.

  14. Thanks, Chris.

    Whether we agree with Julian or not, we must understand that all views need to be considered. Was Julian a ‘reporter’ or a fabricator? I’d opt for the former, and (thus) praise his courageous journey.

    1. @Daedalus
      Assange wasn’t an opinion writer or columnist. He provided FACTS, often gleaned from hacking the systems of illegitimate entities like the CIA, KGB, and the Pentagon. There is and can be no question that he was a reporter. None of the facts that he provided were ever rebutted; instead, the establishment hacks launched personal attacks against Assange because they had no rebuttal. Wikileaks has never had to retract one story, which is infinitely better than any establishment media.

  15. Does your political vehicle feel a bit worn out in the fast lane of events? Sell it back to the British Government at WeBuyAnyWar.co.uk!
    If the Russians manage to suppress Ukraine, ( ‘haven’t seen the news for a few hours, is it over? ), the West will be casting about trying to find someone like Assange to leak news out from behind the area sealed off from cyberspace. All the while crowing like our conservative politician Liam Fox about two types of values. I think he mentioned ours, and theirs. Only we indulge a bit in regime change as well.
    And suppress our journalists. And use other nation’s disputes in which to check that our weapons work well enough to be marketable to the next conflict but one. But otherwise they may be in some way different.

  16. Julian Assange Sang…
    I must be free… I will be free
    You all are faithless, criminals… you jailed me…
    Afraid of facts which I searched-found…
    I am the Hero
    I am The Power … The Honesty…
    Justice of this century…
    Saving innocents from
    Godless political, unjust inhumanity…
    Face the facts and let me be free…
    Know well…even you kill me I will never die.
    I will rebreathe, Julian Assange…
    Who will sing journalist justice justly?
    Despite all the unfair-unjust traumatization faced…
    Sylva~MD~Poetry
    August 13, 2021

    Sylva Portoian-Shuhaiber,MD,MSc,MFPHM,FRCP.CH (UK)
    (Pediatrician & Poet)
    Winner of The Carnegie Poetry Prize, Spring 2009
    Twenty Historical Poetry Books in three languages globally
    and 10 medical articles in international journals including ‘The Lancet’.

  17. Julian Assange is the hero of our time – I just hope he doesn’t become a martyr…

  18. This is one of the best Hedges columns I’ve ever read, and this kind of thing why I place him among the top media people of our day. To phrase this another way, Hedges is saying that Assange is more mentally and spiritually evolved than the average person, the latter of whom would succumb to material desires and opt for working for the evil establishment. Shedding desires and tamping down one’s ego in order to expand one’s consciousness are the highest aspirations one can have and the only true calling for humans.

    Lack of spiritual and mental evolution is the root cause of virtually all if not all problems on Earth. People like Hedges point this out in their own ways, and this is needed more than anything else in journalism.

  19. This was another great piece by my favorite writer!
    I was just thinking of how the silence in the Corporate Media has been deafening when it comes to Julian Assange’s fate.
    Where is the coverage?! Remember when he released the first trove of documents?
    He was a huge story. Now he is a giant nothing.
    It is so cruel and cowardly that the journalists who covered his story when he was up are nowhere to be found when he is at absolute rock bottom.
    Only John Piler and Chris Hedges have the heart and soul to cover what has become of one of the greatest figures of our generation.
    I for one would like to see an interview with Julian which casts a spotlight on the miserable conditions he is being subjected to in JAIL…..for what crime?!!
    Reminds me of the FREEDOM CONVOY story which is now DEAD
    https://andrewteasdale.substack.com/p/piece-off-the-pressdear-corporate?s=w

  20. Assange is a victim of extra territorial power that currently typifies the elimination of citizenship in the West. He is essentially in prison, for ever, as a result of manipulations between governments, none of which has the right to imprison him without trial, but collectively have that power. He is trapped by the fear of what will happen to him if he is extradited to the US, into endless imprisonment as he resists extradition.

    This is similar to how we are supposed to be free from government privacy violations, but under the 5 eyes we spy on each other’s citizens, and then trade the intelligence. Or how borders were used during COVID to force citizens to vaccinate. Or how signing international treaties takes realms of law outside national borders. Or how employment progress is broken by globalization, or inmigration. Or how more privacy is destroyed by international data transfers to corporations like Google and Facebook.

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