Julian Assange: The Stainless Steel Rat by Mattokunobaka
Going through news stories this morning, I found one that had caught my eye: ‘Julian Assange to Appear in Court to Appeal’ , located at http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/12/13-13 . Having an interest in the case against Mr Assange, and especially the behavior of the United States towards him, I proceeded to read the report, when a certain passage suddenly leapt out at me…
“Meanwhile a dating site profile from 2007, supposedly created by Assange, had prompted by some lively online debate. The profile on the OKCupid site featured pictures of Assange, though gave the name Harry Harrison – who described himself as a “passionate and often pig- headed activist intellectual” who sought to change the world. He concluded: “Write to me if you are brave.” (emphasis mine).
I went to the site named and saved a screenshot of the page, located at http://www.okcupid.com/profile/HarryHarrison
(NOTE: as of 1.30pm today, OKCupid has removed the page from public view, requiring registration to view the page.)
While I was looking over the page, however, it suddenly hit me…I had a major key to his personality and the way his thought processes work. Quite simple, actually.
I’ll refrain from commenting on the case itself at this time, but I can clear up one little mystery: the nom de guerre or username on the OKCupid site. If the site is confirmed as his, as is likely, the pseudonym ‘Harry Harrison’ is entirely reasonable and to be expected, because it confirms that Assange is a fan of science fiction. And it’s a key to the mind of Julian Assange.
The author Harry Harrison wrote a series of science fiction novels about a character named James Bolivar deGriz, alias ‘Slippery Jim’, or ‘The Stainless Steel Rat’. The original novel was written in 1961; the last was published this year. I have the first five or so novels in my personal library, and they’re great favorites of mine.
deGriz lived in a future which had no crime, no wrongdoing, and was ultimately dull and boring. He refused to be a part of such a boring utopia. Thus he decided to give police something to do, and entertain the people, by performing fantastic feats of theft and other nonviolent crimes, while making the police look like fools. He was wanted by law enforcement across numerous solar systems, as well as by planetary governments, some with a price on his head.
(Sound familiar so far?)
Eventually, he was captured by (and joined) a supersecret intelligence organization, which solved difficult problems concerning societies on different worlds. Subsequent novels followed those assignments and adventures.
One sees from this admittedly sketchy description of the novels (by memory, I admit) that Julian Assange and Wikileaks serve as the ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ of the present. His ‘crimes’, if any, have been virtually nonviolent, leading ‘law enforcement’ (including the CIA) on a merry chase, while he transmits secret documents from corporations and governments around the world. He has done this successfully for some years now.
It’s evident that he identified intensely with the character of Slippery Jim deGriz from his first reading. Using the alias ‘Harry Harrison’ is therefore a tribute to the writer he idolizes. I don’t believe Harrison himself is aware of this, but the connection seems very clear to me. And yet, as a globetrotter, it’s possible that Julian Assange might have met Harry Harrison, even in disguise.
It’s also apparent to me that he not only determined to be our ‘Stainless Steel Rat’, but that—knowing he couldn’t do it alone—Wikileaks was built around the concept.
Assange, as a hacker, shows the independent, ‘antisocial’ and anarchist nature of deGriz, although his actions ultimately benefit society. Wikileaks (and Assange) have repeatedly thwarted past efforts to contain or stop them. They have repeatedly angered corporations and governments by disseminating information revealing corruption, lies or otherwise embarrassing material. Assange, although an Australian citizen, has no ‘home’ as such, moving from place to place. His support team are volunteers from diverse places. His equipment, funds and supplementary resources are likewise scattered. He has supporters across the world, much like some citizens of the fictional future who idolized James Bolivar deGriz.
Harrison’s deGriz was a master of disguise, and loved thumbing his nose at the cops, performing feats literally under their very eyes. Yesterday, I found this story: Assange attended US embassy party in Iceland at http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/72733,people,news,julian-assange-attended-us-embassy-party-in-iceland?DCMP=NLC-daily, dated December 13, 2010. It’s worth quoting at length…
By December 2009, Assange had received the US embassy cables, the Iraq war logs, a video of US helicopter pilots mowing down innocent Iraqis, and documents relating to the Afghanistan war, all of which were subsequently published on WikiLeaks.
Although he had already upset the US, Assange was the toast of Iceland at the time of the party, having published a secret report relating to the 2008 collapse of the country’s banks on WikiLeaks.
It was against this background that Assange apparently thought it would be amusing to go into the lion’s den. On the day of the ambassador’s reception, he didn’t even bother to wait for Jonsdottir before heading over to the US embassy.
Jonsdottir explains: “The irony was that I went to collect him from his guesthouse and couldn’t find him, so just went back to work and didn’t even go myself.
“I found out later he’d just decided to go on his own and got in by saying he was my guest. He said he’d spent a long time talking to Mr Watson.”
And, at this time, he was already being sought out by the government of the United States.
It would appear that the pattern holds. Assange’s boldness and behavior in this instance would mirror exactly the behavior of the deGriz of science fiction.
This analysis is only partial and, as I stated, sketchy. I do believe there are enough parallels that it offers an important insight into the mind and personality of Julian Assange.
It’s doubtful that the United States government would be aware of such important connections to understanding their ‘enemy’. Often political appointees, or even those of the traditional hierarchy, are ignorant of the subjects they are supposed to deal with. And events of the past ten years have confirmed that they do not understand whom they’re fighting very well, even now.
Such was the case with Michael D Brown, of Hurricane Katrina infamy (“Heckuva job, Brownie”), who was appointed head of FEMA under President Bush. He had no qualifications and no experience in Emergency Management. Prior to his assignment, he had been a Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.
I also remember reading a story some time later about a man assigned to head counterterrorism in the FBI. He admitted he knew nothing about Islam, and said something to the extent that it “wasn’t needed” for the job.
It’d seem to me that it’s difficult to fight something you don’t understand. Sun Tzu realized this some thousands of years ago when he wrote “The Art Of War”.
If this pattern has continued into the Obama Administration, then, I highly doubt they’ve made the connection I’ve described above. Imagination is not a quality associated with politics, in my opinion. Only fans of science fiction—probably the older ones—would even be aware of Harry Harrison’s novels, as I am.
If I am correct, I believe these are important clues to his personality of Julian Assange and the nature of Wikileaks itself.