For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the video of the discussion between Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. It took place in London over the weekend and was produced by Frontline Club. The discussion is wide-ranging but one remark that really struck me was Assange observation of the importance of a city’s central square in democratic movements, that it’s the place where the people can witness their own numbers, their own majority in the face of a governments’ insistence that opposition is merely a minority of agitators. I thought of Vancouver’s stubborn avoidance over many decades of building a public square or central gathering place. This was quite deliberate—it is well documented—as a means of preventing large gatherings. Fortunately there exist intangible squares and plazas as well, online perhaps, but Assange’s discussion of the role of city squares in the Arab Spring is instructive.
Try to ignore Žižek’s manic fidgeting. He can’t leave his t-shirt alone.
Assange’s greatest hope for the future is “to see a more civilised world and to change the author George Orwell’s dictum that ‘he who controls the present controls the past.’ ” He says “by civilised I mean people collaborating to not do the dumb thing.” Via Frontline Club.
The only YouTube video showing the whole discussion is unfortunately quite lo res. To see the original at Democracy Now but it’s in a looping livestream format so you can’t scroll back and forward, which is frustrating. Let’s hope they embed a scrollable version of the video soon.
Also see this interview, in which when asked who his #1 enemy is (at about 12:00) he answers:
“Our #1 enemy is ignorance. And I believe it’s the #1 enemy of everyone, not understanding what is actually going on in the world. It’s only when you start to understand that you can make effective decisions and effective plans. Now, the question is who is promoting ignorance. Those organizations trying to keep things secret, and those organizations which distort true information to make it false and misrepresentative. In this latter category, it is bad media. It really is my opinion that the media in general are so bad, we have to question whether the world wouldn’t be better off without them altogether. They’re so distortive to how the world actually is, that the result is we see wars and we see corrupt governments continue on. One of the hopeful things that I have discovered is that nearly every war that has started in the past fifty years has been a result of media lies. The media could have stopped it, if they had searched deep enough, if they hadn’t reprinted government propaganda, they could have stopped it. But what does that mean? Well that means is that basically, populations don’t like wars and populations have to be fooled into wars. Populations don’t willingly and with open eyes go into a war. So if you we have a good media environment, then we also have a peaceful environment.”
Tags: Amy Goodman, cities, city square, corruption, Democracy Now, demos, dissent, Julian Assange, main square, media, philosophy, plaza, politics, propaganda, Slavoj Zizek, the polis, the square, Wikileaks