Truth, Religion and Wikileaks

A must read today (or is it tomorrow?) from Brendan O’Neill at the Australian on the disturbing cultish mentality surrounding Wikileaks and Julian Assange:

The liberal worship of Assange is speedily becoming embarrassing and creepy. The respectable New Yorker looks on him as an otherworldly, spiritual force come to save us -“with his spectral white hair, pallid skin, cool eyes and expansive forehead, like a rail-thin being who has rocketed to earth to deliver humanity some hidden truth”.

This idea that Assange is the great revealer of “hidden truths”, like Moses descending the mountain with the commandments or Jesus offering pearls of wisdom on a hilltop, is widespread in the liberal media.

Veteran left-wing journalist John Pilger continually refers to him as “the truth teller”, which is a spectacularly naive and trusting approach for a supposedly critically minded journalist to take to one individual.

Many WikiLeaks worshippers seem to believe Assange’s motives are unimpeachably pure, utterly decent, as if there is no hint whatsoever of self-love or celeb-lust in his promotion of himself as a one-man army against the Great Satan that is the US.

Journalists who are normally cynical about everything are slavishly unquestioning of the politico-celebrity that is Assange.

Personally, I have a feeling that, for the press, cynically looking into the motivations of Julian Assange might hit a little too close to home, and in that vein Mr O’Neill continues:

It took an eccentric online journalist in the US to say out loud what the more respectable liberal press has only hinted at.

On AboveTopSecret.com, a cranky conspiracy theory site whose belief system is not a million miles away from WikiLeaks’, a contributor wrote: “Just like Jesus of Nazareth, Julian Assange had a mission to reveal the truth. Now, just like Jesus, he faces persecution and/or death on false and trumped-up charges.”

The idiotic idolisation of Assange reveals a great deal about what passes for liberal-left politics today. It shows that the flipside to profound cynicism is an equally profound naivety.

So in one breath Assange-backers indulge in the most bizarre breed of conspiratorial thinking, describing the West, and the US in particular, as a vast coven of wicked and faceless bureaucrats who act as puppeteers controlling politics and even our everyday lives from behind the scenes.

Yet when it comes to Assange, cynicism goes out the window, and the white-faced warrior for truth is treated in the most fawning fashion imaginable.

The secular beatification of Assange reveals the profound weakness of the left-wing political project today, which puts its hopes and aspirations into one man, who might – let us pray – deliver us into light. It’s a straightforward saviour complex dressed up as radical agitation. (Emphasis mine -ed.)

Actually, I don’t think this line of thinking is exclusive to the left. This same “saviour complex” can lead others to different conclusions, worshiping different “truth tellers” and they can be found on the left and right, too. Poor reasoning skills do not know a political affiliation. Mr. O’Neill finishes by highlighting this important distinction (with emphasis again mine):

Strikingly, it shows how utterly degraded the idea of truth has become. In celebrating Assange as a “truth teller”, as a prophet of truth, as a being who has arrived to “deliver humanity the truth”, the WikiLeaks worshippers are reverting to a pre-Enlightenment view of truth, to a view of truth as something that is revealed to us by powerful entities rather than as something we discover through political engagement, public debate and critical thinking.

This is truth as a religious-style revelation rather than truth as the endpoint of thoughtful interrogation. It reduces us to passive beings waiting to have our eyes opened and our heads filled by the heroic truth-revealer Assange.

In reality, it is only through engaging with the world and its problems, through gathering facts and objectively analysing them, that we can arrive at any truth worth its name.

It is through the process of investigation that the truth is uncovered and formulated, revealed by the critical act of discovering and thinking rather than by some mythical, external “truth-holder”.

Waiting for the truth to be revealed is always a fool’s errand.

All those whose critical faculties are still intact, and who care about real truth and real knowledge, should stand up and loudly blaspheme against the new secular religion of Assange and his apostles.

This is why a broad spectrum of people “right” and “left” have problems with Wikileaks and its supporters, and the only thing the media are doing with these gross religious analogies is painting themselves as irrational and unworthy of the public’s trust.

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