Rape Charges Against Julian Assange: How Should Revolutionaries Speak?

 

by Mike Ely

Let's get into it. Let's excavate what is right and wrong. Let's represent what we believe: that people need to stand against the abuse and mistreatment by the powerful, and let's unravel how to do that in this complex (and still unclear) situation.

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Julian Assange is defamed all over the world by governments and authorities. Chilling calls for his execution and/or assassination are heard from the always-vengeful American right -- who finger him as "a high-tech terrorist."

And then, in the midst of the massive U.S. diplomatic scandal caused by Wikileaks, Assange is arrested in London based on charges that he sexually abused two women in Sweden -- forcing them into non-consensual sex.

It all seemed a bit over convenient (for the U.S. prosecutors who were scrambling for something serious to pin on Assange). And there were quickly arguments (and assumptions) that the rape charges were (probably? certainly? clearly?) bogus.

Björn Hurtig, who is representing Julian Assange in Sweden, said documents, which form part of the official Swedish investigation, reveal both women had "hidden agendas" and lied about being coerced into having sex with  Assange.

The Italian News Agency RAI News-24 and the Cuban Prensa Latina offered up reports of a CIA connection of one of Assange's accusers (a "Cuban woman" of name "Anna Ardin") and her alleged anti-Cuban activities. The RAI article has the headline "Anna, accusatrice di Assange, 'spia della CIA'."

 

There are additional stories circulating (that it wasn't real rape but "sex by surprise," that it was about a refusal to wear a condom, or about a broken condom, that one of the women slept with him later a second time, that the alleged victims had texted positive statements about the sexual encounters, and so on.

All that dovetailed with many "what do you expect" assumptions among leftists, and quickly became part of a widely circulated narrative i.e. that the charges against Assange were bogus and invented by pro-U.S. forces to run Assange to ground and turn public opinion against Wikileaks. And, of course, U.S. imperialism does (shamelessly) smear those they want to destroy, and have made a science of disinformation designed to divide potential allies and isolate their targets.

At the same time, a skeptical response to the rape charges has given rise an angry protest -- that (once again) women charging rape are themselves being treated as predators, that their allegations are too quickly doubted and discarded, that the women involved are being "thrown under a bus" by  a pragmatic rush to verdicts -- and that an important leftist man is being cynically and prematurely excused of what may be serious and repeated violations of women. (And i have been thinking over particularly things recently written by Suzy Subways in a powerful and pointed way.)

Everyone here understands that Wikileaks (and their sources) has performed a tremendous service to humanity -- and broken new ground -- by revealing the secret workings of empire. Dozens of running dogs of imperialism are now running for cover, yelping at the exposure.

 

As we explore the revelations, and as we join the protests in defense of those targeted -- lets talk for a moment about how to discuss the rape allegations. It is a painful but important topic.

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Thanks to Kassie H. for pointing this out. It originally appeared on Hand Mirror blog.

Rape myths and Julian Assange

by Maia

 

I don't want to write about Julian Assange or the rape charges he is facing. I don't speak Swedish, a lot of the material in English misrepresents the Swedish legal system and. I don't have time to unpack all that.

However, I need to write about the way people have been talking about these rape charges. A facebook friend (who is political enough to know better) quoted from a a Daily Mail article* "The prosecution's case has several puzzling flaws, and there is scant public evidence of rape or sexual molestation."

Most women who have been raped had little public evidence of their experience. By repeating these rape myths in defence of Julian Assanger people are attacking not just the women involved, but other women who have been raped and had their experiences dismissed. They are also contributing to a culture where rape is denied, minimised, and distorted.

Left-wing defenders of Julian Assanger have been using rape-myths over and over again (as have his right-wing defenders, although they will not be the focus of this post). I think it's both disgusting and unnecessary to uphold rape-culture to defend Julian Assanger. I want to explain why.

"There is scant public evidence of rape or sexual molestation." As opposed to what? Is the person who stated this really arguing that usually there is an abundance of public evidence of rape? It's a ludicrous statement, but a damaging one. Because while the antithesis of 'scant public evidence' sounds ridiculous when it is spelled out, it has a lot of power when it's implied: women's statements about their experiences cannot be public evidence and cannot be relied upon. "No-one will believe you" - rapists say that to women and women say that to themselves. So many of the repsonses to Assange's case give that statement more weight, more power - they tell women all over the world "No-one will believe you."

Then there's the idea that some women are unrapeable. People uphold this rape myth if they describe some characteristic of a woman - most often, but not only, that she's a sex worker - as evidence that she wasn't raped, and can't be raped. The left-wing version of this du jour appears to be that one of the accusers had connections with the CIA. But there's a problem with this women who have had contact with the CIA, even CIA agents, can be raped.

There's a huge difference between stating "She has X Y and Z connections with the CIA. If she was working for them then this may be a set up." and "She has CIA connections you know." One is making the argument - the other is constructing some women as unrapeable.

Added to this we get a re-run of the Polanski trial and an argument that what happened to these women isn't 'rape-rape'. People were running these lines, before they even knew what the charges are. The charges are actually really clear cut: he had sex with one woman while she was asleep, and he didn't stop when another woman said stop. It doesn't require a very in depth and complex understanding of consent to understand that that is rape. But there is a constant narrative that anything other than stranger rape where force is used is somehow a lesser form of rape. That narrative is really damaging to rape survivors.

But I think that defenders of Julian Assanger do the most damage when they construct a way that rape victims behave and imply that the woman involved isn't acting like a rape victim: she tweeted about him, or she seemed happy, or she saw him again.

I lose it at this point. There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act. Seriously. If you don't know this then you have no right to say a word about rape.

It does so much harm to so many women, the idea that there's a way that rape victims act. It's not just some idea that you're spinning off into cyber-space. It's something that women who are going through trauma have to struggle through - their own, and other people's expectations of how they should be behaving. And it doesn't stop - the idea of the acceptable behaviour of a rape victim gets used as a weapon again and again.

Most rape myths are about women, about attacking suvivors of rape, discrediting them trashing them - and there's been a lot of that. But some are about men John Pilger said that he had a very high regard for Julian Assange. And? The rhetorical rapist - the scary man, who no-one holds in high regard - is a weapon that is used against actual victims of rape all the time.

And what is most ridiculous about this spreading of rape myths by left-wing supporters of wikileaks is that these myths are completely unnecessary to stand in solidarity with the wikileaks project.

It is states and companies that are attacking Wikileaks and Julian Assange, not two women. It is perfectly possible to criticise the actions of prosecuters, interpol, judges and government's without invoking rape myths.

Believing the women, or at least not disbelieving the women, does not mean that you have to stop criticising the way the (in)justice system operates or decide that that wikileaks is a bad project.**

The rape myths are unnecessary, and damaging. By repeating rape myths, you give them power. Doing so doesn't just hurt the women involved, but strengthens rape culture, and makes it harder for many, many, many other rape survivors.

Stop it.

* If you must look at it yourself the link is here - but no good ever came of reading the Daily Mail.

** On the other side of this, having a feminist analysis of rape does not necessitate accepting that the (in)justice system prosecuting rape is a victory for rape culture. I think these are actually flip sides of hte same argument, and brownfemipower has made some really interesting points about the limits of posts like this one.

 

 

People in this conversation

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    This is a powerful indictment of rape culture and a call to be bravely dialectical: we can condemn rape and support the Wikileaks exposures.

    At this point the bottom-line is that we know little or nothing about the truth of the rapes. At this level ofinformation, it seems to be a revolutionary stand to support Wikileaks, oppose the clamdown targeted at Wikileaks and espionage generally, and come out forcefully and declare if the rape charges are true, revolutionaries condemn those acts as violence against women.

    I agree with Maia's point: it is just too damn reflexively easy to discard charges of rape. It comes with the ari we breathe and the water we drink in a misogynist culture. Yes, in this case it appears suspiciously convenient to smear Assange and in the process smear Wikileaks more generally; yet shouldn't our ears begin vibrating and our hearts open and our anger also include the possibilty that rape may very well be involved?

    It is upside down for revolutionaries to not entertain the possibility that Assange is a rapist and that part of our stand is with the women who charge that he is.

  • Guest - Gary

    For background on this obvious set-up I recommend this:

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/12/07/julian-assange-in-the-honey-trap/

  • Guest - Seamus

    There' so much one could write about this topic so i will just make a few points . Maia writes that ''CIA women can be raped ''.
    Yeah as can fascists, Corporate CEO's , Women cops etc . But that comment leaves me puzzled . If one of the women had strong CIA/SAPO (Swedish Intell. ) ties then the obvious conclusion is that this '' CIA Woman '' wasn't raped That she was part of a '' Honey trap '' operation that Every Spy agency and (even clandestine revolutionary orgs ) have used in various ways and to varying degrees thruout history .
    And While I don't read Swedish either it does appear that laws in Sweden do have a exceptionary broad definition of what constiutes rape . One i might add that if consisently applied probably would put not only a huge number of Heterosexual men in prison but many Gay men and not a few women . Why ? If not using a condom, or ''ripping it off '' during intercourse , is ''rape '' then any woman who lies about her contraception to a man before sex in the hope of becoming pregrant is a ''rapist '' !
    That is in that reality challenged view of sexual relations . And yet me remind Kasama readers of something that was often said during Clinton's non -scandal scandal ' EVERYONE Lies at one time or another about Sex '' !
    But this bullshit diversion aside where does Maia or RW Harvey stand on the current imprisonment of Julian Assange ? Do you want him held to answer for his alleged crimes in a Swedish court or do you want him freed immediately ?
    I think that every radical, LIbertarian, Consistent Liberal or Social democrat, and certainly any revoluntary should support the latter .

  • [<b>moderator note:</b> We are going to have a substantive discussion of this difficult subject. And our moderators will be particularly strict to make sure. Calling the question of rape a "bullshit diversion" is not in keeping with our approach -- please make an extra effort here.]

  • Guest - a girl

    @Gary,

    "<i>Honey trap</i>"?!?! Seriously?!

    It's nice to know that all corners of the internet are filled with the kind of misogyny that caused me to leave radical activist organizations.

    <blockquote><i>"Ardin also claims Assange used the weight of his body to keep her immobilized – being a feminist, she likes to be on top."</i> </blockquote>

    I had to stop reading after that line, being a feminist rape and sexual abuse survivor myself. As Maia said above, there is no one true way that sexual abuse survivors behave. After my first rape, I partied for three months straight- attempting to drink the horrible memories away. I lied and fake-smiled to all my friends and family during the time of my abusive relationship, because my abuser was also my pimp at the time and I really needed the cash they provided.

    I fully realize that Interpol would never have gone after Julian Assange the way they did had he not been behind Wikileaks. But that's not really the point. Neither is whether the accusations are true or not. The point is how rape myths are perpetuated in various radical circles. Personally, I would never involve the legal system in my abuse cases because I believe it is seriously flawed and unjust. However, reactions like yours and Justin Raimondo, the author of the piece you linked to, are why I would never come out publicly about my assaults. I have no proof of what they did. I did not "act like a rape or domestic abuse survivor" during or after my trauma, whatever the fuck that means. All I know is that I will probably be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of my life and that everywhere I turn, there will be rape apologist men [or women] making me feel like shit for having survived.

  • Guest - Radical Eyes

    A quick factual question: Does anyone know what the specifics of the allegations are concerning the use of "body weight/immobilization"?

    (I do think that Raimondo's anti-feminist joke(s) is/are in very poor taste and uncalled for; though overall his article is still a good one and worth reading.)

  • Guest - dave x

    I would regard myself as being a strong defender of both Wikileaks and Assange and I absolutely agree with both Maia and Harvey. I think the left response of repeating rape myths, making light of rape, dragging the women's character through he dirt is a disgusting way of responding to this. At the same time I recognize that these charges inspire a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in people. People don't think it is possible for someone to have done the great and noble things the Julian Assange has done -and- be a rapist and so they have to eliminate one side of the equation - either Wikileaks is bad or a CIA or Zionist plot or else the rape victims are bad, part of a CIA plot, etc. However it -is- possible, human beings are very complex, they are capable of doing both great and horrible things simultaneously. Just a few examples - Norman Mailer, a great novelist and leftist cultural figure how took a strong stance against imperialist war - yet he was also a violent misogynist. Kant - a great enlightenment figure and a theorist of human equality and dignity and yet he left all those noble ideas behind when it came to non-european peoples. Or Thomas Jefferson, again a man passionate with some very noble ideas but also at the same time a slaveowner and a rapist. Dostoevsky, was one of the greatest writers who ever lived who wrote novels with amazing psychological insight yet for the latter half of his life he was also hardcore reactionary crackpot. Marx was one of the greatest revolutionaries and theorists of oppression that ever lived yet it would not be hard to argue that some of his relationships with women were, let us say, ethically questionable. It is hard for most people to hold onto the complex realities of human life and character and not try and dismiss one side or the other.

    It seems very hard to see how justice can happen in this matter. The justice systems of imperialist countries like the US, Britain and Sweden reflect imperialist interests. Thus it seems highly unlikely that Julian Assange will get a fair trial. On the other hand whether he is convicted or not the two women will have their names run through the mud as well. It is difficult to see any particularly happy conclusion to the situation, basically the politics surrounding it have made that impossible. At a political level defending wikileaks and Julian Assange from imperialist attack seems vital, by the way the imperialists have reacted they have revealed what a threat this is to them. So I think we should focus on the politics to the extent that that is possible. I think we should simultaneously assume innocence of Julian Assange (a matter of principle, no charges have been proved), not dismiss the charges or denigrate the women who made them (since we should refuse as a matter of principle to dismiss the experiences of rape victims), and be very skeptical of the way that these charges have been brought and handled and the judicial process in this case in general (since they seem to bear the marks of politically motivated pressure). This is a complicated position, probably easier to get wrong than right, but I don't see how else to do justice to a complex reality.


    I will say that on a gut level I sort of believe both sides. Assange is obviously not neurotypical, he is a very gifted person somewhere on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum, which explains his obsession with technology and his seemingly superhuman commitment to truth, justice, etc. People like this often aren't very good at picking up social cues, reading body language, etc and sometimes this results in awkward or unfortunate outcomes in social situations and personal relationships. Was this a factor (in this strangely complex and ambiguous case)? I don't know, but as someone with a similar psychological profile I could see it happening.

  • Guest - Denis

    Before getting or angst ridden the problem is what should you do? Oppose the charges against Assange or supportbthem? That's the divide not being addressed. You either engage with the world wide movement in support of the guy or pass on it...maybe even actively oppose it.

    I think there is a huge problem with not supporting the campaign -- one that goes to the heart of civil liberties. Any leftist who refuses to sign on has to have their credentials questioned.

    But what if the guy is a rapist? But hang on, isn't rape an issue of such importance that we cannot afford it to be cheapened by this cynical political usage? And it is being used...

    Similarly there is no way on earth that either Assange or these women are going to have a fair day in court.

    Wanking on about due process is too late. We cannot resolve the abysmally small level of prosecutions for rape by laying the deal on Assange. This is the very worst context for a 'test case'.

    To then turn on those who support Assange and wave over them the specter ruling that they are all dedicated male chauvinists and misogynists is, not only extremely objectionable , but unnecessarily divisive.

    Granted that there has been some sexist narrative on the issue but it is disingenuous in the extreme not
    to concede that in this case -- IN THIS CASE -- the prospect of a set up is a possible scenario.

    And I'm sorry to say that supporting Wikileaks can NOT be separated from supporting Assange. We do not have that leeway.

    He may be dedicated rapist who spends his whole life screwing by force but I could be too ...but who gives a fuck about me? Assange at 39 years of age coincidentally during the very same weeks of the Wikileaks expo see suddenly and consciously rapes two -- two separate -- women over two nights in Sweden.

    This happens, and my impulse to question the women's veracity is challenged because I,m a guy!?

  • Guest - NSPF

    "This happens, and my impulse to question the women’s veracity is challenged because I,m a guy!?"

    Do you think there is no connection whatsoever between a man's IMPULSE to question the women's veracity and misogyny in a man's world?

  • Guest - NSPF

    Let me rephrase my question.

    Does you think there is no connection whatsoever between men’s IMPULSE to question the women’s veracity and misogyny in a man’s world?

  • Guest - Seamus

    To respond to Mike Ely ; No i do not consider ''Rape ''to be a 'bullshit diversion '', I do consider accusations like the ones leveled at Assange to not be credible . And the fact that women made those charges against him makes no difference . Anymore than it would if it was a female Israeli Defence force officer who ordered the firing on unarmed Palestinian teenagers or a Woman corporate exec that callously plans to break a Union, fire workers for attempting to organize one , or covers up the dumping of Toxic waste .
    Once again Should Assange be freed ? Now ? I think any sincere leftist would say Hell yes .
    PS Re ''Honey trap'. It no doubt is a old fashioned and sexist term . But it isn't exclusively used re women . Marcus Wolf the famous leader of the East German AVH inflitrated every level of the West German Govt, using both Male and Female operatives Straight and Gay .

  • Guest - Maia

    Thanks for the link and republication!

    I think I've said most of what I have to say on this issue, I won't repeat myself in response to Seamus.

    The one aspect that I didn't cover and I think is important here - is that Assange =/= wikileaks. I think that one of the dangers of substituting an individual for a movement or an organisation is that people can be a lot more vulnerable/faliable than the movements they are representing.

    <blockquote>Before getting or angst ridden the problem is what should you do? Oppose the charges against Assange or supportbthem? That’s the divide not being addressed. You either engage with the world wide movement in support of the guy or pass on it…maybe even actively oppose it.</blockquote>

    Why would there be a world wide movement in support of one person - when the issue is about the releasing the cables, and there is another person in jail more directly because of the cables. If political support for wikileaks is focused around Assange that's a mistake, and not just because two women have stated that he's raped them.

  • Guest - dave x

    Maia,
    Liked you piece. I agree when you say:

    "I think that one of the dangers of substituting an individual for a movement or an organisation is that people can be a lot more vulnerable/faliable than the movements they are representing."

    I do think however that the issues of Assange and Wikileaks are pretty tightly linked at this point, for good or ill, in the minds of both the imperialists and the public. At this point, supporting Wikileaks entails supporting Assange though I don't think that means denying the possibility of his guilt. Of course Assange isn't everything that is going on, this exceeds him, but he is currently very much at its center. Any defense of Wikileaks that misses that will be, I think, inadequate.

  • Guest - Nat W.

    @ RW Harvey

    "It is upside down for revolutionaries to not entertain the possibility that Assange is a rapist and that part of our stand is with the women who charge that he is."

    This argument does not sit well with me. It is complicated. While it is true that charges of rape should not be so easily dismissed by revolutionaries, it is also the case as some have mentioned that the charge of rape can be used as an instrument to smear the name of someone who has done something harmful to the powers that be. In a less political sense rape can sometimes be charged as a means to gain personal wealth, as when it is charged against a famous athlete or artist.

    I understand that is controversial to say such things, though I think that these things happen in society even while actual rape is extemely prevelant and ubiquitious.

    My point and my disagreement with Harvey is that we should automatically take a stand for the women who charge rape. On the contrary, we should take the charges very seriously and then very seriously explore the facts and evidence pertaining to the charges. We cannot deny that Assange's position make him vulnerable to these types of charges at the same time we can't deny that these charges may be true.

    It is certainly wrong to attack the women who charge rape. To attack their character, their way of dress, their "flirtiness" etc. That is clear. However, I think it is also wrong when we are talking about people in the public sphere, to assume that charges of rape are certainly true and the accuser must be supported without gathering all the facts surrounding the case. If we were to immediately support the accuser every time rape was charged then this would open the way up for easy villification of people on false grounds without any investigation.

    Therefore we should support investigation of the charges as serious charges and resist attempts to smear the reputation and character of the accuser. We should not immediately stand with the accuser as though we already know her accusations are true simply because they were spoken.

    Rape is a heinous crime and people should be mobilized to resist it. At the same time it is a real thing that the charge of rape can be used as an instrument to discredit the character of someone. There is the possibility that the chargs against Assange are true, however it is also possible that they are bogus. We should take them seriously, as we take rape and all expressions of patriarchy and misogny seriously. We should not jump to conclusions either about Assange or about the accuser in this type of a case. We should be dialectical materialists. Our stand should be for uncovering the truth.

  • Guest - Seamus

    I will keep it simple . Julian Assange is previously being held in isolation in a British prison . He almost certainly certainly will be extradited to Sweden . Then they might drop the charges but immediately re arrest him on a '' espionage ''warrant from the US.
    If he's sent back here they will probably be able to convict him and sentence him to 20 yrs to Life. It's far easier for prosecuters to get a conviction than it was during the time of the Pentagon papers case .
    SO Maia , RW Harvey, Editor Mike E Whomever PLEASE answer this question : Should he be freed immediately (as should of course Bradley Manning )or do you think he should be held until the sterling incorruptible Swedish Govt. decides what to do with his fate ?
    You may hate to admit it but there are sides here on this issue . Please choose one .

  • Guest - Seamus

    Correction; I meant to write '' presently '' not ''previously ''.
    BTW I happen to have a conversation last night with several of my Union brothers and sisters re this case .
    They all agreed on the following :
    1. That the Swedish case is a frame up . As one brother crudely put it '' Now He (Assange ) does deserve a kick in the ass by his comrades for being so stupid . When you know they are really out to get you , You better keep it in your pants ! "'.
    2. The Union women both thought genuine rapists were scum and that the crime was under reported . One Commented '' I am against the death penality . But if some rapist got stuck (stabbed ) in the prison I wouldn't lose sleep ''.
    3. But that , if accurately reported, the Swedish legal defination of '' rape '' is way too broad and sweeping .'As one sister (only partly _ joked '' If every asshole I ever regreted going to bed with was locked up there would be a whole cell block dedicated to me ! ''
    Receiving Loud raucous laughter by the others present .
    4. Every Human has the capacity to lie . The absurd idealistic fantasy by some feminists that there no false charges of rape , that a ''sister' would never lie . is pretty crazy . Also Sex has always been used as a weapon to discredit those whom the authorities want a to silence. As one brother commented '' Look at Dr. KIng . The FBI tried to use the fact that he was screwing around to discredit him . Fortunely our community (African -American ) wasn't going for that nor were the white civil rights folks . But if it happened today ? I don't know , some fools might join the lynch mob ''.
    The women present all agreed though one said '' But Dr, KIng probably caught hell from Coretta (Coretta Scott KIng ) when he got home !
    All off the cuff remarks after a couple of beers . Not from Feminist or Marxist scholars . Just some thoughts from a group of Blue collar workers who do listen to Pacifica instead of Rush Limbaugh . Who mainly use the web for On line shopping and ''social networking '' but sometimes will check out political websites .
    But a helluva a lot more astute and in touch with reality than some on this thread .

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    My, oh, my. Let's see if we can clear the detritus away a little bit.

    First: no one said women don't lie and that these rape charges must be true because of that.

    Second: No one said Assange was absolutely guilty of rape.

    Third: We do not have to choose between either supporting Wikileaks or blindly supporting Assange concernng the charges of rape -- this linkage is completely undialectical.

    If anyone has any doubt about the power of sex in human life (individually and collectively), one only needs to read Freud. The only thing Maia said (and clearly, given the reactivity by some on this tread it was a damn big ONLY) was that it is misogynist to capriciously dismiss charges of rape in this case. And, wow, did that smack the hornets nest.

    There are questions beyond Assange and Wikileaks attempting to surface here. What is being revealed in this thread is two things: One, that questions concerning rape, sexuality, women and men are such hot-button in the ranks of revolutionaries (of course, we are not divorced from society) that erupt because we think it is really a secondary or tertiary contradiction. And two, that immediately polarizing between Wikileaks is good so to impugn Assange erases the power of Wikileaks is ridiculously undialectical. Frankly, it is cowardly as well, in the sense that when revolutionaries fear complexity and contradiction they are on the road to a dogmatic, uni-dimensional approach to reality.

    Lastly, we are invited by the events of Wikileaks to fan the flames of what these cables expose, to assert that the act of releasing these cables is in the service of the world's people, and to demand the release of Manning and Assange.

    If Assange is jailed for rape charges, then we must be vigilant to see how that plays out. If it turns out that he is guilty (and this is complex and will bear watching and analysis as well), then we will condemn those acts forcefully (and not simply shake our heads and tsk-tsk that he should've kept it in his pants).

    Until then, let us turn our afforts to really meeting the complexities and the contradictions. We have much to learn here about what Wikileaks exposes and about the revolutionary struggle to end the oppression of women.

  • Guest - Seamus

    IF i understand RW correctly he (she ? Uncertain about Gender ) does call for freedom for both Manning and Assange.

    Some progress at least .

  • Guest - Nat W.

    @ RW Harvey,

    You are claiming that arguments are undialectical but not really claiming which arguments or why and I don't see what is dialectical about what you are saying. For one, yes it is wrong to belittle the nature of rape as if it didn't matter what Assange did or that Assange couldn't be guilty. On the other hand it would be wrong to abandon our support for Assange now based solely on allegations. If the allegations turn out to be true that is another matter completely.

    I agree with you three points RW, though in my imo by raising these extreme arguments imo you are throwing up something that is not a real issue or at least is the weakest type of argument to be made against you.

    Yes charges of rape are serious allegations, though it does matter who alleging them. To ignore that is undialectical and caving into an enemy trick. Of course we should declare the unacceptable of rape and oppression against women in all forms within our movement, however, the other side of the equation needs to be noted. Remember for instance how Mao's sex life is greatly exaggerated by bourgeois biographers to paint a distasteful picture of him. Remember the accusations against Daniel Ellsberg that he had sex with his wife in front of their kids. The enemy has used sex before to discredit, and in that sense yes it is an explosive and powerful thing in human life.

    By being dialectical I am saying we should understand how sex is used by the enemy in our history, to divide us as it seems to being now. At the same time we should state clearly that if Assange is guilty then he should be disciplined by our movement (whatever that means). We should not abandon him without all the facts and an understanding of how the enemy has used sex in history and we should be clear that we don't stand for these actions even amongst our most treasured leaders.

    If Maia is only addressing the misogynous ways in which some on the left have rallied to Assange's defence then yes it is valuable to point such things out. We should be clear on what we are for and what will not be tolerated. If their is claim that as soon as an allegation is made no matter the circumstances that we should "stand" with the accuser (and that is what RW suggests) against Assange, then to me that is negative form of identity politics which may sound righteous, but imo, that is exactly what the enemy (not the accuser necessarily but the state) wants us to do. So yes, lets investigate and form a correct verdict ourselves, but lets not abandon a man (who is responsible for doing something extremely important and self sacrificing) before we have the facts simply on the basis of the charges or on the identity of the accusers. That would be incorrect and imo undialectical. Perhaps we are talking past one another and both throwing up strawmen and really our positions are qutie similar, RW, though I think the history of how sex is used by the enemy is important to acknowledge, it is not enough to just be high sounding on the question of womens' oppression without analysis of everything that can possibly be at play especially when an important comrade is under attack. Of course that then goes into Maia's point about a movement being so identified with a certain leader, a very valid point of discussion, though not the reality we have been dealt so far. I'll stop my rambling now.

  • Guest - Nat W.

    Here's a problem that is only in part a hypothetical. Suppose there is never evidence to come out that will either prove Assange's innocence or guilt. We have the accusers on the one hand standing by their story. He have Assange on the other maintaining his innocence. Here's the hypothetical. If Assange was in an organization which included those in this discussion and he continued to declare that he was innocent and the evidence was not clear. All we have are the accusers who declare his guilt and he who declares he is not guilty. And we have the history of what he has done, sacrificing his personal safety for the struggle. WHAT THEN WOULD BE OUR POSITION ON ASSANGE IN REGARDS TO HIS PARTICIPATION IN OUR ORGANIZATION? I don't know the answer to this, but it seemed to me to be an important question on how we look and react to this. THIS DOES NOT DISREGARD THE CONTENT OF HOW WE ADDRESS THE ACCUSATIONS LINGUISTICALLY AND POLITICALLY WHICH IS WHAT I STRONGLY AGREE WITH IN MAIA'S ARTICLE.

  • Guest - Nat W.

    @ Mike E.

    I'm just curious as to what it means when RW says we may have to "stand" with the accusers. At a certain point if the facts point to Assange's guilt then yes. But now? I'm not intending to a present a binary choice. I apologize if that't to way it comes out but if you read what I say I think it is clear what I am saying. I'll try to make it blunt right now. WE SHOULD BE CLEAR ON OUR OPPOSITION TO RAPE AND FORMS OF VIOLENCE AND OPPRESSION AGAINST WOMEN PERIOD. WE SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT IF ASSANGE IS GUILTY THAT HE SHOULD BE DISCIPLINED (somehow) BY OUR MOVEMENT. AT THE SAME TIME WE SHOULD EXPOSE HOW SEXUAL MISCONDUCT HAS BEEN USED BY THE ENEMY TO DISCREDIT AND DIVIDE THE MOVEMENT. FINALLY WE SHOULD HOLD OUT OUR VERDICT (I realize we are in agreement about that) UNTIL THERE IS CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT ASSANGE IS GUILTY.

    This is a clear position, though I don't think it offers a binary. I do think that the arguments being posed on both sides were binary, so maybe I won't win. I do think that by saying what I did that I helped RW to clarify what he was saying. I also think I may have misread Maia's article on my first read. It is necessary to look at how we react to accusations of things like rape by the enemy and not do so in some pretty strong misogynist ways. At the same time I think based on the evidence we have now combined with Assange's heroism,putting his body on the line for the struggle, we can support him (as a comrade, individual, whatever) as long as he declares his innocence and we don't have the evidence.

    Mike and RW maybe you agree with this, maybe not, but it wasn't crystal clear to me at first. I hope it is clear to you that I am not saying if you don't reject allegations of rape against a comrade than you are foolish (or whatever negative comes to mind). I am not rejecting them myself.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    Hey Nat, I think there is some talking past each other.

    The undialectical part as I see it is that we are being knee-jerk to polarized directions: either stand with Assange no matter what, or stand with those claiming rape and distance ourselves from the power of Wikileaks.

    That we may desire clear-cut answers and directions as to how we would/should respond in this situation is undestandable; it is not, however, fearlessly approaching the complexities within this unfolding situation.

    Again, we need only consult Freud and Foucault on the power of sex in human affairs, in all its beauty and all its tragedy. Eros is the most complex and intricate part of the life force; as such it will, under revolutionary society, need to be de-Puritanized (and that's just the beginning -- and tht is also another discussion.

    @ Seamus: I am glad you see progress; I hope also you see that I wrote that if Assange is a rapist then condemnation must also be forthcoming.

  • Guest - Jim Sanders

    Thanks to Kasama for hosting this discussion.

    I'm very pleased to see revolutionary women speaking up on the subject.

    I fully agree with the support wikileaks AND stand strong against sexual violence line.

    This is being made about the character of Julian Assange and the women who have come forward with these allegations for a reason. It makes great cover for the empire.

    As Maia has pointed out, Julian Assange is not wikileaks. The cult of the individual distracting from a movement is nothing new and yet we can't give in to it.

    Julian Assange is celebrated for his role in wikileaks. As leftists we don't want to see him as the man he is accused of being. As feminists (hell, as caring human beings!) we don't want to see these women reactively dismissed or disregarded either. An injury to one is an injury to all.

    I think that the scariest thing that happens in terms of our movement is people being drawn into the sensationalism. Many are showing, at the very least, insensitivity, if not outright sexism. The only good thing about that is the opportunity to call it out.

    Condemn state repression and sexual repression.

    Jim Sanders

  • Guest - Liam Wright

    This discussion certainly has had the affect of swatting at a hornets nest.

    @Maia - Thank you for your post. These are important questions. Though, the one thing that disagree with in your analysis is the importance of particular individuals. It would not be a good thing for wikileaks if Assange raped these women (which he should be punished and held accountable for if that is true) and because of that he is discredited; it would be even worse if these are charges that are being trumped up against him and this effectively silences him.

    The US imperialists have a self-proclaimed strategy of decapitation of progressive and revolutionary movements. They have done this time and again. It has been quite successful at debilitating movements in this country and abroad.

    These charges do have an impact on the way that people see wikileaks, the validity of the cables that are released, etc. It will affect whether and to what degree people rise to the defense of wikileaks or not.

    We most certainly should take these rape charges seriously. We should not fall into the easy misogynist trap you are speaking of. Certainly, we should keep a critical eye on these cases as they develop.

    But this can and <i>is</i> being used by the ruling class to discredit wikileaks as a whole and to attempt to suppress their organization. Whether the charges are true or not, this is happening.

    @Seamus - Lets think <i>seriously</i> on this. It is not so simple as to say "pick a side." And to then accuse people that don't immediately pick a side, without carefully weighing arguments and evidence, of "needing their credentials checked."

    This is serious business we're dealing with! And the potential of women being physically abused, of being robbed of their right to control their own bodies is not something that should be dismissed so flippantly. There <i>is</i> a question here of "who do we stand with?" Half of humanity is held down, degraded, and suppressed under this system. Do we stand with them? Or is it just a matter of women, "not being satisfied"?

    It is our responsibility to think about this and not rush to conclusions prematurely.

    We should not assume the guilt of Assange, though we should take the rape charges seriously. We should defend him and Wikileaks from the attacks from this system. I think that we should in fact demand his immediate release, while encouraging investigation of the rape charges. In press statements his lawyer made clear that they were in no way avoiding authorities and cleared leaving Sweden with the prosecutor of his case. They also made clear that he could be reached and would cooperate with the authorities. The warrant (or red flag, was it called?) put out for his arrest throughout Europe seems to have little to do with the rape charges.

  • Guest - dave x

    Good post, Liam. I agree. I think this expresses more clearly what I was trying to say earlier.

  • Guest - Nat W.

    @ RW

    I'm glad we're now attempting to talk to one another. I'm curious on how you propose we "fearlessly approach the complexities within this unfolding situation." It sounds good though I don't quite get the substance of it. Everyone here including you has put forward their own pretty clear cut stand on how to approach/respond to this. To imply to those who pose serious questions and don't march in lock step with your analysis as somehow not understanding the complexities of eros on the life force and not fearlessly approaching the question smacks of condescension and arrogance. This is especially so when it seems you and I agree on many of the priciple questions/complexities being raised.

    That being said I think there are differences between how certain races and sections of people respond to the questions being addressed here. This maybe why some people here, including myself may seem insensitive. I am a male but I think this question goes across gender and has to do also with race and class. I recommend reading for you "The Trouble Between US: An Uneasy History of White and Black Women in the Feminist Movement." by Winifred Breines. In my own experience when prominent Black men were accused of rape I have had discussions with many Black women who were suspicious of the charges because they felt it was an attempt to put down a successful Black man.

    Now of course Assange is white, though I think the reaction of white revolutionaries to some extent is sometimes the same as the feminist, in other words to defend the accuser against defamation and to be suspicious of the accused. Though for other sections of people, that come from the oppressed this may not be their first gut reaction. Thus when Assange is accused, the initial response maybe one reflected in view such as those of Seamus.
    That reaction is the notion that there goes the oppressor again trying to take down our leaders/heroes.

    Now you may recognize that "complexity" RW but many times, you and others speak in a condescending tone, like "we just don't get it" instead of contemplating how ideas and reactions to certain topics come out of an intersection of sex, race, and class and that you react and respond to the contradictions of these allegations based on your own experience (both direct and indirect) in a way that those from other sections of society who are in fact revolutionary minded do not react. If you respond to others like they just don't get it, you lose them to hostile neutrality or to the other side. This despite the fact that you don't realize that you are speaking to a black woman/man, a victim of rape, etc.

    To discuss these things seriously sometimes it maybe necessary to be somewhat insensitive. Sometimes those "insensitive" remarks are exactly the ones that come into the minds of the people. And to respond like a sensitive question was posed because the issues are "over our head" is to be "fearful" about offending certain sections of the people without looking at how other sections of the peopls may popularly respond to the questions raised.

  • Guest - Ajagbe

    as a person of african ancestry i'm troubled by the notion that asking for evidence is an assault on women. entirely too many black men have gone to prison for rape on zero evidence. i understand julian is white. the principle still applies. i don't know what he did or didn't do. but simple witness testimony is clearly insufficient.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    WHoa, Nat W., if you think I am condescending or strident, perhaps you'd best read the remarks penned by Seamus and the essay by Raimondo (here on Kasama).

    This will be my last comment on this until more becomes clear, so here's my point:

    At least a million stories exist about sex being used to lynch Black men in America (and to oppress men of color generally), and a million stories exist of women being brutally (physically and psycho-emotionally) raped. We can all choose one or more of these to either stand with Assange or to stand with the rapists.

    Yet that has been my point in all my posts: this is a false, undialectical dichotomy (a point that I believe Maia made in her essay and which I echoed).

    This is about (1) holding the tension between these polarities, which I explained was to defend Wikileaks and agitate against prosecution of Assange (and Manning) for these exposures; WHILE AT THE SAME TIME not rushing to judgement either way as to whether Assange is a rapist or his accusers are lying. And (2), this whole tangled and contradictory situation -- and especially the responses of some revolutionaries -- has fear, hatred, and a general disregard for women's oppression lying just beneath the suface.

    The fact that some have claimed out of hand that Assange is being set up does not bode well for our approach to the whole subject of rape. Even if he is found completely innocent, even if it was a set-up with CIA agents, etc., does not excuse or justify the fact that some among us automatically dissed the possibility that rape could be in the mix -- and in the process, revealed to many women and men that within the revolutionary ranks there is much work to be done.

    I hardly think my particular tone (impassioned thous=gh it may be) is going to "lose" people who are struggling over this issue. What will lose people, though, is neglect and disregard for women and the misogynist oppression they face daily, hourly, and everywhere they turn.

  • Guest - hilary g

    the way the mainstream left media has handled this has been terrible. check out this piece the huffington post ran a few days ago, where naomi wolf denounces the womens' accusations without even explicitly mentioning what those accusations are: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/interpol-the-worlds-datin_b_793033.html

    it's funny to me that her piece starts out with "as a longtime feminist activist," as if this gives her added authority on what constitutes (or really, on what doesn't constitute) an authentic accusation of rape, or authentic behavior or circumstances of rape victims. it's almost like the huffington post wants feminists who read this to breathe a sigh of relief, to feel like we have permission (from a lifelong feminist activist)to dismiss the womens' claims. what's even funnier is that the daily mail article makes it a point to talk about the fact that one of the women is a 'militant' feminist who was the president of a group aimed at educating people about consent and advocating for sexual assault victims, and it's very clear in the context of this article that 'militant feminist' is a derogatory term that can be used to discredit a claim of sexual assault.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    Thanks for the Naomi Wolf essay, Hilary G. Having heard her speak and also read her last book, I realize that she is righteously concerned about a fascist takeover in America. So, I sense that her defense of Wikileaks is part of this paradigm. Sadly, in her defense of Wikileaks she is willing to jettison all previous feminist consciousness, and rely instead on either/or thinking.

  • Guest - gila monster

    Just a quick note -- I think it is a terrible thing to (re)publish the name of one of the accusers, as this post does. The fact that women often can't report rape or sexual assault without their own names being made public and their conduct being scrutinized or dragged through the mud is one of the reasons that rapes and sexual assaults are significantly underreported.

    Even if you think these accusations are 100% phony, publishing the accusers' names should be avoided in the interests of justice for women in general. And there are plenty of other news articles or blog posts that you can link to to give voice to the (very unsupported) CIA allegations and any other relevant details without stating the accuser's name.

  • Guest - Seamus

    I would like to see verbatim a translation from Swedish to English of the Swedish law in question. IF it does allow prosecution of Rape on such grounds as a woman suspects a man has taken his condom off during intercourse but there was absolutely no violence or threat of violence Then I and i believe the overwhemling majority of the Population would oppose such laws ever being enacted in the US..
    I'm sorry but this sounds like the most Ultra feminist position of the 70's , ones that all Marxists that i knew then , whether or not they were Trotskyists or Maoists , Male or Female , rejected .
    IF Assange is indeed ''guilty '' of that Yes he still should be freed .
    BUT Back to the CIA (remember them ? ) Maia stated earlier that even a ''CIA woman '' could be raped . No doubt . Some probably have been , Maybe by some of the Military Death squadists they were collobrating with in Central america or maybe some truly Women hating Afghan '' Freedom fighters'' in the 1980's .(who often raped , tortured and murdered Pro-Soviet Afghan women ) Or even one of their fellow officers .
    But if i had a ''farm ' to bet i would bet not Julian Assange .
    PS Thanks to Ajagbe for his clear common sense statement .

  • Guest - zerohour

    "Now of course Assange is white, though I think the reaction of white revolutionaries to some extent is sometimes the same as the feminist, in other words to defend the accuser against defamation and to be suspicious of the accused."

    I don't think that's true in this case. As has been stated, the accusers were immediately dismissed without any consideration of the merits of their claims and the accused, Julian Assange, was immediately "exonerated". This was the reaction almost across the board, even among radical whites, men and women. Of course the timing and circumstances had an effect on how the accusers' accusations were and are perceived. Last year, about 4000 rapes were reported in Sweden and only 6 men convicted, showing that rape prosecution is not usually high on Swedish law enforcement's list of priorities. So yes, this does suggest a set-up.

    But none of this shows that the sexual assault charges are false.

    "IF it does allow prosecution of Rape on such grounds as a woman suspects a man has taken his condom off during intercourse but there was absolutely no violence or threat of violence Then I and i believe the overwhemling majority of the Population would oppose such laws ever being enacted in the US.."

    Among other things, Assange accused of "using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner." This sounds like violence to me, but the other charges involve a violation of consent, which also would require a degree of coercion. Why distort the actual charges? Furthermore why appeal to popular opinion as if that were enough to decide what position revolutionaries should take? Recently there was a poll that showed 70% of Americans oppose Wikileaks and think Assange should be punished for releasing the cables.

    "But if i had a ”farm ‘ to bet i would bet not Julian Assange ."

    Why not? Do rapists have and easily identifiable "type"?

    Taking these women seriously does not mean automatically believing their accusations, but entails a recognition of the horrific nature of rape and that such accusations are not made lightly. I agree with others above that whether true or not, this was meant to discredit Wikileaks by tarnishing Assange in the public eye. We should firmly defend the Wikileaks actions while supporting a serious investigation into the rape charges.

  • Guest - Gregory A. Butler

    @ Nat W - Julian Assange is Australian, his accusers are Swedish, his alleged crimes were committed in Sweden and everybody involved (defendants, witnesses, police and prosecutors) is White.

    So why are you bringing Black people into this?

    Assange is not an African American, nor is he a leader of the Black community (in the US, Sweden, Australia or anywhere else)so the racial politics of Black men and sex crimes in America is pretty irrelevant here.

    @ Ajagbe - if witness testimony isn't good enough to make a rape case, what is? You can file a criminal complaint for just about any other felony with just witness testimony, why not rape?


    @ Seamus - Actually, Sweden's rape laws are a result of human rights struggles by Swedish womens rights activists, and it's a good thing that they have an expanded definition of rape. America would be a much better and safer place for women if we had Swedish style rape laws. In real life, most rapes are not what you call "genuine rape" - that is, the stereotypical stranger with a knife drags woman into the bushes and rapes her - actually, the typical rape involves a man using coersion or other forms of pressure to force himself sexually on a woman he knows. It's good that the Swedish rape statute acknowledges this fact. What's so terrible about that?

    As for the condom thing, Assange is accused of, in one case, getting consent for sex based on him using a condom and then not using one, and in the other case, using a condom but when it broke, he didn't stop when the woman asked him to. In the first case, he put his partner at risk for pregnancy and STIs when she'd specifically asked him to protect her from those risks, in the second case, he flat out didn't stop when she told him to.

    Say what you will about the first incident, but in the second incident, if the allegation is correct, he didn't stop when she specifically withdrew consent.

    That's rape, Seamus.

    People can withdraw consent at any time for any reason or no reason at all and if you don't stop you are committing nonconsensual sexual assault.

    It's really that simple, and yes, the "ultra feminists" are right, that is rape.

    As for Assange, honestly, I think we should be saying that Sweden should not use this case as an excuse to extradite him (which, quite frankly, they almost certainly will) - instead, he should face detention, trial and, if convicted, do his time in Sweden and not be extradited to America.

  • Guest - Seamus

    For what i understand there are no firm ''actual charges ''. What he's being accused of keeps seem to be changing , the last i read he's offically wanted only for ''questioning ', Yes if he 's being charged with ''using his body weight to hold her down '' against her will that is violence .
    But ''violation of consent '' ? That's a new one for me . And BTW What if a woman lied to a man re her contraception so she could become pregrant ? Would a man then be ''raped '' by ''violation of consent '' ? And if one agrees with the Late feminist therotican Andrea Dworkin ''All Heterosexual intercourse is rape '' ! Of course her supporters were slightly embarassed when after her death it came out that she had lived with a guy for 20 yrs !
    And what does it mean ''supporting a serious investigation into the rape charges'' if not supporting the continued detention of Assange ?
    As for popular opinion obviously it can shift dramatically back and forth . My point was that Most women and men , who i believe find rape , actual rape , to be a outrageous crime , would never consider such typical male/female bedroom dishonesties to be ''rape ''. Enough to break off the relationship maybe but not for dialing 911.

  • Guest - gila monster

    @Seamus et al. -- there is no law in Sweden against sex without a condom; it is not considered rape when a condom breaks during sex; there is no such law as "sex by surprise" (apparently a misunderstanding by Assange's lawyer).

    You can read more about the Swedish laws in question <a href="/http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/12/crayfish_parties_and_broken_co.html" rel="nofollow">here</a>. That page includes a link that you can follow to the complete Swedish penal code in English if you're really curious.

  • Guest - Seamus

    Thanks Gila Monster for that infro.

  • Guest - Green Red

    Money can buy every man, woman and everything in between to falsify the truth. He is learning it, the hard way and, a lesson for all activists not to trust opposite sex in midst of a revolutionary stand of person. Imagine stranger giving you AIDS !

    Enemy does everything

  • Guest - Nat W.

    @ Zerohour

    You ask " Furthermore why appeal to popular opinion as if that were enough to decide what position revolutionaries should take?" This misses the point I was making. I am saying that different sections of people react to accusations of rape differently based on historical and personal experience. I've already stated what I think a correct position is and I'm not arguing for just exoneration outright at all.

    You go onto say "Taking these women seriously does not mean automatically believing their accusations, but entails a recognition of the horrific nature of rape and that such accusations are not made lightly." Think about that statement for a second, it divides into two.

    Yes "such accusations are not made lightly." This means that when they are made falsely they are done so with the intent of ruining a reputation or a career or what have you. At the same time when they are true, this is something unacceptable to a revolutionary movement. But should Assange's reputation forever be shattered until we have clear proof of his innocence even if he is maintaing his innocence. What if we never have clear evidence of innocence or guilt? Shall we always look at Assange with doubt? This is exactly the impact that false charges of rape intend to create.

    Now I'm not saying that these accusations are automatically false, however, I am saying we should give Assange the benefit of the doubt, based on his acts until a clearer portrait of the truth comes out. And if it never comes out clearly, then we would be best to take Assange at his word.

    I know that is a controversial position to take, though I think given the content and circumstances of the situation it is a correct position.

    Zerohour I feel like you and RW are using a method that you(Zerohour) once attributed to pseudo-science. Namely you end all your arguments with the statement "Rape is bad. We have to take it seriously." Yes that is true, I'm not disputing that. It is not necessary to labor the point over and over again, and imo it only hurts the prospects of having an open discussion about, yes, a very serious topic and how revolutionaries should understand it and navigate through its complexities. In other words I feel like the question is being moralized. Imo and maybe I'm off base but this is what I'm thinking-- It can be condescending to women to have to keep repeating what has already been clearly determined everytime a sensitive question gets posed. There is no small amount of Machismo in this form of discourse. (ie. Which man is the most sensitive?)

  • Guest - zerohour

    @Seamus -

    I used the word "charges" as a synonym for "accusations" and not a description of Assange's actual legal situation. I'll be more careful with that in the future.


    "Violation of consent" is my shorthand for the number of accusations which implied an element of coercion, not deceit.

    @Nat W. -

    "You ask ” Furthermore why appeal to popular opinion as if that were enough to decide what position revolutionaries should take?” This misses the point I was making. "

    That was directed as Seamus not you. Sorry for the confusion.

    "I am saying we should give Assange the benefit of the doubt, based on his acts until a clearer portrait of the truth comes out. And if it never comes out clearly, then we would be best to take Assange at his word. "

    I'm arguing three things: 1] we should separate the issue of the sexual assault accusations from the matter of the Wikileaks releases. We should refute any attempts to use the accusations to diminish the significance of these cables; 2] we should defend what Wikileaks did, and Julian Assange's role in that; 3] and yes, we should give Assange the benefit of the doubt. Bourgeois as it may sound, I do think "innocent until proven guilty" is a good yardstick to use.

    "But should Assange’s reputation forever be shattered until we have clear proof of his innocence even if he is maintaing his innocence. What if we never have clear evidence of innocence or guilt? Shall we always look at Assange with doubt? This is exactly the impact that false charges of rape intend to create. "

    In general, your last statement is correct, but not in this particular case. His reputation is not shattered at all. As has been stated over and over again, he has already been given the presumption of innocence by many. Not to mention the many factors in this situation that strongly suggest a setup, which is not typical of other sexual assault/rape allegations involving prominent figures.

    "It is not necessary to labor the point over and over again"

    Actually, I think it is. Gila Monster linked to a very useful article above. It clarifies some things about Swedish law and the history of Assange's relations with his accusers. The fact remains though, that many radicals dismissed the women's accusations offhand without knowing any of those facts. This is what the problem is and it reflects the pervasive influence of patriarchy even among radicals in the US. At the same time, I don't think I have to repeat that police brutality is a horror because we do tend to hierarchize struggles and in my experience, women's oppression receives less attention than race.

    "It can be condescending to women to have to keep repeating what has already been clearly determined everytime a sensitive question gets posed. There is no small amount of Machismo in this form of discourse. (ie. Which man is the most sensitive?)"

    Fair enough, I'll consider that this may be a factor in terms of personal motive, but I don't think it changes the situation I'm describing.

  • seamus writes:

    <blockquote>"For what i understand there are no firm ”actual charges ”. What he’s being accused of keeps seem to be changing , the last i read he’s offically wanted only for ”questioning ‘, Yes if he ‘s being charged with ”using his body weight to hold her down ” against her will that is violence ."</blockquote>

    Assange is being without bail in London, in solitary confinment, on the basis of international arrest warrants -- and those must flow from actual legal charges in Sweden.

    In fact here seems to be the basic sequence:

    <blockquote>"Coincidentally or otherwise, he is up against warrants for his arrest on charges of raping two Swedish women while in Sweden, where he had set up his WikiLeaks offices; hoping that he would have a more empathetic establishment in that country. Even Interpol was alerted to his alleged crime. The British have now got him and he is in their lock up. He will now face proceedings for extradition to Sweden.

    "Indeed, earlier charges against him on this count had been dropped in Sweden for want of evidence. The question then is: why has the rape charge been raked up again?"</blockquote>

    Or another <a href="/http://abcnews.go.com/US/assange-lawyers-prepare-us-espionage-indictment/story?id=12362315" rel="nofollow">account</a>:

    <blockquote>The accusations against Assange were previously dropped by one Swedish prosecutor before being picked up by another. When the accusations were read in a British court Tuesday, the judge said the case is "about serious sexual offenses on three separate occasions, involving two separate victims...extremely serious allegations." </blockquote>

    On the use of the word charges in the headline: Even if there were no legal charges (which there are) it is true that he has/had been charged by two women with rape.

  • Guest - Miles Ahead

    There is no shortage of misogyny amongst leftist, or even revolutionary forces, both historically and currently.

    While many posture and “take a stand” against the heinous crime and horrific act of physical rape (reality check--a woman being raped every 7 seconds), which is not a sexual act, but an act of violence against and power struggle over women (or men who have been raped), how many take a staunch and righteous stand against the abuse women suffer emotionally, psychologically, et al. (IMO a different form of rape), or the overall oppression of women in general?, Does it take the innocence or guilt of Julian Assange on this front to get people’s hackles up?

    How many incorporate that same righteous stand into their daily lives, in their personal relations, or their attitudes (sometimes closeted while they boast of “being in touch with their feminine side”) toward women as part of their very being, politically and socially, without all the platitudes or hyperbolic grandstanding?

    It’s at moments like these, that I forever reflect on Andrea Dworkin’s call for a “24 hour truce on rape” as she addressed an audience of 500 “conscious” men at a conference. Basically Dworkin’s proposition--how about those same men, instead of trying to show Ms. Dworkin just how conscious they were, going into the sanctuary of their locker rooms, and really struggling with those less enlightened about rape.

    imHo, there has been a mixing of apples and oranges in some of the comments above. I say “H” or “humble” because I think Maia’s post needs to be addressed (paid attention to and upheld) in its own right.

    I looked for, but couldn’t find, a post on K, and more so the comments that followed, regarding Soviet troops' wanton rape of German civilian women during/post World War II, because I am still, even after months have passed, reeling from some of the commentary by KaComrades. My objections then and now, are that some were trying to explain the hundreds, if not thousands of rapes, as quasi-understandable, considering that many of the Soviet soldiers acted out of their own pain at witnessing or knowing about what the German soldiers had done to “their” women, e.g. mothers, sisters, daughters. I think this is a false justification and still smacks of deep patriarchy…”their” property had been violated. And even though Stalin was supposedly opposed to the behavior of some of the Soviet troops, there were some comments that implied that these rapes may have been justified, because after all, it was the Soviets, right?

    When it comes to Assange, Manning, etc., I think that the profound information, exposure and content of the Wikileaks cables is what is key, and is what has the enemy scurrying around, trying its best to discredit the leaks themselves, via a byproduct issue of whether or not Assange committed rape or not.

    Their whole tabloid-like reportage of and spin on the rape charges is a subterfuge and camouflage of what is really at stake and the threat and indictment the leaks pose for them (globally). And not to belittle the charge of rape (the imperialists do that quite well even by raising it in such a sensationalist way), but least we not forget how the charge of rape, when it is “convenient” for them, has been used by the rulers to support their own interests and support their brutal system—the Scottsboro Boys a case in point.

    To throw some Freud in the mix when talking about eros, doesn’t cut it for me, seeing as one of Freud’s infamous psychological conclusions was that when a woman says “no” she really means “yes.” I would rather go back and reread Marcuse, obtuse as he was, in “Eros and Civilization.”

    But more than Marcuse, as we ourselves struggle against all the pushes and pulls of bourgeois society, ideologically (and its inherent patriarchy), with a struggle to incorporate a whole new way of thinking and behavior not just for the future we envision, but for the present, I think Bill Martin’s pieces can be a significant boon to our own developing consciousness. (Sorry but can’t provide the link…these great articles can be found on Khukuri.) The intro to Part I reads as such::

    “Is Marxism, or revolutionary politics generally, sufficient for human emancipation? In his book Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation, Bill Martin argues that the communist revolution needs to take ethics as a necessary foundation of politics.”

  • Guest - Seamus

    I guess i don't have much more to say . I find the ignorance re the way Police and Intellienge agencies operate to be incredible for some of you readers of a Marxist website . They will use ANYTHING or ANYONE to accomplish their mission . Their mission here was to get Julian Assange . Hopefully even if they succeed he will just be the tip of the iceberg of courageous ''whistle blowers '' .
    But my fear if that many will be understandly intimidated by the very possible fate of him and Bradley Manning .
    Sex is one of the most potent human emotions and desires . And to think that our enemies won't use and exploit that in any and all ways is crazy .
    So while i understand why witholding Victims names came about I'm glad that those women's identies in this case was revealed .
    I think it's not only interesting but very revelant that one of them has been involved in the decades long attempt to overturn the Cuban revolution . (I realize that many of you Maoists used to dismiss Cuba as a ''colony of Soviet Social Imperialism , which had , like the USSR , restored Capitalism . Of course the gusanos in Miami never got that Breaking News nor did millions of oppressed people elsewhere in the planet but i digress --)
    That means that just ''maybe'' (like in all probablity ! ) She either is a operative or a tool of one or more agencies
    Enough for now . I don't want to be barred from this list by the vigilant editor so i won't graphically say what i think of the previous poster who says that He wants Assange , if convicted (such touching faith in the Swedish Capitalist justice system ) to go to prison but to 'serve his time ''in Sweden . Even though the poster concedes he probably instead be extradited to the USA . Where he may end up spending the rest of his life in Prison if not murdered . But hey Tough shit for him ! At least these well connected ''victims '' will have been ''upheld ''!

  • Miles writes:

    <blockquote>"There is no shortage of misogyny amongst leftist, or even revolutionary forces, both historically and currently."</blockquote>

    I think this statement divides into two.

    First, it is undoubtedly true. And it is important to understand that it is true.

    Second, the revolutionary left currents of history have been cutting edge forces in undercutting and overthrowing the oppression of women (including abolishing inequality, rape, and more) where they have had the chance.

    And part of the issue is what Mao called "distinguishing between Yenan and Sian." (Yenan was the center of the communist revolution, and Sian was the headquarters of the Nationalist counterrevolution.)

    Do both Yenan and Sian have problems? sure. But there are some fundamental differences.

    Do both revolutionary movements and counterrevolutoinary forces have manifestations of misogyny and women's oppression -- undoubtedly. But if we look at this is a "so what is the difference" kind of way, we lose track of something important. And we are also lost if we decide that the cutting edge of the struggle against women's oppression is (somehow) <em>inside</em> the revolutionary movement. There are times (moments, periods) when such internal struggle is crucial and important to wage (and win!)... but the main force oppressing women is outside the ranks of the revolution, and the main hope for liberating women is inside the ranks of the revolution.

    * * * * * * *

    Now, having said that... we do need to make a bit of a line in the sand around some things.

    Nat W writes:

    <blockquote>"WHAT THEN WOULD BE OUR POSITION ON ASSANGE IN REGARDS TO HIS PARTICIPATION IN OUR ORGANIZATION? I don’t know the answer to this, but it seemed to me to be an important question on how we look and react to this."</blockquote>

    1) I know of a number of situations where left organizations overlooked gross (even criminal) mistreatment of women because of the "larger picture" or because they convinced themselves that "it couldn't be true."

    In the <a href="/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Curtis_%28SWP_member%29" rel="nofollow">Mark Curtis</a> case, he was accused of raping a 14 year-old Black girl. The SWPUSA build a whole "defense campaign" around him -- saying it was a government frameup seeking to destroy their union organizing work in Iowa meatpacking plants. And the case was made credible by the activity of Mark's wife -- who was particularly vehement that it was not possible. Though it is hard to be sure, the accusations, in fact, appear to have been true. This young girl and her family were faced with energetic and countrywide efforts to defame and ridicule their story. This much is known: After Mark Curtis emerged from prison (still denying guilt) he took up SWP political work again -- until he got arrested (again) for sex-involved charges (soliciting a prostitute) and expelled.

    In other cases, people "turned their heads" when women were beaten in marriages among leftists, or when people exploited leading positions for sexual purposes, or when organizational culture was exploited to pressure women members for sexual activity. In one case, prominent political figures pressured the wife of a major activist to remain silent about her abuse (so as not to "damage the cause.")

    I have even encountered angry protests when I simply wrote about the waves of rape of German and Polish women that accompanied the advance of the Soviet army through Nazi occupied Europe -- as if dealing with these grievous events is to capitulate (or fan) anticommunist sentiments.

    2) We should not be party to the brutalization or abuse of women (in our ranks or out) -- and should be very cautious of assuming (a) it could not be true, or (b) it would damage our cause to acknowledge it. And (lets not be naive) this is very difficult to do -- it requires real struggle and consciousness -- because in mass struggles, in complex alliances, under fire, there are always pragmatic pulls toward seeing it as inherently secondary.

    3) I have been rather startled to see very traditional and anti-woman argument raised in these threads. the Raimondo piece deploys classic method for discrediting rape accusers (accusing them of wanting sex, of being spurned women, etc.) We should approach such matters seriously and carefully -- both now and in future transitinoal societies.

    And we should recognize (inumerate, expose, publicize) exactly how the <em>defense</em> of women's oppression often takes a form of ridiculing and discrediting those who oppose it.

    We should learn to recognize classic responses ("She brought it on herself, by dressing provocatively, or getting too drunk," "She secretly wanted it," "She is sexually loose, and loose women can't be raped," "The man wasn't able to stop after a certain point, and she helped get him there"...) These are actually the rationals made (internally and socially) by men who don't think rape is wrong, or who don't think forcing themselves on women is rape.

    Lets not be naive about the number of rapists around us, and their ability to speak up for their right to hate and abuse women.

    4) It is true, and complicated, that rape is a crime of intimacy (or at least of privacy). It often takes place in "he said, she said" conditions. And (for important reasons) the condemnation of someone for a criminal act can't be done just on the say-so of one person. This has always meant that rapes far too often go unpunished -- even when the victims have the courage to speak out.

    And part of the reason that evidence is needed is because it <em>is</em> possible to have false accusations, frameups, and even gross misunderstandings. And (as someone said) the history of Black people in the U.S. is full of such false accusations -- leading to death, mutilation and torture.

    When people in our ranks (or in society)are accused of serious crimes -- we believe in cautious, and serious consideration of real evidence. We do not support pragmatic or easy "jumping to conclusions" (it "suits our purposes" for them to be innocent or guilty -- so we pretend we know they are innocent or guilty). I remember how some revolutionaries thought it was outrageous to question whether OJ Simpson might have been guilty of brutally murdering two people in a patriarchal rage -- as if we should <em>assume</em> he was not guilty. (In fact, you can be both guilty <em>and</em> framed...And in fact, the broad masses of people can believe something, and we should perhaps not simply tail them...)

    5) It is true that the U.S. imperialists (in particular) like to accuse people of non-political crimes -- to eliminate them for political reasons. It is a standard procedure of this pig system. There are many examples. (One collective I was in had heroin planted in our storefront by police -- hoping to portray -- and isolate -- our revolutionry youth organizing as a secret heroin sales ring.) There is sophisticated disinformation of many kinds. There is entrapment (as is active now in a number of ways). And there is a long history of using sexual matters to blackmail, defame etc. (and it is possible to defame someone both by inventing sexual problems, or by exploiting real, existing events!)

    6) Finally: We should stand for something... the full liberation of women. We should be militantly and fearlessly against the abuse of women, against the sexual exploitation of women. And we should also stand for a kind of fearless truth seeking -- that doesn't fall easily for false charges, and that also is willing to look at ourselves, and our own ranks in an honest way.

    And we should learn to handle well contradictions <em>among</em> the people (backward ideas, backward customs), and not turn everything into contradictions <em>between</em> people and the enemy. (In other words, not every man with backward ideas is a pig, not every offensive exchange is a reason for writing people off and demonizing them in public).

    We need judgment, patience, consistency, quite a bit of courage (and faith in the people) when it comes to difficult truths and a firm sense of what we want to stand for.

  • Guest - Joseph Ball

    Mike is trying to claim he was 'attacked' for bringing up the issue of rape by the Red Army. I am very glad that Mike and others bring this subject up as we want to avoid such tragedies happening in the future. But what is not acceptable is for Mike yet again to misrepresent what was said by others about this subject. Here is what I actually said about this subject:


    <blockquote>
    'The only source ever cited for Stalin’s ‘complicity’ in rape is from the revisionist renegade Milovan Djilas in Conversations With Stalin.

    I refuse to believe that we should negate all the real, physical evidence that the Soviet government tried to prevent rape on the basis of a renegade’s gossip and tittle tattle...

    As I have said on more than one occasion, only a fool would deny the reality of rape by the Red Army in Germany and as I said in my previous post this was a huge tragedy. Certainly, without very strong measures any army of occupation will carry out rape-the whole of history shows this. This is because for thousands of years men have pitilessly exploited and humiliated women. '</blockquote>

    Nothing in anything I said about this remotely relates to Mike's statement:

    <blockquote>'I have even encountered angry protests when I simply wrote about the waves of rape of German and Polish women that accompanied the advance of the Soviet army through Nazi occupied Europe — as if dealing with these grievous events is to capitulate (or fan) anticommunist sentiments.'</blockquote>

    No, what I did was to argue that failures in the leadership of the Red Army led to this tragedy but that there was no good evidence that Stalin deliberately endorsed rape and all the evidence showed the contrary. If people can't even make points like this, without Mike slandering them, what is the point of this website? I have always deliberately tried to focus on the 'dark areas' in our history-my first attempt at this was with the famine during the Great Leap Forward where I quoted from Han Dongping's distressing account of the disaster that occurred in his home village at the time. Issues like rape and torture in communist history are very serious issues that need to be examined with proper seriousness and not treated like political footballs.

  • Guest - Adrienne

    This is what the two women's lawyer said in an interview last week:

    <blockquote>"These two women were molested by Mr Julian Assange at two different times, independently of each other," he said. One of the two women, who met Assange at a lecture he gave in Stockholm in August, wanted to contact him after the alleged assault because she wanted him to take a test for sexually transmitted infections. She contacted the second woman, who had helped organise the lecture, to see if she could help her to find him. "When they spoke to each other they realised they had been through something very similar so they went to the police. That's not odd," he said.

    "They decided to go to the police, to inform the police of what happened, to ask for advice; also they were interested in whether there was a risk that they could have got HIV. They were not sure whether they should make a police complaint, they wanted to have some advice. But when they told the police officer, she realised that what they were telling her was a crime and she reported that to the public prosecutor, who decided to arrest Assange."

    Two days later a second prosecutor, who conducted a preliminary investigation, came to a different conclusion, judging that the evidence did not meet the criterion of a rape or sexual molestation charge. "She made another judgment, saying: 'No it's not. It's very close, but not quite,'" he claimed. "So she cancelled the arrest order and he was still suspected of molestation without sexual motives.

    "When I read that decision, my own conclusion was and still is that it was a rape, so I asked for a reopening of the case, and then the investigation was reopened." There was nothing suspicious about this closing and reopening of the case, he said. "The law is not an exact science. You can always make different judgments. Different courts and different prosecutors make different decisions. I think that the prosecutor who cancelled the arrest warrant did not study the case well enough."

    Assange was at that time free to leave the country, Borgström said. "He didn't have to ask anyone if he could." It was only later when it appeared that Assange was unwilling to return voluntarily for questioning that the extradition process was launched, he said.

    "It turned out it was impossible to get him here for an interrogation, he wanted to be interrogated in the embassy, or wherever. Then the prosecutor decided to arrest him," he said.</blockquote>

    Here's the link to read the full article:
    <a href="/http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/08/julian-assange-rape-allegations?INTCMP=SRCH" rel="nofollow">Julian Assange rape allegations: treatment of women 'unfair and absurd'
    Lawyer for two women whose assault allegations led to arrest says case has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or CIA
    </a>

    After reading that article, these are the kinds of questions that have been going through my head (Btw, I'm a feminist and do not take rape accusations lightly).:

    1. What woman who truly feels she has been raped, or sexually violated or abused in some way is "not sure whether they should make a complaint" days after the fact? And this is not one, but two women who were unsure about whether they should make a complaint? This strikes me as rather odd -- I think maybe because both women are over the age of thirty. (If these were much younger women who were not exactly sure, or who felt very tentative and uncertain that would seem a lot more understandable.)

    Also, let me be perfectly clear here, I'm fully aware that there are many victims of rape who don't make complaints against those who raped them, however, this is usually because the rapist has some measure of control or power over their lives. That cannot be said to be the case with these women and Assange.

    2. Doesn't what was said above about them "deciding to ask for advice" make it sound as though these women really just wanted the police to make Assange take an HIV test, not necessarily charge him with rape?

    3. Doesn't the above statements made by the lawyer make it sound as though it was really the police officer and the lawyer himself who are absolutely convinced that these women were raped -- not necessarily the two women?

    4. These women spoke with each other before going together to the police. They now share the same lawyer. That being the case, is it even possible for the accused (Assange) to get a fair trial?

    5. Both women claim the sex was consensual -- at least at the beginning. When women are star-struck enough to want to immediately have sex with a man that they don't really know at all, how much responsibility should they bear for making that decision? Including responsibility regarding their own health when it comes to total insistence on the use of condoms at all times, or if they don't make it clear by insisting, on being aware of the very real possibility that they could contract one or more sexually transmitted diseases?

    6. The timing of these charges seemed extremely suspicious to me -- and they still do. Even if Assange is the kind of man who has no respect for women at all and is capable of rape and/or abusive treatment, would he actually chose to risk everything he'd been working to uncover with Wikileaks <em>at that particular moment in time</em>? Entirely possible I suppose, yet it really doesn't make a lot of sense...

    If it sounds like I'm giving Assange the benefit of the doubt here, then you'd be correct. This is because even leaving aside the suspicions I have about the timing of this, and suspicions over whether these women were working as spies to bring down the man in charge the of Wikileaks organization, everything I've read thus far about these accusations seems slightly odd or dubious to me. As does the way this supposed crime has been handled, and the way Assange has been treated by both the English and Swedish authorities.

    Just thought I'd share the link, and these thoughts -- even if many of you disagree with them.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    THanks, Adrienne. This is good to add to the mix and my suspicions are heightened as well. Hoepfully more will continue to be revealed.

    In your points #1 and #6, I beleive that you describe way too much rationality to human beings in general, and especially when it comes to sexuality and power in particular.

  • Guest - dave x

    Adrienne,
    I think you ask some very good questions that, while unanswerable for the time being, should rightly make us somewhat suspicious. Having said that, I think this whole thing has raised a number of separate issues. One of them is the sexist-dinosaur-like reactions of parts of the left in regards to the rape allegations. I think this sort of behavior should be opposed on principle regardless of the merit of the specific case. As for the merit of this specific case, while there is much we don't know and we shouldn't rush to judgement, it is obvious that there are a lot of complex and ambiguous factors. Given these circumstances and the incredible political importance of this case I absolutely agree that we should not only give Assange the benefit of the doubt but should in fact be very outspoken in both his defense and that of Wikileaks. The times demand no less. Of course, if in the course of events it should come out that Assange is indeed responsible for rape (and we should admit that it -is- possible) then we should condemn it and think of an appropriate response. I also think we should be careful to not confuse support for Assange with denigration and smearing of his accusers or rape victims more generally. It isn't justified and sends the message that the left will throw women under the bus whenever it is convenient to do so. I also agree with your point number 4 - I think we have every reason to believe that the criminal injustice system will be true to form in this case. We should not expect it to give justice for either Assange or his accusers, things are well past that at this point if it was ever possible to begin with.

  • Guest - lycophidion

    An extremely enlightening discussion... But, to underline a point that someone must have made along the line, leaving aside Assange's innocence or guilt, the case has in all probability been brought, under pressure by Washington, in order to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stick a dagger in the heart of Wikileaks, to send a stern warning to all those who would "open the books" of the imperialists.

    And whether we like it or not, Assange the fallible individual is inseparably bound up with the organization and movement he represents. THAT is a dialectical truth, and Washington knows it well enough to have consistently targeted fallible, human, individuals on innumerable occasions to break movements. An important question is whether either Assange OR his accusers could ever get a fair hearing in a courtroom in a legal system instrumentalized by the rulers? Sometimes the courts MUST be used by women (and other oppressed people) to seek redress, and sometimes social movement can force the hand of the bourgeois legal system, but then the key is interpreting the political moment and assessing what political interests are served by the court in that given moment. Would the extradition of Assange to the U.S. and the blow that would represent to would-be whistle-blowers and the dissemination of revelations help or harm women?

  • Guest - jp

    "Julian Assange is currently in the very same cell that was occupied by Oscar Wilde..."

    see interview with his lawyer at: http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2010/12/interview-with-julian-assanges-lawyer.html

    and note that the lawyer reports that "Julian Assange does not support any attacks on the complainants..." yes of course, a lawyer would typically say that.

    but the interview is from a credible source and worth reading.

  • Guest - Comrade S

    So, I read most of the above: it has been an interesting discussion. I just want to add a brief argument that sides with Assange and against his accusers. In advance, I'd like to say that I side more with queer politics than with feminism, but I do take rape accusations seriously. I know people who have been molested, raped, etc., and it is a very complicated issue. Likewise, I agree that we can be critical of Assange while supporting WL, in spite of the close relationship between the two; if it turns out that Assange is guilty, then we should condemn his actions. On the other hand, we should lend Assange as much respect as we do his accusers, because if he is innocent, then he is every bit the victim that these women claim to be.

    That said, recognizing that (in summary)

    1. the timing of these accusations is perfect,
    2. it is impossible to disprove the claims and therefore they are again the perfect claims to level against a person for political reasons,
    3. the two women only went to the police after discovering that they'd both had sex with Assange,
    4. one of the women has CIA connections, has fled to the Middle East, and is no longer cooperating with authorities,
    5. the charges against Assange have been inconsistent,
    6. an international arrest warrant was issued for minor charges,
    7. and finally that, as Adrienne has pointed out, everything about the case seems dubious

    suggests that this is in all likelihood a setup. This doesn't mean that people like me are reproducing patriarchy: it means that we have learned over the years that those in power are dishonest and that they will use whatever tactics are necessary to discredit subversive individuals. I do not want to discount the alleged "victims" claims on the basis of the typical rape myth, but rather on the basis of all of the evidence that points to a setup.

    At the very least we must be agnostic about this case: we can neither disprove nor prove Assange's innocence--again, these are the perfect charges--but we can say that the evidence points to an international setup. After all, Assange did nothing on behalf of WL that has been verifiably illegal, so the only way to get him into prison was to level these charges: and now he may be extradited to the U.S. Again, we can choose to be agnostic about that, since there is no direct evidence to suggest that the U.S. is using rape charges to take Assange into custody.

    Similarly--and I want to use several analogies because I think they lend this issue a much needed level of clarity--we could be agnostic about the profit motive for our current wars, since there is no direct evidence to suggest that we are occupying any number of countries in order to generate profits for American corporations. There is evidence, but it is always subjective and indirect, leaving room for the far right to continue stupidly believing that all is well. Everywhere this is the pattern: nothing is verifiable either way, and so there is room for belief in anything.

    But as leftists, we choose to recognize the patterns: we are not agnostic about U.S. imperialism, we are not agnostic about the subtleties of black and Latino oppression via public policy in the U.S., we are not agnostic about the benevolence of American business. Why, then, must we suddenly abandon our approach to the evidence given to us by those in power when a pair of women conveniently claim that they have had nefarious intercourse with the world's most prominent, most subversive journalist? Why do we exercise extreme skepticism whenever the world's governments assault our people and their characters, but when two women with questionable connections level charges of rape, we place absolute faith in their accounts and in the judicial system that we have up to this point condemned? We cannot at the same time distrust capitalism and insist on the illegitimacy of the world's pro-imperialist governments and then come groveling back to their judicial systems when it appears that they have manufactured a story to get us to do just that. I choose to disbelieve the women, yes, because the evidence suggests overwhelmingly that this is a setup, and because this position is consistent with my position on every other half-truth sold to me by those in power. This doesn't make me patriarchal: it makes me rational.

  • Guest - GeorgesK

    The way some people are reacting makes it seem that once a rape accusation has been made, the person making the accusation is uncriticisable because any criticism would be perpetuation of rape myths. That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are legitimate and illegitimate motives for questioning her credibility. the illegitimate ones - mysogyny, partriarchy, male chauvinism - must by pointed out, criticised, and eradicated. We must however allow for legitimate questioning of her credibility. Her being an agent of empire is one of those legitimate motives.

    By poking holes in her story, am i trying to insinuate that she is lying because she a hysterical feminist bent on world domination? am i saying that she is lying because it's impossible for a rape victim does not know her assailant? no, by poking holes in her story, i am saying that she's lying because she works in the CIA.

    The motivation behind doubting someone's claims is extremely important. Let's take Maia's original statement: there is adifference between “She has X Y and Z connections with the CIA. If she was working for them then this may be a set up” and “She has CIA connections you know.” I disagree, in 99% of cases, the latter statement is merely shorthand for the former. I doubt that a person who utters "she has CIA connections you know" is saying that CIA agents are "unrapeable" because they are evil or because they are trained in martial arts ar because they have James Bond-like gadgets to get themselves out of sticky situations. No, what we're saying is that CIA agents make a career of using lies and deceit.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    The heart of the discussion here has been about the knee-jerk reactions and assumptions that the rape charges were absolutely false and what that kind of reactivity says about women's oppression.

    There is no evidence as yet about the rape charges; careful watching and analysing is important because there is a great deal of dubious goings on throughout this whole thing.

    Rationality isn't all it is cracked up to be; patriarchy and rationality are kissing cousins.

  • Guest - Comrade S

    Rational argumentation is also the tool of the left: you can't use that kind of rhetorical escape without doing damage to all rational thought. I'm no empiricist, but when you criticize the rational as such by impugning it only to the opposition, you're 1) using a cheap cop-out 2) being disingenuous because many of your own arguments depend on rational logic (duh), and 3) doing a disservice to quality argumentation. Also, the contradictory and perpetually inconsistent rationalizations of patriarchy (and rape myths) are totally irrational and in most cases easily refuted with quality, rational argumentation. There are no absolutes of course but there are clear positions, all of which resort to the rational, including your own. Lastly, this is a long discussion and I see that you've done a lot of writing here, but please don't disrespect my own efforts with that kind of rhetorical sleight of hand.

  • Guest - Adrienne

    RW Harvey:

    <blockquote>In your points #1 and #6, I beleive that you describe way too much rationality to human beings in general, and especially when it comes to sexuality and power in particular.</blockquote>

    Care to elaborate a little more?

    Regarding #1, The reason I think it seems so odd has a lot to due with the fact that Assange's accuser #1 is a mature woman who calls herself a feminist. Indeed, this is professional woman who formerly worked for the Swedish government embassy (actually both accusers did), and who now holds a job as a <em>gender equity officer</em> at Uppsala university. Are we to actually believe that a person who holds such a position was "not sure whether to make a complaint" after she felt she'd been sexually violated? And seriously comrades, who better would understand womens issues such as voluntary consent and personal autonomy before, during, and after sex than a feminist gender equity officer? I'm sorry, but for me, this just doesn't wash -- that she could be a professional woman in one context, yet before, during, and after sex with Assange she suddenly became uncertain, and all her feminist convictions dribbled right out of her head?

    Regarding #6, well, you may very well be right. I may be ascribing far too much rationality and self control to Assange when it comes to sex.
    Still, Assange was the man at the helm of the Wikileaks organization, and at least in that particular area he demonstrated a sharp intellect and a high level of maturity, control, and commitment to that cause. Also, he did not run away from these charges in any way, shape, or form as far as I can see. Instead, he fully cooperated with the authorities while in Sweden, and when in England, voluntarily presented himself to the court. I think all of us realize that he is currently sitting in a British jail, after being denied bail, and fighting extradition to Sweden not because he doesn't want an opportunity to clear his name, but because he knows damn well that the Swedish authorities are pursuing this on again/off again criminal prosecution as a pretext for another agenda entirely. And we all know what that agenda is all about, too.

    DaveX, very good points. Well said.

    Lycophidion, also good points. You wrote:

    <blockquote>Would the extradition of Assange to the U.S. and the blow that would represent to would-be whistle-blowers and the dissemination of revelations help or harm women?</blockquote>

    Indeed. This whole scandal seems to have been intended to send a message to whistleblowers (and would-be whistleblowers)everywhere, and for me at least, this whole situation seems like an undermining of the true seriousness of sex crimes in an overall sense, too. Because it makes such charges seem trivial and unimportant unless they can also be linked to, and used for other political expediencies.
    If Assange were anyone else than who he is, he wouldn't be sitting in jail right now awaiting extradition to Sweden, or be worried about extradition to the US, yet we're all supposed to believe that the reason for this is because sex without a condom was suddenly so important that it became a valid reason for interpol to raise the red flag and mobilize an international manhunt in order to bring a sex offender to justice! This is ludicrous -- insultingly so. As I was saying to a friend recently, isn't it just a real tragedy that Interpol was never prevailed upon to mobilize when it came to defending the women of Bosnia!

    Jp, thanks for that link.

  • Guest - Adrienne

    Great comments all. Comrade S, that's a good list.
    Allow me to add one more thing to it: it seems these two women also went to the Swedish tabloid Expressen to tell their story. I'm not sure if they did so before or after going to the police, but just the taking of such an action seems... rather professional shall we say?

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    Hi Adrienne: I've been wondering for a very long time about psychology and revolution -- especially what creates a revolutionary situation and what sustains a revolutionary-communist society after the seizure of power.

    My basic point is really quite simple: we can, only at our peril, ascribe rationality to human beings as the primary way decisions/desires are chosen and inhabited.

    I've been trying to craft something for Kasama that goes like this: until communism embraces psychology -- especially the idea that there is such a thing as an UNconscious, we will never handle contradictions among the people correctly and we will break the back of the revolution (not to mention breakig the hearts and spirits of the people) because we will typically default to either purging contradictions or attempting to socially engineer people into cookie-cutter robots.

    Like I said, it is something I am wrestling with.

  • Guest - Adrienne

    RW, that seems like an interesting topic for study -- and possibly a very important one.

    Do you feel, judging from what I've written thus far, that I'm not taking psychology into proper consideration?
    I'd be interested to know what you think about that.

    Because the truth is, when I first heard of the accusations against Assange, I didn't want to be dismissive of them just because of their rather amazing timing, nor did I want to allow my admiration for what the Wikileaks organization is trying to do make me unfairly prejudiced in favor of Assange. In fact, being a staunch feminist I felt it was actually my duty <em>not</em> to be dismissive of such claims -- because I am frequently so appalled by, if I may use DaveX's expression above, the sexist-dinosaur-like reactions against rape. So, in order to maintain my equilibrium I've been reading all I can about it in order not to make any flimsy arguments -- in either direction.

    However, the more I've looked into and thought about the apparent facts that have been coming to light, as well as trying to mentally take apart the claims and statements that are being made by the two accuser's lawyer (as I was doing above with my list of questions), it really is becoming harder all the time for me not to view these accusations with a great deal of skepticism.

    Btw: <a href="/http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-granted-bail/" rel="nofollow">WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted bail
    Update: Swedish authorities will appeal decision</a>

  • Guest - Nat W.

    Thank you Mike Ely. I basically agree with everything you said in comment 44. These spoke in a direct and sincere way to many of the questions I was trying to raise, but in hindsight I think they came out (from me)crude and offensive. I apologize to everyone in this discussion for that.

  • Guest - dave x

    For people who are interested Assange's old blog can be found here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20071020051936/http://iq.org/

    and it has some rather remarkable writing, well worth reading.

    Also the New Yorker had a rather illuminating profile they did on Wikileaks and Assange that they did back in the spring:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian

    also worth reading, imo. He is a rather unusual character, something of a cypher as he might say.

    @Adrienne:
    On number 6. I would not assume this. Savants are often incredibly capable and brilliant in some areas while being horribly deficient in others (particularly in interpersonal relations). For a sense of how this in Assange's case see the New Yorker profile. I do think this suggests that Assange -believes- his own story, that is he is not deliberately lying. Whether that is what it looked like from all sides I am less sure.

    @Harvey:
    I think it is a mistake to view rationality as being somehow inherently complicit in patriarchy. One of the problems is that this play into the whole women as 'more connected', 'more organic', 'natural' versus men as 'rational' etc. Yes some womanist feminists and eco-feminists (ex. M. Daly, Derrick Jensen) basically adopt this type of conceptual scheme but it is a conceptual scheme that is basically an inversion of traditional patriarchal ideology that sees women as subhuman, not fully rational, etc. I think this is In my opinion, rationality, that is logical evidence-based analysis is an important tool that is vital for any revolutionary practice. This doesn't mean that human reasoning doesn't have its limitations though. One of them is that we are inveterate -rationalizers- that is we need a story, a narrative, to understand things and if we don't have one or don't have the appropriate evidence to make inferences, this doesn't stop us, we will come up with one anyways. Stephen J Gould used to call these 'Just So Stories' (after Kipling's collection) and everyday discourse, including leftist discourse, is full of them. There is a rape accusation. We don't know what happened just bits and pieces of this and that so we make something up. It is a mode of explanation that says more about us than about reality.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    @ Adrienne: I wasn't judging your psychological awareness at all. I was arguing that when we try to explain behaviors by pointing to the logical/rational resons why that behavior does not make sense, I feel that is unhelpful given the complexity of human responses/reactions to life.

    @DX: I thought you linked patriarchy with rationality when you disclaimed the former and claimed the latter. While we do not have to go down the road of compensatory backlash like Daly and Jensen (who most likely go to that point because the patriarchy ignored and belittled their kinds of views over the centuries), we would be hard-pressed to deny that patriarchy prefers rationality over feeling and, in fact, has ridiculed and suppressed feeling as a way of knowing.

    We agree more than perhaps you think: rational thought is an important tool, as is feeling. Recent studies (Damasio, Thomas, de Waal) all point to the dynamic mix that goes on in our brains that aids us in navigating the world. Privileging one over the other is clearly problematic.

  • Guest - chegitz guevara

    Many people here suggest that just because it is too convenient for the Empire (and I agree it's damned convenient) and that the Empire has engaged in such character assassination in the past (let alone real assassination) and is absolutely capable of doing so today (and has signed the orders and sent the drones), that therefore this must be such a scenario. No, it <i>must</i> not. It <i>may</i> be such a scenario. Just because the Empire can lie, doesn't mean it always lies. Just because I am capable of killing someone doesn't mean if someone dies, I killed them. You can suspect this is a setup, but you can't say it is, because you don't know.

  • Guest - dave x

    @Harvey:
    "patriarchy prefers rationality over feeling and, in fact, has ridiculed and suppressed feeling as a way of knowing... rational thought is an important tool, as is feeling. Recent studies (Damasio, Thomas, de Waal) all point to the dynamic mix that goes on in our brains that aids us in navigating the world. Privileging one over the other is clearly problematic."

    As revolutionaries we need feeling in order to connect to others and to the world and to motivate and inspire out endeavors. There is definitely a structure of feeling that goes along with being a revolutionary. Like that old Che Guevara quote about love ("At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love"). But to understand capitalism and to decipher the world of our oppression we need a firm grasp of reason and what are methods with which we can use successfully analyze it. Feelings and reason accomplish different things, occupy different parts of our lives, and privileging one of them over the other is often both justified and required. Of course we are human so we mix it up, use logic when we should be paying attention to our feelings and mix up our analysis with our own prejudices. So I think we must privilege, but what we privilege is dependent on circumstance, etc. As for patriarchy, the sort of rationality that it prefers is riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. It also has its own feelings structures and modes of relating. If reason is contaminated by this intimacy with patriarchal oppression its is a subset of reason, one that we should rationally critique.

  • Guest - Adrienne

    Interesting article, DaveX. Thanks for posting the link. Brilliant and obsessive-compulsive, sure, but savant? Hard to say -- but maybe you're right...

    Latest:
    <a href="/http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/sweden-denies-efforts-keep-assange-jail/" rel="nofollow">UK, not Sweden, behind efforts to keep Assange in jail: report</a>
    F*cking outrageous. Not charged, but jailed. Granted bail, and still held.

  • Guest - dave x

    @Adrienne,
    I was using the term a little loosely which I think is reasonable given that I don't think many people give credence to savantism as a discrete diagnosis anymore. In the past autism was only diagnosed in cases where retardation was present so for cases where there were autistic type symptoms but no retardation other diagnosis had to be invented (aspergers, 'giftedness', savantism', even ADHD). In fact our understanding of autistic type conditions is undergoing rather rapid change at the moment under the impact of major advances in neurology and genetics. My point is that for those who recognize the symptoms it is pretty obvious that he has atypical brain function and this undoubtedly contributes to why most people find him so mysterious, strange, arrogant, weird, etc and may have well contributed to the situation with the two women in Sweden. Normal psychological assumptions and inferences don't apply in the case of Assange. I will note that Assange himself has some interesting psychological musings in his blog that I linked, particularly note the one on William James Sidis.

    Heard about the bail thing, I agree that is crazy. Anyone who doubts that they (the man, the ruling class, the imperialists) aren't the ones motivating this prosecution by any means available to them should have their head checked. Hard to get more blatant.

  • Guest - dave x

    Sorry, one last bit one this in case anyone is curious, I thought I would check my perceptions re Assange and sure enough there is a lot of discussion about him on various Autism/Aspergers forums and I even found a quote where he states that he is "somewhere on the autistic spectrum":
    http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt146011.html
    Quote is in: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101213/wr_nm/us_wikileaks_assange

  • Guest - jp

    the 'autistic spectrum' is so wide that anyone who is socially awkward now qualifies. while the upsurge in diagnosis may be partly due to other factors in play, part of this is the 'modern' trend to pathologize much of the normal range of human behavior.

    i've also been witnessing it (that spectrum) being taken up by parents (many affluent) looking for reasons why their kids don't meet whatever expectations they might have of them.

  • Guest - G.O.

    Adrienne (and others),

    I think it's dangerous to assign her a "wrong" way to react to being raped because of her age and feminist politics. I've done a lot of work with feminist groups, particularly around issues of sexual violence. And that organizing experience, along with the ways I've been personally affected by sexual violence, have shown me that there is absolutely no such thing as a right, wrong, or normal reaction to rape.

    I know many adult feminists who never reported that they were raped.

    We can't put her into a box like that.

  • Guest - Adrienne

    G.O., I'm not putting her into a box, but I am very suspicious of her actions. As I commented earlier in reply to ComradeS, <em>these two women went to the Swedish tabloid Expressen to tell their story.</em> Her lawyer says she was “not sure whether to make a complaint” to the police and just "wanted some advice", yet she was sure about going to the press to tell them Assange is a rapist?

    Latest:
    <a href="/http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/appeal-denied-assange-freed/" rel="nofollow">Appeal denied: Julian Assange to be freed</a>

    From the link:

    <blockquote>At the Tuesday bail hearing, the court set conditions for Assange's release, including a surety of 200,000 pounds ($316,000).

    The court also required that Assange surrender his passport, report to police every day at 6 p.m., submit to a 10 p.m. curfew and wear a tracking device.</blockquote>

  • Guest - Eric Wood

    As someone who does not claim the title of revolutionary and disagrees with some of the positions most in here hold, I would like to offer a perspective from someone who is not supportive of all Wikileaks has done.

    Obviously, the rape charges against Mr. Assange are disturbing, but for me, they are not germane to Wikileaks or the arguments for and against Wikileaks. I condemn rape by anyone. Whether Mr. Assange is guilty of rape does not influence my perception of Wikileaks. As someone earlier pointed out, there have been people who have done great things and evil at the same time. History is replete with geniuses who have been instrumental in making life better for mankind, while being wretched to the human beings they personally know.

    While some who oppose Wikileaks will point to these rape charges, the majority will focus on the exposed information. This fierce determination to hold Mr. Assange up as an infallible icon draws attention away from the facts of the revelations of Wikileaks and damages your cause more than if the rape charges are merely "honey pots."

  • Guest - jp

    he is accused of a category of crime under the Rape statutes in Sweden, but nothing i have seem indicates he is accused of rape in any meaningful sense of the word. not rape,Rape. the endlessly repeated use of this erroneous language is damaging to the truth. assange has written that he thinks the truth eventually prevails, but i can't agree with him.

  • Guest - Seamus

    i guess I have a simple focus .
    I'm glad he's free on bail (albeit on extreme restrictions , House arrest, Ankle monitor, Obliged to report to Police Twice a day , Huge bail etc )
    I don't want him extradited to Sweden and especially the US.
    I want him freed . I don't believe he's a ''rapist ''. I do not believe his acussers regardless of their gender .
    (Speaking of which did people hear about the TV Meterologist in NYC that was busted today after admitting that she falsely accused some Latino men of attacking her in Central Park ? But according to some on this List , either Andrea Dworkin type feminists or men pandering to them , that can't be possible ! It's a ''miscoynist ''myth that women would ever falsely accuse men of crimes , And in cases of sexual allegations one should always ''uphold '' the women , no matter how dubious the allegations ! )
    Anyway if possible i may attend a rally later today in support of Wilkileaks, Bradley Manning , and Julian Assange . Not all present ,will be '' Revolutionaries ''. Probably most would not call themselves that . But they have a clearer sense of What's at stake in this case and the clear lines that are drawn than some on this Socialist list .

  • Guest - Seamus

    Correction : The NYC Weatherwoman only accused falsely accused One Latino Man of sexually assaulting her . My mistake .

  • Guest - Green Red

    Now it is becoming clear.

    New York Times reports on 19th of December that:

    "Still, the police report also provides support for a claim made by Mr. Assange’s supporters that the women involved seemed willing to continue their friendships with Mr. Assange after what they described as sexual misbehavior. The women did not decide to go to the police, the report shows, until they discovered by talking to each other that they had both been sexually involved with him and, by their accounts, had similar experiences."

    = = = = = = == = =

    Mina - a woman friend says that it makes things clear now.

    Instinctively - it is matter of fear of possible diseases that makes unprotected sex frightening for sicknesses.

    But even if no disease involved, its is the pride that gets hurt that one can not count herself as precious enough to be the one and only privilagd person for such special private relations.

    That brings other questions. even not married, the man/woman and their sex should be a private property?

    Mina - quotes Sanaz Metal - a metal fan with her own site and all that about a music band breaking up. Woman, name withheld - guitar player of the band's girlfriend with lots of power in the band caused singer's kicked out of the band. She was upset she managed to date every member of the band except the singer who was more private.

    Anyhow the band broke up. But that is not any different with rich/stronger guy who wants to date each and every girl/woman by showing wealth and strength (not far from beauty and style) or, getting them hooked on drugs and exploiting and even marketing their body.

    It is all confusing and crazy to me. That is why actually I care more for the weak /poor/ ugly who are not model of power and property.

    And don't buy the "glass of water" theory. Technically attraction and faith are security measures of nature for reproduction and having life time company for ups and downs of wealth and health. But so many diseases and so many problems could be resolved if such faithful relations existed.

    Worth reviewing the pamphlet about Marriage in Philippine revolutionary movement.

    And see how our revolutionaries of the day after coming to cities began marrying and ...

    I am not condemning nor condoning WIkileaks' guys relations although of course dislike the way they want to make noise since he is important to say I smashed the big guy (and could very well be paid by the Pentagon/etc.) and beside what didn't Monica Lewinsky do to show her might (and current Clinton didn't conspire with her since she had Bill's leash legally) but, considering single parents living off state and, so many mixed up parents and lots of them having chaotic lives, especially in the US but not only that.... - A registration office reported two marriages and over a hundred divorces on a two week period - while allegations against Wikileaks guy is for fame and fortune or, revenge but, faithful relations have more stablity, given that it is not a preplanned marriage by parents and traditions like in Pakistan and India up to Yemen that for debt from 12 to 15 years old daughter are given for debt and, some poor girls die and lots ar epractically tortured by much stronger bigger male damned mates.

    Money buys a lot and I sure hate capitalism and gives me constant headache and, a wall of confusion to many

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