by Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

In 1789 Thomas Paine, American pamphleteer, philosopher and revolutionary, compared the sun to the truth: “[S]uch is the irresistible nature of truth,” Paine declared, “that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.”

Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense and The Rights of Man was wrong. Paine gave away his copyright to Common Sense—allowing printers to pocket the author’s fee. Printers, happy with this state of affairs, preferenced its production over other popular, but less profitable works. Thomas Paine had discovered the essential economic underpinning of the modern press release. Paine’s truth appeared not only because of its coherence but because Paine subsidized its production above competing ideas.

“[S]uch is the irresistible nature of truth,” Paine declared, “that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.”

The modern press release may have been seen as a blessing by the fourth estate, for it made certain ideas more profitable without making other types less. Yet once electronic cut-and-paste came into play, the press release and similar content subsidies proliferated. When the system of ideas regained its economic equilibrium, unsubsidized words became unprofitable and were eliminated. The consequence has been a great shift from words pulled out of writers by reader demand, to words pushed out of writers by special-interest subsidies.

Competition to control perception has resulted in forums of influence, not limited to the world’s great newspapers, behaving as fresh-faced coquettes with too many suitors. These coquettes long ago stopped cooking their own food and now expect everything to be lovingly presented on a silver platter. There are few exceptions and the phenomenon is mostly invisible to outsiders.

Print media, including internet media, should not be looked at as a content production industry, but rather, as a lobby-selection industry, which balances production subsidies with reader interest. In this manner it is analogous to the legislative economy which balances subsidies from political lobbies with electoral credulity.

In the last two weeks, the English Wikileaks has obtained and released over 50 individual or collected, original, unreported, confidential, classified or censored documents, books, photos or films.

You may have heard of some of them, for instance:

But if you did, it was because Wikileaks lobbied for their uptake and like everyone else had its writers bribe everyone with subsidized copy. Take a look at the material, at least one part in 4 is worthy of reportage somewhere, and ask yourself why none has been reported without our intervention—not even to the most obscure “activist” blog.

In the last six months Wikileaks has exposed a lot of important stories, which have produced results from swinging the Dec 2007 Kenyan election to press conferences by the Iranian leadership, but every re-reported revelation has been the result of our staff lobbying other venues and providing content subsidies in excess of the source material.

In the last six months Wikileaks has exposed a lot of important stories, which have produced results from swinging the Dec 2007 Kenyan election to press conferences by the Iranian leadership.

For example, there has been no reportage about our release of this approachable, beautiful, and region-defining leaked intelligence book on North Korea.

Or this 2007 classified UK/US spy plane compendium and tasking guide, with plenty of approachable pictures and released in violation of the Official Secrets Act.

Or this detailed classified manual on JDAM, the most strategically significant U.S. military development in the past 15 years. A single B2 stealth bomber is capable of releasing 80 pre-targeted JDAM fitted bombs and leveling all the critical infrastructure of a medium-sized city in one overflight. Most bombings in Iraq are now JDAM.

Wikileaks has not yet pushed this material because it has limited resources. Last week we focused, successfully, on reforming the prison system in western Iraq.

Any journalist, any blogger, any academic, and indeed any human being who could set aside a cumulative half a day to read and make a few phone calls could say something worthwhile, original and interesting using these documents. Professional journalists won’t without intervention because it doesn’t do anyone a favor that can be called in later and few can break even without plagiarism. Internet media certainly won’t—with few exceptions, it has relegated itself to revealing the mood of the amateur commentariat. Its primary motivation is to demonstrate its authors’ in-group loyalties on the issue du jour; consequently it slavishly copies from the very professional press it maligns, rarely adding more than is necessary to advertise peer-value conformity.

What does it mean when only those facts about the world with economic powers behind them can be heard?

What does it mean when only those facts about the world with economic powers behind them can be heard, when the truth lays naked before the world and no one will be the first to speak without payment or subsidy? Wikileaks’ unreported material is only the most visible wave on a black ocean of truth in draws of the fourth estate, waiting for a lobby to subsidize its revelation into a profitable endeavor.

The sun of truth is the only guiding beacon civilization has at its disposal. If we are to flourish in reality we must ultimately use it to chart our course. To do otherwise is to drift aimlessly in the dark, decoupled from the real world and hearkening to every imagined wave.

But I leave you with a quote from Paine:

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

And we will.

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5 Comments on “Julian Assange: The Hidden Curse of Thomas Paine

  1. See, opening up those secrets is holding up a mirror – the effect is at the people involved.
    It is effective without the media.
    Media has its function though in doing up the exposure.
    Humans can do understatement.

    Come home soon.


    1. dear julian,
      i humbly think i understand your points, although im still amiss as to why thomas paine was wrong. By giving away the copyright to his intellectual property he assured the publication of his works. He was motivated to spread his “truth” and manipulated the prime motivation (greed) of the printers to insure success. He sacrificed wealth for posterity and the greater good. How was he wrong?
      Of course, whilst there is still a monopoly of MSM ownership where they will only publish what fits their mutual polar narratives and furthers their agendas, just like the sun, without the truth, everything human dies.
      Please do not be disheartened. I know that people do and will, in the far long term, be using your “copyright free” secured material as research bona fides to write historical novels, history books, movies and documentaries for centuries to come.
      May you continue in creating a new library of Alexandria, perhaps even finishing something aaron shwartz considered.
      I know the hidden Gods wont let the extremists burn down your expanding library.
      Thank you for guarding humanity’s truth, it can be hot so close to the son.

  2. ok,
    upon rereading perhaps you meant paine was wrong in relation to the quote in your first paragraph ; that all truth asks is for the liberty to appear. Although if that was the case the first line of your second paragraph should have ended the first paragraph.
    Even so, i dont see how that quote was wrong. Like the sun, the truth always breaks through eventually, at first through the tiniest of cracks but eventually no matter how dark the lies, the world turns and truth prevails.
    So keep on shining. Yes a golden dawn, but without sacrificing babies etc…

  3. Julian Assange is no Thomas Pain. More an egotistical bore that thinks he is a “gate keeper” Nice comparison except Thomas Paine paid the ultimate price well Julian hides in an embassy avoiding rape allegations.

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