Is now the time for a forty-year-old cyber activist to sell out?
To sell out, Assange would of course have to violate his ideals. Maybe he has, but it would be wrong to confuse the romantic view that he holds of the world with a rigid commitment to ideology or unwavering idealism. He is a charismatic figure precisely because of the way his contradictions—manifest in WikiLeaks from the start—magically seem to hold together: his self-absorption tempered by his more abstract, but genuinely felt, pursuit of justice; his inexperience or naïveté often masked by his autodidact’s intellect; his utopianism hemmed in by a do-what-it-takes view of combat; his search for hidden truths shrouded by his own secrecy and willingness to equivocate, if not lie. “When you are much brighter than the people you are hanging around with, which I was as a teen-ager, two things happen,” Assange told me while I was reporting “No Secrets,” a profile of him and of WikiLeaks that ran in this magazine two years ago. “First of all, you develop an enormous ego. Secondly, you start to think that everything can be solved with just a bit of thinking—but ideology is too simple to address how things work.”
I’m a student at the University of Kentucky, majoring in English. During the fall of 2009 I studied abroad in Warsaw, Poland. I love the News, Technology, and Tweeting/Blogging but I spend most of my time Reading and Cooking.