RECOMMENDED READING: Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Julian Assange II, e-flux


HUO: Do you think the Western world as a whole is being Putinized?

JA: The Western world is slowly being Putinized. It has progressed the most in the United States. But there is a rivalry with the banking sector, and it’s not clear who is going to win. It’s not even clear, as time goes by, that these will even be two separate, rival systems. Rather, the privatization of the national security sector means that, as time goes by, the connections between Wall Street and the national security sector are starting to disappear, because you have shared ownership of, say, Lockheed Martin or Boeing. And then you have cross investments and portfolios and credit default swaps, and so forth, on the functions of these intelligence contractors and military contractors. So, they are actually starting to merge at critical points. But, looking at the behavior of the White House, it’s clear that still within the White House—and in influences upon the White House—that there are still some distinctive differences between these two groups. Obama’s backers are from Wall Street. They are from his banking sector, his big money. And he does not actually have a handle on the intelligence and military patronage network. So it’s like he’s sitting on some cake mix, which is this military intelligence patronage network. As it grows stronger, he just has to sort of rise up with it as it moves in a particular direction. He has to move with it, because he doesn’t have a handle on it. He doesn’t have any spoon he can stick into it to move it around, because his family doesn’t have anything to do with this system. They’re not meshed with the system, so he can’t control it, whereas Hillary has significant connections within that system. And we can look at something like when it was announced that Knopf had signed an 800,000 dollars deal for my book to be published in the US, and I stated that I would use a portion of this money to keep WikiLeaks afloat. Peter T. King, the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee—a powerful position in United States Congress—wrote to Timothy C. Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, and personally asked him to add Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as an organization to the US Specially Designated Nationals List, which is the US embargo list. So in the way that Cuba is embargoed from all economic interaction with any US citizen under penalty of criminal action, I, personally, would be embargoed from any economic interaction with any US citizen, and so would WikiLeaks. Timothy C. Geithner then smacked this request back within 48 hours and denied it. It’s very unusual. Geithner is right from the elite of the Wall Street patronage network. And as US Treasury Secretary, he’s remained there. In terms of a diplomatic signal, that was very interesting. As a purely technocratic response, Geithner could have sat on it for two, three weeks, to then reject or accept it for technical reasons. To knock it back so quickly is to say, no, we’re deliberately sending a signal that we don’t want that to happen. And it’s very easy to understand, because the national security, government, and private sector in the United States flourishes from its lack of accountability, from its secrecy. That’s how it’s able to gradually increase its power. But WikiLeaks is holding that power to account. To generate or to encourage the adoption of a position where publishing or revealing information about the national security sector is illegal—or will result in being added to the US Specially Designated Nationals List—is to foster the power and expansion of that national security patronage network at the economic and power expense of the Wall Street network.

— EXCERPT FROM "IN CONVERSATION WITH JULIAN ASSANGE, PART II BY HANS ULRICH OBRIST, E-FLUX JOURNAL. Assange also responds to questions posed to him by artists Goldin+Senneby, Paul Chan, Metahaven (Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk), Martha Rosler, Luis Camnitzer, Superflex, Philippe Parreno, and Ai Weiwei. (Part I)