Bruce Sterling on Assange and hacker culture

Bruce Sterling has written books on hacker culture and the cypherpunk phenomenon (the direct and closest cultural precedent of Wikileaks and the people who are part of such movements). So, I was sort of waiting for what he would have to say on the Assange case and Wikileaks. I more or less expected him to say something intelligent not only because he is intelligent in his own right (and a damn entertaining guy I had the pleasure to meet and talk to quite extensively here in Amsterdam) but also, because he happens to be partnered to an extraordinary woman who has been instrumental in the activism that made it possible to take the Kosovo mass rapes to court, Jasmina Tesanovic. If there is someone who knows about rape and rape culture, it would be Tesanovic. So, I was hoping he would be, if not directly influenced by her work and political involvement, at least aware of the type of dynamics at play in the issue.

Finally, he has written a piece on the subject, The Blast Shack. And his description of Assange is very succinct but oh so on point (emphasis mine):

Furthermore, and not as any accident, Assange has managed to alienate everyone who knew him best. All his friends think he’s nuts. I’m not too thrilled to see that happen. That’s not a great sign in a consciousness-raising, power-to-the-people, radical political-leader type. Most successful dissidents have serious people skills and are way into revolutionary camaraderie and a charismatic sense of righteousness. They’re into kissing babies, waving bloody shirts, and keeping hope alive. Not this chilly, eldritch guy. He’s a bright, good-looking man who — let’s face it — can’t get next to women without provoking clumsy havoc and a bitter and lasting resentment. That’s half the human race that’s beyond his comprehension there, and I rather surmise that, from his stern point of view, it was sure to be all their fault.

Yeah, Mr. Sterling. You seem to have hit the nail on this one. Although now we know it’s not only Assange who thinks it’s all the women’s fault. He has a whole mob behind him ready to stand by such assertion.

Just as an aside, if you have time, read the whole piece. Not only it is well written and informative, but it is a great background story on the whole hacker culture and the kind of people who are part of the movement.

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