JA: Hello Sydney can you hear me … just nod or wave if you can hear me – Yes! OK so, so I hear from the introductory remarks arhh … that apparently this is the closing key note arhh so, I will have to completely throw away everything and, and start afresh .. but at least you will be able to see me think. Now, um when I was asked to do this I thought really? A keynote to arh a whole lot of digital arh people involved in art can they really understand or comprehend arh anything arh about what we have been doing arh or what I, and the people ah close to me have been going through and I started to reflect on art ah and as someone who has been involved ah and pushing my life to the most arhh serious of matters where we feel and live keenly because of the risks we take. I wondered well, does art in the digital age really matter at all? Is it worth a damn arh or is it just a bunch of art wankers? So, I think that that’s a really serious question um are we just wasting our time and we must ask this of ourselves everyday because every day that we do not live up to our principles is a wasted day. Every day that we do not strengthen our character by living out our principles is a wasted day. So, are there principles involved in digital art are there any at all? Why have some people close to us involved and actually you can see this logo comes from some of these people. This logo was developed by an Australian, it was developed by a young woman whose family was originally from Poland, and she was, before she designed this logo, immediately before arh a quantum teleportation physicist that I met at the Australian National University and it represents the flow of information from a dark world bringing it into the light and when art is done right that is what it does. It represents some idealised form, some direction which we may follow. Like a north star or directions on the compass is not something of this world but rather it is a direction that we can either chose to strive to or flee from in this world. That coalition forms that basic understanding, finding the essence of something is what has made WikiLeaks a success. We took on not everything but rather the essence of the hardest thing. We looked for what is the hardest game in town, the hardest situation to break through in publishing communication. Not to publish everything but to find that one thing, that true thing, that provably hard thing and to tackle that. To find the essence of the problem and get at the essence of the problem and by getting at its essence try and make real progress for all the rest and the essence here is an economic and political essence. The more economic power, the more political power that is put into suppressing something the greater the signal it gives off, perhaps if it is released it will change the world. So, finding these forms and pursuing them not just in art but everywhere is an important way of understanding the world and is an important way of changing the world. So this, the exploration of basic forms, the exploration of directions, the exploration of things that are not in this world in order to understand where we are and gain a perspective. This is what art in general is good for, not just electronic art, and it is something worth pursuing and even if only 1% actually has any discovery, actually provides a compass, even if only 1% and the 99% is an illusion or it is mere wankery then it’s an important 1% to keep and perhaps it is worth all the nonsense that we se at conferences like this one, perhaps, I don’t know…you tell me?
Now, this week has been an important week for us, it’s been an important week for everyone that is connected to the internet and to understand that everyone connected to the internet must understand that once upon a time, just going back 5 or 6 years ago we could talk about people connected to the internet and we could talk about others we can’t do that anymore the internet has penetrated every aspect of our society and our society has penetrated every aspect of the internet. These two civilisations have merged and fed upon one another and enriched one another and distorted each other and there is no greater reflection of that than the revelations over the last week of Edward Snowden and there is no greater example of that than the trail, continuing this week, beginning last Monday, of Bradley Manning in the United States. Why is that? Edward Snowden reveled something that I have been speaking about for along time, provided clear concrete proof almost perhaps an artistic idealised form of that proof that as the internet has penetrated every aspect of society riding on with it is mass surveillance. Mass surveillance by the National Security Agency of the United States work in co-operation with its partners and other countries trying to do the same thing although not nearly as effectively. You would have seen, some of you hopefully, have seen graph produced in the four pages released by the mainstream media detailing the National Security Agency’s PRISM program. It shows the inter-flows of information between continents and that is how people in this game look at it. Just like oil pipelines connecting the raw energy supplies of entire continents. We now have a new source of wealth a new war for it, a new great game for the bulk flows of information that connect humanity together, to grab onto them to surround them like armies surround oil wells, or customs agents surround goods crossing the border. That graph shows for example shows that 99% of communications flows from Latin America flow out through the United States to get to Australia, to get to Asia, to get to Europe and as they pass through the United States they’re intercepted, indexed, stored by the National Security Agency. Similarly, it shows that when Australians communicate to Latin America and when they communicate to Europe their communications flow through bulk interception points with the National Security Agency. There has been a change that has occurred under Obama, let’s go back to Bush. Some of these revelations about arh the bulk collections of telecommunications arh call records in the United States from Horizon and AT&T arh arh came out in 2006 they come out under the Bush Government. What happened there? Well, there was an Executive Order given, that Executive Order pushed those arh companies to comply. Promise, promise them immunity arhh Bush corrupted the Presidency corrupted the Constitution, corrupted a few big telecommunications companies in the United States but we have seen a transition under Obama. Obama promised more transparency, he promised many things. Those people who were watching closely at how he appointed his security advisors understood long before he was elected, those promises would not be fulfilled. What Obama has done is similar to what most good democrats do, they do it well on paper but corrupt the system. While Bush corrupted the Presidency and a few telecommunications companies, Obama, in order to do things properly, in order to do things on paper not only corrupted the Presidency, he corrupted the Courts. He corrupted the Pfizer Court which issues the secret orders, he corrupted the Senate Oversight Committees that oversee the intelligence agencies that oversees the Pfizer Court, he corrupted political opposition in the media and we have seen the New York Times an essentially democratic National Security Agency whistleblower revelations then. So, Obama then once finished with corrupting the mechanisms of government moved on to apply leverage to corrupt all the big US tech companies; Google, Facebook, Skype, Microsoft all of them sucked into this new regime. Now, we might think that the Internet is a place where we are all equals and we all communicate. It is a new civilian world a new world where we can develop our ideas and understandings how planet earth actual works where in some sense we are all equal because we can all communicate to everyone. They may not want to listen, but if they do they can send it to anyone but it is not an equal place. This weeks revelations have proven that is it very far from an equal place and it is very far from a civilians…civilian place.
The Internet has been transformed into a militarily occupied state. When all of our private communications, heart felt, the inter core of our life, communications between boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, between business partners even between bureaucracies and states, when all those communications are swept up, hovered up into a vast collection apparatus, indexed and stored for all time available only to a select few. Then we are in the situation that we have a tank on the street of the inner core of our lives, where we have a soldier under our bed listening to everything that s husband and wife says to one another when they are communicating of email of sms. The penetration of the digital on civilian life is also the penetration of the military and intelligence agencies of civilian life. Now, I want to go back and look at what I wrote in this book arh ‘Cypher Punks’ back in October 2012, now there is a reason I don’t hold it up for long because it is available in almost every country but Australia. It’s even available in London of all places umm I wrote then that the world is not sliding but galloping into a new trans-national dystopia this development has not been properly recognised outside of national security circles, it has been hidden by secrecy, by complexity and by scale. The Internet our greatest too of emancipation has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism that we have ever seen the Internet has become a threat to human civilisation. These transformations have come about silently because those who know what is going on in the global surveillance industry have no incentive to speak out. Left to its own trajectory in some years global civilization will be a post modern surveillance dystopia from which escape from all but the most skilled individuals will be impossible. In fact, we may already be there and I go on to call for action. We must communicate what we have learned while there is still a chance for you the reader to understand and act [on] what is happening. It is time to take up the arms of our New World the Internet and I’ll explain what those arms are, to fight for ourselves and those we love. Our task is to secure self-determination where we can and to hold back the coming dystopia where we cannot and if all else fails to accelerate its destruction. Now, don’t know if Edward Snowden read those words but I do know that he read and paid close attention to the case of Bradley Manning and the community of people arh that I’m involved in and has been trying to disclose this phenomena for some time. What Snowden provided was, going back to our description of art an idealised proof. The provided a direction where we can, he provided a clear direction so that we can understand where we are now and for that he is certainly a hero in his character but he is also a here to all. In fact, of humanity, all humanity because this phenomena is something that affects all humanity and if we are not careful is going to rip out the most important and cherished aspects of our freedom in this new world that we have been transforming, galloping into with such glee.
Now, that seems like a very negative description of the state of the world, but I want to talk about another phenomena. Simultaneously, as the internet has penetrated society and military and security agencies have come in together with it, like crabs in the tide, and penetrated and intercepted our most important communications. We have over the last 4 years developed a new body politic, an unconscious body politic, that is not even aware yet of itself. That new bo..body politic is natural, if a group of people are placed together for the first time in an island or this audience stayed in this hall for the next 6 months it would develop an understanding about what it found to be important and what its hopes were and what its dreams were. The internet in bringing people together in penetrating nearly every society has created a new realm were political discussion, discussion about values, discussion about what is important to us, as a race as a human race, has developed. Now, it is still unrecognised to most of the people who are going through it but of course it is only natural, it cannot be anything else, when we put people together and we have them communicate they develop certain values and understanding. The transition over the last 4 years has been to take ahrm the internet from a political apathetic space into a political space, where those people who are engaged with it understand the decisions that affect the internet or also affect their lives on-line and affect their lives off-line. They want to fight to preserve the things they find important and fight to suppress those who would take them away and the alleged act..actions of Bradley Manning and Snowden and many others are part of that phenomenon, part of that development of a new understanding of who we are as international people. Of course, this has come with the youngest people, people under the age of 20. People who were in effect born into this world, who went through their initial struggles of adulthood in this world, who are educated by this world, who are educated by our beliefs and by what we have seen and by this mass political education the undreamt of political education. In human history there has never been such a moment where so many people, from so many places have seen what the world its really like, what their place in the world is, what the place and behaviour of others near to them truly is. From that there has been a distillation of values. Now, it is only beginning and they are still hard to see and most people involved still can’t see them but we have already something that is clear to me a distillation of the first value of our new global civilisation. And that first value is something that is coupled to the network itself. It is the right to communicate, the right to speak what we believe, the right to receive information from others, it is those rights which are associated in the United Nations Article 19 the right to receive, impart information in any medium across frontiers. Of course that is the first right to comes out as it is inherent in the interaction and when we see proper polls, an open poll, for any organistation or individual who best reflects the values of this new world who do we see winning? In 2012 the open Human Rights Award that anyone could vote from California, who was it won by, was it won by some princess, was it won by the head of Amnesty? No, it was won by Bradley Manning, because he symbolises the values of this new world. In 2013 it was conducted again, who won it in 2013? I won it in 2013, as a symbol that my struggle is a symbol for the values that are important in this New World. The 2012, Guardian Person of the Year, who won it with a 70% majority? Was it Pussy Riot from Russia also on the poll? No, they received 2.3% of the vote. In the English speaking world, who won that poll, with 70% of the vote? It was Bradley Manning because he represents through his struggle the values of this New World. If we go back to Time Magazine in 2011 their open poll on who should win the Time Magazine Person of the Year, who won it? Anonymous, because they represent the values that people find important in this struggle. We go back to 2010 when I was in prison and in solitary confinement, who won the Time Magazine Person of the Year? I did, with 20 times the vote of Mark Zuckerburg who Time Magazine decided to give the award to. Through these democratic mechanisms we can see the arh true beliefs of people, international people, at least in English being reflected by voting for those that they find to be symbols of what they believe to be important. It’s not that arh Julian Assange is so cool, it’s not that Bradley Manning is so cool, it’s rather that their struggle represents this symbol that all of us treasure and even though we have not yet, perhaps consciously understood what rights we want to enshrine and to uplift, what distilled rights, what idealised forms of rights that we want in the new international world that has been connected by the Internet. We see people that are struggling for those rights and we recognise in their struggle somehow they represent what we truly believe. So, there is a question, what other idealised forms of rights and values will be distilled and that is in part your job as artists to find them, to experiment and present them.
Now coming to Australia, if we look at the polling arh over the last 4 years, oh sorry, over the last year and a half, 4 polls arhh for me and for the WikiLeaks Party, once again, it’s not that Julian Assange is such a fantastic fellow or the WikiLeaks Party is such a brilliant organisation, I only know too well some of its difficulties and struggles as a young organisation but rather it represents, clearly represents something that people find to be value..valuable. We have had err all across all those polls WikiLeaks arh across the polling for me. We see 25% nationwide support by the Labor Party’s own polling agency UMR, 25% voting intention arh the first poll arrh a year and a half ago. Again, 26% arh 26% again arh and the most recent poll, another one by Morgan Research 26% arh voting intention for me in Victoria. If we look for people under the age of 40 Australia wide 40% voting intention, something is going on, something really remarkable is going on. It’s not that WikiLeaks is such an incredible organisation, rather the values that it represents by its struggle is something that people want to hold up and capture as a symbol and protect and it’s not that often that arh it’s not that often that you are in the luxurious position arh of arrh seeing an organisation or a person really fight for their values arh and our struggle ah has shown arhh that we won’t be cowered arh..that we really believe in this stuff arh if we didn’t believe in it we would have walked a long time ago…in fear or taken a bribe etc um…now other people may equally have just a strong as values but they haven’t been through arh the conflict that has proven their values in this way and that’s an important thing. Now, going back to the mass interception that is occurring, how can we struggle against this? Well, one way, yes there techni..technical steps such as cryptography the other is to understand the power of this new body politic that has developed internationally in English and in other languages and domestically in Australia, to harness this new body politic. We always talk about the internet being the one thing that can smash through the manufacture of consent that historical manufacture of consent by corrupt media organisations arh and it’s true arrh the internet has um largely provided a mechanism to get around the worst of this manufacturing of consent but arrh when we see the um the mandate, th..the democratic mandate coming out of these polls we can understand that there’s another way to get change to..to erect these values as part of a measured mandate, that’s what elections are about when they work well. It’s to measure what people really want, what the majority of people want, what values they find to be important and then to instill those values in a in an individual or a group of individuals who people are confident will represent them. Let’s understand how this surveillance system arh Snowden arhh has most forcibly exposed this week is represented in Australia. Philip Dowling, in the Sydney Morning Herald, a fine national security journalist arh has revealed there is extensive interlinks and for those people that have been following the spy agencies err like me for 20 years that’s no surprise at all. arh That the Defence Signals Directorate, DSD in Australia is part of this system, is part of the collection system but arrr um and we see that some of the documents themselves that Snowden has released shows that GTHQ, the sister organisation of the National Security Agency and the DSD entered into the prison program back arhh in err 2000 ah and 11. The anglophone alliance of security organisations arh it is being knitted together in a tighter and tighter manner. If Australia had a population of 200 million, perhaps in some ways that could be acceptable although there’s still a risk of what William Binney, National Security scientist it’s called turn key totalitarianism. Where you build all the structure for totalitarianism, just like similar structures erected under the Stasi, we have built it now, all it requires is a bad government and arguably looking at the extra-judicial assassinations programs in the United States perhaps we already have that. We’ve already built this structure it just requires turning the key. Now, in Australia we have less than a tenth of the population of the United States, Australia is being turned into a US aircraft carrier in the Pacific, it’s been turned into a giant signals interception station.
Australia needs a strong defence, every country needs a strong defence if it is to keep it’s sovereignty if it is to keep its own self determination and not have it imposed by others but even Malcolm Fraser now says that effectively that Australia has been overrun by US interests and ha..that works at a practical level, it works by cross training programs where key members of the Australian Military and key members of the Defense Signals Directorate among others are sucked into this system, flown of to the US get the permit. It works at a higher level the individuals like Bob Carr and Mark Arbib sucked into the US system, back in the 70s, lifted up arh in various ways, given information um about how to pursue their careers. Mark Arbib formally a Member of Cabinet in Australia, Australian Labor Cabinet, one of the primary power brokers that put Gillard in place arh in the arh coup arrh against Rudd arh described in the cables release by WikiLeaks as a long time arh source to the US Embassy, a source in fact they describe throughout arh his political rise. Australia is the easiest place in the world for US intelligence agencies to work, we have one tenth, less than one tenth of the population of the United States and we are the easiest country in the world to work, why? Because we speak English, because our structures are basically the same as the United States we’re a younger country and so the hidden class structure is not so hidden as it is as for example here in the United Kingdom. It is, it was referred to as, Australia was referred to back in the..in the 1960s arh by the KGB as the the place you go arh for R and R arrh similarly arh from the CIA. The penetration of the Australian Union Movement by La..by successive so called Labor attache working out of the US Embassy is something that has been happening since the 60s. arh That’s why you see Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr arh even admit arhh that to meeting on his 20s alone as he was working with the Unions arh with the US Embassy at least three times. What does a New South Wales Union man have to do with arhh the United States Embassy. Similar figures have been corrupted in Australian politics and the majority from the Australian Labor Party. Like Bob Hawke arh um still a relatively popular figure in Australia but arh the Kissinger Cables released by WikiLeaks demonstrate the extent arhh partly demonstrate the extent arh of his political corruption arh his attempted political subversion and giving political intelligence on the Whitlam Government. So, Australia really has a difficult time to secure it’s own sovereignty we have to take absolute care that this militarisation of cyber space, the militarisation of civilian life arh is kept as far as possible from Australia. Not by weakening Australia’s ah security or it’s military but rather by strengthening them. By making them more independent, so they are actually working for Australian’s values to strengthen the Australian government to strengthen Canberra. So, it is actually working for Australians and not networks arh that people like Mark Ahbib or Bob Hawke or uh the Foreign Minister Bob Carr, have been developing for years, who do they work for when they get into Canberra really? Of course they represent their networks. The US Embassy arh Bob Carr who does he really represent? Well he also represents Macquarie Bank, you know exactly where he is going to go after the election, he’ll go off to some high paid US consulting job or back to Macquarie Bank arrh similarly for Gillard and her lot. arhh They can see the ship is going down so, what are they doing? They’re selling off the heirlooms as fast as possible, doing favours for friends arh in order to find another ship to escape to.
That’s the reality of Australian politics and it has to be stopped, and it has to be stopped by bringing people who have proven themselves to be incorruptible arh to this phenomenon arh bringing them into Canberra arh and to clean out this sort of activity. It also needs to be done by laying down protective legislation. In 2011 to 2012 there were 300,000 warrantless at least 300,000 warrantless collection of..collections of data on Australian citizens by Australian Police Forces and the Attorney Generals Office. That doesn’t include the bulk interception arh that the National Security Agency is doing arh runs to, arh for the United States alone arh um 2 billion interceptions per month just through the US IT companies um arh the 300,000 figure arh is just what we can see easily. So, we have to ask the question, given the relationship between the Defense Signals Directorate Australian’s, bulk spying agency and the National Security Agency and ASIO and the CIA and the National Security Agency are we seeing an effective laundry happening, because this is happening in other countries. So, the United States has some legislation very, very poorly applied and poorly interpreted arh saying that well under certain circumstances they can intercept telecommunications content of Americans, they can intercept the metadata the description of who speaks to who which reveals the whole social structure arh of a country, they can intercept all that without a warrant um but they need to be a little more careful about intercepting Americans but th..the way this intelligence game has worked in the past these countries just intercept their citizens for each other. The Defence Signals Directorate can be tasked by the United States to intercepted arrh US citizens for which they’re concerned that there may need to be some kind of judicial oversight and then simple pass on the information and vice versa. So, how much of the vast hoovering apparatus that the National Security Agency has constructed is in fact being accessed by DSD and we know, we know that a lot of..it’s a spooky reminder um we know that a lot of information is being pulled across according to the report by Philip Dowling’s to first understand what is going on. These revelations by Snowden, if we go back 2 weeks they weren’t there. We lived, will live in that same world but we didn’t understand what world we lived in. How many other things exist in the world, right now, that we don’t know about. Well, of course statistically there must be arh many more revelations of a much vaster scale the arh true history, which exists and underpins the nature of our current civilisation. So, we must first start to reveal what is actually going on, we must have full and proper transparent reporting on the behaviour of ASIO, DSD and the other intelligence organisations in Australia. What are the nature of their sharing operations with the United States? What information are they collecting on Australians arh the arh ASIO and DSD must be susceptible to the Freedom of Information Act arh even the CIA in the United States is arh susceptible to the Freedom of Information Act. Of course it finds many excuses to avoid responding to the Freedom of Information Act arh such as national security exception or cannot confirm or deny and so on arh but is simply not acceptable to ring fence off arh an organisation like ASIO which is increased nearly 4 times in size in the last 8 years to ring fence it of and..and create a land where transparency does not apply, where there can be no scrutiny to its activities when we know it’s associated with a system with unprecedented abuse and unprecedented danger. ASIO and DSD must be susceptible to Freedom of Information Act requests it must be possible for us as Australians to understand what the Australian government is doing and how it is behaving and how it is dispensing authority. Similarly, where privacy is violated it must be done so under the most stringent of conditions, there must be an audit trail. It cannot be the case that without warrants, hundreds of thousands of Australians are intercepted per year that is not acceptable.
The WikiLeaks Party, if it is elected to government will insist that all interceptions of Australians takes place under judic..under a judicial basis and those authorities intercepting Australians must report twice yearly to Parliament about their activities and they must be susceptible to the Freedom of Information Act and it’s not enough to simply to say this in legislation there must be political will to defend and expose. We see legislation everywhere, we also see that legislation is not enforced and it is not carried out arh it is not my intent to go into politics into Australia and sit there and constantly write laws that are not enforced, rather the Australian Parliament is a platform to erect arh to erect and gain certain discussions in the Australian populous and it is the political will that is revealed by that..those discussions which enforce discipline by the Australian government. OK arh so, in closing arh and asking for questions, I would like to direct you to something that many people have asked me it is about civic courage. When I was young I believed it was intelligence that was the rare commodity. If only people had intelligence they could see further and having seen further they would understand and everything else would come out from that. Yes systems are hidden by complexity and need intelligence to cut through them they need idealised forms they need simplification arh so we can understand them, they are also hidden however by secrecy arh and no amount of intelligence alone will cut through secrecy. What is needed to cut through secrecy is some form of civic courage and men like arh Mr. Snowden have shown that extreme degree of civic courage but when you think about Mr. Snowden and you say I couldn’t possibly do that, how could I do that? I wouldn’t even know where to begin arh to do that. I don’t know that I could achieve anything important and the risks seem profound, I have children that need to be protected, I have arhh students that I need to care for, how could I simply leap off a bridge like that? Well, of course you shouldn’t leap of a bridge what you must do is experiment and um I feel the same fears as everyone else as everyone in this room. arh I feel those fears and perhaps even more because I have had so much experience um with the dark side arh of a number of states but if we look at some simple aspects of fear, for example; if you go out a night to collect your mail, in the post office box and it’s dark, you move with great trepidation because it’s dark, but in the light you move with speed and confidence. What’s the difference? It’s the same post office box, it’s probably the same mail. The only difference is that you know more and can see more and adjust the speed of your approach according to your knowledge, that’s the only difference. So, by carefully considering and understanding a situation arh you can act in a smart manner, um which gives the appearance of fearlessness, but it’s not fearlessness it’s just an understand it’s not fearlessness. It’s just understanding the phenomena and moving carefully and never arh taking on fear as a prejudice. Always challenging the perception of fear through understanding, that’s where the courage comes in. The courage comes in to question is this activity that everyone says is fearful, that everyone says is dangerous, that everyone says will lead to your destruction or your alienation or businesses taking action against you or governments taking action against you. Is that true? Or is that perception because the only mechanism that abusive organisations like the Pentagon, like the National Security Agency, like those abusive elements of ASIO arh need is the perception of fear, the perception of risk. That is all they need in order to conduct themselves and they are in the business of instilling fear into people in order to get away with more. That is their business, instill fear in order to force people to do things. So we must always test every prejudice we have with about what is a risk and what is an opportunity, always balance these two together umm don’t leap off a bridge, that would be absurd but leap off a small stool and see if that works and then something a bit higher and then as you develop confidence in yourself and your..an understanding of the environment in which you operate arh the political environment, the intelligence environment, the social environment you can proceed with ever greater confidence with what your doing. This situation for me, which of course looks to the outside world extremely difficult and I’ll not say it doesn’t have it’s downside but actually arh we are very confident arh of winning. I came to this Embassy as part of a broader strategy arh for WikiLeaks. A strategy to gain recognition for what we have been through to gain the arh support of Latin America which we have, which we have done um and I found when I was in solitary confinement, when I was in the darkest times that I, that I have had in the last few years um stuck in the basement of Wandsworth Prison, here in the UK um locked in completely at all times well I considered carefully arh had I assessed um the risks correctly had I, had I in fact had a reverse prejudice that in fact the risks were much more than I thought arh no, in fact I thought to myself no, the way this situation is going it is actually helpful to our course for me to be in prison. For awhile, not forever but for a small while and um I could see that a time would come and I would be released arh and similarly here I can see the situation is very useful arh for um projecting those principles that I believe in and every day we are able to project our principals into the world, every day we are able to operate in such a way as we follow our beliefs. Our true beliefs, not what we want other people to think, not what would look cool to others but what we truly believe um everyday that we follow that arh is a day that has been truly lived and we only live once so it is the easiest thing in the world, it is the most pleasing thing in the world arh to follow your principles in this way. And I’m arh in the luxurious position arh where I’m able to follow my principles. There are certain difficulties as there are in everything that we do um but don’t be scared for following your principles. Always test, test, test and test to see whether you are scared of an untrue prejudice. Thank you.
Thank you so much Julian for your address. Um now to, we don’t have a lot of time left, so three questions. I’m going to ask Vicki to bring up the bowl. Um and what I’m going to ask you for th..three unlike I said earlier is if you could come down to the microphone here and then Julian will be able to see you in London.
1st question: Hello Julian I’m curious to listening to what you were discussing that arh Australian politicians are sucked up into this system to through forces a bit beyond them. I’m very curious of what you think the role of these companies these big tech firms have in up pulling the value of WikiLeaks. I’m wondering what incentive they have to do so and also what arh tools they have at there disposal to repress these infringements.
JA: I’ll tell you a story and I have not said it in public before. You ask about the big tech companies and what their role is and of course there is no bigger company involved in our lives than Google arh many of you hear would probably have Google email arh but what you don’t know is that nearly every single web page you visit has embedded in it a Google advertisment or a Google tracking to..tool called Google Analytics that means every single webpage just about that you visit, is recorded by Google. So, Google knows every website you visit even if you think you don’t use Google, a complete history of you. Google knows what your search, what you search for arh it can see as Snowden described your thought forming as you type arh do you know what you were thinking about 2 years 3 months ago (No – from questioner) exactly, you don’t know, not even your Mother knows arh but Google knows. So, are the question about how complicit Google is with the erection of this new arh this new transnational surveillance state that have been erecting itself most clearly in Anglophones sphere but it also spreads through most of the NATO countries um is it a force against that or is it a force for it. Well back in 2011 I had a secret meeting with the then Chairman of Google err Eric Smidt, who came out to see me under house arrest arh together with 3 others. Now, you might think that therefore represents that arh the big boys in Google are secretly on the side of organisations like WikiLeaks arh that’s not true, they have a much more complex agenda. Who came to see me, Eric Smidt Chairman of Google and immediately former CEO just 3 months before hand umm Lisa Shields his girlfriend who is the Media Manager for the Council of Foreign Relations and has extensive dealings to the State Department, Scott Malcolmson former senior State Department Adviser now Media Manager of the International Crisis Group and Jared Cohen, Jared Cohen the Adviser to Hilary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, a young wantabe Kissinger figure a Generation Y wantabe Kissinger. Those people had as a pretext for a visit to me their research of a book and on WikiLeaks in fact you can find the transcript of that recording to me arh which we released in full. That book itself is called The New Digital Age, I published a review of it arh in the New York Times about 2 weeks ago arh just search for arh New Digital, just search for Eric Smidt/Julian Assange and you’ll find it. What’s that book about well on the back it has a series of endorsements. The endorsements are Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Madelaine Albright, Hayden, for..immediately former head of the CIA and National Security Agency and Tony Blair, one of if not the most famous war monger in the world presently. Inside the book in acknowledgements, the first acknowledgement it’s not in alphabetical order it’s in order of desire to acknowledge. First acknowledgment Henry Kissinger, so this book in fact is a mechanism by which Google seeks not to sell books for Eric Smidt not to sell books, he’s worth 6.1 billion dollars but rather to project itself into the Washington all power the Kissingers and the Blairs and the Clintons, former Head of the National Security Agency, the CIA. Project itself there and show that Google can be a geopolitical visionary, that it can see further about all America’s interests and the writing in the book is similarly catered similarly presented, it is in fact, Jared Cohen and the State Department now working for Google, made Director of Google ideas, Director of Google’s own think tank effectively Google’s Director for Google regime change, if you look at his activities written by him channelling Eric Smidt. So, the State Department channelling Silicon Valley. And you go OK well that’s a description of the book, yes it is very interesting that Kissinger’s the person in the acknowledgements and a collection of cast of characters on the back but is there anything more than that, yeah there’s a lot more than that um 2 months after that meeting and I have not described this publicly before. We had a reason to call Hilary Clinton a legal reason to call Hilary Clinton and to document that we were calling Hilary Clinton and as some people, well it’s an interesting story actually if you call the front desk of the State Department and ask for Hilary Clinton can you actually get up to Hilary Clinton well we’ve become good at, good at this sort of game. So, you do a person to person call um have someone pretending to be my PA are wanting to place a connection of Julian Assange and Hilary Clinton and so it starts to work up the ladders of bureaucracy up and up and up the chain it goes arh those people who have seen Doctor Strangelove may remember this fantastic scene arh on th army base arh where he’s trying to call the White House from a, trying to speak to the President on a busted payphone and put on hold and it gradually moving through the levels. Ok so we moved through the levels arh and get to Hilary’s senior Legal Advisor and Hilary is outside the Department ah but there will be a call back. What happens? Well, one of our people Joseph Farrell um some of you may arh recognise him um receives a call from Lisa Sheilds, Eric Smidt’s girlfriend as the back channel for Hilary Clinton, as the secret back channel. So, what had actually happened? The Google guys, which were really kind of State Department guys came and paid basically an unofficial State Department visit to Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks crew while I was under house arrest then they went back and reported that information at the highest level in the State Department such that when someone called the State Department claiming to be my PA, what was the result? Well we got up and up, went up to er to the highest levels Hilary’s Senior Legal Advisor and then it was just in their, in their minds what had happened. Arhh so a call from someone that says their Julian’s PA how can we really verify they are really Julian’s PA, well that’s right Lisa Shields and Jared Cohen they were just out there arh yeah used Eric Smidt’s girlfriend, the Chairman of Google’s girlfriend as the back channel so at this level of US society it’s all musical chairs. Now Google started out as part of Californian graduate student culture. A very nice arh gentle, humane, somewhat naive and somewhat privileged arh culture around Berkeley arh in the Bay area of Silicon Valley. Pretty decent arh Californians at that level are much like Australians are,it’s a pretty flat society but um as Google encountered the big bad world as it encountered arh laws in different countries that it wanted to lobby against as it encountered market competitors in different areas arh well it does what Coke does, it does what Locheed Martin does, arh it does what Northrop does, it does what Raytheon does. In fact a statistic that came out just last week Google now spends more money than Lockheed Martin, a giant arh weapons manufacture, on paid lobbyists in Washington. So, effectively Google got real in dealing with the big bad world and it needed a way to understand how to deal with the big bad world and so it leant very heavily on the State Department, entered into it’s system arh such that there’s very close interconnects where you have the head of Google ideas has being a former advisor to Hilary and Rice and trying to ingratiate himself with Henry Kissinger um Google itself as a strategic device has launched the New Digital Age, this book and pushed it around everywhere arh McKinsey Consulting Group in order to ingratiate itself into the National Security Complex of the United States and show itself as the new geopolitical visionary, for the United States. So, it comes as not surprise whatsoever to me arh that Google has been involved in the prison system. In fact, if you look at the time scale back in 2009 arh um We can also look for Stratfor Documents that WikiLeaks has released about um Jared Cohen, it’s..it’s a fascinating study, so it says Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas, while working for Google Ideas while he’s off running secret missions arh to the edge of Iran arh in Azerbaijan arh where he’s described by Fred Burton senior Vice President or Stratfor this US Intelligence arh Company that we released details on. He’s described by um Stratfor as um doing the work that the CIA can’t do. Google was doing stuff the CIA can’t do arh Jared Cohen has State Department air cover arh it seems, arh being involved in these activities. arh Then you can look up what he’s doing in the cables, what do WikiLeaks cables have to say about it? Well, what they say is that he was for example arh in Afghanistan trying to convince the 4 major Afghan telcos arh to move all their base land antennas onto US Military bases. arh what was he doing in Lebanon? arh Well in Lebanon he was constructing arh a think tank, secretly funded, by arh the State Department to be an anti Hezbollah, Shia think tank. What was he doing in London? arh Well, he was telling Bollywood Film Executives in London arh that there were funds arh available to insert anti-extremist programing content into Bollywood films to they could be linked up with people in Hollywood arh so that’s the director of Google Ideas so that’s what Google’s about. As Google encountered the big bad world Google itself got big and bad.
2nd question: Hi Julian, you do look a little bit pale and I do hope that you win your fight for a sun bathe and tan.
JA: It’s not about sunbathing this is the British Press this is the wretchedness of the British Press, the wretchedness of the people at the BBC which is now a now c..almost completely corrupted as a state apparatus here in..in London. It’s..it’s, you know, the right to actually get some sun at all, like any sun, arh um that..that’s the issue, prisoners have that right, even Bradley Manning, even Bradley Manning in the worst of his states arh was taken out to see the sun. I’m not complaining too much but arh about that, I’m complaining about the British Press. The BBC translated the Spanish word for sun light to sun bathe umm which [laughter] yeah, exactly. The right to sun bathe is a bit different to the right to sunlight. But..but that’s this country.
Back to question: umm alright. I want to go back to what you said earlier in your speech…arh sorry. I want to go back to um when um you discuss earlier, the part in your speech about the value of digital art in our age. Now, um in Walter Benjamin’s essay he said um what was it? The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, he discusses the loss of um our trust and value of authenticity and our cultural context or aural as a result of um it’s mass reproduction and distribution. Now, my question is; in our age how can digital art maintain um the sense of artistic value um truth and aura because itself is reliant on um these mechanical means for its own creation and accessibility. Now um, you can either say it’s wankery but if you do um just humour me for a second and believe that there is a sense of loss, um how can private and public groups act to preserve this sense of truth, aura and value in art and even journalism um in the age of um information, misinformation um political cultural conditioning and ignorance.
JA: OK, so arh what’s the benefits and the problems with digital art? Well, abundance arh there’s no..it’s very hard to produce scarcity, to enforce scarcity, um so that’s an economic phenomena um there’s not a limited number of paintings available arh you can clone them and copy them. So, that basic economics, it’s one of the unfortunate realities of human civilisation that those things are abundant they’re like air, about to say sun but those things, that’s an interesting example, no one pays too much attention to the sun, I pay a lot of attention to it because it’s suddenly become scarce so um where it’s hard to enforce scarcity um people devalue arh that which is abundant arh that’s where digital art starts, it’s devalued arh because it is abundant. um Now, the other issue is about constraints arh so, some of you might..might have seen the wonderful Lars von Trier film about enforcing five constraints arh on a famous Danish film maker um arh um so, it is in response to constraints that we must struggle to overcome the constraints and um something like…arh photoshop for example appears to involve no constraints that you are..you are, can do anything um as a result of being able to do anything arh there is not the same struggle um and also it is not..it is not as clear that there has been a struggle um once again try to understand why people really support WikiLeaks and me, because they can see clearly the arh degree of our struggle in trying to achieve what we have and trying to preserve ourselves um when it’s not clear that there must have been a struggle um then it’s not clear arh that one has out done the other. That one has progressed beyond what was there the year before or progressed beyond what others have achieved arh so um so I’m not entirely sure what to do about that creating artificial constraints that one must struggle against I once..my Father is involved in architecture arh and I once said to him you know there’s this thing called autocad which lays out um plans for a building um but you can also..some extensions and specify the tensile strength of the different materials and why are modern buildings so boring arh compare to when we look at medieval stone buildings. Why are they so boring? It’s the lack of constraint when you’re working with stone th..the constraints of the dynamic of the material that force you to be clever, forces you to build arches and so on but could modify autocad to apply the same..to give steel the same tensile arh properties of stone and there force you to make arches um out of steel or otherwise the building won’t ah holdup.
I don’t know if these restraints arh can be deliberately given there other environments arh where they’re present arh For example I have been working with a group of Swiss artists and they’re involved in lots of cool hacks like they bugged um the Vienna Opera House, sorry they bugged the Swiss Opera House arh the Zurich Opera House um for 3 months putting telephones around that had an auto answer mechanism and then connecting radio stations and people to the opera vast funds were spent on the opera in a way of democratising the opera and there were constant hunts for 3 months um they also sent this package to me um with a reprogramed phone with a GPS tracker in it that takes of photograph every 10 seconds as it moves its way through the postal system and the interesting postal surveillance we have here. um That’s great um so I think there are ways of finding areas which do have a constraint such as actually the ability to do that in the Vienna Opera House, sorry the Zurich Opera House. The ability to do that, send a package through the postage system, it’s not so easy to do in that way and that constraint gives it something. But then I also advise strongly n um coalescing round, and this is a political matter arh that..let’s look at the data that WikiLeaks has released there are..there are some visualisations on parts of this and we are working on more these..where arhum the true nature of the world is hidden by a complexity arh where the secrecy has been smashed through but now the true nature is hidden by complexity then it is a role for digital artists to strip away these complexity and find the inner..the inner scaffold or orthogonalise the problem into it’s components parts that’s something anyone can do, well,with a bit of programing can do right now for example er the cable collections that we have published they’re very important and similarly arh there’s complexities about this new transnational surveillance state that er has been erected can that be broken down into..into arh its essence orthogonalise into the individual parts the buttresses that holds the thing up arh and present it that way that’s also something arh that..I think it’s difficult to achieve but if it is achieved it can be recognised people can compa..compare the complex description and the complex with the arh er um with the essence that has been found are has been proposed to be found in it’s artistic representation of what makes good art is that it sustains your curiosity it teaches you something because arh complex phenomenon or a complex analogy about the world has been reduced in such away arh that helps you actually see it arh um for what it really is [applause]
3rd question: Sorry, good evening um I’m just..I have a question about the WikiLeaks Party, how do you come up with your policies is there a hierarchy, community consultation or what’s the process there?
JA: Well, we’re a young Party and we’re what?..93 days or something away from an election. um So, the answer is very quickly ah but hopefully a background enough with experience with people like um arh I can’t see you anymore but I’m going to continue on speaking but hopefully background um in the extensive experience that a number of people have had ah my experiences and the experiences of Kellie Tranter as a Human Rights Lawyer or Greg Barns um ah had the extensive experience arh various legal civil rights um issues oh and our campaigners people with a campaigning background but it’s still a small enough party where at this stage it’s clear what the consensus is um as a result of that discussion and then it’s formalised um but as time goes by want we want to do is roll out new technologies to be able to draw in as many ideas and proposals from our membership base because um the Party’s leadership and leadership is important because it’s responsible arh if there is an error arh it’s very important to have people responsible for errors um But a Party’s leadership can only be arh as good as the ideas it draws off. [applause]
MC: Julian, you’ve painted a stark picture of the world but importantly also arh one with hope as well and artists are very good at responding, often leading, the contemporary culture. So, from your keynote tonight I’m very much looking forward to seeing what work comes out of this in the future and I hope next time we can actually see you here in person. So, please everyone give a big thank you to Julian Assange [applause]
JA: If I could say one last thing um hmm Plato once said that the ah penalty for not being involved in politics arh is to be ruled over by your inferiors. Well, of course Plato was a genius and an elitist as you can tell from the statement but er that’s basically true arh politics is a dirty business arh this new surveillance regime is a dirty business lots of bad things happening in the world. The penalty for you not dealing with them for not engaging and fighting arh for your rights and the rights of other arh is that other people will enter the fray, they’re already there and we know how they behave arh and those will be your rulers come September 14
MC: OK Thank you again [applause] See you later Julian
Transcript by Gail