Our new edition – featuring the exquisite illustrations of Shaun Tan, an open letter from Alexis Wright, and essays from Wendy Bacon and Bob Gosford – is out and we’ll be publishing articles from it online over the next few weeks.
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‘Open-eyed conspiracy his time doth take’, Guy Rundle’s lead article in Overland 202, delves into the clandestine world of WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange:
‘Are you interested in being involved with a courageous project to reform every political system on earth – and through that reform move the world to a more humane state?’
Sometime in December 2006, a former Melbourne University maths student, still hanging around the common room, posted the question to the students’ society network. His rather alarming message explained that the organisers proposed to launch their campaign in two months but were being overwhelmed by a media cascade with more than 51 000 (!) page hits on Google and stories in the Washington Post and so on.
‘Now we have only twenty-two people trying to usher in the start of a world-wide movement,’ the post continued. ‘We need help in every area, admining, coding, sys admining, legal research, analysis.’
The organisation was WikiLeaks; the post’s author was Julian Assange – and, characteristically, the list of tasks included ‘writing, proofing, manning the phone, standing around looking pretty, even making tea’ (italics mine).
Four years later, no-one – whatever criticisms they might make of Assange – could accuse him of boasting idly. Few political interventions have achieved such spectacular effects in so short a time. The WikiLeaks website already feels like it’s been around for ever, even though it’s actually less than five years old. Its early interventions – Trafigura in Ivory Coast, the ‘climategate’ emails, the Icesave documents exposing the Iceland banking scandal – have, in some cases, been obscured by history: many people simply don’t remember that the documents were first circulated by WikiLeaks.
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