The One, His Work and His People

Commenting on Julian Assange may seem a little hypocritical of me, when I’m on record as having dismissed the importance of this one individual in the greater scheme of leaky things. But for some reason that for the moment escapes me, I cannot let pass without comment Assange’s absurd statements from prison of political defiance and moral self-justification.

“We now know that Visa, Mastercard and Paypal are instruments of US foreign policy. I am calling on the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral acts.”

Now that is mildly amusing on one level, but the ridiculousness of the pronouncement sours the joke, despite the pomposity of the subsequent heartfelt plea. For a devout anticapitalist, Assange seems rather naive when it comes to his understanding of the business practices of mega-corporations such as Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.

Somehow I do not see PayPal executives huddled together with State Department officials, preoccupied as the latter currently are with damage limitation in the wake of the recent Wikileaks data deluge. Does Assange not understand that PayPal and its like will readily dump customers who show even the slightest hint of being high maintenance? This is now a standard business practice, not only among financial services providers, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with politics or ethics.

The market is a fundamentally amoral entity. Visa, Mastercard and PayPal merely reflect this truth in the case of Wikileaks, the servicing of which could turn out more costly in financial terms than it’s worth to the companies concerned. The bottom line is everything.