The massive losses in membership recently reported in the Swedish Pirate Party (PP) present a sad prognosis for their political growth and influence. In view of this analysis, PP may have lost much support and prestige while distancing themselves from the free-information cause of WikiLeaks, and the struggle for justice of his founder Julian Assange. The PP may have obtained the opposite result than the one they expected — apparently according to an opportunist political estimation.
In the present analysis I further develop:
A. On the current deterioration of the Swedish Pirate Party (PP)’s political status, decline recently ascribed to a drastic drop in membership. This situation may have partly been occasioned by an erroneus understanding of the political phenomenon as such (as expressed in my previous post of 26 Feb 2011), or by a wrong assessment of political cointinget issues, such as seen in the PP’s managmentg of the case Assange.
B. On public positions of the PP’s leadership with regard to the Swedish case against Julian Assange and in particularly the media-campaign against him.
The analysis here was originally intended as a comment of Ivan Johnson’s later blog post Anna Troberg Defends the Silence of the Pirates and thus written as a letter-comment addressed to Johnson. However, the resulting length required me to instead publish the all text here in Professors blog. In another article in Newsmill Ivan Johnson had further challenged PP to debate on their role in the defence, or neglecting defence, of Julian Assange in Sweden.
In the main my thesis on the first issue is that PP is not currently a political force in development, neither has PP a prospective, real possibility to grow quantitatively, much less qualitatively – in the frame of a “one-issue political party” (notion that in its self is a contradiction of terms). Also, that PP’s disengagement from their previous support to JA – now under severe attack in the mainstream media and unfair social-media campaigns such #prataomdet – has further deteriorated PP’s political image. This outcome – as I would assume – would be the exact opposite of what presumably was expected by PP leaders in their analysis of the situation, in the period ensuing the fabricated allegations against Assange in Sweden and which made him unpopular.
About the second issue, my notion is that the PP leadership – by action or absence of action – might have become – I assume unintentionally – a part in the detrimental campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks in Sweden. One main assumption here is that JA and Wikileaks are in fact treated as a unified entity/target by those seeking cancelation of further Wikileaks disclosures and also aiming to deter future flow of information towards WikiLeaks from the part of strategic-informed sources.
I have followed your recent articles on the PP subject. In my opinion you present a sane and altruistic initiative in promoting discussion on important issues in the PP. Nevertheless, I would recommend to you to “hoppa över” the current leadership of PP and instead try to establish dialogue with the ranks, particularly the youth – for reasons I develop further down.
These are hard troubled times for PP, judging among other by the drastic diminished membership reported in the press (from 50 000 members in 2009 to 16 000 in 2010). The leadership seem to be mainly focused in balancing on the thin rope of positions of ambiguity, amid political and historic times that instead demand pristine definitions on issues nonetheless international, clear-cut domestic strategies, and an ethically-minded policy of alliances. I guess that being busy in searching for solutions of the said tasks, the PP leaders seem NOT by the moment interested in dialogue, debate or consider new ideas.
I have noticed also that your interesting and discussion-provoking article in Newsmill it was not commented by responsible leaders of the very political organization you have challenged to debate.
I wish to clarify that when I use the term “opportunist” in reference to the PP, I do principally mean a main characteristic implicit in the short-range political ambition of the PP. Namely, in case they would have achieved parliament representation, they would have opportunistically vote for the political block that would fancy PP’s own one-issue proposals, regardless of the ideological positions or principles that those blocks actually represent in both domestic and international main issues (such as the Swedish military occupation of Afghanistan or the allegiance to NATO).
Julian Assange’s cause, which IS the WikiLeaks cause, will be in the need of all the political supports that Sweden’s honest people could be possibly give to him, included from the Pirate Party, and particularly in the eventuality of his extradition to Sweden. This would appear most certain in view of the recent developments in the London court I recently analyzed in a Newsmill article.
My appeal for support to the Assange cause is not motivated in the “fear” – and this is strictly my personal view – that Assange would really risk a negative outcome from the part of a Swedish court. Of course nothing can be totally predictable in such matters, but my point is that there is not a chance for a juridical case against Assange and my conviction is that in no instance a Court-tenable case could be started against Julian Assange, or if so, ending in a negative sentence. The case it will be most possible – or it should be – dismissed after a little show making possible for Bodström/Borgström save face, like wise Marianne Ny, the infallible Swedish system, etc. As you have also referred, although in other terms, the accusations are ominous ungrounded and deprived of evidence.
The peril is however in another level. First, that Phase-Sweden II would entail the extradition, legal or illegally to the USA or to another country. In this point, frankly I am not in disposition to consider any utopian argument à la Sven-Erik Alhem who would have indicated in London that such extraordinary measure is not conceivable in Sweden, that if so it would occasion a “media storm” etc. If Sven-Erik did not know about the extraordinary renditions (so are they also called) which have happened in Sweden – several times – I would understand his statement.
It was an unfortunate statement because Judge Howard Riddle used it as “the only live evidence” on that such peril would not exist for JA in Sweden. Alhem, which has a reputation of solid ethics, is not the kind of person that would imagine as first scenario the judicial system he had represented as one to be trespassed by a bunch of corrupted politicians in secret agreements with foreign powers. But “things” happens. And they had in Sweden.
I have myself been imprisoned in similar conditions accused of subversive activity, before and under Pinochet’s dictatorship. I do know what I am talking about, however I have to respect that not everybody can conceive that such illegal measures from democratic governments can in true be implemented in the darkness offered by peoples’ trust and passivity.
Nevertheless – as I used to say in philosophical debates during my early academic life – “ignorantia non est argumentum” (Baruch de Spinoza, 1677). That you do not know about a happening does not mean that the event has not actually occurred, or that it may happen again, in this case. Sweden DO HAVE a recorded praxis of extraordinary renditions, concretely, political prisoners which after the request of the USA are in Swedish territory.
It may be so that the leadership of the Pirate Party has never heard about it, and never heard for that part that Thomas Bodström and Göran Persson were reported to the Swedish Constitutional Committee on those allegations. That EU, Human-Right organizations, Amnesty, etc., have passed judgement against Sweden for those acts. Nearly every article in the Swedish media complaining about the picture of Sweden portrayed abroad put the blame in Assange’s lawyers or supporters. However, the picture is given by the facts Sweden has self provided to the world’s opinion every time such sad episodes have occurred. If these are more known abroad that in Sweden is also for reasons of the special parameters made valid by the Swedish establishment for the media as a whole.
And regarding a supposedly Swedish “media storm” for government’s wrong doings, that is also a contradiction of terms. There is not such a thing in the Swedish media traditions, more characterized by a docile under-position towards power and government. PP’s leadership should remember better about the Swedish media from the FRA-legislation times.
The second aspect regarding this imperative of trying to increase support to truth and transparency, an therefore an increase solidarity towards Julian Assange from the part of libertarian sectors, bloggers, journalists, in trade unions, academics, etc., is in the necessary struggle we have to fight against the voracious partisan media-campaign implemented in Sweden against Julian Assange. This item comprises not only the mainstream media, but also other instances in the Swedish media apparatus which continue applying a hard censorship towards articles or blogs telling facts about events in the campaign against Assange an WikiLeaks.
This has to continue been denounced in Sweden and internationally, further investigated, documented, and fought against it each time the pseudo-democratic media, pseudo-democratic forums or pseudo-democratic blog-search engines strike by trying to silence us (you may see an article on this issue in Professors blogg to be published in a few days).
In that regard It is unacceptable that the Swedish Pirate Party – at the same time, meanwhile pretending to give the impression that it maintains a “neutral” position about the treatment of the Assange question – do not address this issue of an a huge, unbalanced, injustice, and vilifying campaign of the mainstream media partly against the truth in the Assange case, and partly against Assange as a person.
How come that a political organization that has made a trade-mark of the issues of transparency, freedom of expression and communication has not said a single word, elevated a singe protest, with regard to the serious accusations on censorship exercised by the Swedish media apparatus against articles and blogs reporting fact-based analysis on the Assange case?
I repeat, even taking into account that PP has chosen to take a laid own, neutral stand (which I criticize as inconsequent), they are not honouring even that “neutrality”. With their active silence, their neglecting to treat the issue even in internal discussions, and the fail in protest against the referred unilateral and monopoly-wise medial assault against just “one of the sides”, as PP likes euphemistic to manifest, The Swedish Pirate Party have shown an utterly coward behaviour.
For the reasons referred above, your effort to further reach members of the PP with the Wikileaks message and mission, and the vital importance of defending the truth in the case Assange is to be regarded as relevant and necessary.
It is a task that it should also be extended towards all in the progressive and libertarian forces of Sweden. One problem is thou that the leadership of such PP has demonstrated not being interested in a discussion of this calibre. It is not to expect much there, I would say. In the best of cases, you have to get to the ranks of the PP, the youth. They will most probably listen at you with more interest, and my impression is that they already understand many of the issues taken up in your articles. It is at the same time remarkable to see how the issue that PP has lost an awful proportion of members, and continue losing them, is not discussed at all in connection to PP’s tenure on the Assange case.
Julian Assange is ideologically, undoubtedly, a libertarian, and that he prefers to be called libertarian was most recently confirmed in the famous CBS “60 minutes” interview. Very many within the ranks of the Pirate Party would also call themselves libertarians. Likewise cadres or intellectuals in close association with the PP, such as the prominent blogger and libertarian columnist Henrik Alexandersson and his organization Frihets fronten . For my part, one potent reason why – and I have never hidden that – I have been engaged so much in struggling for Assange/WikiLeaks’ cause is also because I am a libertarian myself, ideological position which I have maintained during all my youth and adult life. As it is given on history writings of my native country, when we were a small group of youngsters of age around 20 and founded the revolutionary movement MIR back in 1965, I represented there the left libertarian positions. MIR became with the years the most important force in the resistance of the Pinochet dictatorship, but finally we were defeated militarily.
Under those ideological libertarian and left-liberal conceptions I once believed in the Swedish Pirate Party. I have even voted for the PP since early (last time for Amelia Andersdotter). At the same time which I have voted for the PP I have advocated for the development of the PP programme, towards a necessary definition in a wider spectrum of political issues. It was that the message of “Piratpartiet och Don Quixote” which had a positive response mainly among the young pirates.
But several years have passed now, the PP is not developing, and it is apparently moved on place by the inertia-vector left by the agitation we made during the FRA-legislation and the ensuing wide support that Pirate Bay got among important sector of the Swedish youth. The results of the EU Parliament are ascribed to that and the promising, non-tested, political design of a new and fresh organization. But then it came the time to deliver, and PP has not complied. The PR-efforts trying to show the leadership engagement in one core-issue smash hard against PP in front of a public which witness dramatic episodes in the current political scenario, internationally and domestically. They see a PP that has not enough answers, absolutely not enough actions, not even with regard to the few issues PP promised to bravely take care of.
Now in 2011 this is what it was summarized two days ago in the largest Scandinavian forum, Flashback, under the Assange-related threads which have had half million views visiting over 26 000 posts:
”Så länge frågan lever och Sveriges politiska hederlighet och rättssystem ifrågasätts har Assange ett case. I opposition skulle jag definitivt spela på den strängen!! Att ingen gör något, borde för varje rättstänkande individ i det här landet att börja fundera.”
”Var tog Piratpartiet vägen, den intellektuella vänstern, den liberala tanken om allas rätt och frihet, nej tystnaden är total. Den skrämer skiiten ur mig, vad är det som händer. Det här handlar inte om gråzonssex, det här är realpolitik när den är som sämst.”
”Det är helt klart tid att ställa krav. Bristen på proportionalitet skriker foul lång väg. Ingen pressar departementen om FRA eller IPRED. Ingen ifrågasätter att Sverige lämnar ut uppgifter till USA om Svenska medborgare. Det är bara tyst i MSM. Frågan vi måste ställa oss är varför?”
I therefore wish good luck in trying to make PP to understand that here and now there are only TWO possibilities.
Either the PP leadership REALLY do not grasp what is going on in the political phenomena. In this case they are to be regarded as political amateurs, or ineffective leaders.
Or this PP leadership collectively are perfectly aware what they are doing and why, and in this case they might be acting under clear-cut opportunism, which also entail a hidden agenda.
The pseudo-explanation on that PP has to go careful on the issue Assange because the “criminal-issue” has not been yet clarified, or that they have to separate the man (JA) to the project (WikiLeaks) is not only totally deprived of credibility but it is also aesthetically cheap. It dishonours the members which were recruited to fight for transparency, integrity, and democracy.
Does PP support for Assange hurts PP, or PP is more hurt by not supporting Assange?
Another thesis advanced on the current silence of PP regarding the case Assange, their “passive aggression” towards Assange (or directly offences against Assange supporters), or PP’s completely disengagement in international initiatives to promote PP demonstrations and acts in support to Assange all over the world – would be that they fear increased unpopularity if they are seen associated with a Julian Assange internationally searched by Swedish authorities, pending interrogation about nasty sex-related accusations.
That would be ethically preposterous, and at the same time so dramatically erroneous.
For it is not so that PP has been weakened or debilitated because of their early association with a Julian Assange who later became medial-unpopular in Sweden.
It is exactly the other way around:
PP have evidently lost much support – particularly among the cadres that counted most, those women and men with integrity, guts, and clear minds – because of the public spectacle PP leaders have provide to their ranks, and to the public in general, through the coward retreat in front of the pressure of authorities, the media, and other POLITICAL forces such as state-feminism (with interests also in the PP)..
My query here refers also in this regard to the public position held by the Chairperson of PP Anna Troberg on that she is “neutral” in the Assange case. Others from the PP have expressed themselves more or less in the same terms and at the impression given is that PP has taken an official position about “wait and see” with regard to the Swedish case against Assange.
From the part of Chairperson Anna Troberg this position has been chirurgical extreme. For instance, in her article in Newsmill under the debate section “Wikileaks”, and with the title “Wikileaks har blottat regeringens Akileshäl”, Troberg – in the middle of the most hostile campaign of the media against Assange – does writes and writes about Wikileaks here and there but she does not say a single word about Julian Assange. She just does not mention him, as if Julian Assange would have nothing to do with the creation of the WikiLeaks organization and project she is referring to, and also an important part as subject of her article.
She could have at least explained to the Swedish public – as well as rank members or sympathizers of the PP – why PP’s leadership has decided to put a lock-on the theme Julian Assange, whatever the value or credibility of those explanations. Why not to say simply like it is? How thinks PP the public is regarding the spectacle of this blunt contradiction: On the one hand The Swedish Pirate Party high and loud demand for transparency, and the other hand their compact “silence” about the “sensitive issues” of the Assange-case?
The second problem here is that when PP decides to stay “neutral” between the “private” legal affair between Lady A and Lady W (and Bodström, and Borgström, and Ny, and Bonnier, and the government, and the other government, and Hillary Cinton, and Palin, and etc, etc.) against Assange, The Pirate Party positioned themselves in an impossible situation.
This have resulted for instance that PP does not intervene in the horrible and aggressive campaign of the Swedish media against Assange. No, PP will not intervene because they are “neutral”. PP will not publish in their forums or media on-line facilities articles in defence of Julian Assange. No, because PP is “neutral”.
A number of witnesses, even among those which have been called by the police and given their statements, go public and tell to the Swedish people what they do known about the happenings. Anna Troberg gives, no so implicit, in her blog that she would know a lot of things about the events, but she would not tell anyone and something like please let me in peace because I want to remain “neutral”.
However, how “neutral” is the PP’s Chairman Anna Troberg? And how much her opinions – as leader of a political party – are to be considered as highly relevant and influent among the public?
The opinion-participation of PP’s chairperson Anna Troberg in the “Talk about” (#prataomdet) campaign
I have followed your important endeavour about the nasty, shameful coordinated #prataomdet (I call it sometimes POD, for brevity). This #prataomdet campaign has been an enterprise also dangerous in terms of public mental health, and proven psychopathology “framkallande” (eliciting). Thinking in the effects on the individuals manipulated by the organized campaign whose aims were in fact others, those actions may entail criminal offence and thus taking the responsible to justice. I develop on these issues in a coming analysis.
Since you have referred elsewhere some reflections I have had on this issue in comment-form, let me secure to you that in these social-psychiatric and psychosocial investigations I am conducting on the media campaigns against Assange (following the scientific research tradition I have undisputed in Sweden and USA during almost 40 years) my personal allegation to JA’s cause in no way can entail bias in its results, for the methodological proceedings in our empirical research field are standard, and fully subjected to replication.
In searching ground-material for this investigation I came across Anna Troberg’s blog posts on the issue. One is “Tala om det, men gå sedan vidare” (18/12 2010). Here she states introductorily (the texts down below are excerpts and the black fonts mine):
“#prataomdet startade som ett spontant initiativ, men redan efter ett par dagar har det hela blivit ett nätverk av något slag.”
Troberg summarizes: ” En annan sak som slår mig när jag läser #prataomdet är att jag verkligen inte hoppas att det hela stannar vid att prata om det. Det är naturligtvis oerhört viktigt att tala om övergrepp av olika slag, men lika viktigt som det är att tala om det, lika viktigt är det att finna en väg att gå vidare från det. Alla kan falla offer för andra människors handlingar och det är en sorg man måste ta hand om. Men om man inte hittar ett sätt att gå vidare, så tillåter man också den som gjort en illa att fortsätta att göra en illa år ut och år in, långt efter personen är borta ur ens liv. Det är oerhört lätt att fastna i en offerroll, men det är direkt ohälsosamt.”
My first impression about this ”do something about it” afterwards was that the text would have match perfectly as an elegant introduction in Lady A’s notorious seven steps for vendetta. But I thought, no, Troberg talks surely about something else, some therapy, or “healing” of some kind, and I left there my thoughts. I do NOT think she meant revenge.
However, by reading the comments attached to the post, I found the following:
Jag uppfattar inte #prataomdet som ett spontant initiativ, tvärtom verkar det vara en mycket välorkestrerad kampanj som innefattar stora delar av gammelmedia, och ett gäng bloggare som alla har kopplingar till en av kvinnorna i Assangeaffären.
Kampanjen sammanfaller med läckandet av kvinnornas utsagor från polisförhör (som för övrigt visar att misstankarna mot Julian Assange är extremt tunna), och verkar vara ett led i en medial rättegång mot Assange. Lägg märke till att hans namn alltid nämns i bloggposter och artiklar om #prataomdet./
Why is Julian Assange always named in the blog-posts and media articles from/about #prataomdet (Talk about it) ?
Chairman Anna Troberg replied:
- Anna Troberg
Av skäl jag tidigare angivit i den här bloggposten: http://www.annatroberg.com/2010/12/11/nagra-tankar-om-att-befinna-sig-i-korselden/ så tänker jag inte ge mig in i ett blame game mot vare sig Assange eller kvinnorna som anklagar honom. Och jag har inget som helst intresse av att göra min blogg till en plattform för ett sådant blame game. Det finns redan massor av bloggar som ägnar sig åt det. Jag kommer inte att göra det på min och jag hoppas att ni som kommenterar respekterar min önskan att inte gröta in mig i det där.
Och OM nu #prataomdet nu skulle vara orkestrerad av någon sida, så och? Det är ju inte som om den andra sidan redan mobiliserat som sjutton, eller hur?
Och OM nu #prataomdet nu skulle vara orkestrerad av någon sida, så och?
(OK, so what) if it were so that #prataomdet has been orchestrated by one of the sides, so what?
In the first place I found extremely difficult trying to make compatible the manifested position of “neutrality” about the case with such statement “(OK, so what) if it were so that #prataomdet has been orchestrated by one of the sides, so what? It is not so like the other side (Assange’s) which have already been greatly mobilized?”
Anna Troberg, instead of condemning the notion of an intentional organized smear against Assange, she is simply fuelling the further implementation of the #prataomdet campaign (as said, even in the notion that it could be an orchestrated complot. That fact, the chairman of the Pirate Party would not care about, according to her own words.
Besides she is clearly legitimating the necessity of such an orchestrated media campaign against Assange by pretending that Assange’s supporters would have indulged in the same (which is absolutely not true).
Could the above be held as “Neutral”? For I do not know of the existence of any – and Anna Troberg could not know better, because she is NOT among the Assange supporters – of any campaign made up by Assange’s supporters aimed to manipulate the intimate feelings of Swedish women and men in a mass-psychosocial dimension, and regardless of the serious mental-health risks that such dirty maneuver conveys – and that in fact have produced – among the victims of such criminal plot.
In the third place, and this is the most aggravating thing, and no explanation whatsoever can take this fact away from the Swedish political scenario:
What is it expected from a Swedish political leader at the top office of his/her organization if confronted with a similar situation? Particularly provided that the position of such party has been declared neutral regarding the issue or in reference of the confronting sides involved?
The chairman of a Swedish political party is expected to say – and independently if he/she is in fact neutral or not – something like the following:
Indeed, the chairman of a Swedish political party – as Anna Troberg did – cannot possibly publicly admit that such faulty and manipulative “orchestrated” smear campaigns are a “so what” issue. She is supposed, like all the chairpersons of all the parties in a democracy, to instead condemn in strong and clear terms such unethical and manipulative maneuvers. A serious political leader just cannot say, “So what, it is OK if others also do it”. A formulation which besides in fact represent also a distortion of facts, and totally ungrounded accusation to Julian Assange.
- “I vilket fall känner jag personligen att det egentligen inte spelar så stor roll varför #prataomdet kom till. Med tanke på hur många som känt personligt sig berörda är det helt tydligt ett initiativ som behövs. Och det behovet verkar sannerligen inte ha något med anklagelserna mot Assange att göra, utan om helt vanliga människors behov av att prata om sina upplevelser. Jag tycker gott att vi kan kosta på oss att ge dem det utrymmet, utan att misstänka dem för att vara någons henchmen.“
In sum, the commented statements of the chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party are politically unethical and, certainly inadequate. If this would be the official position of the PP as a whole, the Swedish Pirate Party is in deep, deep, trouble.
And Anna Troberg knows what she is talking about on “talk about” (#prataomdet). She herself affirms in her post Don’t be evil that:
“I think that the phenomenon (#prataomdet) is interesting and I have followed it since the very first day, and I continue following it”
[“Jag tycker att fenomenet är intressant och jag har följt det sedan dag ett och gör det fortfarande.” ].
Not many knew about the campaign from “day one”. But obviously she did; it is what she said. It is then for me very difficult to believe that the media-initiated Anna Troberg would not have notice during her “every day” follow-up of the campaign that in every single article of the press it was repeated the very same text in-a-box suggesting the implication of Julian Assange in the sexual misery of hundreds of Swedish women and men.
All in all, my conclusion is that:
The Swedish Pirate Party, with the use of an erroneous and opportunist political strategy, has in part contributed to cement the unfair persona-non-grata status for Julian Assange in Sweden. It is left to be known whether this assistance – for things done or things neglected – can be considered as partisan-provided against Assange, or viewed as a forced survival strategy, or the product of naive political unawareness, or simply caused by the Swedish fetish for consensus.
The Swedish Pirate Party has stagnated, the ideological discussion practically nonexistent, and the activist mobilization absent in forums outside the EP. Taking into account massive losses in membership in recent times the prognosis of political growth and influence of the Pirate Party is far from positive. Only by an extraordinary re-definition of the party political aims and the enhancing of the program could the PP avoid a future political disaster. An open question is whether current leadership of the PP is politically capable to produce those essential changes.
Finally, I will refer as background to my earlier published post on PP (my position as seen in the present text is now far less optimist), and also, I believe it may be of some interest for your readers to look into this INTRODÙCTION I wrote yesterday (PP is also referred) to the new guest-column by Noemi Wolf in Professors blogg.
And to all the PP members self-referred as “Transparency lovers” and “Wikileaks krammare” , as they like to call themselves pretending not understanding what is going on, or repeating the absurd untruthfulness “we like Wikileaks but Wikileaks is not Assange”, just remain their shameful consciousness in one way or the other with the following axiom borrowed from History:
Libertarian Julian Assange IS WikiLeaks not by ego-preference or his lawyers’ strategy. He WAS MADE one with WikiLeaks by edict of the powers which aim to destroy the one and only successful struggle for democratic transparency of the last decades, the society which Assange has demonstrated is capable to liberate. They, the enemy, the power deprived of moral authority, they have designed the plot that by discrediting Julian Assange they will finally discredit the entirely WikiLeaks project which was founded by him.
Prof. Marcello Ferrada-Noli