Yanis Varoufakis’s speech at the “Don’t Extradite Assange” demonstration in London last Saturday (22 February 2020)
Yanis Varoufakis, a former finance minister of Greece, is leader of the MeRA25 party and Professor of Economics at the University of Athens.
Cross-posted from Yanis Varoufakis’s blog
Marching with Roger Waters and Brian Eno toward Parliament Square
Leaking the Guilty Secrets of Power is not a Phrase, it is a Sentence. And no one is facing a longer one today than Julian Assange.
Julian has GAINED the right to quote another past prisoner, another enemy of Empire, Mahatma Ghandi. Like Ghandi Julian could say: “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”
He may very well say that.
But WE don’t have the right to agree.
We must NOT let THEM destroy his body.
WE must END his torture.
Because first they came for Julian. Then they will come for our comrades. Then our friends. Then our children. Then the good people working for the Guardian, the BBC – anyone who does not submit to the right of the powerful to carry out crimes against humanity in OUR name and without OUR knowledge.
Mike Pompeo, Trump’s first CIA director and now US Secretary of State, described WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” That’s exactly right. Wikileaks IS a non-state hostile intelligence service. Exactly what EVERY self-respecting news outlet OUGHT to be.
Dan Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky have warned journalists who fail to oppose Assange’s extradition to the US: You are next on the hit list of a President who considers you the “enemy of the people.” When you turn a blind eye to Julian’s torture you consent to your own emasculation!
Of course, by being here you have already proven that you know all this. That WE know all this. It also means that you, we, have accepted the duty to let into the secret those who are not here.
You see, Julian’s greatest enemy, the greatest enemy of freedom, does not come from evil men in smoke filled rooms plotting against good people. No, rational, self-conscious evil is not the worst enemy. The worst enemy is APATHY. It is the APPALLING SILENCE OF GOOD PEOPLE. Of tired people too exhausted and disheartened to have the energy to campaign for others. FATIGUE is the enemy, the oligarchs’ greatest ally. Along with BANALITY – with people in some authority, neither good nor bad, yet too banal to act.
I got to know Julian back in 2015 when he took an interest in me because I had exposed the way Europe’s finance ministers conspire against the interests of the people they represent behind closed doors. One of our common projects will see the light of day on 10th March – watch out for Euroleaks.
Soon after we met, in February 2016, together with tens of thousands of European progressives, Brian Eno and Noam Chomsky included, we created the D in E Movement – DiEM25.
Today, I stand here to convey to you their solidarity from every nook and cranny of the European continent. From Germany. From Portugal, Spain, France, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Scandinavia. You may be out of the EU but we consider you more deeply embedded in Europe’s progressive movement than ever.
Tomorrow I shall be visiting Julian in prison, alongside John – his remarkable father. I shall do my best to convey to him your spirit, the spirit of DiEMers from across Europe, the good wishes of our Greek members of parliament and our party members who are staging a demonstration outside Britain’s embassy in Athens right now.
Their message to Julian is: We are all Wikileaks. Each one of us is a tiny MeLeaks exposing abuse of power and letting light in wherever power seeks to grow in the darkness that makes it monstrous, hideous, misanthropic.
As my friend, and Julian’s friend, Phillip Adams said recently, we shall not let them turn Julian into a latter-day Man in the Iron Mask, into the Man forgotten in an Iron Cell.
So, stiffen your upper lip folks. We are here so that unarmed truth has the final word. So that Julian’s sentence ends neither neither with a bang nor with a whimper – but with a majestic, a marvellous full stop.