Julian Assange was born in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. He and his parents moved and traveled around Australia in his youth, with Assange claiming he lived in “over fifty different towns.”
As far as I can tell, Assange appears to be an atheist, not that he would make it easy for us to say for sure. After all, as one writer said, he can be “charming yet cagey about his private life.”
First, there’s the odd issue of his OK Cupid online dating profile. We can’t be certain that the profile, under the presumed pseudonym Harry Harrison, actually belongs to Assange, but this article makes a pretty good case that it does. Regardless, “Atheism” is listed under the religion section of Mr. Harrison’s profile.
Then there’s the blog that he kept before he became an internationally notorious figure. In one entry he talks about going to an event filled with young Christian women, where he says he took the role of “village atheist” as they “tried to convert me with the rise and fall of their bosoms.” Then he proceeded to tell a young women, essentially, that the reason she believed in God was because she was an idiot, whereupon she apparently swooned.
And finally, in a 2012 interview with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese Islamic militant group and political party Hezbollah, he asked,
You have fought against the hegemony of the United States. Isn’t Allah, or the notion of a God, the ultimate superpower, and shouldn’t you as a freedom fighter also seek to liberate people from the totalitarian concept of a monotheistic God?
Did I mention that Hezbollah translates into “Party of God?” Anyway, I suppose that brings us to Part II.
Assange’s political philosophy boils mostly down to his distrust of secrets. More specifically, he thinks powerful groups of people (e.g., corporations, governments) who hold information which they will not release to the public are inherently dangerous. His goal as a journalist, and as founder of Wikileaks, is to release that information with the express purpose of weakening the power of that secretive group. (For a concise, but more in-depth discussion of his philosophy, check out this article.)
It appears then, that he has anarchist intents, does it not? By exposing government secrets, he is weakening governments. There are certainly plenty of people who do consider him an anarchist, but they do not include Assange himself. He said,
We’re an organization that goes about and has a long record all over the world of exposing abuses, by exposing concrete documentation, proof of bad behavior. That’s not anarchy. That’s what people do when they’re civil, is that they engage in organized activity that promotes justice.
In other words, he’s not trying to dismantle governments, he’s just trying to guarantee that governments are acting justly by making them fully accountable to the population. It’s freedom of information, not freedom from government.
Not surprisingly, governments are not fans of Assange. His massive leaks of classified U.S. documents including a video of a military attack in Baghdad which killed, among others, unarmed civilians, children, and a Reuters journalist, prompted the U.S. Defense Department to name him an enemy of the state. To illustrate the political animosity towards Assange, as of the writing of this article, he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K. to avoid extradition orders from Sweden for sexual assault charges, with the U.S. chomping at the bit to get him in its courts.
I suppose that’s what happens when you’re actively trying to weaken the most powerful secret-holders in the world. Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.