The Assange case has shone a light on the degree of political degeneracy of parts of the left.
Women's rights, and regard for the rights of victims of rape and sexual assault have fallen by the wayside in the Assange case. Put aside because of a perceived conflict with principles of “anti-imperialism”. Facts and politics are interpreted through the lens of conspiracy theories.
The limited legal protections against sexual abuse, often won through struggle, can be dismissed as “capitalist justice” and therefore grounds for dismissing the allegations here!
Many “left-wing” commentators are employing the traditional tools of misogynists against the women in this case, seeking to undermine their credibility by analysing their behaviour at the time of the attacks (as if women who have been sexually assaulted are obliged to behave in a particular way); seizing on their every delay in bringing the case and forensically examining every conceivable discrepancy in their stories.
Apart from the well-known reactionary George Galloway's claim that “not everyone needs to be asked prior to each insertion”, perhaps the worst behaviour in this regard comes from the maverick former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray.
Murray even named one of Assange’s accusers on the BBC show Newsnight, a shocking breach of the woman’s right to anonymity.
But for many defenders of Assange, these women are simply elements in a CIA plot and therefore do not deserve the rights and protections that other women do. How do they know this? Because they are accusing their anti-imperialist hero, Assange.
Alan Woods of the International Marxist Tendency has written a long article denouncing a CIA plot against Assange. Woods dismisses the idea that the Swedish government might want to extradite Assange because he has a case to answer in court: ”The Swedish Tartuffes try to mask their treachery with a ‘progressive’ colouring. Their persecution of Assange, you see, has nothing to do with his anti-American activities. Oh no! It is to do with the defence of ‘women’s rights’.”
Woods writes reams of conspiracy-theory shtick dressed up as international political analysis. Smears like this are “the oldest tricks in the arsenal of the CIA”; and “the government of Sweden is in the pockets of the Americans. A single phone call would suffice to obtain the most enthusiastic participation of Stockholm in this disgusting witch hunt.”
The possibility that a bourgeois state might wish to try Assange for a serious crime appears not to have occurred to Woods — perhaps it is just not as attractive as his conspiracy theories.
More ludicrous still, Woods claims that the defence of Assange is crucial to “the defence of democratic rights” against capitalist attempts to “put the clock back a hundred years”.
But the right to pursue a rapist through the courts; to remain anonymous; and to be taken seriously is also a democratic right, won through struggle, which should be defended — even under a severely limited capitalist justice system.
In fact it is so-called “leftwingers” who defend Assange by wrapping the facts up in conspiracy theory who want to turn back the clock on these hard-won rights.