Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Your very interesting book to read WikiLeaks: The Global Fourth Estate relates the genesis of WikiLeaks. In your opinion, wasn't WikiLeaks a revolutionary tool to defend the right to inform?
Nozomi Hayase: I would say WikiLeaks is a tool that defends the public’s right to know. The way you put it in your question, ‘publisher’s right to inform’ is derived from the First Amendment right. The US model of governance, namely a representative democracy, relies on the mechanism of checks and balances of power to maintain the integrity of the system. Within this framework, the press plays a crucial role because without the informed public, this system of accountability really won’t work.
With the consolidation of media and privatization of public airwaves, the function of the press has been effectively dismantled. With this, the American political system has been turned into a system of control. Journalists, who are supposed to be the watchdogs that fight against the government’s monopoly over information, and defend truth have been made into stenographers to power. WikiLeaks enabled the vital function of free press. They did it at a global scale, publishing information critical for democracy. As George Orwell once said, “In a time of universal deceit- telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. WikiLeaks’ fierce defense of truth is a truly revolutionary act.
In your opinion, isn't the fight that Julian Assange has led for years and that he continues to lead from his prison a fight that concerns us all?
Yes, definitely. I see this is as an issue that affects everyone, and is a fight that we all have to engage in. We are now seeing a multi-award winning journalist and Australian citizen who has published information that revealed governments’ war crimes and corruption, being criminalized and treated worse than a murderer. Here is an individual who was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his great journalistic work, which he did to promote peace and justice around the world. He doesn’t belong in a prison. He should not be psychologically tortured, deprived of his rights and be subjected to isolation.
Injustice to Assange displays the deep crisis of Western liberal democracy. This inhumane treatment of Assange is not happening under authoritarian regimes like Russia and Saudi Arabia, but at the heart of London. The US government’s prosecution of Assange exposes the structure of power that has been kept secret under the guise of democracy.
The US government, with its allied nations, the UK, Sweden, and Spain has used massive resources to attack a journalist who enabled the true function of free press. Despite the United Nations formal ruling that clearly indicated that Assange’s confinement inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London constitutes arbitrary detention, the UK government refuses to comply and honor its international obligations. The US bullied a small South American nation to hand over Assange.
We are now seeing a total breakdown of law and Western governments’ complete disregard of human rights, freedom of expression and due process. Assange’s plight is a wake up call for all of us. If we can’t stand up for his freedom and stop this now, this will lead to a tyranny of the state and injustice will spread everywhere.
You wrote a powerful article Justice for Assange, Test of Western Democracy. Do people in the West live in a democracy or do they live in a dictatorship that does not say its name?
As someone who lives in the West, I say, we don’t live in a democracy. The United States, for instance is a constitutional republic, which is not a democracy. Yet the country presents itself to be democratic. The US political system is a representative democracy that now has become an instrument of control. This system relies on secrecy, deception and manipulation of public perception. Democracy is a word, just like freedom, used to create an illusion that we have a democracy and those in power use it to control the population.
The US often compares itself with more repressive governments like China and Russia etc to argue how it is a democratic society. For instance, they often criticize the Chinese government for its censorship and crackdown of dissidents. Yet, in the West, despite the existence of the First Amendment right, the government still engages in a censorship and control of information. They just do it differently. Rather than engaging in outright dictatorship, they do it in a subversive way.
I was once in China and had a conversation about this with someone. Chinese people I talked with said to me how at least in China citizens know how their government lies and they engage in propaganda. On the contrary, in the US, people don’t seem to know that they are being manipulated just because they believe in a notion of free press and there is a perception that the established media outlets like the New York Times as being trustworthy.
Although mainstream media’s credibility is now being more challenged with WikiLeaks publications, people generally don’t scrutinize information critically. The public is conditioned to think if the New York Times runs a story, it must be factual. In many cases, people don’t even read the actual news story and oftentimes it is the news headlines that influence public opinion. Just think of the New York Times article that got the US into the invasion of Iraq. They just printed the former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech at the UN falsely claiming Iraq had “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and widely disseminated lies. I think even now, there isn’t enough scrutiny given to what the news media did back then.
I would say this Western style of control is in some ways more dangerous, because the force of control is kept hidden. When the oppressive forces are invisible, it is harder for people to resist them because they can’t see or even become aware of how they are being controlled. It is like a wolf hiding in sheep’s clothes slowly devouring our livestock. When we see a wolf, maybe it is easier for us to protect ourselves, but when we can’t see the threat, attack can go on and damage could be greater. That is what we have in the West.
On the one hand there is Julian Assange and his fight for freedom of speech and on the other hand there are media dominated by capital and empire. Don’t you think that the price of freedom and truth is more expensive than the servility in which many so-called journalists are floundering? Isn't the epic battle of the journalist Julian Assange the one of truth against lies, of good against evil?
There is a path to power and a path to truth and the two never converge. In the existing structure of power, journalists as a profession are systematically placed so to be unable to pursue truth. Until the incentives of the system radically change, truth and freedom will always be sacrificed at the altar of the editorial room and we are paying the high price.
In the US government’s war on free press, being enacted through their attack on WikiLeaks and Assange, we are now seeing a clash of two forces. We can describe this as a battle between one of truth against lies or good vs. evil, but I see this more as a struggle over two conflicting ideas: secrecy vs. transparency. One sector of humanity tries to enforce domination through imposing hierarchies and controlling the flow of information, while a decentralized network made of ordinary people around the world strives to distribute power equally and defends the right to self-determination. From a larger perspective, I see this battle as something that helps cultivate moral courage within each individual that is so needed for our time. A friction created between these two opposing forces give us an opportunity to choose what is right, out of our own volition, and create a greater good that comes as a result of overcoming evil, so to speak.
US imperialism with its allies has destroyed countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. under the pretext of spreading "democracy" and "human rights". In your opinion, why does US imperialism still need wars?
After the World War II, the US has risen to the superpower status while becoming the police of the world. The US always needs enemies to fight against to justify their use of military forces, bloated military budgets and military occupations around the world. This monopoly of violence allows the US to exist as the global empire, through creating petrodollar hegemony. This gives them greater power to control geopolitics, putting the all of the creatures on this planet under their governance.
Now, this petrodollar hegemony has been increasingly threatened as the BRICS countries move away from dollars. The US sees this as a threat to their system and is trying everything they can to prevent this from happening. For instance, the US put sanctions on Russia and manipulates the oil price to attack the Ruble and engage in currency wars. When all fails, then they move to military actions.
Aren't the mainstream media in the pockets of the money powers and the military-industrial complex that Julian Assange and his comrades are fighting against?
Of course, the US media is in the pocket of the money powers and is deeply embedded with the military industrial complex. For instance, the former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller indicated how the news company had a cozy relationship with the military and the CIA. He candidly talked about how the company had nearly daily conversations with the US government and also how they decided to sit on materials that exposed warrantless wiretapping in deference to the Bush Administration, after talking to them about it. The idea of press as watchdog for democracy has become fiction.
It is because WikiLeaks revealed the corruption of the established media that the organization became a target of massive political retaliation. In reaction to WikiLeaks release of the trove of US classified military records of the Afghan war and the Iraq War Logs, mainstream media sided with the Pentagon by actively diverting public attention from the actual documents being published and smeared Assange in order to discredit the organization. This continues to this day.
You have written many very interesting articles that are sounding the alarm. Among them: Is the Era of Transhumanism a Final Corporate Takeover of Humanity? In your opinion, isn't technology instead of being in the service of Man a danger by allowing elites to control peoples?
As I see it, the answer to this question really depends on who has an access to these technologies and who controls their development. Often people engage in a discussion as to whether we should have artificial intelligence or not, but AI is already here and just like any technologies, what is invented can’t be uninvented.
Instead, what we need to be talking about is an issue of distribution of technology. Unequal access to technology creates a power dynamic, where those who have access can have unfair advantage over those who don’t. Technology is neutral, but it can be used to harm people or benefit them. For instance, the internet can become a tool that helps people connect with one another and liberate them, but at the same time, as we have seen, it can be used as a tool to erode human rights in a form of censorship and surveillance.
So, to me a democratization of technology, transparency of its development processes, and open access are very important. And new technologies are being developed without the public knowing much about their purpose, source of funding, and impact on society. So this is an area that journalists can more actively engage themselves in and make sure that the public is well informed.
In this society where surveillance is widespread, whether through social networks or other technological tools such as smart phones and computers, etc., can we not say that we are in a period of fascism?
Long before Edward Snowden’s revelation of the NSA’s mass surveillance, Assange warned the public about how our society is quickly moving into an Orwellian dystopia. Fascism in the digital era takes what the Stasi secret police was doing in the former East Germany to a new level. Now, by people having Facebook profiles, they are turned into informants and are actively aiding the intelligence agency’s data gathering. By uploading photos and sharing information, they are unknowingly facilitating a collection of a large database that can be used against people. The way how this is done systematically without their awareness makes it difficult for people to resist this form of surveillance. When they start to see the consequences of their participation in this kind of spying operation, the damage is already done and it is too late to undo the system. It is a very dangerous time that we live in.
You are an intellectual committed and very active in the fight for the truth and against oppression and despotism. In your opinion, is there not a need for resistance fighters around the world to organize themselves to counter the evil intentions of the empire?
Yes. I say, definitely, there is a need for resistance and it is important for people around the world to organize themselves to take back their own power. But to me, when we think of resistance, the question is what type of resistance we need to create. I have come to recognize how traditional forms of activism are often ineffective and that we now need to have a new approach.
Forms of resistance in the electoral arena such as petitioning, voting and protests, are provided within the existing structure of power. So the activism that most of us engage in currently is permissioned. Rules of engagement are set by those who control the system. They carefully hide this fact to solicit certain types of reactions from people. Those of us who are engaged in resistance think we are acting independently and there are times we achieve a momentum and can change things, but we will never be able to change the system fundamentally, because at the end of the day they are the ones who make rules. This is the part of illusion of democracy and freedom. They allure us into the charade of politics by installing puppet politicians. It is like putting dangling carrots with their false promises in front of us, making sure we bite and sink low.
We have seen repeatedly how this works. For instance, American people go back to an electoral arena every four years to engage in the lesser of the two evils politics that only gets worse each election. The ruling class through elaborate psychological manipulation makes people believe if they struggle more and fight harder, then they can win. This will trap them further in their grip of power. What those in power are afraid of is people finding out the truth and starting to exit that system of control, because they know they can only exert their power in their control grid.
We must resist, but we have to think about what that looks like and how we can engage in a battle on our terms. For this, we need to engage in permissionless activism, which is to claim our uncompromising power and start implementing changes without seeking approval. Through innovating something new, we can make the old system obsolete. For this kind of resistance, we don’t have to fight. Struggle and suffering are no longer necessary. All we need is our creative mind and have an audacity to chart a new path. For this, we have to have perseverance not to succumb to their temptation. We have seen a glimpse of it during the Occupy Movement with people’s adamant refusal to make demands. Back then, occupiers were constantly criticized for their lack of demands.
Recall how a mainstream media ridiculed the activists saying, “What’s your demand?” and depicted its leaderless movement as being disorganized and saw their ethos of decentralization as weakness rather than strength. But the idea of Occupy movement was trying to create a new society through people’s direct participation in power by principles of mutual aid and voluntary association, which is the power inherent in the First Amendment right.
Yes, we must resist. I say that we must resist the temptation to engage in their game, protest and fight against the system, because our participation in their game would further acknowledge their illegitimate authority and sustain their power. We need to have courage to walk away from their system by creating an alternative system.
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is Dr. Nozomi Hayase?
Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D, is trained as a liberation psychologist. Her professional experience embodies this liberatory praxis, which consists of threefolding of teaching, writing and community engagement. Since early 2000, she has been engaged in education. Nozomi is a pioneer in helping create the first Waldorf high school in the Puget Sound area. As co-director of the foreign language program, Japanese teacher and academic advisor, she actively participated in the school community and learned a way to build a non-profit organization based on consensus. She continues this engagement through teaching psychology at a charter high school.
She is a creative and passionate teacher. By working with her cross-cultural experience as a Japanese native who immigrated to the States, she developed the concept of ‘foreign language education as an art’ – a path of self-discovery through critical consciousness awakened between cultures. She created the Japanese language curriculum and incorporated it into her teaching. She continues to engage adolescents in this quest for self-knowledge, through teaching psychology at Credo charter high school. She developed her own psychology curriculum that contextualizes the history of psychology and traditional theories in relationship with the emerging trend of technical intervention of humanity such as AI and transhumanism. Through her teaching, she challenges the millennial generation with a question of what it means to be human.
She is also a journalist who has written over 100 op-eds and columns on a variety of topics ranging from education, politics and culture. She describes herself as a ‘historian in a digital age’, who by working on the platform of the Internet, strives to bring views that are marginalized in society back to the historical archive. In her political and social commentaries, she deconstructs dominant ideology and tackles with historical revisionism of social oppression to restore our collective memory and address cultural trauma.
Her commitment to justice made her gravitate toward controversial issues and organizations as topics of her writing. As a frequent contributor to CounterPunch, Nozomi has audaciously delved into issues including the marginalization of Ralph Nader in his third party US presidential campaign, the persecution of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, political prisoners such as Mumia Abu Jamal and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
In recent years, she has focused on covering the issues surrounding the invention of Bitcoin, decentralization and its empowerment of ordinary people.
Her writing received praise and acknowledgement by notable figures on social media and many of her articles were translated into various languages and shared globally.
Nozomi Hayase wrote the book WikiLeaks: The Global Fourth Estate
Published in American Herald Tribune August 27, 2019: https://ahtribune.com/interview/3420-nozomi-hayase.html