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Monday, December 27, 2010

Julian Assange Interview With Cenk Uygur from TruthOut

Below is the full transcript of Julian Assange's interview With Cenk Uygur  from TruthOut

Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan show 22/12/2010. They discussed critics of Assange, the treatment of Private Bradley Manning and more. 

CENK UYGUR, GUEST HOST: First, our exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who sparked a global uproar with his release of hundreds of thousands of pages of secret government documents and diplomatic cables, information ranging from the outrageous -- we had innocent and unarmed reporters and Iraqi civilians being killed by U.S. troops -- to the downright embarrassing, comments about the hard partying and the corruption of different world leaders.

Not long after that latest release, Assange found himself in legal trouble in Sweden. But not for any reasons having to do with the leaks. Instead, he was booked on a series of sex charges.

With the help of people like the American filmmaker and activist, Michael Moore, Mr. Assange is now out on bail and speaking out to us.

Let's now go to Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England, where Julian Assange is currently on house arrest.
Julian, great to have you with us.


UYGUR: All right, the first question I have for you, Julian, is do you consider yourself a member of the press?
Are you a journalist?

ASSANGE: Well, I have been a member of the Australian press union for many years. I co-authored my first book when I was 25 and have been involved in setting up the -- the very fabric of the Internet in Australia since 1993 as a publisher.

So quite interesting that this is something that is being raised. It's -- it's actually a quite deliberate attempt to split off our organization from the First Amendment protections that are afforded to all publishers.
You know, as time has gone by and our journalism has increased, I've been pushed up into senior management, into a position where I manage other journalists. I now even am in a -- in a position where I'm managing the interrelations between "The Guardian," "Spiegel," "The New York Times," "Al Jazeera" and so on, which were used in -- in our last production.

So, yes, unfortunately, I don't write that much anymore, because I'm busy being editor-in-chief, coordinating the actions of other journalists. But a quite deliberate attempt to split us off in the mind of the public from those "good" traditions of the United States, protecting the rights of the press to publish, to split us off from the support of the press in the United States, the support of journalists.

Some of those journalists have fallen for that. And why?
Because they're worried that they're going to be next. They believe that if they sell us out, if they say, well, he's not really a journalist, they can have the U.S. -- have the Washington authorities target us and destroy us and somehow steer clear of the crossfire, which they worry will -- will scatter out through all journalists.
But I have a message to them. They're going to be next. And we're seeing these statements that "The New York Times" is -- is, you know, is now also being looked at in terms of whether it has engaged in what they call a conspiracy to con -- commit espionage.

So us journalists and publishers and writers, we all have to stick together to resist this sort of reinterpretation of the First Amendment, this attempt to use the 1917 Espionage Act, something that was put in place in the middle of World War -- toward the end of World War II, in the middle of the U.S. involvement in World War I, to stop bona fide espionage in World War I.

Now, we've got this antiquated act that they are trying to apply to publishers, arguably, unconstitutional. But that will take many years to get through the court.

And in the meantime, what happens?

In the meantime, we have our people harassed. We have calls to apply this to -- to other newspapers.
All members of the press and -- and all the American people who believe in freedom and the -- and the good founding principles of revolution -- of the revolutionary fathers have got to pull together and resist this attack on the First Amendment.

UYGUR: And do you think they have pulled together or do you think that large portions of -- whether it's the American media or the international media -- have abandoned you and not come to your defense when people in government call you a high tech terrorist?

ASSANGE: Yes, well, they were. They were. But we saw a bit of a shift around 10 days ago. You know, once I was put in prison, this really focused the mind of people intently into what was happening. So we -- we have seen a turnaround.

We saw the -- the House Judiciary Comm -- Committee issue a finding that this would be a -- a grave step and -- and an attack on the First Amendment. We've seen the New York-based Human Rights Watch saying that this would be a very grave step and should not be done. We've seen Reporters Without Borders issue an open letter to Obama condemning that sort of interpretation.

And we have seen a number of members of the mainstream press rightly stopping forward and understanding that there has to be a line drawn in the sand, that this erosion of the First Amendment must be stopped.
And so I'm quite hopeful about that. I think people are -- are saying that it's going too far. You know, always in this sort of situation, you have an institution like the State Department connected with military contractors and an institution like the Pentagon, an institution like the CIA, able to respond fairly quickly and get its agenda up fairly quickly because they are organized. They have a chain of command. They have internal e-mail communications and systems. They have existing contacts with the press. They spend an enormous amount of money on public relations. So they're -- they're able to get their message out quickly.
But the reality is that a large swathe of the population sees things differently, not just in the United States, but in Australia, my home country, where the -- the prime minister made similar sort of statements to the United States.

Now, that's completely turned around in Australia and Australians have gotten together --

UYGUR: Well --

ASSANGE: -- to even take out a full page ad in "The New York Times" condemning that -- that sort of behavior. As time goes by, the large number of people -- the silent majority start to become organized. And that's what we've seen over the last two or so weeks -- the gradual organization of the silent majority to resist a new type of tyranny, a new type of privatized censorship, a new type of digital McCarthyism that is being pushed from Washington.

People don't like it. Around the world, people don't like it. They don't like it in the United States, especially because of these good First Amendment, revolutionary traditions about the rights and freedoms of all people to criticize and open up their government.

UYGUR: Well, Julian, I want to get to as much as possible here. So I want to give you a chance to respond one by one to your critics.

First to Mitch McConnell, who is, of course, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate and to Joe Biden, who both said that -- called you a high tech terrorist. How do you respond to -- to Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States, saying that to you?

ASSANGE: Well, let's look at the definition of terrorism. The definition of terrorism is a group that uses violence or the threat of violence for political ends. Now, no one in our four year publishing country covering over 120 countries has ever been physically harmed as a result of what we have done. And that's not just us saying that. It's the Pentagon saying that. That's NATO in Kabul saying that. No one -- not a shred of evidence. There are -- believe me that if they could find or even easily manufacture a shred of evidence, they would be doing that immediately. So it's clear that whoever the terrorists are here, it's not us.
But we see constant threats from people in the Re -- you know, Republicans in the Senate trying to make a -- a name for themselves, the people like Sarah Palin, top shock jocks on Fox and, unfortunately, some members, also, of the Democratic Party, calling for my assassination, calling for the illegal kidnapping of my staff.

And -- and just a few days ago, it was in Fox, that was the phrase that was used -- illegal. He should be illegally murdered if necessary-- assassinated by the law, if possible, if not, illegally.
What sort of message does that send about the rule of law in the United States?

That is conducting violence in order to achieve a political end -- the elimination of this organization or the threat of violence to achieve a political end, the elimination of a publisher. And that is the definition of terrorism.

UYGUR: Now, I want to give you a chance to respond personally, though, because here Mike Huckabee is making it very personal. You saw that quote we had up. He says, I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty for you. Sarah Palin is saying that you are like al Qaeda and the Taliban and he -- you should be pursued with the same urgency.

So how would you respond to Mike Huckabee, who is a top Republican leader, who's likely to run for president again?

How do you respond to Sarah Palin, a top Republican leader who might run for president again?

ASSANGE: Oh, it's just another idiot trying to make a name for himself. But it's a -- it's a serious business. I mean if we are to have a civil society, you cannot have senior people making calls on national TV to go around the judiciary and illegally murder people.

That is incitement to commit murder. That is an offense. You cannot have senior people on national TV asking people to commit an offense.

That is not a country that obeys the rule of law.

Does the United States obey the rule of law?

Because Europeans are starting to wonder whether it is still obeying the rule of law?

And it needs to be very careful.

Is it going to descend into an anarchy where we don't have due process, where those great Bill of Rights traditions about due process are just thrown to the wind, when -- whenever some shock jock politician thinks that they can use it to make a name for themselves?

Or do we take things according to laws expressly made by the people and their representatives?
That is the way things should be done. And -- and when people call for illegal, deliberate assassination and kidnapping of others, they should be held to account. They should be charged for incitement to commit murder.

UYGUR: Well, that's a very strong charge. And what they're saying is very strong.
What -- what's actually happened, the only person who's actually been arrested on any leak is actually Private Bradley Manning. He's actually been in prison for the last seven months. And I know you spent a week in prison and you got a little sense of how bad it can be. He's had 200 days of solitary confinement in a small cell for 23 hours a day. He gets a 5:00 a.m. Wake up call. He's not even allowed to exercise in his cell. He's not allowed to have sheets or a pillow, etc. Etc. Etc.

A lot of people, including some of the top human rights analysts in-- in the world, believe that this is cruel and inhumane treatment.

Do you think Private Manning is, one, a hero?

And, number two, do you think the American government is treating him wrong by keeping him in isolation for so long?

ASSANGE: We don't know whether this young man is our source or not. Our technology is set up so we don't know that. That is the best way to protect people.

But let's look at the allegations. Regardless of whether he was the whistleblower behind some of these res -- revelations or not, he is a young man that has been caught up in this, kept in solitary confinement for some six months -- some 5,000 hours now -- in conditions that were even worse than the ones that I was in, held in a -- he's now held in a military brig. His visits are very limited, only once a week. And his lawyer has said that they have been getting worse and that his psychological health has been getting worse.

If we are to believe the allegations, then this man acted for political reasons. He is a political prisoner in the United States. He has not gone to trial. He's been a political prisoner without trial in the United States for some six or seven months. That's a serious business. Human rights organizations should be investigating the conditions under which he is held and is there really due process there?

Now, we've recently heard calls to try and set up a plea deal with Brad -- Bradley Manning to testify against me, personally, to say that we engaged in some kind of conspiracy to commit espionage -- absolute nonsense. Absolute nonsense. That's not how our technology works.

UYGUR: Well --

ASSANGE: That's not how our organization works. I never heard of the name Bradley Manning before it appeared in the media.

But actually, mainstream journalists in the United States, mainstream investigative journalists, how do they operate when they're investigating a story?
They do actually ring up their sources and say, do you have anything on this?
That is how they operate.

And if we are to -- if they want to push the line that when a newspaperman talks to someone in the government about looking for things relating to potential abuses, that that is a conspiracy to commit espionage, then that's going to take out all the good government journalism that occurs in the United States.
And, fortunately, as an organization, we're not too exposed to that because that's not how our technology works. But other journalists are. And they need to take action now.

And they need to understand another thing, that in this case of Bradley Manning, his conditions have been getting worse and worse and worse in his cell as they attempt to pressure him into testifying against me.
That's a serious problem.

UYGUR: Right. Right, Julian.
And I want to let the audience know that Private Manning, of course, has not been convicted of anything. He's in isolation as we keep our most serious criminals, even though he has not been convicted.

ASSANGE: But Julian Assange, we -- we really appreciate your time today.
Thank you for joining us.

ASSANGE: All right. Merry Christmas.
UYGUR: And -- all right. Merry Christmas to you, as well. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Protect Assange, Don’t Abuse Him by John Pilger

John Pilger | Protect Assange, Don’t Abuse Him

The self was now the zeitgeist. Driven by the forces of profit and the media, the search for individual consciousness all but overwhelmed the spirit of social justice and internationalism. A new deity was proclaimed; the personal was the political.

In 1995, Reich published Opposing the System, in which he recanted almost everything in The Greening of America. "There will be no relief from either economic insecurity or human breakdown," he now wrote, "until we recognize that uncontrolled economic forces create conflict, not well-being . . ." There were no queues in the bookstores this time. In the age of economic neoliberalism, Reich was out of step with the rampant individualism of the west's new political and cultural elite.

False Tribunes

The revival of militarism in the west and the search for a new "threat" following the end of the cold war depended on the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition. On 11 September 2001, they were silenced finally, and many were co-opted into the "war on terror". The invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 was supported by leading feminists, especially in the US, where Hillary Clinton and other false tribunes of feminism made the Taliban's treatment of Afghan women the rationale for attacking a stricken country and causing the deaths of at least 20,000 people while giving the Taliban new life. That the warlords backed by America were as medievalist as the Taliban was not allowed to interrupt such a right-on cause. The zeitgeist, the years of "personal" depoliticizing and distracting true radicalism, had worked. Nine years later, the disaster that is Afghanistan is the consequence.

It seems the lesson must be learned all over again as a group of media feminists joins the assault on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, or the "Wikiblokesphere", as Libby Brooks abuses it in the Guardian. From the Times to the New Statesman, apparent feminist credence is given to the chaotic, incompetent and contradictory accusations against Assange in Sweden.

On 9 December, the Guardian published a long, supine interview by Amelia Gentleman with Claes Borgström, the "highly respected Swedish lawyer". In fact, Borgström is foremost a politician, a powerful member of the Social Democratic Party. He intervened in the Assange case only when the senior prosecutor in Stockholm dismissed the "rape" allegation as based on "no evidence". In Gentleman's Guardian article, an anonymous source whispers to us that Assange's "behaviour towards women . . . was going to get him into trouble". This smear was taken up by Brooks in the paper that same day. Ken Loach and I and others on "the left" are "shoulder to shoulder" with the misogynists and "conspiracy theorists". To hell with journalistic inquiry. Ignorance and prejudice rule.

The Australian barrister James Catlin, who acted for Assange in October, says that both women in the case told prosecutors that they consented to have sex with Assange. Following the "crime", one of the women threw a party in honour of Assange. When Borgström was asked why he was representing the women, as both denied rape, he said: "Yes, but they are not lawyers." Catlin describes the Swedish justice system as "a laughing stock". For three months, Assange and his lawyers have pleaded with the Swedish authorities to let them see the prosecution case. This was denied until 18 November, when the first official document arrived - in the Swedish language, contrary to European law.

Unveiled Threat

Assange still has not been charged with anything. He has never been a "fugitive". He sought and got permission to leave Sweden, and the British police have known his whereabouts since his arrival in this country. This did not stop a London magistrate on 7 December ignoring seven sureties and sending him to solitary confinement in Wandsworth Prison.

At every turn, Assange's basic human rights have been breached. The cowardly Australian government, which is legally obliged to support its citizen, has made a veiled threat to take away his passport. In her public remarks, the prime minister, Julia Gillard, has shamefully torn up the presumption of innocence that underpins Australian law. The Australian minister for foreign affairs ought to have called in both the Swedish and the US ambassadors to warn them against any abuse of human rights against Assange, such as the crime of incitement to murder.

In contrast, vast numbers of decent people all over the world have rallied to Assange's support: people who are neither misogynists nor "internet attack dogs", to quote Libby Brooks, and who support a very different set of values from those espoused by Charles Reich. They include many distinguished feminists, such as Naomi Klein, who wrote: "Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women's freedom was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up!"

Friday 17 December 2010

Forty years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: "There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual." I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that political action had failed and only "culture" and introspection could change the world. This merged with an insidious corporate public relations campaign aimed at reclaiming western capitalism from the sense of freedom inspired by the civil rights and anti-war movements. The new propaganda's euphemisms were postmodernism, consumerism and "me-ism". (from TruthOut)

Friday, December 17, 2010

WikiLeaks: the emperor wears no clothes by John Pilger and others

Now WikiLeaks has laid bare the lies and collusion, we pledge to not just witness but actively participate in its fight for democracy

We are writing this statement in support of democracy.

Since Sunday, 28 November, WikiLeaks and five major newspapers from around the world (the Guardian, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais) have been publishing redacted versions of leaked US diplomatic cables in an ongoing story that has become known as "Cablegate". The identity of the original leaker is – as yet – unconfirmed.

This is not the first leak of confidential documentation that exposes governmental lies – and it won't be the last. Secret information has long been used by elites to build and maintain power over huge populations of citizens, workers, armed forces and others. But when the secrets of the elite are revealed, the power they represent can be confronted and reversed.

Nor is this the first time that state (and other) forces of power have acted to prevent dissemination of information on the internet – and it won't be the last.

Sites have been removed by their hosting companies, servers seized by police or other governmental authorities, take-down requests issued under the rule of law: none of these prevented information spreading.
But the issues run deeper than this. As former US president Thomas Jefferson once stated, "information is the currency of democracy". Democracy – the rule of the people – as currently understood and practiced is, and has long been, severely restricted.

Power is abused in our name by governments and transnational corporations around the world: they fight illegal wars; abuse and kill people; pillage property and planet. The powerful accumulate wealth and force the majority – the rest of us – to pay for it: with our health, our freedom, our time, our money and with our lives. For a long time, we have been deceived about the reasons for this: it is our right for the truth to be known. Without that right, democracy cannot and does not exist. The current assault on WikiLeaks is yet another instance of democracy-hating by elites.

Now, we find we are witnessing a new level of info-struggle. We are witnessing how the emperor wears no clothes. We can see the lies made bare, we can see the posturing and propositioning that our governments participate in. We can see the collusion that occurs with transnational corporations and with global media giants. WikiLeaks and others are battling against powerful institutions bent on curtailing our knowledge of and influence over policies and structures that impact our lives: they are information heroes, not information villains. We see all this being done in our name, and we condemn it.

Thus, we pledge to not simply bear witness but to actively participate in this fight – for freedom of speech, for real democracy and for justice. We know this is only the beginning: de-masking the puppeteers facilitates action towards fairer and more just societies. We demand that the truth be heard. We stand at the doorway to a new, just and democratic world: a doorway we pledge to keep open and to march through. We stand with all the inhabitants of this world who are affected daily by governments that oppress the right to free speech and obstruct the path to true democracy.

Andrei Morgan
Michael Albert
Jamie McClelland
Daniel Kahn Gillmor
Tachanka! collective
John Pilger
Donnacha Delong, vice-president, National Union of Journalists
Yvonne Ridley, founder, Women In Journalism
Hessom Razavi
Mike Holderness, freelance journalist
Pennie Quinton, freelance journalist and human rights campaigner
Phil Edwards
Chris Grollman
Chris Anderson
David Graeber, reader in social anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London, Thursday 16 December 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reclaim the Cyber-Commons by By George Monbiot

Julian Assange
They are the online equivalent of enclosure riots: the rick-burning, fence-toppling protests by English peasants losing their rights to the land. When MasterCard, Visa, Paypal and Amazon tried to shut WikiLeaks out of the cyber-commons, an army of hackers responded by trying to smash their way into these great estates and pull down their fences.

In the Wikileaks punch-up the commoners appear to have the upper hand. But it’s just one battle. There’s a wider cyberwar being fought, of which you hear much less. And in most cases the landlords, with the help of a mercenary army, are winning.

I’m not talking here about threats to net neutrality and the danger of a two-tier internet developing(1,2), though these are real. I’m talking about the daily attempts to control and influence content in the interests of the state and corporations: attempts in which money talks.

The weapon used by both state and corporate players is a technique known as astroturfing. An astroturf campaign is one that mimics spontaneous grassroots mobilisations, but which has in reality been organised. Anyone writing a comment piece in Mandarin critical of the Chinese government, for example, is likely to be bombarded with abuse by people purporting to be ordinary citizens, upset by the slurs against their country.

But many of them aren’t upset: they are members of the 50 Cent Party, so-called because one Chinese government agency pays 5 mao (half a yuan) for every post its tame commenters write(3). Teams of these sock-puppets are hired by party leaders to drown out critical voices and derail intelligent debates.
I first came across online astroturfing in 2002, when the investigators Andy Rowell and Jonathan Matthews looked into a series of comments made by two people calling themselves Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek(4,5). They had launched ferocious attacks, across several internet forums, against a scientist whose research suggested that Mexican corn had been widely contaminated by GM pollen.

Rowell and Matthews found that one of the messages Mary Murphy had sent came from a domain owned by the Bivings Group, a PR company specialising in internet lobbying. An article on the Bivings website explained that “there are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organization is directly involved … Message boards, chat rooms, and listservs are a great way to anonymously monitor what is being said. Once you are plugged into this world, it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party.”(6)

The Bivings site also quoted a senior executive from the biotech corporation Monsanto, thanking the PR firm for its “outstanding work”(7). When a Bivings executive was challenged by Newsnight, he admitted that the “Mary Murphy” email was sent by someone “working for Bivings” or “clients using our services”(8). Rowell and Matthews then discovered that the IP address on Andura Smetacek’s messages was assigned to Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri(9). There’s a nice twist to this story. AstroTurf TM - real fake grass - was developed and patented by Monsanto.

Reading comment threads on the Guardian’s sites and elsewhere on the web, two patterns jump out at me. The first is that discussions of issues in which there’s little money at stake tend to be a lot more civilised than debates about issues where companies stand to lose or gain billions: such as climate change, public health and corporate tax avoidance. These are often characterised by amazing levels of abuse and disruption.
Articles about the environment are hit harder by such tactics than any others. I love debate, and I often wade into the threads beneath my columns. But it’s a depressing experience, as instead of contesting the issues I raise, many of those who disagree bombard me with infantile abuse, or just keep repeating a fiction, however often you discredit it. This ensures that an intelligent discussion is almost impossible - which appears to be the point(10).

The second pattern is the strong association between this tactic and a certain set of views: pro-corporate, anti-tax, anti-regulation. Both traditional conservatives and traditional progressives tend be more willing to discuss an issue than these right-wing libertarians, many of whom seek instead to shut down debate.
So what’s going on? I’m not suggesting that most of the people trying to derail these discussions are paid to do so, though I would be surprised if none were. I’m suggesting that some of the efforts to prevent intelligence from blooming seem to be organised, and that neither website hosts nor other commenters know how to respond.

For his film (Astro)Turf Wars, Taki Oldham secretly recorded a training session organised by a rightwing libertarian group called American Majority. The trainer, Austin James, was instructing Tea Party members on how to “manipulate the medium”(11). This is what he told them:

“Here’s what I do. I get on Amazon; I type in “Liberal Books”. I go through and I say “one star, one star, one star”. The flipside is you go to a conservative/ libertarian whatever, go to their products and give them five stars. … This is where your kids get information: Rotten Tomatoes, Flixster. These are places where you can rate movies. So when you type in “Movies on Healthcare”, I don’t want Michael Moore’s to come up, so I always give it bad ratings. I spend about 30 minutes a day, just click, click, click, click. … If there’s a place to comment, a place to rate, a place to share information, you have to do it. That’s how you control the online dialogue and give our ideas a fighting chance.”

Over 75% of the funding for American Majority, which hosted this training session, comes from the Sam Adams Alliance(12). In 2008, the year in which American Majority was founded, 88% of the alliance’s money came from a single donation, of $3.7m(13). A group which trains rightwing libertarians to distort online democratic processes, in other words, was set up with funding from a person or company with a very large wallet.

The internet is a remarkable gift, which has granted us one of the greatest democratic opportunities since universal suffrage. We’re in danger of losing this global commons as it comes under assault from an army of trolls and flacks, many of them covertly organised or trained. The question for all of us - the Guardian, other websites, everyone who benefits from this resource - is what we intend to do about it. It’s time we fought back and reclaimed the internet for what it does best: exploring issues, testing ideas, opening the debate.

published in the Guardian, 14th December 2010

6. Andrew Dimock, head of the Bivings Groups Online Marketing and Promotions division, 1st April 2002. “Viral Marketing: How to Infect the World”.
The original article was here:
But has since been taken down. Subsequently a note says that it has been “Recently edited for clarification”: which appears to mean saying the exact opposite of what the original stated, and re-posted here:
You can read extracts from the original version here:
 7. See
(The original has also been taken down).
8. Newsnight, 7th June 2002.
10. See also the interesting comment by SteB1, here:
12. Scott K Parks, 5th October 2009. American Majority holds Dallas workshop. The Dallas Morning News.
13. Karoli, 26th April 2010. American Majority: Part the astroturf to see what’s underneath.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Julian Assange For Australian of the Year by John Tognolini

Below is my submission for Julian Assange for the Australian of the Australian of the Year Awards for 2011.

I support his nomination for Australian of the Year because he's shown courage in letting the truth be known. Also the injustice he is suffering brings in to question what does democracy mean in Australia in the 21st Century?  To me the best definition is by an Australian about democracy is by three times Miles Franklin winner David Ireland,  1927-   in his 1971  novel The Glass Canoe

 "Democracy is not for people who just want to be left alone, so long as they do what their told and don’t answer back. The key people in the democratic process are the critics, dissenters, reformers. If their sealed off from the political process, the system grows tired and sick, and turns into something else."

And also what Julian  said in below in the British Guardian last week

"I am an Australian citizen and I miss my country a great deal. However, during the last weeks the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, and the attorney general, Robert McClelland, have made it clear that not only is my return is impossible but that they are actively working to assist the United States government in its attacks on myself and our people. This brings into question what does it mean to be an Australian citizen - does that mean anything at all? Or are we all to be treated like David Hicks at the first possible opportunity merely so that Australian politicians and diplomats can be invited to the best US embassy cocktail parties." 

John Tognolini
Wellington, New South Wales