The only surprise when it comes to the Pandora Papers revelations, exposing the scale of the greed and corruption of various world leaders, political figures and officials in hoarding obscene amounts of cash in offshore tax havens, is that anyone should be surprised. We are living through a crisis of late capitalism, an economic system whose many and manifold contradictions have been exacerbated by a global pandemic. And we have reached the point where huge imbalance in wealth within states, between states – and also within and between regions – is no longer tenable. What is also no longer tenable is the clawing hypocrisy that underpins Western liberal democracy. The man who more than any other has exposed this hypocrisy is Julian Assange, currently languishing in Belmarsh high security prison in London awaiting the outcome of the US government’s appeal against the decision of a British judge towards the end of 2019 not to allow his extradition to the US on grounds that his treatment there is likely to amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The level and intensity of the persecution Assange has been made to endure is a measure of the extent to which he removed the flowery curtains of democracy and human rights behind which the savage beast of US-led Western hegemony resides. In exposing the vicious and racist character of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the mountain of war crimes committed in their name, Julian Assange and Wikileaks quickly became a greater and more potent threat to the ability of the Empire to continue as normal than a thousand bayonets.
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