On love and loathing
There are some for whom Julian Assange is a category of person who does not deserve love.
In the UK it has been a task properly taking in the contents of the leaked internal Labour Party investigation, not least because it runs to 850+ pages of evidence confirming many ordinary members’ worst suspicions about the systematic undermining of the Corbyn project from within.
It gives full access to the loathing that permeates the WhatsApp conversations held between Labour Party officials during the early years of Corbyn’s leadership and throughout the 2017 election campaign. There is a hallmark security in everything these voices say – one recognizes the insolent complacency of the establishment flunkey – and the viciousness of the speech reserved for fellow LP members, MPs and officials whose growing popularity, they fear, is salutary reading for anyone thinking about ways forward in the Labour Party. They have no conscience.
Another way of saying that would be that there’s no democratic authority to which they feel accountable. But they are anti-democrats. One extract in which 2 of them – then paid officials in LP head office – discuss Corbyn’s forthcoming speech in response to the Manchester bombing, follows a very positive YouGov poll result and is especially revealing of their contempt for Labour voters and Corbyn supporters, referred to elsewhere straightforwardly as Bastards:
“x. 09:12: … with a bit of luck this speech will show a clear polling decline and we shall all be able to point to how disgusting they truly are (now obviously we know it was never real – but that isnt the point in politics!)
y. 09:13: Yeah I’m sure that’s right…. My fears are that: a) the speech won’t go down as badly as it deserves to thanks to the large groundswell of ill-informed opposition to all western interventions. And b) they will use that poll to claim they were on course to win and then Manchester happened. And whether or not JC goes, lots of the membership will buy that argument.”
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The newly popular leadership is “disgusting”, their supporters deluded.
As people were taking in the implications of the report, the existence of Julian Assange’s partner, Stella Morris, and their 2 children was revealed via a YouTube recording. Morris decided to speak out about the relationship at this point because she fears Assange’s life “is coming to an end”. Press reaction to this was predictable and found its least inhibited expression in the tweet of a well-known journalist whose field of expertise includes mental health: “excuse me while i vomit for the forseeable future”, she wrote. For this journalist and others like her, Assange is of the category of person who does not deserve love. More than that, he is in a special group so innately repulsive they are unlovable. The mere thought of this love induces nausea.
There’s a lot of loathing in Eimear McBride’s 2016 novel The Lesser Bohemians, which I’ve just finished reading and whose 2 protagonists struggle to believe they might be worthy of love. Traumatised by abuse in childhood, they direct hatred inwards at themselves. It takes a long novel to trace the many failures of conviction, the exhaustion, the just wanting it to be over, until the writer can bring about the sort of happy ending her characters and readers can trust. It’s hard-won, qualified, contingent rather than transcendent. Through their bodies, which are the theatre of this conflict, each comes to see that they can be loved and that in order to go on they need to go on together – as one says to the other at the end: “I don’t want to make myself learn to live without you. So what do you think about getting on with our life together, whatever that will be like?... come on my love, he says We haven’t got much time.”
On February 29, 2020, the Times of Israel reported on a leaked recording of Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Natan Eshel, talking about Likud campaign strategy and the rise in the premier’s popularity in the polls since his indictment in 3 cases of corruption: “ [people think] if you haven’t stolen, what exactly have you come into politics for? We’ve checked this. And to my shock they [the public] do not understand [this notion] of going into politics to do what’s good for the nation. [they think] you go into politics in order to steal… Now in this public, I’ll call it…non-Ashkenazi… what gets them worked up? Why do they hate the press? They hate everything and we’ve succeeded in whipping up that hatred. Hatred is what unites our camp.”
In her YouTube broadcast Stella Morris says this about the impulse to love: “Just like in war, people fall in love and decide to live their lives in an act of rebellion – I think falling in love is a kind of act of rebellion in a context where there’s a lot of attempts to destroy your life and your reason for doing what you are doing.”
This piece was originally published in the May edition of Splinters.
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