Julian Assange: A GenX pain in the Establishment’s Ass.

The Subtle Roar of Online Whistle-blowing: Jul...
Image by New Media Days via Flickr

  I vowed that I would not dedicate any of my blog bandwidth to discuss the exploits and missteps of famous GenXers.  They get enough press coverage as it is for their dysfunction, and frankly, I’d rather devote my energy to watching water boil or grass grow.

However, Julian Assange, Australian native and founder of WikiLeaks, recently made the headlines this past weekend as a result of rape charges leveled against him by Swedish prosecutors.  This whipped the mainstream media and the blogsphere into a feeding frenzy.

But what do we really know about him?  And why is it important for us to know about his past in order to understand his motivations for starting WikiLeaks and launching this one-man whistleblowing crusade?  I’ll leave that to the pundits and the talking heads to figure out. 

Here’s why I’m interested in this guy.  First, he was born in 1971, which qualifies him as a GenXer, which suggests that he’s very much anti-establishment, cynical, persistently suspicious, bullshit-proof and singularly focused on uncovering the truth.

Published accounts about Assange suggest that he was raised by parents who ultimately parted ways because of their own dysfunction.  What GenXer, either through personal experience or through friendships with other GenXers, can’t relate to this?  I know I can.

He moved around a lot as a result of family drama, and was subsequently  home-schooled.  It’s not any surprise, as the home-schooling phenomenon became popular with Baby Boomers who, with everything else, felt that they could educate their children better than trained, professional educators.  The arrogance of Baby Boomers defies explanation….but I’ll save this for another post.

I won’t speculate as to whether or not his mother integrated socialization opportunities into Assange’s home-schooling experience , but I wouldn’t be surprised if she left that small detail out.   The fact that he had an unconventional education clearly speaks to a GenX experience. He was home-schooled, I watched way too much programming from the Children’s Television Workshop (Sesame Street, Electric Company and Zoom).

As he grew older, he developed an interest in computers and a talent for hacking computer networks.  This makes perfect sense, as most GenXers born in the early 70s and later became extremely comfortable with computer technology as it gained popularity in the late 80s and early 90s.  Remember the movie Hackers, starring Angelina Jolie (another GenXer)? I wouldn’t be surprised if he watched this movie multiple times, studying it closely for clues on how to stick it to the Man by hacking into the some of the most heavily guarded networks to unearth sensitive information and uncover sinister conspiracies. 

It is also important to note that he studied math and physics for a time at the University of Melbourne, but dropped out.  One report suggests that he found out that the military and academics were odd bedfellows, but I’m sure that there was a general disillusionment with academia overall. How typical is that? Very typical if you’re a GenXer.  We’re cynical, suspicious, and armed with tools and resources to get to the bottom of whatever pisses us off. 

Assange’s exploits got him into, and continue to get him into a lot of trouble with the establishment because he is an anti-hero, willing and able to take a chance to risk everything to expose the corruption and rank dishonesty of a government that feels it owes its citizens nothing more than a big fat smack in the face.  I think it’s more than a coinicidence that the news about the rape charges emerged late last week amid reports that additional information would be made available through WikiLeaks.  The government will stop at nothing to block any attempts at holding itself accountable.

Nevertheless, how many of us are silently cheering him on?  How many of us are tired of a government shrouded in secrecy and corruption? How many of us, particularly those of us who are GenXers, are pissed that we’re going to inherit a boatload of debt for two wars we never really should have engaged in, don’t really understand, and don’t really have a real end in sight?

I for one, will be rooting for him from my little corner of the blogosphere. Go Julian.  Do the damn thing.

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