Julian Assange of Wikileaks is in news again, a month after he was bailed out of prison facing allegations of sexual assault. This time around, the venue is central London, where Assange, messiah of the nerds, has picked up two yellow and blue discs from one Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss bank Julius Baer who ran its Cayman Island wealth management operations for the last eight years. The discs supposedly contain information on 2,000 of the bank's clients, Elmer's aim being to 'educate society' about money-laundering and tax evasion that the super rich routinely indulge in.
We might leave the super rich aside for a while, quaking as they are in their beachfront villas and luxury yachts, waiting for secrets about the filthy lucre they had stashed away to come tumbling out of the cupboard. Assange is the redoubtable epic hero of our times, our Achilles and Gilgamesh, an extra-sovereign conscience keeper who has taken it upon his shoulders to champion the cause of information and bring vile, anachronistic institutions like governments to their knees. He inspires people: in faraway Calgary, a political party has been launched to champion Assange, online games increasingly use him as an icon.
The world and its vices are, of course, too vast to be disciplined by one Assange, who might not allow too much deviation except an occasional tumble of 'surprise sex'. But the future looks promising: a Chinese magazine has prophesied that "everybody could be an Assange". The list of mischief can also be widened to include mundane but more widespread ones like playing hooky from school, cheating on spouses, or spending vacuous hours at work. Every morning, we can hear the roll call of those who had erred the previous day. With Assange on the prowl, wrongdoing will never be the same again.