Possibilities For Julian Assange's Future

Seeing Julian Assange’s face on the cover of Time Magazine (by that I mean I saw it on Boing Boing) sparked a feeling of recognition in me, not for something I have experienced previously, but for something I have only read of: a radical leftist whom mainstream media actually takes seriously. Assange now fits that profile, one which has eluded nearly everyone in the United States striving to attain it since the 1970s.

After last week's Wikileaks diplomatic cable dump, it appears that the mainstream media is ‘waiting to see what Wikileaks does next;’ that Wikileaks is now, to an extent, able to determine the narrative of political events. This is the mise en scène I’ve always tried to envision while reading about the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Yippies and all the other revolutionary aspirants of my parents' generation's milieu. But behind the question of what Wikileaks ‘does next’ lurks the decidedly more grim question of 'What is going to happen to Assange?' Everyone seems to know the next step in this game by rote: you become a nuisance to a government and you will go away, one way or another. The far right isn't even hesitating to call for Assange's head but few in the mainstream commentariat have seemed to take their talk seriously. But it does seem highly unlikely that Wikileaks will be able to continue unabated - so what will happen to Assange? To try to ascertain what Assange’s eventual fate may be, I’ve listed the endgames and post-activist vocations of the leftist radicals that captured the public imagination in the 1960s and 70s in the way Assange is doing now, albeit in a much different, digital way.

This list is more expansive than it needs to be to make its point, but even with its length I’m sure it is missing many famed activists from the time period. For instance, it doesn’t include activists whose 'career path' didn't clearly change after the activist work that first made them famous, this is the case, for instance, with Cesar Chavez. Additionally, some of the individuals listed below never came close to Assange's individual notoriety while others were not as radical (while still others were much, much more radical). However, to get a feel for how these things turn out, a large sample size is warranted. These categories don't mean that the activists ended their lives as 'fugitives,' for instance (most are still alive), but that these life events happened during, after, or because of their activist work. It seems like there is honestly a small set of options available for personal and professional growth once one is a world renown political activist.

I collected this information as I could from Wikipedia. It is not intended to be complete or completely correct.

(I don't think, btw, that Assange is out of place on this list, in a structural sense, in any way but anachronistically.)

Ashanti Alston (Black Panthers): Prisoner, Author.
Mumia Abu-Jamal (Black Panthers): Prisoner, Author.
Bill Ayers (Weather Underground): Academic.
Kit Bakke (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Author, Nurse.
Dennis Banks (AIM): Prisoner, Teacher, Author.
Amiri Baraka: Academic, Author.
Silas Bissell (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Prisoner, Artist.
Kathy Boudin (Weather Underground): Prisoner.
Scott Braley (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Artist.
Stokely Carmichael (SNCC): Prisoner, Exile.
Judith Clark (Weather Underground): Prisoner.
Eldridge Cleaver (Black Panthers): Political Candidate, Exile.
Kathleen Neal Cleaver (Black Panthers): Political Candidate, Exile, Academic.
Angela Davis: Political Candidate, Academic.
Rennie Davis (Chicago Seven): Businessman.
David Dellinger (Chicago Seven): Author.
Bernardine Dohrn (Weather Underground): Prisoner, Academic.
Elizabeth Ann Duke (May 19th Communist Movement): Fugitive.
Daniel Ellsberg: Author.
Linda Sue Evans (Weather Underground): Prisoner.
Brian Flanagan (Weather Underground): Jeopardy Contestant, Bar Owner.
James L. Farmer Jr.(CORE): Academic, Political Candidate, Government Official.
Jane Fonda: Entertainer.
John Froines (Chicago Seven): Academic, Government Official.
David Gilbert (Weather Underground): Prisoner, Author.
Ted Gold (Weather Underground): Killed by explosives.
Fred Hampton (Black Panthers): Killed by FBI and Chicago Police.
Tom Hayden (Chicago Seven): Politician, Academic, Author.
Abbie Hoffman (Yippies): Prisoner, Suicide.
Anita Hoffman (Yippies): Author.
Dolores Huerta: Jailed, Beaten.
George Jackson (Black Guerrilla Family): Killed in prison.
Jesse Jackson (SCLC): Political Candidate.
John Jacobs (Weather Underground): Fugitive.
Naomi Jaffe (Weather Underground): Fugitive.
Jeff Jones (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Writer.
Maulana Karenga: Prisoner, Academic, Author.
Chaka Khan (Black Panthers): Entertainer.
Paul Krassner: Author, Entertainer.
Nancy Kurshan (Weather Underground, Yippies): Author, Social Worker.
Timothy Leary: Political Candidate, Exile, Prisoner.
John Lewis (SNCC): Politician.
Martin Luther King Jr.: Assassinated.
Howard Machtinger (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Academic.
Mae Mallory: Prisoner.
Russell Means (AIM): Political Candidate.
Robin Morgan: Writer.
Mark D. Naison (Weather Underground): Academic.
Huey P. Newton: Academic, Killed by a Black Guerrilla Family member and drug dealer.
Diana Oughton (Weather Underground): Killed by explosives.
Elmer Pratt (Black Panthers): Prisoner.
Eleanor Raskin (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Author, Academic.
Filiberto Ojeda Rios (FALN): Fugitive, Assassinated by the FBI.
Terry Robbins (Weather Underground): Killed in explosives accident.
Robert Roth (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Teacher.
Jerry Rubin (Chicago Seven): Businessman.
Mark Rudd (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Jailed, Academic.
Bobby Rush (Black Panthers): Prisoner, Politician.
Mario Savio: Political Candidate, Academic.
Bobby Seale (Black Panthers): Prisoner, Political Candidate, Academic, Author.
Afeni Shakur (Black Panthers): Prisoner.
Assata Shakur (Black Panthers): Prisoner, Exile.
Gloria Steinem: Writer.
Robert Stern (Weather Underground): Lawyer, Labor Official.
Susan Stern (Weather Underground): Prisoner, Author.
Lee Weiner (Chicago Seven): Academic, VP of a NGO.
Laura Whitehorn (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Prisoner.
Cathy Wilkerson (Weather Underground): Fugitive, Prisoner, Teacher, Author.
Malcolm X: Assassinated. 
So Assange, if the past is to be believed, is likely to end up a fugitive (check), in exile (check, sort of, globalization - I don't know), imprisoned for a crime slightly related or unrelated to his political activities (in the process re: sex crimes), write a book (this seems inevitable EDIT: correctly predicted), become an academic (seems ideal), run for political office (Germany’s Pirate Party?) and/or be, yes, assassinated (I certainly hope not). 

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