1. Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual assault. He has not been charged. He has not been 'incarcerated' for aeons as Wikileaks keeps saying - most sex crime suspects are banged up on remand, not bailed to a massive mansion in the countryside before diving into the Ecuadorian Embassy.
2. Julian Assange is innocent unless charged and proven guilty. There's nothing progressive about celebrating a man's refusal to assist an inquiry by the police force of a country which is much, much more equitable and liberal than the UK.
3. The UK and US are definitely infuriated by Wikileaks' activities, and no doubt the US would love to spirit him away from Sweden to somewhere like Texas. This doesn't mean he should seek sanctuary in Ecuador - a largely admirable country though ironically lacking a free press - but that he should face the music in Sweden and our progressive comrades in that country should help resist any US extradition proceedings should that come to pass. I don't see anything wrong with asking the Swedes to guarantee Assange won't be extradited to the US. While we're on the subject, I'm rather confused by the British government's hostility to Assange - after all, when General Pinochet came to stay, hands dripping with the blood of thousands, it protected him from extradition to Spain, in one of the most shameful episodes of political history.
4. Confusing Assange with Wikileaks, and assuming that his sexual conduct must automatically be as stainless as his position on big power duplicity, is a distortion of progressive politics which leads to the dead-end of conspiracy theories.
5. The new element - Ecuador's diplomatic rights - is genuinely worrying. If the UK decides that it can violate international law by entering an Embassy in pursuit of Assange, then there are no more rules in this arena: why should the Chinese not retrieve dissidents sheltering in Western embassies, or the authorities of any other repressive country? It doesn't matter whether it's Assange or the most sainted individual: this aspect of the case is really worrying.
6. The whole affair has unmasked a lot of so-called leftists who think the alleged victims' rights are far less important than their hero's worries. If your politics depends on you downgrading sexual assault and vilifying women when it's politically convenient, you need to take a long hard look at yourself. Of course there's a long history of this kind of vicious masculinist Stalinism: Gerry Healy (Workers' Revolutionary Party, bankrolled by the Iraqi and Libyan reactionary regimes) was a serial rapist, violent thug and hypocrite, yet his cult's members rarely wavered from the argument that all criticism was CIA or KGB-inspired propaganda. Healy and his friend Ken Livingstone claimed it was all MI5-inspired. Sound familiar?
7. Socialists don't need heroes. We understand that individuals are flawed, weak and often contradictory. Instead, we believe in the Cloud: the collective wisdom of the intelligent human race. We know that ideas survive individual and generational failure, defeat and death. We believe that a massive never-ending argument, while not always efficient, will guide us towards humane, workable relations between us all. Hero-worship is a dead end, the fantasy of those determined to bring about the apocalypse/class-war/race war or whatever regardless of prevailing conditions.
8. Automatically adopting positions because you don't like those on the 'other' side is what Lenin called 'infantile leftism' (though it applies to the right as well). 'My enemy's enemy is my friend' is a vicious, destructive mantra. What kept billions of people poor and oppressed during the Cold War? The West's deliberate support for any regime - Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Pinochet's Chile, Iraq etc etc - which promised to be anti-Communist. The same goes for the Soviet Union's puppet states - Ethiopia, Angola and Romania. This kind of mindless, obedient politics is the exact opposite of true, humanist communism. It's weird having to point this stuff out because it seems so obvious, but clearly not, given the continued tolerance of Kissinger, George Galloway and most of the Tory Party.
Assange is a diversion. Wikileaks is a noble enterprise, but he is - like us - weak and complicated. By all means resist American/UK efforts to demonise him, but understand that canonising him is simply the mirror of demonisation, and doing so plays their game.