Topic of the Week – (A)nonymous!
In a world that is increasingly virtual, hacking and the internet (i.e. hacktivism or... direct hacktion?) seem like an appropriate angles of attack, or at least stand as options. Anonymous's decentralized and informal organization methods, black-bloc inspired mask-wearing (taken from self-proclaimed anarchist Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta), and general distaste for authority hits many familiar notes among anarchists.
Those very things are also make it challenging (or impossible) to determine whether all the attacks that could be anarchist-backed, are actually motivated by anti-authoritarian actors though openly claimed targets vary in scope and supposed intent. Recently claimed actions include:
1. Hacking the US Census Bureau then posting leaks “on paste sites openly available on the web. They contain the database of the US Census Bureau’s website along with its password hashes, 3000+ usernames, IDs, phone numbers, full names and names of the agencies and most importantly thousands of email IDs belonging to US official from the military, IRS, Census Bureau, Department of Home Security, US Department of Education, National Nuclear Security Administration and other high-profile US government institutions along with their addresses.” http://anonhq.com/anonymous-hacks-us-census-bureau-leaks-confidential-data/
2. Releasing leaks to the National Post from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada’s spy agency a week after an alleged Anonymous member was shot by Canadian police while wearing their signature Guy Fawkes mask. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/anonymous-says-it-hacked-canada...
3. Calling for a “day of rage” following the alleged police murder and cover-up of Sandra Bland, a black woman in Texas. https://youtu.be/A0F-MhNLyDo
4. Taking down multiple government and corporate sites as retaliation against the state taking down MegaUpload, including websites for the FBI, US Department of Justice, Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Association of America, and Universal Music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8UFn0_62Yw
Despite liberal appeals for so-called justice, attempts to sway government policy, and perhaps a bit of questionable CSI-inspired DIY detective work, their tendency to lean towards anti-state and anti-capitalist targets is undeniable. It should be kept in mind also that those committing these acts and those producing the messages or call-outs do not necessarily have the same politics or interests in mind. Their capacity to attack potentially anyone who is plugged into the internet provides a variety of routes of attack from an anarchist position. Would their range of affect be more appealing if their goals pushed beyond liberal or left-oriented politics? What if their goal was to destroy the internet itself, and the spectacular digital culture along with it, or to become focused on infrastructural targets? Can digital blockades of commerce or state power be compared to real-world actions such as rail blockings or surveillance-camera destruction?
It's easy to see the benefit of creative, anti-authoritarian digital resistance, but is there something about virtual fighting that tends towards some of the problems that plague meat space actions (relationships that can't stand the test of repression, superficial understandings, ease of betrayal of former colleagues, etc)? What prevents a vanguard of more tech-savvy and skilled hactivists, or is that necessarily a bad thing? Is there a way for anarchists to interact with and learn from the skillz and strategies of Anonymous? What sort of creative interventions into this cascade of digital actions can anarchists inflict? Does the dawn of this digital terrain affect or potentially signal the end of long-employed tactics or real-world forms of resistance, or can creative hacking complement the struggle taking place outdoors and in the streets?