2011-08-10 "Anonymous Anarchism: The Yang of Globalization" by John Kelley from "We The People News"
Author’s note: Throughout my life I have been a political activist, cynical of government and corporate power but ultimately believing in the system. Since the election of Barack Obama and his bowing to corporate America it has become clear that the present system is a complete failure unless you are a corporate mogul or a government official on their payroll. That “hope for change” cannot come from within the actions of the system; it is incapable at this point of ensuring anything except fueling the destruction of the planet, the enslavement of workers and the promotion of a growing war and police state.
Because of that I have abandoned any belief that our current form of government can prevent the further growth of wealth disparity, the destruction of the environment and ultimately, the likely demise of most of life (including human) on the planet. It is only through individual and collective non-cooperation and direct action that this outcome can be prevented and a sustainable future evolve. It is all based on decisions of individual conscience and consciousness.
Voting and participation in the system only furthers the problem by giving its massive exploitation legitimacy. What is the answer, I don’t know, but the teachings of the Anarchists give us a good beginning. Whatever evolves must be sustainable, cooperative and of free will, you know like bottom up democracy. Therefore over the next few months I will be writing about current and historical examples of the impacts of Anarchism on our society. A metaphorical message in a bottle to like minded individuals seeking answers to their malaise. There is an answer to the depression of exploitation and learned helplessness, stop participating in it.
Pot, revolutions, hactivists, and the World Anarchist movement.
An important event happened in the world recently but was just a blip on the mainstream media radar and there is a reason, it’s too big a threat to the system to be talked about openly. While CNN and the rest of the world were happily munching on Rupert Murdoch avoiding cream pies in the British Parliament the crackdown by governments and corporations around the world went mostly unreported. The arrests of 21 “hacktivists” or “internet vigilantes” who allegedly belong to the online group “Anonymous” marks an escalation against internet protestors and dissenters in the battle that has reached a new epigy after the disclosures of Julian Assange’s Wikileaks site.
The group “anonymous” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group)) is built on a “hive mind” concept, it is an online collective that functions on image boards and pursues social goals by attacking and punishing corporations, religions and governments for wrongdoing. The group members don’t even know each others real identities, in fact if you are found out, you are out. But they do have rules, including no destruction of records at the invaded site and no leaving of any code except to cover your tracks. One self description is “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
16 adults in the U.S., four in the Netherlands and one 16 year old in Great Britain were arrested for crimes against the system, shutting down PayPal, Citibank, Visa, Mastercard and other websites in retribution for their refusal to process donations for the investigative reporting website Wikileaks. The companies presumably acted at the behest of the Obama administration after Wikileaks posted evidence of what appears to be an American war crime and 250,000 other hacked state department emails on its site.
While one or two primary members of Anonymous may have been arrested, internet insiders pose that only newbies and amateur protestors who viewed their actions like an online sit in and really lacked the skills to thoroughly conceal their identities got swept up in the raids. The rest are still out there as proven by a challenge to the FBI the next day stating “you can’t arrest an idea” and attacks that followed. Since then another group Team Poison mounted an attack on Blackberry following an announcement they would turn over logs to police following accounts that rioters were using Blackberry’s to coordinate their efforts. Anonymous also announced that they would shut down Facebook for not protecting privacy of its users, on November 5th, Guy Falk day.
Evidence of American War Crimes?
The latest escalation in these cyber wars began when Wikileaks posted a leaked 2007 video from a helicopter showing the shooting of eight Iraqi’s, including two Reuters photographers, who are casually walking around in a Baghdad courtyard. The 250,000 emails posted by Wikileaks had numerous revelations but were screened to insure no person was endangered, that information was redacted or withheld by Wikileaks.
The first release however was a disturbing view of American policy in Iraq. In the video there is one AK47 and one RPG present, both slung, none of the individuals are acting in a hostile manner. It is impossible to determine if they are hostiles or regular Iraqi’s concerned about a firefight going on a short distance away. The initial strafing wipes out the group. The only survivor one of the photographers is badly wounded and crawling towards a building, the gunner is begging for him to reveal a weapon so he can shoot him again.
Two men come in a van a few minutes later and load him up. The pilot tells command there are weapons present even though none are seen. They blast the van with machine gun fire and blast it again after it is stationary. Ground troops find both men killed, the photographer and two children ages 8 and 4 wounded, they find no weapons. It gave folks back home a real idea about what their tax dollars were going for, not something the Obama administration wants you to see.
The Army arrested Private Bradley Manning as the source of the material and subjected him to conditions comparable to those used on terrorists for releasing the information to Wikileaks. Physical and emotional isolation, removing his clothes, and other techniques used in American interrogation centers.
Meanwhile the Obama administration has pursued every means possible to jail and silence Assange. The U.S. applied pressure everywhere it could and Sweden suddenly decided it had two sexual misconduct cases against Assange. Banks, which have never found any money too dirty to manage, suddenly decided not to process Wikileaks’ donations.
Anonymous as an Anarchist movement -
There is a word that modern mainstream media really avoids using, Anarchist. It seems threatened by the very idea. It talks about anarchist activities and but scrupulously avoids using the name and either ignores the evidence or fails to recognize it as a growing movement around the world. Maybe because Anarchists don’t have a public relations department and a press secretary, perhaps because they don’t function like an international corporation like Exxon, or perhaps because they form the biggest threat to the government-corporate stranglehold on freedom since the French Revolution. They range from Egyptian rebels, to Mexican drug cartels to hactivists, but they and their movement is growing.
The hactivists, like Anonymous, discuss plans such as attacks on companies openly on the internet and still carry them out. They use denial of service attacks by flooding a website with packets of data that overwhelm the system, shutting out regular business. They have the power to insert worms, viruses and other system damaging data but rarely do; instead they leave their signature, the equivalent of graffiti on a site, or post embarrassing or personal information taken from the site. It’s an anarchist organization, operating by joining and taking actions, sometimes individually, sometimes as an organic network, leaving the anonymous message to let their targets know who did it. They style themselves after the anarchist movie “V” with members showing up at events in the Guy Falk mask made famous in the movie. Guy Falk day is November 5th, the day he was caught trying to blow up the King and the British House of Lords in the Gunpowder Plot.Traditionally their commitment to not destroy or alter sites they attacked made them more of a nuisance than a threat. In 2006 they attacked Hal Turner’s white supremacist site, after that the Church of Scientology, they attacked Tunisian, Egyptian and other government websites during the Arab Spring. They were watched but not considered that dangerous even after an attack on Sony that got attention. That all changed February of 2011 when Anonymous raided HBGary Federal a security contractor for Bank of America who claimed to have infiltrated Anonymous. In retaliation Anonymous invaded Federal, dumping 68,000 emails, taking out their phones and defacing their webpage. They posted a PowerPoint presentation they found in the raid created by Federal to present to Bank of America titled “The Wikileaks Threat.”
The presentation describes a proposed plan of attack on Wikileaks including misinformation, cyber attacks and identifying big donors was posted around the internet. In March Anonymous posted documents from the Bank of America emails about improper foreclosures it said are examples of fraud. The direct action weapon of publishing secret information that corporations and governments want to hide had become a threat to the secret world of corporate wrongdoing ignored by mainstream media.
Anarchism the response to Globalization -
Anonymous is just one example of the new anarchists rising across the planet to challenge globalization, destruction of the environment, loss of economic and political rights and increased control and surveillance by both business and government. It has happened before; Anonymous follows a long, but many times hidden and or distorted history of Anarchists in this country.
Once upon a time there was a strong movement of anarchists in this country; they were workers in the bowels of the mines, and early factories that built America, the were sharecroppers who fed the masses while their own children hungered, they were the immigrant laborers who worked until they dropped on the canals and railroads only to be replaced by the even more desperate.
They labored from the age of ten on, for 14 – 16 hours a day in horrible work conditions that led to debilitation and early death, many times to be more in debt to the company at the end of the week then at the beginning. Death in a company mine would mean eviction for the widow and children from company housing the next week. That was the America of the corporation in the Gilded Age from the end of the Civil War until the great depression crashed the system in 1929.
Albert Parsons a former Texas journalist and confederate soldier who became the anarchist leader of the International Working People’s Association explained that the War Between the States was a war of two labor systems. Parsons explained in a letter to his wife Lucy why it cost less to hire immigrant labor than keep slaves. After all immigrants required no capital investment or protection of that investment, they were expendable and replaceable.
Convicted and hanged as an anarchist scapegoat for the Haymarket Square riot, his wife went on to be one of the founders of the “Wobblies,” the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Big Bill Haywood, a anarcho-communist and head of the IWW made it clear to every worker when he said, “Every dollar the boss gets that he didn’t earn, is a dollar you earned and didn’t get.”
The IWW was made up of anarchists, socialists and communists, labor and civil rights organizers who believed in “one big union.” They rejected unions set up based on types of employment (trade unions) because their lack of unity with other unions allowed them to be exploited against one another. Regardless of what you might have been told, anarchists, socialists and communists share a belief that man has evolved to live on a bottom up democratic basis. The movement was ultimately destroyed by their arrest, deportation and destruction of their organization by the liberal interventionist Democrat, Woodrow Wilson for opposing World War I and what was promoted as a growing communist threat, the first “Red Scare.”
The short and dirty explanation of Anarchism -
The difference between anarchists and other “Reds” is how they get there; socialists and communists believe that the workers should take control of the means of production (wealth creation) and run it for themselves under the direction of the state, which Marx believed would eventually “wither away” leaving a society run by the workers themselves. Unfortunately Lenin and Stalin had other ideas and what developed was the communist central state; in effect the government became business under control of elite party members.
That is the very topic that caused the split between Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, the leading Anarchist theorist of his time. He predicted the bourgeoisie (the managing elite) would be replaced by a new bourgeoisie made up of party members who would be invested in the continuation of the state and their privilege; which of course is exactly what happened in Russia.
Probably the only thing worse than the economy being run by the state (the state directing the application of capital, Lenin/Stalinism) is government being run by corporatism (capital directing government actions, the definition of fascism). Usually thought of as polar opposites in the political spectrum, they are actually twin sisters with different names, the merger of the state and the corporate interests are the same, it’s just a matter of management models. The same could be said of the religious state which adds an additional set of superstitions to be considered in the application of the corrupting amoral logic of capital, and raw power of the state.
Anarchists believe that men should not rule or be ruled but form voluntary cooperative relationships to accomplish what they cannot do for themselves, bottom up democracy. Membership in any collective is voluntary and fluid. The three corruptions of power as far as Anarchists are concerned are the power of the state, the power of the church, and the power of capital. They refuse to recognize the authority of all three.
They believe that all formal structures that get power tend to promote the concentration of additional power and the inevitable abuse of it against the individual. Free thought and free will are considered paramount by Anarchists and they consider political processes diversions from direct participation in the processes themselves, whether they be self government or the economics they must live by.
Anarchists and “Direct Action” -
One of the core beliefs of Anarchists is the idea of direct action. They believe voting for candidates picked by elite power groups is no choice at all; coercive submission by laws and policies passed by the dominant elite is considered tyranny. Non-cooperation, sabotage, civil disobedience, general strikes are considered “direct action” and are the weapons of choice to bring about change.
This belief in direct action is often used to portray anarchists as a violent fringe group. Anarchists attacking police lines at World Trade Organization meetings and recently in Greece are portrayed by the media as anarchists who desire chaos. The real aim is the replacement of governing power groups by direct participatory democracy.
The real danger to the established system is not the rock throwers in the street, it is what is generally not reported or downplayed in the mainstream press. The general strikes in Egypt, Greece, Ireland and Great Britain that brought their economies to a grinding halt. Then there are the attacks on websites, the raiding and dumping of documents revealing government and corporate secrets. Those are acts of anarchism at its most effective, the refusal to participate in ones own bondage or suppression of another.
Anarchists are against violence and war in general but recognize the necessity of self defense. War is seen as the use of the poor of one country against the poor of another country for the benefit of the elites of both countries. Some Anarchists feel violence is justified in light of the real life murder and destruction of individuals, cultures, societies, and family systems by corporations and governments that goes on every day without consequence to the actors involved, they have a point. Economic exploitation and military devastation produce predictable mortality on a population and some Anarchists consider this justification for actions of self defense.
But violence is only a minute part of the Anarchist’s arsenal, it more often takes the role of non-cooperation, flaunting authority, or violating the rules just because they can as a way of demonstrating the limitations of power. The tagger and graffiti artists are anarchists protesting their invisibility in a system that denies them an identity or voice; although it’s doubtful they would put it in those terms. Anarchism is the result of an individual decision to take action against the system when all other choices seem ineffective. The responses range through history from Ghandi, who mastered leading cooperative non-violent anarchistic responses to violent individual actions like Leon Czolgosz who assassinated President William McKinley.
One of the chief tactics is sabotage a corporation or government considered a legitimate target by denying them means to make a profit or function. Because government, capitalist or religious authority always requires the cooperation of its victims to work, non-cooperation is a strategy that can be done by virtually anyone. Levels of nonparticipation can range from what and where you buy your groceries to a refusal to pay taxes, the stand taken by Thoreau. Many times anarchists demonstrate a sense of humor, at their victim’s expense. As community organizer Saul Alinski said, “There is no defense against ridicule.”
On the simplest level it is the daily acts that deny power to any targeted entity, on its greatest level it has the power to shut down any government, any company or any religion. It can take the form of individual acts of civil disobedience such as refusing to complete census information, to people who save and share seeds in defiance of patents created by huge agribusiness, to pot growers who support the illegal economy and hactivists who shut down websites of their targets preventing them from doing business. On the larger level it is the sabotage by groups such as Earth First, fighters at WTO meetings, Green Peace actions and of course the people of the Arab Spring in the Mid East from Tunisia to Syria.
Marx, the Wobblies and Anonymous are all right. The only thing workers have to lose is their chains. The blatant acts of bailing out investors and banks while denying public welfare services to the poorest, demanding pension and healthcare givebacks and raising taxes on workers while forcing fire sales of state resources represents one of the greatest thefts in history.
The corporate takeover of the U.S. government is complete and is enabled as much by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as it is by John Boehner or George W. Bush. Whether a society could ever operate on a completely voluntary basis is an ongoing debate, but the organization of capitalism, militarism and government security in pursuit of profit today threatens the basic tenets of freedom, justice and life on earth itself.
The question is quickly becoming what does the wholesale destruction of the environment, cultures, communities and individuals by corporations and government justify? For some it is direct violent attacks on the system, for others it is the sabotage and non-cooperation. The conversion of government to become an instrument of power to extract profit and control the population has become complete. Given the overreaching power of the state, it is easy to understand the attraction of the power of Anarchism to give not only a way to rebel but satisfaction in doing so.