(Ghost of Vanzetti Blog) A lot has happened in the days since I last posted on this subject. There have been sixteen arrests alleged anonymous “members” and an increase in unfounded claims and accusations being heaped on Anonymous as well. There was a new bill introduced today as well that if passed would allow the government to fine companies $5,000 a day if they do not comply with new stricter storage guidelines for user information.
Before I start to digress here is some information for those looking to support the Anonymous arrestees:
She has a support site setup, those wishing to donate can go to this link for more info. There is also more information over at the Anonymous Solidarity Network site and over on facebook. And more helpful information: the National Lawyers Guild advice on what to do in event of a home search is over here and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense project is over here.
With the arrests of these comrades I felt the need to write something that portrays what I’ve seen and learned about Anonymous since I started writing this blog and doing interviews. I’ve been thinking about this piece for a while, so it’s hard to know where to start… at the beginning of course, as always.
“The internet can put millions of people in contact at a great distance giving them the opportunity to exchange ideas, information and more. Protesting via the internet, this protest can expand beyond national borders for hours. The internet is the only form of free information that exists.”~excerpt from an interview with a participant in Anon’s #Opitaly
A military intelligence analyst decides to follow his conscience and reports for duty one day, where he proceeds to download thousands of classified military documents onto a Lady Gaga CD, soon to be transmitted to the world via the internet… Later, over 3,000 angry citizens of the internet gather in a chat room to co-ordinate their online demonstration against PayPal and others, calling it “Operation Avenge Assange”…Soon, these same disgruntled internet citizens from across the world coordinate their efforts for the benefit of those struggling in Tunisia, then Egypt, then many other countries, a DDOS for the dictator’s site, hundreds of black faxes for his offices, meanwhile others disseminate greasemonkey scripts and care packages to circumvent government censorship, and when the “shutdown” comes, they send faxes with information on how to connect using dial-up modems… Even later, the oblivous police bust through front doors with gun’s drawn, securing a dangerous “mastermind” in pajamas here, a twenty year old college student there. 32 arrests, and another 16, the media trumpets misinformation, but we can all be sure of one thing, 16 arrested today, and many more continue on in their place…
I never would have expected something like this before, but now it seems so logical. Looking at the way the internet was constructed, looking at the social issues preceding the upheavals of the past months. But to think I’d go from cursing the isolation of my computer, the alienation of Facebook statuses and school emails, going from this to having meaningful conversations with people countries away, people I’d never meet, more than that, connecting with unknown pseudonyms, and that being more than enough. The realization there existed such a thing as Anonymous, a collective will working at all hours of the day.
Anonymous’ support of the ousting of Ben Ali, Mubarak, along with their other operations, the support for Bradley Manning, a precursor, the anarchist running comms at the G20 protests in Pittsburgh, tweeting police radio chatter and movements, and then were the flash mobs in Philadelphia, the Egyptian who told me they used blackberry messengers to organize protests there, then I read it was used in the London riots, the constant flow of information both legal and illicit, the failure of multiple governments in shutting down the internet, and the failure of multiple government Internet Security contractors to keep from getting hacked over and over; and not even mentioning Wikileaks. It’s undeniable now; sure there’s risk, sure there’s no uprising without physical protests, but is there an uprising these days without the internet, a computer, or at least a few cell phones?
“Relations of affinity do not exist on the basis of ideology or quantity, but start off from reciprocal knowledge, from feeling and sharing projectual passions… It is the horizontal link that concretises the practice of liberation: an informal link, of fact, without representation.”~ At Dagger’s Drawn
Here’s what I propose: instead of making a point to draw borders and boundaries between ourselves and others, let’s do everything possible to connect and associate for mutual benefit, at least to find the moments where our individual worlds intersect… It’s the same story all the time from those with something left to lose, Mubarak tells the Egyptians the protesters are outside agitators, their revolution succeeds, and the media and “good citizens” alike take great pains to point out that London isn’t Cairo, that San Francisco has no Tahrir square of its own. They divide and divide, the “violent” protesters from the “peaceful”, the so-called leaders of Anonymous from the rest of the movement, Anonymous from regular society, young from old, black from white, on and on.
What do I say to that? The obvious answer- the Egyptian revolt had no leaders, neither did the riots in London, neither does Anonymous, and neither do I motherfucker. Leave elections and politics to those who stand something to gain from them. If you and I can work together on a horizontal, equal basis towards a shared goal or project, that is more than enough for me… The question is how to convince others that strength of organization depends more on diversity than conformity, how to extend the moment of fantastic rupture with society, how to make sure those like the Libyan Transitional Council never again wrest control from a horizontal insurrection… The question of who to trust and what tactics to use… The question of- How?
“It is still from the anonymous mass that the unknown with the will to live arise in mutiny. To say we are the only rebels in a sea of submission is reassuring because it puts an end to the game in advance. We are simply saying that we do not know who our accomplices are and that we need a social tempest to discover them… Not only do we desire to change our lives immediately, it is the criterion by which we are seeking our accomplices.”
~At Dagger’s Drawn
There’s no doubt about it, we’re more numerous than we were. Malcontents and undesirables, dreamers and schemers, co-conspirators, idealists and nihilists; more importantly we’ve grown in strength. Sure there are the minor ebbs and flows in support, but take the long view, we’re still growing, we’re still learning… Learning that maybe we weren’t outnumbered or outmatched all this time, like the Egyptian people learned after thirty years. And hey, at least there’s an upside to making the Guy Fawkes mask a best seller for Warner Brothers, hopefully they’ll sell out soon, then everyone can go get their money back, and more!
Of course anonymity is key here, a V mask or a bandanna, a balaclava or a VPN (or a collared shirt if the situation calls for scam-o-flage), in the street or in IRC, keep your face, your name and any other identifying features hidden in public. Again, how, how to convince people to demand nothing, or demand everything, either way, showing your face won’t convince them.
And the internet is a great place for expanding, learning, and connecting. As the anon I quoted earlier said; the internet allows people from different countries around the world to exchange knowledge and ideas as well as grow their protest exponentially in a short amount of time. I know others would agree with me when I say I felt genuinely affected by the events in Egypt. The perfect examples of this new global solidarity are the Anonymous freedom ops. In the words of a different anon:
“<anon> well surely American people have a perception of anonymous, some Arab people another and Europeans another and so freedom ops as concept started with optunisia.
<anon> sure we attacked Zimbabwe before but the concept got rounded during tunisia events. people in tunisia nowadays have kept a lovely image about us.
<anon> mainly between young people. freedom ops were since then, jumping around different countries
<anon> so then tunisia, egypt, iran, yemen, bahrain, Syria, libya
<anon> we touched venezuela during chavez media control laws. and we attacked spain about leysinde since december
<anon> its important to see on that aspect. leysinde for example, started back to december
<anon> related to some law pushed by US govt in spain regarding copyright, but wikileaks of course
<anon> people in spain got the pic about it and if you were following the events in spain back to puerta del sol things
you’ll see that leysinde woke up many feelings on that movement as background
<anon> all is related. what is happening nowadays its about people getting angry because they are tired of how things work on the world
<anon> so back to tunisia
all these things are happening cause Tunisian people showed it’s possible to fight for their rights. i remember nobody knew anything about them before
<anon> i searched for news about that country before starts the attacks and nothing
<anon> people got their revolution to get rid of a dictator who kept all fortune for himself
<anon> without any big interests getting involved and anonymous was there. backing them all times they needed. when they came here,
they wanted media attention to their problems,
they wanted the world to look what they were living
<anon> we promised to get them attention but they should go then to the streets cause revolutions cannot be made just on the internet
<anon> so well…it seems it worked”
A foreign event is now a local affair. We’ve gained the ability to make connections and effects in other countries, while simultaneously strengthening our organization, by decentralizing across the globe. And did I mention the shared tactics? There was the #school4lulz over at the Lulzsec IRC, and there’s the #tutorials and #anonsec channels over at the Anonops IRC. And of course the learned skills from the freedom ops. Again, here’s the anon from above:
“<anon> well DDoS was deployed, defacement too, we took their mailservers and we spammed obscene messages from them to whitehouse cia nsa mi6 10downingstreet etc
<anon> telling how to kill people (signed ben ali)
<anon> probably some viruses break on censorship dedicated servers
<anon> a greasemonkey script was written to workaround some Tunisian gov’t try to phishing their citizens, using their privileged position as middle man proxy for population. also dial up free internet connection were offered for Tunisian people to connect to the outside
<anon> well thats what i can remember right now”
I’m tempted to show more proof of the powerful influence of technology/computers/social media/the internet/Wikileaks/Anonymous on social struggles, but I’m trying to avoid turning this blog post into a term paper… I was tempted to wait longer to flesh out these thoughts, but now seemed as good a time as any, considering this situation is ever-changing. Specifically, the strength of the internet is that it’s the most dynamic form of communication ever invented.
As a final thought, I’d like to say I know things aren’t all bread and roses on the web. I know of the arrests and the obstacles, but I also know the momentum is moving our way. All the more reason to shout: FREEDOM TO ALL THE ACCUSED! They are some phenomenal human beings and they deserve all we can do to support them and more… And you’ll notice I said freedom to the accused, if they are guilty, all the more reason to support them!
Until the next time…
“I need to become anonymous. In order to be present.The more anonymous I am, the more present I am. I need zones of indistinction to reach the Common.To no longer recognize myself in my name. To no longer hear in my name anything but the voice that calls it. To give substance to the how of beings, not what they are but how they
are what they are.”