The delusions of Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy movement has successfully shifted the public’s attention to the corrupt influence of corporations over American government. At the same time, it has pushed the limits of free speech about as far as local governments will allow. In many cases the protesters have forced confrontations with police, highlighting every egregious use of force with the aid of youtube in a way that is both profoundly important and at the same time incredibly annoying. Each arrest is met with jeers from protesters who apparently don’t understand that being arrested is a part of civil disobedience. It seems they do not believe that their symbolic encampments are, while inspiring, almost always illegal. This kind of thinking is completely removed from reality, but that can apparently be fixed by using the incredibly creepy human microphone to repeat passages from the constitution as each protester is arrested.

A similar kind of activist dissonance is even more egregious and disturbing within the Anonymous subculture, which claims responsibility for organizing the Occupations and the Arab spring. In response to the financial blockade of WikiLeaks, a sickening product of extralegal pressure from government, Anonymous successfully perpetrated a string of high profile denial of service attacks. The comparison between denial of service and the sit-ins of the civil rights era has been made repeatedly by Anonymous and its supporters, but no comparison could be more nauseating. In the bizarre world of AnonOps IRC, the arena where these attacks were coordinated, a pervasive and infectious paranoia was evident in the constant discussions on how to best remain anonymous and completely unaccountable for the “cyberactivism” that was taking place. Not only did these “activists” take every precaution possible to avoid identification, but the laws which were broken are actually in place to ensure the freedom of speech and integrity of the internet. Anonymous may have worked for a noble cause, but the means were more akin to those of the masked Klu Klux Klan than those of civil rights activists. Thankfully, AnonOps no longer coordinates denial of service attacks.

It is worth noting that most Anons are probably not supporters of this kind of wholly destructive action. Anons are generally just young people, enjoying internet culture and not participating in much more than internet memes and occasional trolling raids. As in previous countercultures like the Punks and Hippies, what truly defines Anonymous is opposition to all that is sanitized and corporate and not the actions of whatever small group gains the most notoriety. That’s pretty much true of the Occupiers as well. Both these movements have self-organized, and as each is set in direct opposition to corporations, both naturally mimic corporate structure. It is helpful to think of groups of Occupiers or Anons as franchises acting independently of one another and beholden only to the three ring binder of cultural norms, which if broken will result in revocation of franchise status. This is a rare event, but Presstorm was an ideal example. Presstorm was a group of mostly Anon supporters acting as a media outlet covering issues mostly of interest to Anons. The editor-in-chief published a long editorial sharply criticizing Occupy Wall Street and over night Presstorm was disenfranchised, disavowed, and under denial of service attacks.

Although there does appear to be an informal kind of accountability for extreme cases like Presstorm, this is really where the franchise analogy breaks down. There are no headquarters for Anonymous or Occupy and no central organization to keep out the insane and destructive. In lieu of any unifying authority holding these movements in line and on message, there’s a few powerful labels that are used liberally to fix any inconsistencies. Should someone make outrageous comments, vandalize, or engage in any other deviant behavior, he or she is immediately deemed an infiltrator and associated with whatever enemy is most convenient. While it’s true that agent provocateurs have been used and are still used to discredit popular movements, the hysterical overuse of this point by Occupiers is laughable. With regards to AnonOps IRC and its media front end, AnonNews, one particular publication understood this mechanism and hit the nail on the head.

As it stands, both Anonymous and Occupy have won over supporters, gained media attention, and forced discussion of their issues upon the general public. Both have been fraught with negative press because of the not-so-peaceful nature of their confrontation with authorities, while at the same time highlighting a few major issues of public interest. Non-lethal violence against Occupy protesters is often shocking, as exemplified by the UC Davis pepper spray incident, Scott Olsen, and Tony Bologna. As for Anonymous, sometimes the bad boy hackers actually root out important facts. Private security contractors are using social media to manipulate people in conflict zones, as revealed by the Anonymous attack on HBGary. No one would know about it if it wasn’t for Anonymous. But are these things going to actually make a change for the better? Realistically, both of these movements are playing a zero sum game or worse, winning a few small victories at great expense to their cause.

Anonymous and Occupy aren’t situated on terra firma. In their dogma, the ultimate goal is to eliminate corporate and government structures in society and replace them with the same decentralized organization in which they are situated. In this utopian vision, perhaps legitimate authority will only take the shape of denial of service attacks and infiltrator witch hunts. This particular brand of magical thinking, in which the ongoing peaceful “revolution” will overthrow all existing power structures, is probably a symptom of the young and idealistic who are not yet willing to bend to reality.

The tragedy is that revolution, and not reform, is all that Occupy and Anonymous will accept. Running politicians (But not Michael Moore?) out of the encampments is a fun sport for the Occupiers, and harassing politicians and businessmen with crank phone calls is former Anonymous spokesperson Barrett Brown’s favorite hobby. I don’t think either movement is going to accept the cold reality that reform is the best thing they can hope for. Symbolic tent cities aren’t going to cause a revolution. Denial of service and harassment is worse. The people who want change need to work in a positive way with those in power, but the powerful who have tried to reach out to Occupiers have received only vitriol and hate. Anonymous and the Occupiers have fantasies of a better world, but the scumfucking Tea Party’s plans are already in motion.

16 replies on “The delusions of Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street”

Good article, let me add some perspective to this.

First, Jamie Corne’s crit of the Occupy movement was because it was “leftist”.

As the movement was started as an anti-Bank/Wallst/corporate/bigbiz therefore anti-Capitalist movement, it makes me wonder how long did it take this self proclaimed “investigative journalist” to have that epiphany?

I also believe that the attacks on her were bundled with other issues people had with her and some realizations of Presstorm that might not have been apparent to people earlier.

Now, back to the movement it’s self.

IMHO why this movement is quite different than other movements of the past is because of it’s present counter-culture make-up of the present time.

This new “hipster” type culture is not as defined as hippies or punks of the past, as it seems to be more fluid. In some ways this keeps an element of openness and an interesting ability to quickly change and maneuver tactics, targets and goals.

This has some very interesting components that can be very positive in remaining a strong movement that will not peak and burn out the way other movements have or if they do maybe not as quickly.

On the negative side, it makes it hard to follow and for a real outsider of the movement in the mainstream.

It also has been a honeypot for some very unsavory groups who also claim they are discontent with the government, but are advocates of racism, extremist level violence, insane conspiracy theories ect, these folks have been the flies in the Occupy ointment.

It has been a tough balance I am sure to keep this new culture of open fluidity and then to try to keep a watchful eye on those who would benefit the movement by being weeded out.

On the note of Anonymous, who is also fluid, but not really a fluid movement as much as it is a fluid concept, I think the element of Anonymous is only a percentage of the movement like a piece in this Occupy puzzle.

The Occupy movement is in some way a very noobie type movement, which I find refreshing and I applaud, it gets tiring seeing the same old hippies at protests or the same overgrown punks pulling off the same blackblocs. Seeing a new culture of protestors is historic, exciting and important for our society.

With being so new, though, comes the shock and awe of inexperience. They learned the hard way what many of us who have been in the streets longer have known for decades, and that is: THE COPS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!

Yes, they are going to beat you up, pepper spray you, grab your breasts and your crotch, take your shit, terrorize you and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it!

If this is all so new to you, guess what? It has been happening to counter-capitalist protestors for generations, and a few generations back they were shooting to kill to protect the war industry.

I applaud the Occupy movement, maybe a bit more so than Kilgore does, but I can understand some of their concerns and I can relate to a sliver of their pessimism.

Can Occupy beat Koch’s and Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty’s Tea Party?

I would like to dream so …

I seem to remember AnonymousIRC tweetering for Ron Paul on many occasions, just sayin’,
And fuck Michael Moore for using the Occupies as a book tour, for his 1% fat ass…

“as exemplified by the UC Davis pepper spray incident, Scott Olsen, and Tony Bologna.”

his name was tony bologna? that denudes your entire argument.

on a side note I enjoyed how you ended the article with a prelude to gloom thanks to the tea party.

the saddest part is that the tea party is just another tool our current government system devised to continue the on-going illusion of potential hope of change.

our gloom is inevitable while only these candidates are electable.

that’s the root of our problem; we need better people in charge, starting with local government. voting is an unappreciated method of change. at this point the thought of having a candidate running for president is a fairly naive one. it will be a slow process. also, we need to demand an option to vote on bills that pass through congress, not just the people that vote on them; it can’t be an unevenly weighted voting system either, where congress and the house’s results don’t overthrow the people’s vote. in time, with favorable candidates and voting conditions, the corruption will start to phase out.

all of that isn’t to say that there won’t be corruption, but instead of blaming those whom we’ve given the responsibility , we should make it our responsibility to change the world we live in.

it’s not about making your voice heard, it’s about making sure all of our voices are heard

Lol geofag sucking kilgoar ecawk again, so I wonder how his parents took to him returning to #occupyBSMT of their house since he dropped out college. Drop #acid and not college kid.

Barrett Brown the fugly gingerfag kid has a hobby other then heroin addiction..and I am
unimpressed with his tinypenis chat circle jerks.

tl;dr version:
BAWWING about how Occupy Wall Street is going no here and how Anons aren’t really real supporters of Occupy Wall Street but is really there because it was on teh intarwebz.

Implying that Distributive Denial of Service attacking for protesting is bad and we shouldn’t do that mkay.

Private security contractors are using social media to manipulate “people in conflict zones via social media”

[…] Protesting at Wall Street proved, once and for all, that no amount of begging will dry up the greed overabsorbed into the sopping wet hearts of corporate American CEOs, bank presidents and politicians. Protesting the federal government without ten million dollars is like showing up to Wal-Mart without ten dollar bills. If you want something, be ready to spend. That’s Lesson Number One. […]

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