By Guest Contributor Kilgore Trout and Tyler Bass
Anonymous is the go-to collective of hackers that want to drum up fear for Internet freedom. Anonymous’ weapon of choice is a distributed denial of service attack, also known as a DDoS. A DDoS works by overloading a web server to the point where for a few hours it can no longer function. Nothing about it is necessarily very threatening in reality. Popular histronics aside, it’s far more akin to a sit-in than a suicide bombing. For Anonymous, it hasn’t yet come to anything like that scene from The Net when hackers break into a pharmacy and switch around Dennis Miller’s prescriptions, which, who knows, they might have tried to do if as many preteens had broadband back in 2003.
Like twin babies, Anonymous members have their own internal language, AnonSpeak, which utilizes compound nouns in the spirit of Orwell’s 1984. To some, this is understood as sardonic, as the forces which the so-callled “legion” attacks are often highly authoritarian. Unsurprisingly, Anonymous is blind to history, or we only hope so; one of their greatest icons, the Guy Fawkes mask, represents a papal dictatorship, that by edict of an invisible man living in the sky. Kind of like in North Korea, now that we think about it.
Anyway, the better-souled and -brained among Anonymous understand that imitating quintessential fascists, such as out of Orwell, is an intimidation ruse. But some people within Anonymous clearly do really lust for that kind of information command structure in their lives, such as out of cults, the military or even as enforced on civis by spooks and info-bureaucrats in places like Tunisia. Hence the boot the perhaps more influential members intended for, say, HBGary, the Church of Scientology or Visa instead comes right down on the necks of members of Anonymous, the “Anons.”
It is key to note that the same loss of identity demanded by Anonymous’ powerbrokers is the same loss of volition that PayPal asks you to make when they insist that your money isn’t possible to donate to the legal funds of political prisoners like Manning, as opposed presumably to those of suspect rapists and serial killers on trial in the United States. And while the DDoS attacks are more akin to the sit-in than the suicide bombing, that is aggrandizement as well because of the substantially lower chance of dodging the rap.
Information stratification systems, such as one the Air Force Materiel Command sought to impose on members’ civilian family members, lionize the legion mentality, a trust in higher-ups to discern information for its worth to the collective. Yes, that particularly grisly order was somewhat checked, but the underlying message was sent: If you want promotion in the Air Force, that material is now off-limits, like printing out pages from Operation Clambake for perusal during your Scientology course session. In either case, that of Anonymous or the Air Force, young men act as drones, either by maintaining a willful ignorance of the evil their government does, or by playing the humble, user-friendly role of running, say, the Low Orbit Ion Cannon at strangers, the hacker-skill equivalent to running SETI@home. These DDoS attacks make it exactly 0 percent less likely that Amazon and PayPal will stop acting as shills for their nihilistic politico-corporate slavemasters.
Seeing as how they couldn’t even keep their own system safe from Anonymous, we’re can’t put much faith in HBGary’s list of supposed Anonymous head-honchos. It could very well be laughably wrong. This is as much to the credit of of HBGary’s total incompetence as to Anonymous’ much-touted ubiquity.
Regardless, like politicians asking us to “move beyond politics;” or religious people telling you that their one religion is not a religion, and by definition bad, at all; Anons will deny they are a member of anything. And that is just the base of the inside-out pyramid of contradictions that form the body of Anonymous ideology.
Anons, they say, are far above the lowly label of group. Anonymous prefers the self-gratifying label of “hyper-consciousness,” a tad more flattering than Internet lynch mob. In truth, most Anons are a collection of unconscious slaves, sucked in by ingenious propaganda.
Anonymous might be the latest development in botnet technology. A botnet is kind of like a large bank of computers that can be drawn upon for a DDoS attack. Hackers used to have to write computer viruses to create a bot net. Anonymous is like a botnet that is spread and maintained by viral ideology. As the privacy available on the Internet has accelerated, so has waned the stigma of celebrating that privacy.
Anonymous being a predictable result, the Air Force has for months now been looking for contractors to impersonate multiple groups of people online. While Anonymous will chase power in the svelte brutality of Wachowski brother films, the Air Force will chase it through its own hyper-real set of active-camo sheep clothing. Every side which abuses the personal information of bystanders will prove itself, at least for the moment, the wolf. And BoA, at least, has decided that it’s decided to play both of them, call on the rule of law when it benefits their privacy, but buy it away when they can from fellow private citizens.
Anonymous is easy to get sucked into. We’ve become a bit obsessed ourselves. We don’t blame these kids for wanting to be activists. We understand that. Defiance is the appeal. Yet it doesn’t take a lot of insight to see that the true feature of an Anon is not activism or defiance. Again, its call for legions, taken unsardonically, are calls for submission.
Kilgore, for one, is an expert troll with over a decade of experience. In AnonSpeak, a troll is a highly honorable position of power. A troll disconnects himself from all preconceived notions and creates a narrative that is designed to outrage others.
The Westboro Baptist Church is a cult run by Fred Phelps that uses strategies similar to online trolling so that it can sustain itself. Like Anonymous, they imagine the rest of society to be too evil to understand their utter brilliance. This is the reason Anonymous rationalizes identity-less action. Infamously, the WBC go to funerals of soldiers – American military culture, mind you, being more homophobic than the rest of society in the first place – and call everyone there a bunch of “fag lovers” or “fag enablers.” Indeed, they do this to families of people who more easily say and/or admit they’re homosexuals. And when the fists fly, they profit, either from civil settlements or from donations, their having made a loud-enough mating call to fellow knuckle draggers like themselves.
At AnonNews, Anonymous posted a press release promising DDoS attacks on the activists at Westboro Baptist. Westboro Baptist responded by posting their own press release on AnonNews. Invoking President George W. Bush’s own incitement to violence against American soldiers, it said quite simply, “Bring it on.”
As obnoxious as nearly everyone considers the Westboro Baptists, the war against them will eventually discredit Anonymous’ well-intentioned fight for a more honest world. And so its name, no matter how vehemently Anonymous insists that no crossing them will be forgotten, will be thus.
UPDATE: 2/28/2011 – So it appears that PayPal has reinstated Manning’s account. But only after much “bawing.”