This is the third part in the seven part “Why to make Anonymous an objectively better thing is a silly joke” series that aims to give people a Wikipedia level knowledge about social theory, cutting-edge philosophy, and historical analysis.
The following quote is from Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics:
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this enemy is, on many counts, the projection of the self; both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. The enemy may be the cosmopolitan intellectual, but the paranoid will outdo him in the apparatus of scholarship, even of pedantry. Secret organizations, set up to combat secret organizations, give the same flattery. The Ku Klux Klan imitated Catholicism to the point of donning priestly vestments, developing an elaborate ritual and an equally elaborate hierarchy. The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through “front” groups, and preaches a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy. Spokesmen of the various fundamentalist anti-Communist “crusades” openly express their admiration for the dedication and discipline the Communist cause calls forth.
Average Anarchist kooks employ the “diversity of tactics” argument disingenuously to defend actions which mirror those of their governmental enemies. It is not surprising whatsoever, in light of Hofstadter’s eloquent conclusion, that Anarchists who are defiantly anti-government would tend towards mock governance. Occupy declares sovereignty over a city park, creates a General Assembly, employs medics, and respects the Black Bloc for providing “necessary” defense from those who would not harm them but merely take away their sovereignty. While governance is explicitly what Occupy is opposed to, in reality it is all they have done.
Anonymous falls into the same trap of emulating that which they collectively oppose. In response to perceived government surveillance, Anonymous may respond by dumping unredacted e-mails that are highly personal. In response to government censorship, Anonymous may respond with DDoS attacks intended to disrupt communication and temporarily censor opponents.
Oppositional Emulation by the paranoid is justified by the ever-present threat of the enemy. Chomsky says: ”Anarchists try to identify power structures. They urge those exercising power to justify themselves. This justification does not succeed most of the time.” Most social theorists consider Chomsky a crank, but he is incredibly important to many Anarchists simply because he’s quite popular. The tactics employed by the Black Bloc are the fundamental mechanisms of power employed by any repressive government. Violence (property damage) is the sole tactic which “diversity of tactics” refers to, as no other tactic is controversial save cooperating with “enemy” power structures. Fundamentally opposed to power, it is little wonder many Anarchists find Black Bloc tactics distasteful.
UGNazi is an interesting splinter group of Anonymous which uses a cutesy rendition of Hitler for its heroic icon. Similar to LulzSec, UGNazi successfully employs irony in an attempt to divert attention both away from and towards their own crass exploitation of power.
UGNazi attacked the sacred Wounded Warrior’s Project, which Conservative hacker th3j35t3r has used to draw sympathy for his hawkish agenda. Before th3j35t3r could retaliate, UGNazi had already taken down 4chan, the sacred birthplace of Anonymous. UGNazi clearly used their power to blur the imaginary line between good and evil. They may still fall in the same trap LulzSec did, which literally became a sting operation within days of removing itself from the world of irony and morphing into AntiSec.
In a very real sense, ironic and self-aware tactics like those of UGNazi and LulzSec recognize that “activism” has become increasingly theatrical as the descent into Baudrillard’s death spiral accelerates. The refusal of a “serious” message and forced intention indicates a postmodern bent which is infinitely more appealing than the paranoid emulation of “enemies.” But is the artful, appealing deployment of power justified simply for being “cool” or “funny?” Ask Hitler!