Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anonymous 2.0

Two interesting articles articles about the Riverside County proposed anti-picketing ordinance today:

They discuss the pro- and con- for such an ordinance.

I am not going to enter into that specific issue here, but there is a side issue I found of interest:

"The supervisor showed photographs and literature that members of Anonymous allegedly published, some of which depicted children pointing guns at their own heads and wearing explosives. [...] Passages from one leaflet advocated a return to segregation and attacks on Scientologists – as well as Christians and Jews. "

I have not seen the pamphlets, and I guess, if they are not actual pamphlets distributed by Anonymous in the CoS neighborhood, they may be excerpts from Encyclopedia Dramatica.

Anons apparently are not claiming that these are forgeries made by the CoS (at least I don't see this in these articles), but that they are not the same group as those who made those pamphlets, and that they have never seen these.

In a movement where everybody is... the same... anonymous... how are you going to tell them apart?

It has always been very convenient for Anonymous to claim that bad things done in their name was not them, whereas good things are them.

Nowadays they seem to come up with a variation of this, that anons who now protest Scientology are not the same as those who started the protest, or at least, that they now evolved to something more respectable.

There are also signs of power struggle within Anonymous itself, best illustrated by the fact that the DDOS attacks on both enturbulation and WhyWeProtest were not blamed on the CoS but on Anonymous factions that were now against the protests as they consider the whole anti-Scientology Anonymous movement to have derailed the original meaning of Anonymous. Or something along this line. Go figure...

So is there really an Anonymous 2.0, fundamentally different than the one who started the movement?

Obviously, some of the original Anonymous took their "Mission" at heart, and maybe moved away from the pranksters they may have been at one time. Others joined the movement later, without having been ever part of the original Anonymous.

Still, there is no a clear-cut differentiation, and the fact that The Thunderdome, that existed inside, still seems to exist in their new forum at WhyWeProtest, is also a sign of the pervading influence of the initial Anonymous philosophy.

The pages on Scientology on Encyclopedia Dramatica, more representative of Anonymous 1.0 than Anonymous 2.0, are also basically the same as those on WhyWeProtest or other Anonymous sites.

So, I really am not sure that there is a fundamental difference.

Anonymous 2.0 may be more concerned with ethic, but they have become more like stratefied Old Guards, all the while having lost some of the revolutionary aspects that appeals to young people, like the systematic questioning of every established concepts.

As for the original Anonymous, it seems that they have taken some distance with the anti-Scientology protest, as is rather evident through the crashed protest statistics, and through the fact that they apparently DDOSed their former venues: and WhyWeProtest.

I believe that one of the reasons for this is the fact that young idealist that formed the core of Anonymous were disappointed by the way Anonymous lived its own ideals, free speech among others. Another reason, I think, is that they may have become aware that the whole anti-Scientology issue was a bloated one. Not that there is nothing to criticize about the CoS, but it just does not warrant the cultish zeal some anti-Scientologists invest in it, and less even to abandon their Warlord games and hintai that provide them with more lulz. A third reason, I believe, is that the CoS did not crumble after the first few protests. In fact, in a way, the CoS became stronger, precisely because it withstood such a massive frontal attack.

From the start I claimed that the weakness of Anonymous was to basically just mindlessly repeat the partial and vindicative claims to be found on the OG web sites. Anonymous certainly brought about many original aspects in the form (the masks, the lulz, etc) but unfortunately they virtually brought nothing new in content. The one thing that may have seen new (the we-don't-attack-belief bit) was in fact not that new and, what is more, something they could not live up to either.

For it to be really Anonymous 2.0 rather than Anonymous 1.1, I would say it needs to deeply question some of its own assumptions, as well as some of its own actions, and reform itself to the point of going to protest masked when they see discrimination against Scientologists (such as in Germany), as well as to protest against the CoS.

When this happens, we may speak of a new generation of protesters, going further than the original movement, and bringing an aspect OGs failed to bring about.

Otherwise, there would be no real difference between whatever version of Anonymous and between Anonymous and OGs, apart from superficial ones. It would basically remain the same-old-same-old, increasingly seen by better informed observers as a misguided angry mob who that needs to be kept at a safe distance from unpopular minorities and citizen's residences.

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