Greetings, Anonymous: We Are Anonymous.

In a rare public show of reflexivity and self-assessment, Anonymous addresses the in-fighting that has unfortunately been characterizing it lately.  @Anon_Central posted the above video along with the transcription (after the jump). 

Greetings Anonymous,

We are Anonymous.  We direct this message at ourselves to clarify that Anonymous, is not a group or a political organisation.  Anonymous is an idea.  An idea that is the spark that ignites the fires of change.

We must also clarify that as humans, we are not always going to agree on everything and as it has become apparent recently, there seems to be certain individuals attacking others because they do not agree with their views or vice versa.

The solution is simple, if you agree with an Anonymous operation then support it one hundred percent and help to make it happen.  Why waste energy fighting against an operation that may or may not happen.  Let the hivemind decide.

There are also certain individuals that seem to have forgotten simple mathematics, that seem to think that one equals more than one.  So let us remind these leader fags that one equals one, No more no less.

We are all equal, Everyones contribution is equal, We are all one.  We have no leaders or official representatives.  Those claiming to officially work for or represent Anonymous do not.

There are no recruitment officers as you cannot recruit an idea.  Those that assume that they are more than the one and try to be leader fags will be devoured by the whole.  Let us work together as a whole for the better of the whole.

Anyone dictating to the whole as to who can be Anonymous or suppressing another’s right to free speech is doing what Anonymous stands against and therefore becomes a target for the Internet hate machine.

Be a part of the whole, do not attack each other can you not see that this is what they want?

Unite as one and let us be the spark that ignites the fires of change.

United as One.

Divided by 0.

We are Anonymous.

We are legion.

We do not forgive.

We do forget.

Expect Us.

This is what I feel has been lacking in the movement so far: this self-awareness and willingness to acknowledge its own flaws.  I find this heartening, especially in the face of the notion that if you take away the leaders, Anonymous will dissolve.  You certainly can’t arrest an idea, but it is possible to oppress one to the point of fading, especially due to infighting and faction-forming, which has transpired within the group as of late.  This open letter may of course have been authored by “leader fags,” but I am encouraged by its recognition of equity and collectivism, from which tenets the hivemind originally arose, and by its reaffirmation of my sense of Anonymous as ideology-as-power, a body that is at least attempting to separate itself from issues of social class and political conflict.

The decentralized, non-hierarchical organization stressed in this communique has been evident in Anonymous’s activities on publicly shared, open-access word processing platforms like Pirate Pad or MoPad, as well as in IRC discussions where “leader fags” are derogated, chastised, or even expelled from the forum.  However, the release of a public communique visible to both participants and spectators (via Twitter or YouTube, for instance) perhaps parallels the tacit barriers to entry that 4chan institutes.  Here, the warning is gentler but just as clear: this is not a platform for self-aggrandizement, and the hivemind functions on a kind of IRC General Assembly majority consensus.  (Essentially, NYPA.)  Break with these tenets and face the consequences.

In contrast to 4chan, the ability of moderators to drown out or expel participants who assume leaderfag status renders the organization more stable.  On 4chan, the most one can hope for is spamming the offending Anon to death, emigrating to 7chan, or various forms of doxing to silence them.  While Anonymous is not 4chan, it is important to recognize that there remains a complicated  dialogue between the two, as Anonymous emerged from 4chan and retains much of its memetic culture, absurdism/Dadaism, penchant for the spectacular, the non sequitur, and the Tricksteresque.  It also retains some of 4chan’s prescriptive atmosphere, evident in its emphasis on anonymity, (some of) the methods by which it critiques and judges its members, its language, and its use of playful defacement and doxing.  Like the graffiti phenomenon Kilroy was here, the outrage affect is produced not by the graffiti itself but by where it appears (Panati):

Kilroy was here, an inoffensive image, graffitied on the World War II memorial at Washington, D.C.


Anonymous defaces Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Finance as protest, using the inoffensive “graffiti” (if you will) tag, “All your base are belong to us,” an Internet meme that can be traced back to YTMND, courtesy of F-Zero’s Engrish.

In the 1940s Kilroy was ubiquitous, appearing everywhere from the stomachs of pregnant women to (reputedly) the marble bathrooms of Potsdam during the 1945 meeting of the Big Three.  The figure is watching, prominently, his eyes and nose protruding over a high wall where he is presumably not supposed to be.  Similarly, Anonymous’s and LulzSec’s graffiti tags remind us that people representative of the oppressed are watching those in power.  Their graffiti is mostly humorous and Trickster-like, as in LulzSec defacing PBS with an article claiming Tupac was alive and well in New Zealand earlier this year, or Anonymous’s defacement of the Government of Zimbabwe’s page above, or of the Government of Tunisia:

The website was defaced with a message from Anonymous, titled, “Payback is a bitch, isn’t it?” The message goes on to discuss Operation Payback, targeting oppressive governments that repress the civil liberties of their citizens.

These so-called “attacks” are forms of protest, performed in retaliation for perceived bias in journalism, governmental oppression, censorship, self-aggrandizement, and so on.  I believe this is where the most obvious similarities between 4chan and Anonymous lie.  While Anonymous has grown to be more cautious, and has the luxury of easier identification and expulsion of users in certain forums, both collectives actively resent and attack self-aggrandizement and censorship.  4chan’s ethos is particularly evident in LulzSec’s “50 Days of Lulz” achievements, I think, as these exploits were performed ostensibly for the lulz—and lulzy they were—but ultimately sent the intended message: Dear People in Power, We are coming for you.  Sincerely, Lulz Lizards.  However, both Anonymous and LulzSec urged participation to a far greater degree than 4channers, who actively prevent new users from entering and “newfagging it up with their newfaggotry.”  So-called newfaggotry is tolerated to a greater extent in Anonymous, which is expected since it straddles online and offline contexts, but

I’ve strayed from my original topic, but perhaps not as far as I might have thought.  Graffiti or defacement, collectivism, self-awareness, self-critique, and reflexivity perhaps all speak to outrage affect and its role in political and social protest.  It seems extremely significant that Anonymous did not address a letter to itself over the Anonymous/LulzSec squabble or other forms of group infighting but instead emphasizes leaderfagging as the prominent problem.  Anonymous is an idea, the communique stresses.  We are all one.  Let the hivemind decide.  In short: lurk moar; don’t be a newfag; be one of us.

I’m not doing this connection much justice right now, but I’m burned out from my first week of Ph.D. classes.  Excuses, excuses, I know.  At any rate, read more at AnonCentral, which is shaping up to be an interesting mix of articles, comics, images, file dumps, and so on, with (I believe) multiple contributors and authors and an open call for submissions.  With any luck I’ll expound on this idea further on some other date, at some other time.

Creative Commons License
This work by V. Manivannan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at vyshalimanivannan.wordpress.com.

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