99%, Anonymous, Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning, discrimination, Edward Snowden, establishment, freedom, freedom of speech, Guy Fawkes, hacktivism, Julian Assange, justice, oppression, politics, society, WikiLeaks
Since I often get questions from friends about who or what is Anonymous, I thought I would try to explain the phenomenon. I say try, because the movement is elusive, loosely held together by people joining forces for a certain cause, after which the formed group ‘disbands’ and the people get on with causes they think valuable enough to put their time and resources in, forming new bonds with others.
Anonymous is not an organisation, but rather a movement. No appointed leaders, no official membership cards, no rules, no predefined targets. In principle every one can call himself/herself Anonymous if he/she agrees with the general goals and worries of the movement.
At the beginning Anonymous consisted mainly of ‘hacktivists’, a term formed by the words ‘hacker’ and ‘activists’. They allied themselves in the struggle to keep internet free, to fight censorship, and to react against what they designate as corrupt corporations and organizations, by putting their knowledge into having some effect on the world. To that end they meet via certain websites, and seek out like-minded hackers who want to join forces for a certain project. In 2008 for example, hacktivists started to attack the servers of the Church of Scientology.
Very soon the general idea behind Anonymous became the preservation or the installation of freedom of speech, and of freedom in general. No longer only hacktivists called themselves ‘Anonymous’, but more and more people not involved in hacking and computer technology joined the movement and joined the ranks of Anonymous. They organised protests and actions in the streets, for which they mustered sympathisers via social media. The Guy Fawkes mask is often worn during those protests to show affiliation with Anonymous.
Guy Fawkes was an English military born in the 16th century, who was arrested and hung on the scaffold, and afterwards his lifeless body was quartered together with three other co-conspirators. They were accused of plotting the death of King James and nobles by blowing up West Minster with dynamite on the 5th of November 1605, but all confessions were obtained by torture. Anonymous made Guy Fawkes as the symbol of the fight against oppression and censorship by the establishment.
The actions of Anonymous are always non-violent. Often Anonymous intervenes in causes where they consider the involvement of the government as being insufficient, in cases of oppression, child abuse, racism and radicalism, corporate exploitation, etc.. Sometimes they act against governments by hacking their systems and protesting. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in the United States and the ‘Indignados’ movement in Europe were widely supported by Anonymous, so were Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, Bradley/Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden. In the case of WikiLeaks Anonymous hacktivists attacked the servers of Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and the Swiss bank PostFinance because they acted against the interests of WikiLeaks. The standard method of the hacktivists is a DDoS-attack, whereby a server is bombarded by millions upon millions of requests until the server buckles under the massive data.
So, if you are worried about the evolution of governments in our ‘free’ world, where slowly but undeniably our freedom is restricted in the name of ‘national security’ and ‘safety’, but allowing multinational corporations and money to rule the world, if you are indignant about the establishment not doing much about officials killing people with racist motives, or not acting promptly concerning the abuse of children or women, if you get angry about people oppressing others without our leaders intervening, or if you stand up against every form of freedom restriction, and you want to raise your voice in a peaceful but devastating way, than you are a proud member of Anonymous. You don’t need to have a specific quality like advanced computer knowledge or access to secrets, just your voice combined with millions of others is the force that makes Anonymous unstoppable. We are the masses, we are the 99%.
We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget