The Vile Cowardice of the Modern Anarchist.
There used to be a time when anarchists stood for something noble.
The 19th century anarchists and syndicalists were fighting against systems which systematized human oppression and misery. They rejected the statism inherent in 19th century nationalism and liberal imperialism, and instead sought to overthrow social orders that had within the lifetime of the founding lights of these movements had treated human beings as cattle, to be killed and used at the whim of landlords.
Moreover, there was a time when anarchists risked something important for these noble ends.
Even in the United States the anarchist movement was based upon viewing the use of lethal force against the simple idea of organizing for labor purposes. There was the Homestead Strike, the Pullman Strike, and less creditably for the movement the Haymarket Affair. Organized political violence was often used toward the exploitation of labor.
Mikhail Bakunin, the father of anarchism, was involved in uprisings in the Revolutions of 1848. He was later jailed for his part in the Czech Rebellion, and over the course of his lifetime suffered from the effects of his treatment in the aftermath of the ’48 revolutions.
Further along after the many failures of ’48, came “propaganda of the deed”, the idea of using mass violence as a means of expressing political dissent. Auguste Valliante, Emile Henry, Emma Goldman, the youths of Narodnaya Volya were all willing to risk their lives, in political acts of violence. They were ultimately foiled. As Kropotkin had surmised a few kilos of dynamite weren’t sufficient to undo social structures. In some cases in fact they did positive harm to their cause, such as with the assassination of Tsar Alexander II.
But hell, at least these people had the courage of their convictions to stand in court and admit to both their aims and their failings. These weren’t nameless or faceless individuals and they sure as hell didn’t hide behind others.
This is in contrast to so-called modern “anarchists” of the Anonymous and internet vigilante variety.
They wear their little Guy Fawkes masks and proclaim their power over structures, over individuals, over any little thing that offends their fancy. Like a stopped clock they can be right once in a while, but for the most part they exist to satisfy vanity.
Of course Guy Fawkes himself would probably be ashamed by these atheistic wretches using his likeness. Their hiding behind anonymity and fighting for the oppressed privileged young men most of them are.
They hide in the mob, not to make a propaganda of the deed, or even a statement of power structures, but to revel in their untraceability. They make threats to individuals who dare critique them. They are what? A revolutionary vanguard of the oppressed middle class male?
Who actually are the ones standing for something of import? The ones who stand in public, with their real names, their real faces and expose themselves to the slings and arrows of the mob? Or the mob who decide to bask in their anonymity and make threats, attack others and focus on how they are oppressed despite their faceless multitude?
The modern anarchist is morally and socially bankrupt. They are not a counter to the problems of society but rather a symptom of its sickness. The underlying reasons things like Anonymous have traction, the reason the “Male Rights Activists” have traction, the White Nationalists, the Human Biodiversity whackos, all have traction is because they, are a faceless privileged few who feel themselves threatened by those who see past them into a different future.
Also, in case of TL;DR here’s a precis:
Threatening individuals on the internet through collective, vile action does not make you the moral equivalent of anyone admirable. You’re not Bakunin standing up for serfs and oppressed Czechs. You’re not even Guy Fawkes plotting to blow up parliament. You’re the mob that cheered and threw rotten vegetables as Fawkes was dragged to the scaffold, hung, drawn then quartered.
Since I seem to have fallen a bit behind on the comments and I’m a feeling perhaps I should take half a step back, I’m going to use this space for a general response.
1. I was probably not sufficiently clear that I’m not trying to equate bombing the Paris Commune or a picketing event with internet harassment and server attacks. Even if they’re both forms of political violence or at least ideological violence, they’re not anywhere comparable. (I felt this went without saying, but I’ll make note of that here.)
2. I would agree with Jason’s characterization that it’s probably incorrect to refer to Anonymous as a collective, regardless of their statements or professions otherwise. It seems to me, instead that collective quasi-anarchic mob actions are a set of incentives that strongly incentivize behavior that is problematic at best, and often times outright criminal. It’s worth noting again, the degree to which they tend to target people that have difficulty fighting back.
3. I used the term modern anarchist as short-hand for internet driven anarchic activity. I apologize to actual stateless society advocates for conflating them with bullies, racists &c.
4. In this particular instance I will refer to the specific claim of responsibility made by Anonymous (or people claiming to be thereof) to describe its characterization as vileness. If this is your definition of “hippies not bombs” people, then we have a very different definition of hippy.
5. In general the point was to contrast an anarcho-internet activism with mob rule, rather than individualist activism. Using the facelessness of the mob lets you do some horrible things without facing consequences.
And with that, I’m going to take my leave for a day or two. Ciao.