25 June 2009

Anon-tech just kicked in yo

Okay. You guys will remember that 4chan and associated intarwebz nerds declared war on the cult of Scientology at the beginning of last year. What you might not have heard since then: 4chan and similar fora have disowned Chanology, mainly on the grounds of it getting boring and respectable and about something other than the lulz, a phenomenon referred to in their usual tasteful manner as "moralfaggotry". However,
Chanology is still going (and scoring some hits), so therefore we must distinguish between "old Anonymous" (aka /b/tards, SomethingAwful goons, and other Chaotic Neutral intarwebz denizens) and "new Anonymous", which is pretty much a "chaotic good" hacktivism network.

Well, now "new Anonymous" has taken up the cause of the Iranian uprising. As mentioned below, we have been skeptical about the attempts of intarwebz denizens to climb on the barricades watered with the blood of real live Iranians to give themselves a moralistic hardon. (So perhaps CM disapproves of moralfaggotry as well.) However, this is serious business, as "new Anonymous" are clearly no longer a single-issue campaign, but an example of the self-organisation of intarwebz nerds, which yesterday's post suggested was the logical outcome of the digital revolution. More fundamentally - "new Anon"'s campaigns are being supported by The Pirate Bay.

A hundred years ago, Marxists and revolutionaries knew perfectly well what had to be done. Lenin said that the working class were spontaneously socialist and revolutionary (of course, he said this about five years after saying the precise opposite, which is why arguing from quotation is of limited value.) Therefore - the goal of Marxists and others with an actual ideology and a plan to change the world was to unite with these spontaneous radical forces - and attempt what Rosa Luxemberg called "the merging of workers and science". Learning and teaching, combining concrete experience with theoretical rigour, left brain plus right brain of a new collective class consciousness.

Well, intarwebz denizens are certainly not spontaneously socialist. But they certainly are spontaneously libertarian (much like the broader "information-processing classes" are spontaneously socially liberal), and they certainly do NOT tolerate anyone fucking around with their intarwebz. Remember, that's how Scientology got in the shit in the first place, trying to censor Tom Cruise spouting clam-speak on YouTube. And now the Islamic Republic of Iran have put their foot in it as well. It remains to be seen exactly how much use "Green Anon" is going to be. But - especially given the broader political implications of the involvement of the Pirate Bay, the first ever website to have a political wing - it behooves us to watch carefully and try to draw sensible conclusions.

Revolutionaries of the 21st century are going to have to take the self-organisation of internet nerds as seriously as the self-organisation of the working class, and let's start now. The question that can only be resolved in practice is: can the information-processing class in the Internet era be part of a revolutionary coalition that can change the world for a better, and if so, what possibilities are there for common cause and action with the industrial proletarians, the global slum-dwellers, the peasant masses, and other oppressed groups? Traditional Marxism suggests that the industrial workers will be the basis of a new world, but we're far beyond traditional Marxism now.

ETA: Holy Toledo Batman, the Pirate Party has a damned functioning international already. Serious business, as I said.