Greetings, members of NATO. We are Anonymous.

What follows here is to be read in the light of an earlier entry that looked at conflicts between autistic and corporate culture, An Autistic Ethos: It’s All About Respect.  In that post, it was suggested that “… the occasion of the IT department may well be the first in modern history where those with an autistic cognitive style have been able to wield any sort of collective power, to control access to a resource that is increasingly critical to those who in turn control money and power, and to develop a culture on a scale that remains consistently identifiable across time and geography.  These traits arguably make it a new thing under the sun ….”

In Anonymous, we see what I propose is another variation on an autistic ethos, as implemented by Information Technologists set free from workplace priorities and acting in a manner even more “independent of the organizational chart” than that discussed last year.  This tendency to organize and — given the opportunity — act independently of a hierarchy which otherwise renders them effectively disabled is I suggest now as I did earlier, “every bit as much an autistic ethos as it is an IT ethos.  The only significant difference is that unlike autistic people in general, IT pros occupy a position of power from which consequences fall upon those who fail to respect that ethos …”

Speaking of the IT “pro,” it has been noted by Wendell Berry that the word “professional” came into our language along with the Industrial Revolution and the attendant necessity of separating love from work.  Its opposite, “amateur,” has love right at its etymological root.  Autistic, autistic Thomas Jefferson for instance is remembered for organizing independently of the hierarchy, in the service of an ethos he was determined to see respected, and he did so not with ruthless professionalism but as a labor of love.  Jefferson was an amateur.  With that in mind, I give you the amateur IT group known as Anonymous:

In a recent publication, you have singled out Anonymous as a threat to “government and the people”.  You have also alleged that secrecy is a ‘necessary evil’ and that transparency is not always the right way forward.

Anonymous would like to remind you that the government and the people are, contrary to the supposed foundations of “democracy”, distinct entities with often conflicting goals and desires.  It is Anonymous’ position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people’s will which must take priority.  The only threat transparency poses to government is to threaten government’s ability to act in a manner which the people would disagree with, without having to face democratic consequences and accountability for such behavior.  Your own report cites a perfect example of this, the Anonymous attack on HBGary.  Whether HBGary were acting in the cause of security or military gain is irrelevant - their actions were illegal and morally reprehensible.  Anonymous does not accept that the government and/or the military has the right to be above the law and to use the phony cliche of “national security” to justify illegal and deceptive activities.  If the government must break the rules, they must also be willing to accept the democratic consequences of this at the ballot box.  We do not accept the current status quo whereby a government can tell one story to the people and another in private. Dishonesty and secrecy totally undermine the concept of self rule.  How can the people judge for whom to vote unless they are fully aware of what policies said politicians are actually pursuing?

When a government is elected, it is said to “represent” the nation it governs.  This essentially means that the actions of a government are not the actions of the people in government, but are actions taken on behalf of every citizen in that country.  It is unacceptable to have a situation in which the people are, in many cases, totally and utterly unaware of what is being said and done on their behalf - behind closed doors.

Anonymous and WikiLeaks are distinct entities.  The actions of Anonymous were not aided or even requested by WikiLeaks.  However, Anonymous and WikiLeaks do share one common attribute:  They are no threat to any organization - unless that organization is doing something wrong and attempting to get away with it.

We do not wish to threaten anybody’s way of life.  We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody.  We do not wish to terrorize any nation.

We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people - who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place.

The government makes the law.  This does not give them the right to break it.  If the government was doing nothing underhand or illegal, there would be nothing “embarrassing” about Wikileaks revelations, nor would there have been any scandal emanating from HBGary.  The resulting scandals were not a result of Anonymous’ or Wikileaks’ revelations, they were the result of the CONTENT of those revelations.  And responsibility for that content can be laid solely at the doorstep of policymakers who, like any corrupt entity, naively believed that they were above the law and that they would not be caught.

A lot of government and corporate comment has been dedicated to “how we can avoid a similar leak in the future”.  Such advice ranges from better security, to lower levels of clearance, from harsher penalties for whistleblowers, to censorship of the press.

Our message is simple:  Do not lie to the people and you won’t have to worry about your lies being exposed.  Do not make corrupt deals and you won’t have to worry about your corruption being laid bare.  Do not break the rules and you won’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it.

Do not attempt to repair your two faces by concealing one of them.  Instead, try having only one face - an honest, open and democratic one.

You know you do not fear us because we are a threat to society.  You fear us because we are a threat to the established hierarchy.  Anonymous has proven over the last several years that a hierarchy is not necessary in order to achieve great progress - perhaps what you truly fear in us, is the realization of your own irrelevance in an age which has outgrown its reliance on you.  Your true terror is not in a collective of activists, but in the fact that you and everything you stand for have, by the changing tides and the advancement of technology, are now surplus to requirements.

Finally, do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous.  Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake.  If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place.  If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.

Your only chance of defeating the movement which binds all of us is to accept it.  This is no longer your world. It is our world - the people’s world.

We are Anonymous.

We are legion.

We do not forgive.

We do not forget.

Expect us…

related:  When Engineers Lie

related: An Autistic Ethos: It’s All About Respect

related:  From Lulz to Labor Unions: The Evolution of Anonymous

related:  If Not Us, Then Who?

on 06/13/11 in featured, Internet | 4 Comments | Read More

Comments (4)


  1. Gwen McKay says:

    The Anonymous folks certainly are fond of melodrama, but of course they’re right that we are in an age where governments can’t maintain secrecy. It seems that not only government officials, but also most people generally, haven’t grasped the extent to which privacy and secrecy are becoming things of the past. And yes, that works to the advantage of autistics and others who naturally have a frank and honest communication style.

    One might say that today’s technology is forcing society in a more autistic direction, whether or not there has been an actual increase in the autistic population.

  2. Mark Stairwalt says:

    On the one hand, your comment reminds me of women I’ve known whose approach to potential scandal-mongers is to take the initiative and engage with them directly, in order to make sure the facts are straight. Defusing the drama is almost a side-effect. This struck me as uncommonly sensible long before I knew from autism.

    On the other hand, Cringely’s When Engineers Lie that I linked to as a related piece makes the point that we do have the technology that could offer secure encryption for all — and that it is governments that are using technology to turn privacy and secrecy into things of the past. Thus the call for groups like Anonymous to force the issue.

  3. Gwen McKay says:

    Regardless of how secure our encryption technology may be, I expect it’s going to become nearly impossible to keep anything that occurs in the real world a secret.

    As for potential scandal-mongers, sometimes it’s best to ignore them altogether. Depends on the circumstances.

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