Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

_net-autonomy

(Subversion News, Itsgoingdown)

December 14th is the congressional vote to repeal Title II classification for Internet service providers, which regulates them as public utilities and mandates equal protection for all Internet traffic, fulfilling the concept of Net Neutrality. It seems that I’ve been here before, and nothing feels different aside from this issue in the grand scheme of things. That, and maybe my level of cynicism.

Three years ago, in my social democrat days, I dove into all that so-called “Team Internet” could really do. The late Obama years were a push to ensure progressive policies would withstand after election season. Everything except physically organizing was what I did when the FCC was urged to adopt clear net neutrality rules. We knew that consumers were just waiting to be fucked over by broadband companies if reclassification didn’t beat them to it, so it was a big deal for most of that year.

Outreach was rather grueling when trying to bring the issue to everyone who uses the Internet. The aggressive lies about “innovation” being at stake if broadband speeds didn’t remain a competitive market seemed as convincing to many as the reality of Internet connections being universally jumbled with the stablest ones concentrated in the hands of those who could pay.

Initially, I didn’t think writing/calling congress and having the situation explained in full would matter much. What felt like this loose network of hackers and nerd-activists seemed to be no match for the landlords of broadband and their lobbyists, so my hopes for victory were modest. But in time the decision to reclassify was sealed, thanks to enough noise against the idea of paying premiums for different connections. There was a sense of accomplishment in banding together within the “safety” of government that my white skin affords me.

This, of course, was before the political jolt that was Trump’s presidency. Around an administration that has been one clique power-grab after the other, Ajit Pai’s flagship decision as newly-appointed FCC chairman was to crash and burn protective Internet regulations, similar to our health care system or public water treatment.

What distinguishes then from now is [my understanding of] what I want out of putting time and energy into an issue. I realized the inherent limitations on what could realistically be won through this perpetually circular politics of appeal and compromise. Self-described “radicals” are engaging in a battle for leverage in a situation that affects what they should realistically be forcing out of the hands of the few. Its not exactly overcoming or progressing (notions that liberals have always suggested) if you’re constantly fighting for the same reforms in different political eras. I arrived at the conclusion that working within authority can only push it to change its tactics of constraint. It has to be deconstructed, physically disrupted and abolished by obsolescing its relevance through new social habits.

This is ultimately no more of a surprise than Trump doing anything else. When you have a president with this kind of hubris, uncharted influence and a tattered but intact support base with various reactionary formations, this is just a drop in the bucket. I was convinced that the definitive sign of more (and worse) to come was the early rhetoric around immigration and “America first”, so its hard to be surprised or significantly upset by any of this.

Let’s not take all this to mean this situation isn’t a problem. Bludgeoning Internet access to guarantee that Telecom giants can exert restraint on consumers as a business strategy in this particular time of polarization and turbulence — especially with most organizing happening online — is going to prove difficult for radicals’ playing field.

But do I clench my heart and cry “Oh, the humanity!” No, because whether we have European-style net neutrality regulations or the same model we have for health care, we are ignoring the relationship at play. The entities people are out to win over cannot have the same conversation. There are mutually opposing interests that are the final say, and accruing their sympathy will not do anything if it conflicts with them. You always run the risk of having any concessions revoked when they’re mere options for appeasement within the negligence of impersonal democracy.

Net neutrality is a false distinction in a society where access to anything is fundamentally broken, let alone the Internet. Nonetheless, liberals will prioritize the things within reach to middle-class whites and avoid the overarching motive behind it all. This is going to be a pain, no doubt. What isn’t in this world?

Hashtag resistance is officially canceled.

What the Internet has demonstrated is among the most effective means of collaborating and opening up new and powerful means of expressing, sharing, reinventing and decentralizing. But that ethos can never reach its fullest potential when Telecom property owners can pull the plug whenever they please. They will never cease control of our access so long as there is any base for them to stand on.

The airwaves are a commons. Every tool and beyond should be, but this will never be adopted as the reality so long as monopolizing or mediating capabilities exist anywhere, be they state or private.

Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

Our communication avenues are killing us, and we’ve turned them on ourselves. In this sense, I mean that the foundational object for communicating between each other in leftist and anarchist spaces is becoming a mere excuse to make inter-community conflict the primary engagement.

This isn’t to suggest that people only use politics for an excuse to participate in drama nowadays, but our sense of importance in specific things oscillates in a terrible and counter-productive way that maintains a loose connection with our politics to justify itself. The lines between a minor schism and the fate of our persuasions blur, speedily producing a community hysteria that is fully realized when our comrades become estranged in the fractures of the situation when it reaches critical mass.

In the events leading up to late last year, online leftist communities did a very good job of stoking its flames to burn themselves to the ground in hopes of building themselves up.

The frustration against the dominant political and social hierarchies tends to create an inner and outward act of aggression. This means that in the process of attacking one’s enemies, the allies — the comrades, are also significantly harmed or indistinguishable. The body of power-wielders executes decisions in such a careless and frantic manner that all are caught in the crossfire.

The socialism subreddit (/r/socialism) made a perfect example of this in late 2016. Through top-down word policing that included paternalizing the health and conduct of neurodivergent and disabled people, they managed to become a sort of online DPRK, interestingly. By squeezing language and conduct so tight that nobody could clench their anus wrong without receiving a ban, they closed themselves off from the very source of their purpose and did an outstanding job of ensuring that nobody will want to participate there again.

The model of decentralized pockets of speech and assembly is the ideal and perhaps essential approach of self-organized communities. This counters the notion of free speech everywhere, which even ardent advocates would be horrified to see realized.The actions of /r/socialism, however, were hopelessly irresponsible for such a model.

For one thing, in the present hierarchies, people are generally familiar with a sort of wide-open “market” of communities, for lack of better words, wherein different sections offer different things, but within the general market there is a custom of “people can say what they want.” While in this custom, there is a crucial period of weening people away from an all-encompassing obligation to servicing everyone’s ideas, and bringing them to an important suggestion: “would you allow anyone at all to say anything at all at your own party or gathering? If not, thats exactly what we’re doing here.”

This is crucial because it really changes what curious newcomers thought about discussion. It easily shows that yes, you wouldn’t like someone with opposing ideas always allowed to badger you and your friends who think differently. This is not to say that you would never debate that person or step outside your own community, but you would default to doing so in a place that explicitly facilitates or welcomes such activity. Always being welcome to do that anywhere is simply annoying.

How we coordinate this in vision and fact is to think of it as an actual community, and to take it seriously as such. The way to make this work on mainstream platforms is to use moderation and administration roles in the same rotating, limited and retractable ways as delegation in physical assemblies. This way we can enforce the agreed, democratically managed statutes of the community through trusted members occupying a subsection of the total membership, and not a specialized tier of managers.

This is where /r/socialism failed. They’ve always appeared to operate on a sort of vanguardism that made party-like tiers and higher sections necessary. It was relatively tolerable, however, until new moderators came aboard and began enforcing strict and ridiculous rules regarding ableism and catgirlswithout community clearance, essentially alienating contributors from overseers. This put everyone in an awkward and uncomfortable place. Neurodivergent people like myself, who were pressured into conforming to the speech mandate, became so stressed over the change in environment that the expressed idea to be welcoming became an inverted, bastardized idea of what doing good looked like. “Just change who you push away and everything will be fine.” Even though you’re just shuffling which disabled people you’re kicking out.

This is precisely why feedback needs to be continuous between participants and those entrusted with certain positions like administrators and moderators. And sadly, if not a sweeping act of frantic autocracy, we end up manufacturing multiple frenzies that interlock and build a multifaceted body of decay. A kind of microscopic shredder for a once good community overtaken by whatever everyone is screaming about, influencing a migration or even a dropout from the total cause.

This is probably the most unfortunate fact of the Internet. With so much possibility, it doesn’t always work in our favor, often pushing us into awkward positions. But if anyone knows anything about me, they know this is all to say that our direction is tremendously off course, not that we should abandon platforms on the Internet.

The problem as it seems to me is that we’ve centered our hope in the Internet following the changes in our world, which is an awful tactic for such a massive social vision as anarchism or leftism to adopt. The Internet, as both an advantage and a detriment, is fundamentally separate from human nuances. To think for a moment that we can exchange ideas sufficiently through dehumanized arrangements of letters is absurd, let alone manage an effective movement.

Communication online is a convenient yet faulty device for our language, and language, words, are somewhat disconnected from overall communication. With real and genuine conversations, we find essential indicators of tone, gesture, emotion and fixed context that make one sentence or phrase mean totally different things under minuscule differences. This is the disparity between online and physical interaction that cannot be rightfully fixed under the current direction. Online communication is the provisional answer to distance and language barriers, yet the eventual gain in numbers and actions demands a physical realization of what we’ve developed over the Internet.

From this approach, if we want to escape our problem, we require the use of online spaces to act as an extension to a greater center of engagement, rather than the Internet being that greater center while physical engagement is the extension; a reversal. I suppose I could dial this back as well. If using them in tandem becomes too difficult or just devolves back into the same problem, we could consider using them reciprocally. What was left undone in one sphere is noted and completed in the other.

Ultimately, we need to reclaim a self-discipline of what is functionally important to the cause of anarchism and anarchist communities, and what is merely inconsequential and sometimes destructive quarreling over something disconnected. The discipline needs to take place in getting a hold of ourselves: not to close off discussions for change, but to get face-to-face with them, thoroughly measure whats going on, and not just initiate a referendum out of custom. To limit what enters our directing community sectors like the decision-making process or the general assembly based on the situation and the number of perspectives on it. Sometimes a disagreement is just that, and needs no such advancement into a rule of the association. Acting in this way is the best bet for creating new conflicts and tangles to resolve later.

This involves distinguishing the levels of overall community action on an issue, leaving certain scopes of engagement up to individuals alone, and actually utilizing our commitment to non-hierarchy even in services that run on hierarchical features, such as forums, group chat platforms and social media (don’t use those top-down features. Ever.)

At this point we start to see a need to reevaluate our self-governance. The issue is not just the vehicle for our communication and its downfalls, but our own downfalls too. We acknowledge oppression and trade methods of combating its appearance in our communities, but we often fix those methods to inflexible actions propped up by the dehumanized face of digitalized language. A whack-a-mole of moderation. In the pursuit of adjusting ourselves for others, we end up swapping out who is disadvantaged rather that making balanced compromises.

Call-out culture just makes our own brand of coercion to act proper before peers instead of actually learning from mistakes and feeling comfortable in what we do. If we’re to look at the minor blunders of comrades and resolve them while staying friends, we need to take on a smart approach to making a solution essential to the problem. Disciplinary solutions in their scope and aggression need to be proportional to the offense given, not a fixed action.

The call-out only appears to be effective, or at least justified, if we’re dealing with someone in power or someone expressly bigoted. In simpler terms, you have to know who your friends are. Who you can tap on the shoulder, talk to in a heart-to-heart way and point something out; a call-in. And then there’s knowing who aren’t your friends: who you can loudly condemn to the same extent they’ve caused harm; calling them out. You simply have to make those distinctions and really look at the offense to determine what is the right action. To quote Asam Ahmad:

Paying attention to these other contexts will mean refusing to unleash all of our very real trauma onto the psyches of those we imagine represent the systems that oppress us. Given the nature of online social networks, call-outs are not going away any time soon. But reminding ourselves of what a call-out is meant to accomplish will go a long way toward creating the kinds of substantial, material changes in people’s behaviour — and in community dynamics — that we envision and need.

Default aggression only fosters the strain and friction later to come, and in a way it is privileged in of itself. People who have real issues with communication (on top of speaking on the Internet) often seek human connections and validation online, where they feel safe and can adequately make friends. Here, their impairment can still slip through and create a misunderstanding. Things like these are important to keep in mind when finding something objectionable, as well as the context which can indicate if the offense is intentional or a mistake. Again, this is where calling in is useful.

To encourage mindful evaluations of certain speech and ideas, be conscious of context and actively oppose unilateral policing is how we create not only the ideas but also the facts of our future. To reiterate, this is not the approach to everything. People still have a fundamental right to dismantle grossly bigoted or authoritarian speech as the need arises, but to suggest that such aggression and vigilance is required all the time is what creates the tensions that scare away honest comrades who are capable of the same mistakes we all are.

To do all this that does justice to our tendency, we need to exercise this power in a horizontal, flexible manner.

Its all our cross to bare. No single class of admins or mods can be blamed, we all need to take initiative and be the change. Afterall, we did all this. We built the communities, shared the ideas, brought people in. We let it fall into disrepair, inverted what we preached, let irresponsible people take central power.

Its our choice, we must decide if we’re up for idiotic schisms to fragment us until our only option is resetting or death, or if we want to approach issues and the very nature of our engagement differently, humanely; and quite possibly save ourselves and the world in the process.

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

Who are the real “Cucks”?

Perhaps a slightly dated subject considering its assimilation into expectation, but certainly overdue in the wake of recent events, the components that make up the discourse around the Trump presidency, its offspring movements and the resistance to them are new instances of how overall society views existing power and notions of counterpower.

In sum, we are talking about the competition between contentions, and the nature of why people hold them. All past decades have experienced this same thing, even past centuries. The only questions are whether the closest thing to a side’s demand is reached, or if the spectacle itself will shift society onto a different course. Right now is the specific debate around who is more justified to oppose a contention that opposes something relating to the first opposition in question; e.g., anti-fascism.

In conjunction is the present nature of the means to carry on this conversation, specifically, of course, the way its carried on through the Internet. At this point, we’re all familiar with the Internet’s historical and often times much needed cynicism towards big ideas and pandering. This attitude has often been responsible for more good than harm as seen in pre-2010 mobilization against private malice (the occupy movement) and secretive institutions ruining people’s lives (Scientology).

This cynicism was used with a goal, normally with an idea of correcting a specific institutional wrong, in mind. It wasn’t a set of full-fledged social justice causes, but simple action against blatant assholes getting away with whatever they were doing. A yearning among teens and young adults to make a difference and organize over the Internet became a force no longer scoffed at as it was before web 2.0 was effectively in place. People were taking on activities that people across the moderate political spectrum could unite on, and in a sense this moderate normalization set the stage for what was to come when we reached the mid to late 2010s.

A considerable portion of online communities, mainly those who grossed over 10,000 active participants, have at that time been farther right than center-right at worst, farther left than center-left at best. Niche corners of full right and left-wing could be unearthed with a little effort in finding them, but they wouldn’t be discovered right away. Eventually one side (invested in broader social justice) showed their colors in proposals to explicitly tackle bigotry, universally crude behavior and economic inequality for the betterment of all. This was met with reaction by those committed to the moderate section of online politics as they jumped to the other side in an effort to balance the scales, seeing it as a departure from centrism and moreover an attack on those a little more to the right.

Without completely rehashing the story everyone’s already seen play out, this festered and grew into the present centrist outcry against a principled and detailed political fort, and because it was the left that spoke up first, to balance those imaginary scales, they allied with the enemy of the newly found enemy. In the name of that moderate section — in the neo-classical liberal fashion, they sided with the right against the evil left, who apparently sought to take away straight, white men’s free speech and oust them from society.

This raged on for a short while. Gamergate, safe spaces, video essay battles, “alt” online communities, Terabytes worth of twitter arguments and people monetizing the whole show were logs on the fire. It was the left versus the right, with centrist Rationals™️ backing the right and so the two blurred together. As they saw it, the right was the victim: If the left had simply stayed complacent with everyone being committed to non-involvement in substantive issues beyond what they were used to, everyone would be happy. If they had sat quietly as prejudice and wage slavery was as casual an occurrence online as in everyday life, everything would be just fine. Dissent was okay; as long as it was an approved sort of dissent.

And in time, Trump happened. It was probably the succession of what the online conflict had been building up to, no doubt influencing the outcome, but more so it was confirmation of a fearful reactionary response to impotent liberal ventures. The delirium among tragically deluded working class white men angry at basically nothing propelled itself, or provided a reason to keep going. For a response to further drive the cycle. If only we had known what it was at the time; we may have been relieved of that fad before it came to this.

Enter the “cuck”, derived from cuckold, wherein one remains committed to a promiscuous lover. Although in Internet socio-political banter, it’s used to illustrate one who sacrifices all self-respect in the name of a political ideal and its related tendencies. It had been formed prior to Trump in the reactions to isolated cases of left activity, eventually becoming a mainstay in the “alt-right” cadre that took form in the midst of the 2016 election.

The phrase is used as a sort of intellectual weapon with the intent to weaken the drive behind an argument. In its use against the left, it asserts that the person speaking is simply whoring himself out to a cause which would satisfy him emotionally through a commitment to an idea of justice and equality, even if it means his own destruction. Stripping this down more simply, it refers to any individual with a sophisticated involvement in a set of ideas and practices.

What ignites the cuck argument is the proportion between the wellness of the individual and the wellness of the cause: to the rightist, the leftist is destroying himself to raise up the minority, the migrant, etc., and while he is being destroyed (by what they think is white genocide, degeneracy and so on), he will still be emotionally satisfied because that idea of justice was realized.

It becomes apparent that the end is self-sacrifice for an idea, or that the idea demands it. This state of affairs, it seems, cannot be set out solely on reason, but requires an emotional push to make it possible. To enable the passion and sense of meaning in the individual and make the goal viable. But when approached from this angle, we already know that the right isn’t except from this. We understand that all political contentions have varied measures of reason and emotion to build their character.

Due to the history of the right, their emotional push is self-approved as opposed to ethically approved. There was only its own set of institutions to approve anything. Being the political alignment associated with historically imposing power and economic arrangements, their reactions are mechanisms for defending what is and has been the dominant features of society, and not for any seriously needed relief from oppression. The opposition has merely shown themselves, which alone offended the dominant character of society who immediately declared war on an army without soldiers, initiating the aforementioned chain of events.

The right’s commonest insult to the left is that they pursue ideas with only “feelings” driving them. No acknowledgement of oppression based on race, gender and sexuality being integral to class struggle (our boldest concern). No mention of any elementary concepts in social theory (and even when there is mention, its reduced to it being incomprehensible or just not true). No mention of inclusion in building organizations to be what makes them sizable and effective. No distinction between liberal and leftist (which is always amusing). Simply feelings, as abstract as that is.

The ideas that the right uphold have already been applied and studied — maybe more than they should have. All their principles have been taken into account, what they advocate has not only been heard but has played out in the world for well over several centuries. There is no more room for us to debate “fairly”, their argument has already won before two sides could even meet.

Because the ideas that begot the present structures have been around long enough to study a hundred times over, we have deduced that they are not only inefficient, malicious and coercive, but obsolete. The dogma behind them has been proven to be composed of emotion, myth, speculation. The very properties they assert the left of having, all which serves emotion than practical human needs and capacity.

The arbitrary ownership over private property around which hierarchy is created. The downfall of economic competition that drives the ecosystem into disrepair and workers into perpetual servitude. The existence of police forces imbued with protecting the people while simultaneously protecting the property relations which enslave them. All this follows down to nothing. There is no end to one component that hands off to another.

How this cluster is sustained relies solely on who perpetuates it. There really is no viable justification for capitalism or state-society any longer, and whatever is done to support it is done through people continually insisting that anything else is not an option, in the name of the ingrained fantasy.

There is only a large bundle of logical facades for the comfort of the people who are born into them, and die by them. It’s what leftism serves to correct; to make a coherent body of political practice that exists only to nourish free will and well-being as one. The one tragedy is the stigma fastened to such an idea by the ruling class.

By being chained to baseless feelings, and furthermore defending baseless notions of property rights and always letting anyone say anything they want (without actually doing so), they are acting out the very thing they warn against. In this ideological relationship, there is nothing to gain but their own emotional satisfaction. Their success in making these ideas rule can only build the prison for them. For the pro-capitalist worker, to do one of two things: to build a life as an exploited pawn, or to create the property-hoarding ruling class to steal into; the so-called American dream. For the white supremacist, to forfeit limitless community and mutual cooperation for abstract ideas of racial purity, nationhood and a totalitarian apparatus to impose theses fanciful passions.

Lets not confuse ourselves here. It isn’t any passion that deludes an individual, but it rests on the passion to highlight the depth and structure to give it purpose. When an idea encompasses an individual, that will determine what actions the person takes and what they accomplish. If there is no depth, and no end to tie into another idea (to operate on a step-by-step function), the idea is simply conjecture without conclusion.

With the rightists, because it’s what they’re used to, there is no conclusion. There was never anything to strive for other than to keep the tradition and the fantasies valid in the public eye. It paid lip service to reason with such big ideas as fostering innovation, keeping the family together and obeying a deity, but it couldn’t promise any of this and indeed failed the majority when the economy tanked, drowned everyone in poverty and there was no god to save them. The only semblance of a goal then is to guard the status quo with the empires they inherited, and continue reciting the litanies of capital.

It’s through this delusion, this incoherent fantasy that oppression has been exercised. In the name of institutions that manufacture success for the boss and plastic, paper hope for working people, precious moments of our lives have been dissolved for a magnificent charade of opportunity and what they call “freedom”. Lives and dignities are tarnished for the traditional feelings of the champions of such institutions, and the ingraining of subservience and desperation into daily life has brought all these tragedies home into one reality.

Because of all this, looking at who is responsible for it and who protects it, an enemy of liberty has been defined. We are breaking down and dying because of the empty passions of a collective class of forces, and to resist them is to pursue survival.

By identifying as a rightist, [white] nationalist, capitalist or liberal sympathetic to the guardians of the status quo, one is giving consent to regular beatings from the workers: those who built the very platform from which their enemies shout off the dialog of exploitation. It’s by logical succession, in defending the cohorts of political fantasy, that they are declaring to the world that the meek and the innocents deserve to whither and die for the sake of fantasies. In this, they will get what they give.

By adhering to the narratives which casually perpetuate social hierarchy, they are agreeing to killing themselves, their class, and their own potential for the sake of the father-figure bosses whom they will never be, and the cops who keep a gun to their heads at all times, “just in case”.

Both sides can’t pursue survival when only one is in chains. When one moves, the other counters it. Conflict becomes inevitable as one force fights against the other.

The feeling is mutual, and the radical left knows this. We understand that by adhering to an idea of disjointing social coercion and moving toward united, self-managed communities as the only reality, we are painting the target on our chests. We’re on watchlists of some sort right now because we vocally advocate coordinated insurrection against state-society, the capitalist market economy and the diverse enslavement that fuels it all. We are in favor of destroying everything that intelligence agencies exist to defend, as well as subverting their grasp in the here and now. This doesn’t deter me from following this, and I don’t expect it to be different for fascists in their own goals.

With this made clear, I am not here to submit to the Rationals® by humoring their idea of balanced discussion in the name of coming to a middle point of nothingness. I am not here to respect assholes’ feelings at the expense of institutionally oppressed people. I am here to dismantle your warped idea of private property and civility, and physically transform the relations between person and society. I am here to fuck up everything you love which has caused me pain and wasted precious moments of my life and the lives of my comrades.

So I ask sincerely who we should consider the ones destroying themselves for an idea driven by emotions. Do we mock and scold the movements fighting for their lives after centuries under the boot of violent fantasy? Or do we beckon the right to explain why I and billions more must agree to feeble conventions for their passion from nowhere?

Who is really committing self-sacrifice when it’s the left who have had limits for destruction imposedon them, while all stops have been pulled out for the imposer?

Who are the real “Cucks”?

Nature and Substance of Infoanarchism

The related ideals of opposition to centralization of social mechanisms emerge in varying degrees in all things capable of occupancycommunity and derivative. We have yet to find anything like the Internet that is capable of going against this. It appears very much to be the outer instance of replication and growth seen in the evolution of animals, instead in social systems. Break-aways and growths. Any concept with a formula and inner-working cells can counteract other cells that form barriers, seemingly devouring the encompassing formula for itself. This is the idea behind anonymizing networks, encryption and independent platforms of communication. These form the defenses of open, vetted communities and services against the gatekeepers of the Internet and the malice of investment in control. Striking against malicious cells. From this idea melded with critique of property rights over files, the source and distribution of information and the private ownership of technology exists a trend that stresses democratic control of a shared online space, total freedom of public information and free ownership of technology. That is the summary of Infoanarchism.

Its almost certainly impossible for any anarchist to pass up the realization of their proposed social system in smaller contained instances which serve as testimonies to the natural universal draw to anarchy. In our place in modern time, we can’t help but encounter that fashion of effusive disorder in every basic interaction. Even in structured areas of communication, the underlying fibers are decided by consensus. This seems to be information at large. The distribution of media is multiplied by the initial numbers of people who discovered and shared something. A descending order of heightened volume, regardless of what system it happens under. Natural anarchy, the ends determined by the participants. That is, of course, until the ruling occupation deems it harmful and dispatches its combatants.

This alone puts anarchism in a different light than physical civilization in which Proudhon or Kropotkin centered their attention, and infers that things can spring from within just as uniquely as from insurrection. The hacker culture, though not explicitly dissident to the state, made the earliest form of this. Richard Stallman’s GNU project in the 1980s at MIT spearheaded a quasi gift economy model for the exchange of source code between developers and end users, leading to the modern open source community that created the Linux kernel and a myriad of other free software unrestricted by private ownership of the technicalities. Here started the first major questioning of money being important to software: The programmers being the ones developing and distributing the technology, they should have free agency to grant rights to end users to reproduce and share the code under the same conditions.

A decade down the road, the influx of the BitTorrent protocol and file sharing networks as a whole became the first major discord in the information age between free access to media and the profit interests of the entertainment industry. This was the shift from owning and sharing ones own work, to opposing the institution of private ownership of other work. A radiant and perfect concept that ideas made public are common property and transcend regional and material boundaries, not compatible with capitalism. When The Pirate Bay in Sweden was first being legally hammered by the United States, it was a matter of (international) state action against content-sharing in defense of property rights. In this sense, the perfect storm for Infoanarchist ideals was created. Disregard for capitalist and state monopoly on data and direct action to circumvent it. This would play out significantly during such incidents as Aaron Swartz’ harassment by the federal government for downloading JSTOR academic journal articles, investigative journalism by Barrett Brown and Project PM, and the leaks by Manning and Snowden. Upon knowledge being made public of the United States and cooperating global powers engaging in clandestine monitoring of all telecommunications — imperialism of the airwaves — perhaps the largest modern pulse of state malice to rejuvenate Infoanarchist involvement against force in all forms had been found. Privacy efforts like campaigns by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, GnuPG and an array of encrypted instant messaging applications were among a new wave of tools for concerned hackers and anti-authoritarians in the 2010s. All these continue now to contribute action against tyrannies who aim to suppress justice, however only in the context of current society’s pressing hunger for accountability than a full recondition of institutions and associations that anarchists would wish to see most.

The two above points of significance, unrestrained technology and conflict between monopoly and anarchy, seal the endeavor for Infoanarchists. Its more or less the essence of the whole matter: Free information; free people. With natural similarities to Anarchist Communism and Revolutionary Syndicalism, its essence is inseparable to the broad core of socialism. Now affirmed as an exceptional current of anti-authoritarianism, the question of practical use is in need of answer; something I don’t think has been seriously examined, since perhaps this was never thought to be a serious school of thought outside the Internet, since the piracy crowd was thought to be only of angry, unruly teenagers until worldwide pirate parties formed and later began leading in polls in Iceland in 2015.

If we can imagine the radical difference the present world would experience had the circles around the printing press and audio recording suggested an importance in owning technical capacity in common, we can determine the importance this plays in the contention for an anarchist society. The means to build groups concerned with liberation cannot be kept in the hands of the few as rival interests utilize them. This is a clear case of welcoming the Trojan horse into the gates, the perfect moment to pull the rug from beneath opposition. Enter the need for free and open source utilities as a means to build an anarchist platform instead of simply relying on facebook groups and twitter accounts, all under private firms cooperative with global surveillance and censorship.

Ground-up creation of association, connecting messages with palpable specimens of injustice and authority, their injection into working class populations and the rallying of frustration into a democratic platform of direct action and expropriation is the best approach at beginning an effective movement that I can condense into one sentence. None of this can be possible without every component from beginning to end being owned wholly by participants. This is true in the same way that democracy cannot be attained nor sustained through structured authority for one moment at all.

The outstanding trait of Infoanarchism is probably its development as a distinct community practice before a defined theory. Hackers always prided themselves as opponents to authority in some form or other. Be it simple liberal dislike of government tampering, capitalist minarchism or attacking hierarchies in their own communities, they all simply want to keep their transactions safe from coercive power. Ian Clarke’s inception of freenet and its coverage by TIME in 1998 demonstrated this very basically.

Clarke is the creator of Freenet, a computer system which allows anything that can be digitalized from political tracts to pirated music videos to child pornography to be traded anonymously on the Internet. “Anarchy means without a ruler and that sums up the architecture of Freenet,” says Clarke. “It does not have any kind of centralized control. In fact, it is designed in such a way that it is impossible to control.

[…] While it will allow anonymity and free speech on the Internet to flourish, Freenet will also pose a serious threat to intellectual property rights and the firms that profit from them like book publishers and record companies. “It would be nice if the system were used only for wholesome purposes such as allowing people in China to access political information they might not otherwise get,” says the boyish-looking Clarke. “But I know it will also be used for other purposes such as distributing music without paying for it. You have to take the bad with the good.”

“The problem [with going after Freenet] is there is no there there,” says Bob Kruger, Washington D.C.-based vice president of enforcement at the Business Software Alliance, which represents leading software developers such as Microsoft and Apple. “We have to think long and hard about who would be the target for any type of enforcement action. It’s like a wheel when you can’t attack the hub then you are forced to go after the tops of the spokes and here we may be talking about lots of people.”

Emphasis should be put on a device, e.g., freenet, being impossible to control, but essential to direct. As far as I can tell, this is the situation we want to start at across the board, from the people the platform bring in to the power they take up in communication. A message is not to be controlled in such a uniform way or adhere to any quota, but to exist in many forms that comprise a fluidly directed meaning. Each concern from individual voices inevitably meets the goal that we all subconsciously compel ourselves toward if we are met in a particular situation; a phenomenon of psychology. No matter the individuals’ concern, it is destined to exist in the context of civilization’s benefit in a self-correcting, self-sustaining informal system of associations. We could think of ten or twenty sub-problems, but two or three of them will quickly prove to be the key to demolishing wage labor and social privilege in a given geographic region.

The stressing of information ownership seems to suggest if like concerns are an entrance to revolution. The intense passion by International Pirate Parties in response to state and private attacks on technology have thus far been the only known instances of related mobilization, more or less desperate proclamations of their existence to the mainstream political sphere. But while we’ve yet to see banks being smashed and cops being overpowered as the direct consequences of the anti-copyright mindset, we can infer revolutionary scenarios coming from severing ideas and culture from capitalism before the bulk of production as well. As stated previously, the hacker ethos is very closely tied with anarchism when the issue of control over software, hardware and the flow of information is a major issue. The popular sentiment of stealing music and making starving artists being deeply accepted maxims cannot go unchallenged by all fronts for long, should large scale challenging of wage labor also manifest. The innate contempt for authority and the gravitation toward betterment of information exchange and efficient employment of computer science, regardless of political leaning (though its commonly left nowadays), leaves very little room for sectarian divide, that we need only apply copyleft principles of information to labor and quality of living for them to be fully communist.

Even without this, its likely for an information revolution as the fortifier of physical skirmishes to come. The possibility of the frontlines changing place has never been more likely, almost certain, than now. The shift from footsoliders, to naval warfare, to thermonuclear terror is a noticeable continuation of how aggression is transformed. A long-overdue cyberwarfare campaign by anarchists bent on the deliverance of intelligence is both an ideal method of a platform’s origin, and the inevitable place to be filled in aggression transformation. Though the divides between the state apparatus and populations greatly limit the fair engagement in matched aggression against the state and capital (as far as nuclear weapons and naval gunships are), the mass connection to networks in all realms of life prove to be the greatest battleground. We’ve all heard the conspiracies of China hacking us and the NSA doing covert battle by keyboard; theres no doubt that an anarchist federation will take this form of battle unto themselves when the time is right.

No formal outline or hypothesis of this strain of anarchism exists, and I make no attempt to change that. The absence of any “Infoanarchism: Theory and Practice” is in itself a testament to methodological realization of basic principles subconsciously followed. That is, you realize you’re doing something good and effective before you write something on it. I assume scholars could venture to propose from this that all further ideas ought to reverse the chain of hypothesis and experiment, and instead seek an experiment in all social doings and record a pattern when noticed. But I think the constant focus on developing new theories stalls bringing the actual vision of the fore-bearers of anarchism to fruition. Concern seems far more needed in formulating how to achieve free communism than ideas to start over in. Infoanarchism seems to simply be the ideas of social anarchism in the context of property rights of media and the means of making information available, and considering our place in time, it could be the best amplification of getting to a free society.

This all adds up to understanding what Infoanarchism brings to the table that other tendencies fall short of emphasizing or correctly defining. In a sense it puts tried and true critique in a relevant environment. The great majority of people today are tragically apathetic to their own alienation by the boss, due partly to the shift in the standards of work and the multitude of escapes from the problem, breaking compulsion to tackle it. But intellectual property is a reachable topic to most people under the matter of capitalism. When TorrentFreak manages to get an article trending and people happen to read it, and it touches on our obligation to buy every digitized work of art, that acts as an entryway to thinking the same way about labor, money and markets. Of course most people think its wrong to copy media for yourself without paying for it, but that small bit of engagement alone means there is room to challenge it and form pockets of discussion. Nowhere is there conversation about if bosses are needed or if a state does the best for citizens, but knowing what the institution of copyright serves and there being some recognition of that corner allows us to talk about artificial scarcity and the massive profitability alone in court settlements, the corporate victim complex and harassment of teenage system administrators. This acts almost as an ambassador to anarchy more broadly, introducing first the objections to private control of media to disengaged people, before the next step of workers’ self-management, stateless society and so on.

The free culture movement and its progressive figures, who at best support fortified welfare provisions, have become the meeker sibling of radical seeders and bank vandals. I wish their endeavors in patent reform and free access to code the best, but with the warning that its far from the final stop in this issue. The two sides of copyright critique share a similar environment to the age-old conflict between social democrats and Marxists. The Battle of the Practicals, the Hunt for the Red Estate, Knight-errants of the workers. That same old hilarious spectacle of who can best represent the workers while representing their own conflicting establishment. The parade continues as the people begin to pick themselves up. Not simply socialists, but also indifferent netizens who just want a copy of that new film, take as they please and leave nothing for the hoarding pigs of industry. Proudly so, too. This single idea is the start of a greater flourishing, which continues when they unite in the understanding that we must apply this to all corners of social life, treat human society as a vast and free infinity rightfully open to all as a common inheritance, and put the future directly in the hands of all, starting with information.

Nature and Substance of Infoanarchism

Response to Sunde’s Outlook on the Internet

Motherboard did an interview with Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde concerning the state of the Internet and file-sharing. The conversation was blunt and rather disheartening, focusing on the world’s fading concern of Internet freedom and of capitalist interests, censorship and political involvement changing the web for the worst.

Sunde highlighted the conversation by saying that he has “given up the idea that we can win this fight for the internet”. He continues, “The situation is not going to be any different, because apparently that is something people are not interested in fixing. Or we can’t get people to care enough. Maybe it’s a mixture, but this is kind of the situation we are in, so its useless to do anything about it.” He concluded that a total crash and burn of capitalist control on society is necessary in restoring the net to the vision most beloved by Internet freedom advocates. “stop treating [the] internet like it’s a different thing and start focusing on what you actually want your society to look like. We have to fix society, before we can fix the internet. That’s the only thing.”

I’m mostly agreed with Peter on this. Having followed his blog for several years and being on the same political spectrum, I sympathize with where he arrives at things and how he got there. But I think he arrives at this particular conclusion by looking at a few variables differently than I would, and perhaps leaving a few things out.

A big problem is that, while people do deeply care about the well-being and freedom of the Internet (e.g., EFF, Fight For The Future and Demand Progress), your everyday person is significantly less likely to give a shit on the same level of activists. If they can still check Facebook and watch Netflix, chances of them joining in on protests in Washington D.C. or Berlin over CISA or TPP/TTIP, or defending net neutrality are pretty slim. These days all you can realistically do is run a moderately successful ad campaign that reaches maybe 100 everyday people on such issues when a new piece of legislation comes along, but it seems you won’t be making a notable difference. The common goal should be to get 50 – 60% of an area or country on board with you’re cause, something we haven’t reached since SOPA.

So the solution is to change that: amass great legions of demonstrations and outreach on the issue and make the subject unavoidable in public discourse. Some international movement, greater in size than occupy or WTO, centered around the idea that the Internet is a resource that can’t be controlled by authoritarian or private forces, lest we begin to see the same slowly happen to the other aspects of our lives. That is necessary in the approach of reform, rather than revolution. We can argue that we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work, but did we really try enough to where it got into the region of popularity and effectiveness that we want? We can’t say a massive gathering for changes within the current system didn’t work until we actually get there and see. We haven’t got there because its hard, and we somewhat expected it to be easy to tell people that the utility that they love is constantly under siege in ways they don’t recognize, and suddenly having them on our side. So, in my opinion at least, we need to work hard on this before we consider tearing it all down and starting over.

Another great problem, which is being combatted in the US, is money in politics transforming what we call a democracy into an oligarchy through private campaign financing. Something like making reform to get rid of surveillance, stop attacks and loopholes against fair use, implement net neutrality and other pirate-friendly policies are dead on arrival when you have insane amounts of money perpetuating “I scratch your back; you scratch my back” transactions between representatives and senators and special-interest funders from the right or the copyright defense. The restoration of people, not money, leading in Democracy would be a great light of hope for getting a society like the United States onto a path of fixing things.

As far as ending the capitalist grasp on mankind, or allowing it to begin to eat itself and the society its connected to, this would probably be all thats needed for everything above to happen. In the aftermath, when we’re in the ruins of cities and factories, those remaining could rebuild on more honest principles and pave the way for a socialist technocracy. But I think the idea of letting the system overload by letting it gorge itself with profit, or having the worst possible person like Trump getting elected isn’t guaranteed to work how we would like it to. For all we know, it would only cement things like climate change caused by fossil fuels and pollution, wage slavery and money ruling the world for the future. We can estimate that it would find a way to sustain itself for another decade or two as they officially raise the flag of corporate mob rule — something Orwell didn’t fully anticipate.

We certainly need to put massive industry in its place and sever ourselves from its control, but again, if we follow how the political game is rigged and attempt to reverse-engineer how its been set up through massive global organizing, we have a shot at deescalating the problem before we jump off the cliff hoping that theres something soft to land on.

At the very least, we should consider how information technology shifts over time, perhaps not how we’ve previously seen. I wrote before how the Internet is an undying concept and a front-end of reality that takes on incredible changes and problems every single day, be it from governments, corporate entities or security holes. At the end of the day, its still the Internet and its still possible to do something or create something new that gets you from point A to B. It comes back to it not being as easy as we’ve gotten used to, but still possible. When plain HTTP was found to be susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, HTTPS slowly became a norm. Perhaps the same will happen for BitTorrent and how we share files when the MPAA conducts its next strike. Pirates and hackers are too great of a force to allow the future to be a gloomy wasteland without a fight.

I could be totally wrong and we truly are doomed for the entire duration of where we are now, but its better to remain optimistic and try to do something instead of dropping your sword and giving up. Even if its hopeless, I still want to work either through reform and activism, and then — when it becomes necessary, revolution and re-building society in the model of libertarian socialism.

I think if we want the solution right now, want to re-build society free of capitalism entirely and don’t care about the potential for a sub-utopian world that emerged from darker times, the path of revolution and starting over might be what we want. But I would first like to see if we can actually follow a chain of problems within society and apply solutions that restrict abuse of money, attacks on information technology and things that desensitize the public.

To Peter: stay strong, don’t give up everywhere or forever, and do what you love even if people want to control it.

Note: Go watch TPB AFK if you haven’t seen it. Its great.

Response to Sunde’s Outlook on the Internet

The Internet is a Universal and Infinite Concept

Concerns about the end of the best platform for expression and information have circulated since its beginning. The Internet follows a cycle of having problems and challenges met with solutions and patches to the holes in the boat almost everyday. In some cases, a government issues a proposal or mandate that would cripple the integrity of the net in a region, such as surveillance or data retention, or in its own function, regulating or banning encryption or certain protocols. In others, communities where free speech and the free exchange of information was once at the core of its principles cripples and corrupts itself for different motives. These issues are real and need battles waged over them — and when they are, it is guaranteed that someone in the crowd will claim that the internet is done for, and we might as well accept certain defeat. But approaching this claim in a basic and not merely idealistic way shows that, like everything else, a problem cannot exist without a solution, or a return to basics at which we can rebuild.

Starting from the bottom-up, the Internet as we know it is composed of hundreds of protocols and instructions for how information is spelled out in binary and source code and moves from one device, to browser or client, to the other. Such protocols include HTTP/HTTPS, SSH and BitTorrent. Each of these serve one specific purpose, but having many working in an ecosystem of computers around the world and beyond is what makes up the net. Its that simple when you lay it out.

The question now is what happens when such protocols become insecure, can be easily compromised or are outdated and a replacement becomes necessary.

Plain, unencrypted HTTP took a backseat in the department of serving webpages when a secure, encrypted variant (HTTPS) was finalized in the year 2000, originally created by NetScape in 1994 when man-in-the-middle attacks became a serious concern. The same for plain text emailing and STARTTLS for IMAP. Situations like these when they arise present the notion that the Internet is too chaotic and unstable to be a realistic medium of communication, and that it will be that way forever. But as fast as information travels and new things are made, so are patches, updates and methods of working around the problem and continuing on a path. This is only the surface of the continuous cycle of problem leading to solution.

Following fixing technical vulnerabilities is what happens within that which protocols enable. Initially it was Usenet and Bulletin Board Systems that served for discussion, but now in late 2015 we are at the height of information decentralization with things like Twitter and WordPress. Where anyone at anytime can become an alternative press outlet or share an idea that could become something larger. The system is put to the test when one of a few things happens: (1) the community or publisher is censored, either by the service moderators, or by the speech regulations of a government, (2) the community or publisher is hijacked by either insiders with certain interests in mind, or infiltrated by outsiders possibly sent by a government. The first situation is all too common when you allow unfettered free expression in something like the Internet, be it the shadowbanning controversy of Reddit in July 2015 (by service moderators) or the atrocious internet freedom ranking of China (by government speech regulation). Secondly, we have instances where new management alters the original state of affairs of a group and their content for nefarious purposes, namely, for example, the concerns which arose from the GamerGate controversy about ethical gaming journalism, and the co-opting of Occupy Wall Street and their message (which some believe wall street officials and the US government arranged). Naturally, what follows is speculation that free speech at large is under siege and that the values of the Internet are fastly coming to an end when headlines come in about Turkey blocking wordpress.com or secular bloggers in Bangladesh being murdered. The same in regard to hijacking communities fits similar criteria.

So when we’re presented with these problems, what do we do? If you’re sharing an opinion on a forum, about the forum that the moderators won’t like, and there is evidence that they deleted the post and the comments, the options to abandon the forum and join or create a better one, raise awareness about the censorship taking place in the hope to make corrections, and/or gather people to abandon the forum as a sort of boycott are right in front of you. When we’re dealing with a government blocking access to websites or targeting certain content, the common solution to go around a great firewall is the TOR network, a proxy network or a distributed P2P network for accessing the Internet from outside the location that content is being blocked. When you have reason to conclude that an entity has taken over the community you speak frequently on and caused great harm, you are most reasonably inclined to follow the steps taken with censorship by a service moderator: move elsewhere, attempt to amend the community or boycott it.

I’m sure these things are obvious to most people, as it resembles common sense: If something isn’t working, use something else or make something new. But the reason I lay these out is that people have a habit of thinking the Internet will suddenly die in its total (unlimited) scope when problems arise. Similar to religious fanatics that claim a foreign conflict signals the end times. The point is that these things have always happened, not only with the Internet but with all forms of media, from print, to music, to television. Its a matter of expression and information itself rather than what the medium is. How the Internet differs is its broad accessibility and limitless possibilities, meaning that everything beneficial and harmful to what we value most about the Internet is always happening, the question becomes how much hysteria will build over this equilibrium to form a claim of the Internet on life-support.

The underlying implication I’m making with these cases is that all these occur around a concept, and they’re not simply direct attacks or effects on a centralized body of things. You can attack plain HTTP, crack email, throttle BitTorrent traffic, censor bloggers and infiltrate communities, but the Internet is still a functioning thing if there is still electricity and the possibility to connect one computer to another. You still have the possibility to send something, somehow to one computer, back again, and find either a solution to the problem or an alternative where you can pick up again when you’re facing problems. Hacktivists, programmers and internet freedom watchdogs around the world are too great of a force to be stamped out by a few parties’ actions. This is what makes the net immortal and beyond basic physical limits — its been on the tip of our tongues for ages. If we’ve known that “Hmm, this software isn’t cutting it for me, but I’m sure someone else out there wrote a better program that could work for me”, applying that to the integrity and existence of connected computers itself is more than reasonable. Even in scenarios where the physical access to a computer is unavailable to some people, necessary information or reporting can circulate in places elsewhere, albeit more imprecise — such as the conditions of someone in prison or political asylum.

If we only have two or three telephones in a neighborhood or city, the concept of making a phone call still remains.

The analogy I’ve used for a while is that the net is the front-end for reality itself. We can interface with information, discussion and creation more broadly and efficiently than any other tool in the history of technology. As we once needed a few journals, a pen, a camera and a tape recorder, we now only need to have a few tabs open in our browser and a few applications open at the ready. This front-end recurs back to itself in maintaining its own existence by having no centralized dependencies, because it isn’t any single thing. Its a concept, a simple formula for working. The only thing it relies on is being in the minds of people who want to use it and keep it going.

The Internet is a Universal and Infinite Concept