Creative Commons License
This work by Coulter Loeb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Full images and permissions beyond the scope of this license are available by contacting

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Anonymous Occupation

Having been a former /b/tard myself (4chan: if you dont know what it is, you probably dont want to), I've experienced and written about the political actions undertaken by "Anonymous" before. From my personal blog:

"Simply put, Anonymous is a manifestation of the Popular Opinion. Anonymous is not a group. Anonymous is as undefined as the identities of it’s members. Anonymous is a concept that grows in strength as it grows in individuals. The Anonymous that attacked Mastercard in 2010 post-Wikigate is not the same Anonymous that attacked Scientology in 2008. This, in turn, is not the same Anonymous that raided the Habbo Hotel videogame servers in 2006. The concept of total anonymity on the Internet has allowed a channel through which the Popular Opinion is able to, at least partially, flow.

"Anonymous is anarchy. Anonymous is a group of totally random individuals who, despite some of them probably hating one another were their identities known, are able to bind together in a movement that ignores everything about each other to work towards a common goal. The only thing that qualifies you to be in Anonymous is that you happen to agree with that specific instance of “Anonymous”. All you need is an interest. All you need is an opinion."

Last night however was the first time I've ever experienced how "Anonymous" manifests itself in the real world. A number of individuals in McPherson Square identify with the group and carry Guy Fawkes masks, and on the evening of the 19th they decided to make an impromptu march the two blocks to the White House to protest the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

"Camp Anonymous" at McPherson Square at Occupy DC, where many of those identifying as part of "Anonymous" reside.

Announced to be leaving at 11PM, the march ended up leaving at around 12:30. Across a period of about 45 minutes there were multiple mic checks that the group was leaving "NOW!", but another hitch would come along and delay the group. Eventually, the group had grown to about 25 people and departed McPherson.

The Secret Service shines a spotlight on the protestors after they arrive at the White House

As the group passed through Lafayette Park (in front of the White House) they stopped out of earshot of the police and it was decreed that no one would talk to the cops under any circumstance. Twenty seconds later as they approached the White House, the Secret Service announced that the group would have to wait 10 minutes before crossing the street to the White House, and instantly 5-6 members of the group began to verbally confront the police. The extreme degree of autonomy members of the group exhibited was similar to that which the group exhibits online: they may have a common goal, but fuck the rules.

Anonymous hangs out at the White House

After about 5 minutes of energetic rallying at the fence of the White House, there was still some heated conversation with (well, at) the contingent of 15 or so Secret Service officers and the occasional scream of protest towards the White House, but the demeanor cooled down substantially.

There were a lot of similarities between the actions of Anonymous in both cyberspace and meatspace (the real world). In both instances, the actions are poorly (if at all) planned and executed, but the action gets done and the message is conveyed. Individuals act with an extremely high degree of autonomy, and many of the group express sentiment against any form of large scale social organization.

In the end, it still looks like the only binding rule is still #34.

Anon prepares a sign before the "Occupy the Courts" protest in front of the US Supreme Court

No comments:

Post a Comment