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The Anonymous War on Scientology

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What should we make of this war on Scientology being conducted by the enigmatic internet group – Anonymous? (I hesitate to label them as anything beyond a ‘group’ since they themselves seem to try to resist various kinds of labels (such as hackers)) For those who don’t know, this group has popped up in the last week or two with a number of videos on youtube claiming that they were going to conduct a war against the Church Of Scientology. I’ll come to those videos in a moment. Subsequently, they were able to shut down the Church of Scientology website with a denial of service attack, an act designed to gain them media attention. If their boast to the effect that they are a force strong enough to destroy a powerful institution like the Church of Scientology is accurate, then we should be disturbed enough to ask a couple of very important questions. First we should ask after the nature of such a group. Second, what does it say about our culture that such a group should arise (obviously you need to answer the first to answer the second). And last, is the existence of such a group desirable? I’m going to examine these three questions in order. Anonymous – I believe is the product of a culture starved society that is losing faith in the institutions designed to protect its freedoms and its liberty.

First, however, I’m just going to clarify one thing. My aim here is not to demonise Anonymous, nor critique their aim. After all, I personally can’t see how the world would be any worse with the destruction of Scientology being successfully carried out. What I am saying is that we should critique their existence, style and methodology with a very critical eye (as is my way) – and come to some substantive conclusions about what this means for our culture and society as a whole, assuming they have the kind of power they claim to have.

So let’s get started. The first question asks after the nature of the group Anonymous. We need some kind of answer to this before we can attempt answers to the other questions. Here I have to admit the limitations of my knowledge. I am not a member of this group. I am not involved in discussions with people who are members. I have no insight into the decision making hierarchy (assuming that there is one – and they actually seem to claim that there is not). So I can only go by the various releases that have appeared on the internet and try my best to draw conclusions from them. All conclusions that I draw will of course be open to critical scrutiny – which I wholeheartedly encourage.

First thing I note about their movement is that so far it has been a fantastic piece of theatre. It’s dramatic and it’s edgy. Their videos are quite gripping – and we’re all now hanging out to see how this plot is going to unfold. This is exactly their intent. Nietzche wrote that “All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.” With great irony Anonymous adopts the symbolism of the mask itself as their mask. In their second video the opening image is of someone clad in a black biker helmet – the mask that obscures his identity (some of their videos are getting pulled from Youtube so the link might not work). As a mask, anonymity itself fits Nietzche’s criterion perfectly. There is nothing more terrifying than the unknown. It is in this way that Anonymous creates the drama they need to advance their cause.

But regardless of this level of irony, the skilful marketing, or potential Nietzchean comparisons – one has to wonder at the level of sophistication of those writing the scripts. In many respects one feels that this is exactly the movement that would arise in a generation raised by hollywood; a generation force-fed with endless mythological cliches of rebellion in their popular literature and cinema even whilst being subjected to a life of stultifying conformity; a generation so impoverished and starved for genuine creative stimulus that it would unleash those same mythologies and cliches of rebellion at the very institutions that bequeathed them. Once one understands this disturbing irony the existence of a cultural entity like Anonymous becomes very disturbing indeed. This is not so much a critique of Anonymous itself – but of the culture that has produced them.

The point is so important that it needs to be laboured. Take for example this posting attributed to Anonymous. Notice the picture at the bottom. For those who don’t recognise it, it is the symbol that appears in the movie: “V for Vendetta” – a story about an anarchist anti-hero who brings down a totalitarian British government. In a number of other propaganda pieces I have seen, they use the image of the Guy Fawkes mask that also figures prominently in the movie.

But Anonymous does not just borrow its imagery from Hollywood movies, it borrows the language as well. They sign their propaganda pamphlets with the words, ‘We are Anonymous, We are legion.’ I mean, c’mon. Is Joss Whedon the voice of anonymous? In the final episode of Angel, a Joss Whedon production, the agent of the Wolf, the Ram, and the Heart utters: ‘You can’t defeat us, we are legion.’ Interestingly, the storyline conceived in Angel directly mirrors the style adopted by the Anonymous group. It has a faceless group – The Wolf, the Ram and the Heart – which considers itself legion in the same sense as does Anonymous – except Whedon intended them unambiguously as the bad guys.

If Angel was not the direct inspiration for that aspect of their style it is not particularly important. There are plenty of other examples of similar popular cultural artefacts which together almost certainly does serve as the inspiration. Another obvious comparison can be drawn with the work of Chuck Palahnuik and his novel ‘Fight Club’, and the David Fincher directed movie of the same name. In this story we see the development of a faceless underground movement by the literally non-existent leader Tyler Durden – which then proceeds to enact it’s anarchistic program entitled ‘project mayhem’. It’s particularly the fact that the organisational structure of Tyler Durden’s army has no centralised organisation structure which causes one to draw the parallel with Anonymous. Consider this quote from a blog claiming to be a informational agent for the group:

In essence, we are all Anonymous, just some are more Anonymous than others, but that doesn’t mean that one Anonymous has authority over another, because we can never tell who is who. Isn’t this such an interesting system?

But why do we go picking on other websites for our own enjoyment? This is incredibly hard to explain, for Anonymous operates somewhat chaotically, but there is some structure behind our behaviour. Remember the Ancient Greeks? They did not believe in Representative Democracy, only on general consensus with the common people. Anonymous is similar. We do not tell some Hacker on Steroids to do the work for us (BASIC PRINCIPLE: Anonymous is not your personal army) we decide for ourselves by consensus whether or not to act based on how much lulz we can accumulate from our target

The claimed lack of hierarchical structure in their organisation is evident from this quote. But there are further similarities – consider this quote about their methods used to achieve their objectives:

As time wore on and certain anonymii grew, matured, and gained more experience, Anonymous began to extend its reach beyond the internet – calling victims in real life, contacting relatives, co-workers, employers, and friends of targets to further spread rumors and harass. Anonymous learned to order cash-on-delivery pizzas for the target. Anonymous learned to get local parent-teacher organizations worried about the target’s deviant sexual fetishes. Anonymous learned to send solid black pages to fax machines. Anonymous learned to find any website or service that would mail something for free, and send thousands to the target. Anonymous learned to raid “IRL” – In real life. Disguised as a popular icon, Anonymous would photograph, harass, spread information or post fliers about the target.

Consider the scenes from fight club where the members go out the conduct their homework assignments, or the folders that hang on the wall labelled: Disinformation and Mischief.

Or consider yet another quote from this same blog:

Despite our negative press in the past, Anonymous is not a collection of 15-year-old punks with a preference for gay porn and exploding yellow vans. Anonymous is not a domestic terrorist. We are your doctors, lawyers, bankers, and firefighters. We are your teachers, your students, your cashiers, your taxi drivers, your waiters and waitresses. We are your friends, your family, and your children. We are you. We are well-educated, well-funded, and determined.

…and compare it with this line from Tyler Durden:

Look – the people you are after, are the people you depend on. We cook your meals. We haul your trash. We connect your calls. We drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.

Anyone else see the similarity?

I could go on, quoting the endless lists of subversive fictions invented by many different talented writers and thinkers. The point I’m making is this. Anonymous derives its inspiration, style and methodology from these popular cultural sources. The irony of this being that they were bequeathed these fictions by the corporate elite they are now setting themselves in opposition against. This elite was motivated not by the substance of these subversive fictions – but by the fact that a market existed that hungered for them. They might not have written them – but they funded them, and made their mass distribution possible. How interesting that a market driven corporate structure would nurture the seed that would one day grow in opposition to its very existence.

This is exactly what I mean by the claim that this is the movement of a generation so starved for a genuine culture – that it must take its inspiration from those whom ultimately they despise. It’s as though a child, made ugly by a diet of endless shit, has suddenly gained the self awareness to look at itself in the mirror – and it hates so very much what it sees. The only way it knows how to react is with the same ugliness is has been fed over the years at those who fed it.

This is not to say that I think all such cultural artefacts are so unworthy to be so labelled. In fact – I see Fight Club as one of the greatest novels written in the past 50 years. But that is because Palahnuik writes with a delicious sense of irony that is directed not just at the institutional structures which Tyler Durden reacts against – but also at the sentiment which strives to emulate figures like Tyler Durden. The story is so ripe with irony that you’d have to be an American not to get it. It’s this that makes Palahnuik a genius. He encourages as to think through all the angles – not simplistically take up the banner of a single side. As such, anyone striving to emulate those subversive figures that our best literature subjects to savage, ironic critiques – prima facie demonstrates a lack of understanding of such an ironic and critical disposition. It is this observation that underwrites my scepticism that the group Anonymous actually does have the kind of critical sophistication that they claim.

And this is a shame – because it is to such a critical disposition that they seem to strive. Consider this quote from the above mentioned blog:

Historically, Anonymous’ targets have had one or more of the following properties:

1. Inability to handle criticism
2. Overblown sense of self-importance
3. Panicky reaction when private information on them is released
4. Frantic attempts to cover up the aforementioned information
5. Fondness for threatening legal action
6. Hypocrisy
7. Love for spouting repetitive, idiotic rhetoric
8. Suppression of free speech or free will

These are the things I would like to think that I fight against on a daily basis. This blog is my public contribution to that cause (small a contribution though it is). Presumably – if this what they fight against, then one would think that Anonymous would like to embody the kind of things that someone like me values the most: freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and above all – a critical disposition that eschews dogma and strives for truth without presupposition at the outset as to what that truth might be.

But these concepts so easily become words – and anyone who feels that they have a grasp as to their meaning must be willing to question their understanding. I submit that Anonymous has still some way to go in this respect. I have presented my argument above – I expect it to be subjected to the same kind of critical engagement that we all advocate. I hope I might attract some members of ‘the legion’ to so engage.

This is my analysis of the character of the group Anonymous. it follows quite neatly as to what I think this implies about the society in which a group like Anonymous can arise. It is a very culturally impoverished society indeed. it’s the analogy of child fed by shit that serves my purpose here. Our cultural diet has been for so long dominated by tales of masked superheroes who act above the law – that they’ve finally begun to appear in reality. It’s doubtful that the people who comprise the membership of Anonymous have the requisite sensibility to really critique whether this is a reality that would serve us well. It’s my opinion is that it’s not.

Which brings us to the third question I raised at the beginning. My opinion is shared by Mark Bunker from Xenu TV, a long time campaigner against Scientology. Watching it is like listening to the wisdom of the elder, desperately trying to penetrate the passion of youth. He speaks so much sense. His message is simple. You don’t want a society where people act above the law in order to effect change – no matter how well meaning they may be. He urges people to accept peaceful, institutionally accepted methods of resistance. And states the view that these avenue still present a real opportunity for effecting positive change. At this current stage of the game – I share his view.

Obviously, the members of Anonymous do not. Let’s return to the second question and wonder that if they are indeed ‘legion’ as they claim – what does it say that so many have given up on the institutional structures designed to preserve justice and protect our liberties? Indeed, the existence of such a large group (if they do indeed exist as such) – would be a strong reason to further critique the realities of our political and cultural institutions. If it takes an underground group to prosecute for justice against the like of Scientology – then we have to seriously question the ability of our society to provide such justice through its established institutional structures. Until the real evidence of the legion of Anonymous members comes to light – we aren’t forced to such considerations. And what’s more – there has been a growing consensus against Scientology for some time with the latest evidence of this being the actions of the German government against the church.

However, if the Anonymous movement did grow – if a major element of disaffected people, who used harrassment and various other illegal activities to wage their ‘wars’, came to dominate our cultural landscape – well, this is not a reality I would like to live in. Maybe I’m old fashioned. But I still believe in the rule of law.

So how do we encourage the like of Anonymous to give up their wars – and to adopt lawful tactics to achieve their quest for justice? Well I would never advocate a ‘war’ on Anonymous. I would never advocate becoming like them to defeat them – the way they advocate becoming much like Scientology to defeat Scientology. I would simply suggest that we work to restore trust in the democratic institutions that in recent times seem to be failing us. I would suggest that we engage in critical dialogue – and try to offer a richer, and more creative understanding of the cultural forms of life that surround us. I would suggest that we try to develop a more profound culture that rejects the superhero drivel that hollywood keeps dishing up.

I would suggest that we nurture our youth with a diet of culture so rich that posterity would look upon us with awe and remark that truly we were an enlightened generation.

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26 Comments

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    What a thoughtful critique.

    We are listening to the words of the Wise Bearded One.

    We follow his example, and his suggestions.

    Anonymous’ campaign is taking the steps to become a legal protest.

    but we remain Anonymous.

    Be Very Wary of the 10th of Febuary

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 12:25 am | Permalink
  2. Anonymous 2 wrote:

    Be Very very very Wary of the 10th of Febuary!

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 1:04 am | Permalink
  3. Anonymous Supporter wrote:

    Note: I do not claim to speak for Anonymous. No one person can speak for Anonymous. As they say, they are legion.

    It has been interesting to watch this develop. Usually Anonymous gets off on harassing people “for the lulz.” As time goes by in this process though, you see them becoming more serious and moving away from illegal tactics towards legal protest such as the 10th of February. What we are seeing is a dynamic new engine for social change that has never been previously harnessed in this fashion.

    As for using these pop culture symbols and ideas. As you say, in a cultural void, what else do we have? Maybe we can take that ugliness and give it new meaning.

    I believe that we do have to question our institutions of justice. These are institutions that allow the Church of Scientology to sue people into bankruptcy on spurious claims. Institutions that allow the persecution and harassment of even the mildest of Scientology critics. Institutions that ruled Lisa McPherson’s death, and several others, “accidental.” In this case, these institutions have failed.

    I have not participated in attacks on websites. I have not been part of any IRL raids. But I have done my small piece by spreading the information that is out there, by educating my friends and family. And in the end, I think doing that will be the most powerful way to fight this “war” and that the truth is the most effective weapon that Anonymous has.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 1:59 am | Permalink
  4. Anon wrote:

    It is true that anonymous has until now engaged itself in little more than online horseplay, annoying online communities and generally just being wise-asses. We will not protest this fact. But this is something I hope the internet can truly support, the education of millions as to the criminal acts committed by this fraudulent business that calls itself a church.

    The information is out there, you only need look for it. Evidence of;

    ‘disconnection,’ the practice of having members detach themselves from non-church family members.

    charging thousands of dollars for bogus enlightenment programs

    infiltration of government organizations to obtain secret files and influence decisions in their favor

    human rights violations, including forced abortions and imprisonment

    enforced withdrawal of medication from the sick

    harassment of critics, and attempting to ruin lives under their ‘fair game’ policy.

    The facts are widely available, and anonymous wishes you all to see the truth. Educate yourself and others, don’t allow any more lives to be ruined.

    We fully support freedom of religion. There is a breakaway faction of the CoS known as the ‘Free Zone’ who follow Hubbard’s works but see the CoS for what it really is. We support these people. If someone wishes to believe in evil galactic warlords firing aliens into volcanoes (this is what Scientologists believe), we have no issue with that. We simply wish to prevent further suffering. Join us.

    Anon

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 2:10 am | Permalink
  5. Anon Supporter 2 wrote:

    The Anon are learning well. I direct your attention to this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfKQ75F0XsA

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 2:42 am | Permalink
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    What is most miraculous, is the malcontent who lay dormant suddenly springing up in unison, when joined by cause, finding unity to right the unjust.

    What we do is not just to create the awareness, but to add to the ranks of those already aware, who fought and have been fighting to let these truths be known.

    Be very very wary of the tenth of February.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 4:34 am | Permalink
  7. Wow – I haven’t even linked this post to anything yet and you guys found it.

    It’s heartening to see that you are accepting the criticisms that you’ve inspired – and are moving toward a legal existence. Such a reaction, of course, instantly refutes the claim that I make to the effect that you lack the kind of critical disposition to which you aspire. Very happy to be wrong on that score.

    To the third commenter above – I do agree that our institutions need to be critiqued. This is vital to their health. To abandon them, however, is to start from scratch. And I just haven’t seen a good enough plan to replace them. Although if you have any ideas – you should get to work writing your manifesto.

    Also – you’re the only commentator that has engaged with the central theme of my post about the cultural impoverishment in which your movement has spawned. You ask, what else do you have?

    Well – you have a rich history of cultural, artistic, literary and academic endeavour. Your best and your brightest work on a daily basis at increasing understanding and furthering enlightenment. Like Anonymous, this group – an elite group – has no leader as such (although it does have a heirarchy of sorts). It loves truth – and if guided by anything – it is guided by this love.

    This work is ignored on a daily basis by the culture to which it constantly contributes. Partly this is the fault of this group itself. It is terrible at marketing itself (unlike anonymous). Nevertheless, given that this group makes such an important contribution. It is a crime that it is continually ignored as it is.

    Get to know them – the scientists, philosophers, artists and poets. Learn how to access their ideas. Do the hard work that this requires. You will be infinitely enriched for so doing. Your movement will gain greater depth and profundity.

    I want to see the time where the scientists, the mathematicians, the poets and philosophers are the rock stars.

    As you guys say – the knowledge is all just out there… you just gotta learn how to take it.

    Good luck with your mission.

    You know – I might just find myself outside a scientology bunker on the 10th of Feb too… :)

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 6:53 am | Permalink
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Like all anonymous I cannot claim to speak for all or even most of us, but I would like to point out that “we are legion” is not intended as a reference to Angel. It’s a biblical reference. (And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. Mark 5:9) Though I suppose you could argue the origin in anonymous’ case, as it’s a line that’s been co-opted for many things.

    Anonymous’ aims have shifted now; the more questionable actions were phase one, to get media attention and spread the word. Though some will likely continue that attack, the larger focus has moved onto the next phase. Spread the word, spread the message, protest the organization and disseminate information.

    To appropriate another pop culture phrase, can’t stop the signal.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 7:38 am | Permalink
  9. Anon (NOT Anonymous) wrote:

    I can’t understand this ‘holier than thou’ attitude that you claim when you say you support ‘the rule of law’. EVERY true revolutionary broke the law to accomplish his or her goal. Rosa Parks broke the law. MLK broke the law. The law isn’t working and is being exploited by people who have tons of money and influence. In its videos, Anonymous isn’t saying they are going to physically hurt anybody, they are using what they can to take Co$ down. I fully support them and are proud to be of a younger generation that is actually doing something about this menace.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  10. To a certain degree you have a point. Another good example of what you mean would be ghandi. He protested a ridiculous British law that prevented Indians from procuring their salt from the sea – instead they were forced to purchase it from the British. He went ahead and broke that law – and India was forever changed for it.

    But I think your point can only go so far. Think about what people like Rosa Parks and Ghandi did. They broke laws which they believed were unjust. That is, their targets were the laws themselves.

    This is different from breaking a JUST law in order to target a unjust group…etc…

    By taking down the Scientology website – Anonymous is preventing the free expression of the group. There are laws in place to protect that expression. These are just laws – important laws. They remain just even when people hide behind them to express hateful things. This must be protected.

    As such – I don’t think your comparison (at this stage at least) to the likes of MLK or Rosa Parks is adequate or justified.

    I hope I am not too holier than thou – I do accept that laws need to be critiqued and some rejected. I am also willing to enter into a critical debate about the need for the rule of law if that be your desire.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  11. Anon (NOT Anonymous) wrote:

    The first thing I thought after I posted it was that people are going to think I was comparing the two groups like that, I wasn’t saying the campaign against Co$ is on the same level as the civil rights movement. All I am saying is that sometimes you have to break the law to achieve a good goal. These kids don’t have money, but they are the ones doings something about the problem. And besides, what’s the difference between an unjust law and an unjust system?

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    The memes, the paraphrasing, the unconscious references– those are not the point. Any human being speaks in terms he thinks others will understand, and this is the language that most Anonymous speak and understand the best. Shared experience is the best way to communicate. Unfortunately, some Anonymous mistake that shared communication with some for a shared communication with all.

    As for breaking the law, I’d ask you these two questions: What truly just law or system of law allows for the things that have happened? And what are we to do but break it when all legal and ethical approaches have failed miserably? The main reason we attract enough attention to spread the information that needs spreading is because we broke the law. Many others have tried over the years, and failed. We have succeeded so far. We may be Anonymous, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be practical.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  13. okay – your questions tie into what Anon above is asking so hopefully this comment should be taken as a response to you both.

    Your first question certainly isn’t easy to answer – but I think we need to tease out more explicitly your reasoning before we can. If I understand you correctly you are making the following argument:

    1) A sufficient number of unjust things have happened which should cause as to view the system as a whole as unjust. Therefore:
    2) The current system is unjust
    3) An unjust system must be fought and changed so as to make it just.
    4) Laws are the foundations of a system. Therefore
    5) The laws of an unjust system can be rejected.

    I would submit that this reasoning is fallacious. But let’s be clear as to why. Let’s grant for sake of argument that premise 1) is correct. I actually think it is arguable – but let’s just grant it. It’s not the real problem with the argument. 2) is a just conclusion that follows from 1) – so we grant that. I’m also happy to accept 3) for sake of argument. 4) also seems fairly reasonable (it would need a lot of qualifications – but we don’t want to be here all day).

    So obviously I am going to have a problem with 5) – presumably it is meant to follow from a combination of 2,3 and 4. But really it doesn’t. from the premise that a combined set of laws produces injustice, you can’t infer that ALL laws are now fair game to be rejected. This is simply because there are many laws which are not contributing to injustice. If you break those just laws – it is you that are contributing to injustice. You become what you fight against. Everything gets a little Darth and we get nowhere.

    So what to do? Do the hard work in identifying the laws that are producing the injustice… and break those ones (only if you must). Better that you campaign against them. Ghandi was smart. He didn’t just hit the beach and start getting his salt. He announced that he was going to walk from one end of the country to the ocean, and when he got to the ocean – THEN he would break the law. Smart guy.

    So which are the specific laws that are causing the injustice in the case of scientology? It certainly isn’t freedom of expression. So which? I don’t personally know. Presumably you guys are more researched than I on this score – so I’d like to hear more about it if you are willing.

    As for your second question – this question features as premise 3 and I was willing to grant it for sake of argument. but is it really correct? I’m not an expert on the history of struggle with Scientology. One who is an expert on the struggle is Mark Bunter… and I’m willing to defer to his expertise. He disagrees with you. Some of you in anonymous seem to be coming round to his point of view. I think that’s a good thing for all concerned.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  14. Anonymous wrote:

    Okay, different anon from the other folks here. I’ve lurked around on the various ~chans and I just wanted to say that I think this shift from a bunch of bored pranksters (BATTLE TOADS, etc, etc) to a group actually trying to do something is pretty amazing. I for one approve of this changing from wanting to merely do it for entertainment to something more. I’ve seen some of the responses to the Mr. Bunter video – it’s almost adorable you big internet tough guys call him “Wise Beard Man”, by the way- and it’s amazing to see all these changes take place and anonymous sort’ve “growing up” and getting a bit more mature as you guys start progressing to IRL protesting.

    I’ve been following this since around when it started. I’ve been following a thread where people expressed at first skepticism for anonymous to actually talking about how to peacefully protest and what they can do to help and support (peacefully and legally). I think the idea of protesting silently and not reacting to any Scientologist handlers is a wonderful idea from what was talked about there.

    Just my two cents on the whole Anon vs Scientology thing. I’m rooting for you guys, good luck on the Feb 10 protests!

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Mr. Haggard, I’m afraid that Anonymous in general has never particularly wanted to be sophisticated, profound, or — God forbid — sensible. But the change we are seeing in their apparent mindset and tactics, I think, is due to people — particularly other internet groups who typically put themselves above Anons — deciding to join the ranks of Anonymous for this single cause. These people are the ones who realise Mark Bunting’s point and agree with his views, and they are helping to bring their fight into the world of writing letters to congressmen and whatever else they do in their countries.

    Hopefully, Anons all will learn. In fact, all this real-life protesting ought to be marvellous opportunities to encourage development of sensibility and real concern over important issues in the ‘core’ Anonymous.

    I cannot comment firsthand on the culture, or lack thereof, that spawned Anonymous — I live where hundreds of thousands of people are able to go on an absolutely non-violent march in protest against a proposed security law, and the concept of why exactly such groups as Anonymous might arise is frankly beyond me. But according to my understanding of the western society, gleaned from books, TIME, The Economist, the internet (obviously) and so on, I’m inclined to agree with you on the idea that youths such as Anonymous have only what they are most familiar with which to mould itself upon, both consciously and otherwise.

    Posted on 30-Jan-08 at 8:37 pm | Permalink
  16. What you say is definitely re-assuring.

    Everyone to some extent is a product of their environment. What is great about the evolution you’re seeing in your movement is that you’ve come to long for something greater irrespective of the culture around you which is designed to keep you placid and compliant. That’s the human spirit in action – and it’s great to see.

    One is always going to grab whatever is around you to nurture that spirit – and I think that’s what we’re seeing with you guys.

    That’s why I meant it more as a critique of our culture than specifically at Anonymous itself. In the end, however, those who comprise Anonymous must assume self-responsibility – and so must take up the task of acquiring the sophistication of thought and wisdom needed to wage a campaign of justice. For without that sophistication – justice will not be your end result.

    Plato wrote that a necessary condition for justice was that everyone stick to their profession. And as such it was for those who are skilled in the art of justice that should dispense it. There were certain conclusions he drew from this premise that i don’t agree with – however, I think one point is sound. The ability to decide what is just, or to bring about justice is not some god given ability that some of us have and some of us don’t. It’s a skill. You have to do the work to learn it.

    Our great thinkers have done an enormous amount of work carving a path in the thicket for us. I’m just here pointing them out to you guys saying – hey look… these dudes are cool… check em out. They’ll help you be what you want to be. They’ll certainly help more than what Hollywood has offered.

    Posted on 31-Jan-08 at 6:09 am | Permalink
  17. Wow! An intriguing discussion to say the least! I’ve always felt religious groups get away with far too much – their beliefs and practices aren’t subjected to the same level of criticism as those of secular institutions. I think Anonymous is a grassroots attempt to address this imbalance. While their methods are unorthodox, I’m no Scientology fan, so I’m eager to see where this leads.

    If Anonymous succeeds with its stated aim of destroying Hubbard’s cult, where is it going to go next? During its brief existence, Scientology has suffered more negative publicity than most religions, though many employ comparable methods and may have more sinister agendas. Would the Anonymous crowd be so inclined to take on the Exclusive Brethren, Nation of Islam or Children of God? I guess I’ll have to wait and see…

    Posted on 02-Feb-08 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  18. Anonymous wrote:

    James:
    I submit to you this link to TIME magazine’s 1991 cover story, from which you may be surprised to learn, among other facts, that Scientology is not a religion — Scientologists have no deity. Hubbard simply packaged his little creation as a religion in order to reap its benefits, such as tax exemption.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972865,00.html

    Posted on 02-Feb-08 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  19. That’s quite an interesting and disturbing read. It’s actually hard to blame you guys for using the dark side of the force in this fight given that.

    I think though it’s an interesting question though as to what distinguishes Scientology from an actual religion. I guess the answer is that we don’t believe their cock n bull story about aliens. But to what extent could that criticism be extended to other religions? The evangelicals have often been caught in various corruption scandals and the like…

    Just throwing up the question… I don’t know enough about the individual institutions to be able to categorise them accurately.

    Posted on 02-Feb-08 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  20. Revelation 23 wrote:

    I’ve thought about what to say here, and I’m going to try to tread lightly.

    Me, I don’t care for Scientology. Sure, I don’t have much exposure to it and a lot of the exposure is the stuff people like to dissect, twist around and make fun of. I do have to wonder just how much its members really know about the COS, as there’s a hierarchy to it all and only a few know all that the Scientology has to offer (the same can be said of other organizations). I will say this, not everything I’ve read about in Scientology is utter b-grade science fiction garbage. There’s more to what they ‘teach’, but I’m not going to get into that here. From my understanding, that’s not really the main issue anyway.

    Also, I don’t know how different the COS is now compared to what it used to be or how much difference there is between the mainstream version or the Free Zone. Perhaps it’s a matter of the COS having allowed itself to become something it never wanted to become and not having enough people around to say so. Or those that do are shunned, resorting to creating their own faction (I assume Free Zone would be something similar to this). It’s not like that’s ever happened before…

    Does the Church Of Scientology have a right to be around? I would say yes, just as with any other group or organization, regardless of whether its focus is on religion, politics, philosophy or any number of subjects. It doesn’t really matter who you are or the name you and/or the group uses. If you’re not hurting anyone, spreading hatred, breaking the law or encouraging others to do so, you’re welcome to gather. If you want to gather (literally or figuratively), fine. Do so. As long as you don’t shove your agenda on others who don’t want a part in what you’re saying or selling (as the case may be) and go about your business in a peaceful and respectable manner, there’s not a problem. If you’re not hurting anyone, if you’re not breaking the law, go ahead and do your thing. We live in a society where different viewpoints are tolerated and even encouraged; although I hesitate to say it’s freedom of speech or freedom of expression. I think they’re both overused crutches that have lost some of their meaning. Simply put, we won’t always agree, and that’s okay.

    The problem is when a group (any group) turns on others and is able to get away with stuff that we would otherwise take exception to and do something about it. All kinds of “injustices” are performed every day, in every culture and every country and there’s a reason why things are allowed to happen, even if it’s not immediately apparent. You can do something about it if you want to, but you don’t neccessarily need to lower yourself to get something done or bring it to peoples’ attention. I’d like to think we are better than that. We’ve come too far in the thousands of years since our civiliation began and expanded to throw it all away. And we shouldn’t let the “good guys” get away with anything they want to either.

    You don’t need to break laws to get something done, not every “revolution” is started by breaking laws. There are other avenues. I don’t know, maybe Anonymous has exhausted everything else and making attacks (whether direct or indirect) against them is the next step? Sometimes that route has to be taken, but it shouldn’t be the first step taken. I would say I’m like Daniel here – laws can work and do work, if you let them. It might not be the fastest route or the most glamourous route, but I’m optimistic in that it’s a far better option than hacking, guerilla tactics, cyber terrorism, vandalism, fraud, defamation, slander or any of the other tactics some groups may use. No, I’m not saying these are the tools of Anonymous (though they did go after the COS website or someone did on their behalf). And hopefully they won’t become the tools that Anonymous uses.

    So, does Anonymous have a right to exist? Again, I’d say yes. But in the end, what is their real goal, if they have one? Trigger some kind of change? Bring an end to the Church Of Scientology? Replace it? There’s nothing wrong with criticizing someone and pointing out their faults, but it can be taken too far. Sometimes the reaction can be worse than the cause, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease, sometimes the punishment is worse than the crime. You get the idea. Be careful this doesn’t happen.

    Whatever you’re planning to do on the 10th (if anything), just make sure it’s nothing stupid. Don’t forget, the members of the Church Of Scientology are people too and you can’t undo certain things.

    Posted on 02-Feb-08 at 11:33 pm | Permalink
  21. Anonymous wrote:

    @ Daniel Haggard, yours, is by far the most interesting and insightful article on the subject.

    It is true that Anonymous has decided to come out of the shadows (while remaining anonymous) and adopt a peaceful and mostly legal strategy. However, when the push comes to shove, despite the freedom of speech, most cities in US have many limits on expressive conduct and protests.

    For instance, in NYC there have not been a sucessful communcation with the authorities, despite several attempts. It is my fear, therefore, that the government will misunderstand and underestimate Anonymous by deciding to suppress the unauthorized protests (undoubtedly with involvement of rich $cientologists). This would be a fatal mistake, as it will drive Anonymous back into shadows and the illegal tactics that it involves.

    Posted on 03-Feb-08 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  22. Anonymous wrote:

    Rev:
    To the Anonymous not simply jumping onto the bandwagon of Scientology hate without real understanding, the ultimate goal of this movement would be to spread knowledge far and wide about the practices of fear, deception, harassment, slander and brainwashing that Scientologists use as a matter of procedure to silence its critics and keep its followers ignorant of its criminal activities. If Scientologists are as a result realising the true nature of what they are embroiled in; if in the future Average Joe on the street no longer thinks of Scientology as ‘just another kooky religion’ but knows the pyramid-scam nature of the entire following — well, I would say it was all worth it.

    Anonymous commonly attempts to help those unaware of exactly how terrible Scientology’s acts are by asking them to find out about
    - Operation Snow White
    - Operation Freak Out
    - Lisa McPherson (on whose birthday the upcoming Feb 10 protests will be)
    Here I ask that if you do not know about them, Google them or look them up on Wikipedia. I promise you will see why Anonymous is so bloody worked up over it all.

    Shameless plug: enturbulation.org is a good starting site for those unfamiliar with the Church of Scientology.

    Posted on 06-Feb-08 at 11:20 pm | Permalink
  23. Revelation 23 wrote:

    I had heard of what happened with Lisa McPherson before. Operation Freak Out is a new one to me, but I remember reading something about Operation Snow White some time ago.

    Again, I have to wonder just how many members are aware of some of the stuff that has gone on, either something under the guise of being for the Church’s sake (i.e., as an excuse) or actual directives from the higher-ups in the hierarchy. Given the opportunity, chances are you’ll find someone willing and able to take advantage of whatever situation they may be in.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to defend the Church, but I do think that in some cases, personal motives and agendas shouldn’t be disregarded. There are many examples of a person in power (or one with enough connections) being able to do as they please with little or no consequences. Unfortunately, the Church Of Scientology hasn’t really done anything to distance itself from these things, regardless of whether they actually had anything to do with it or not.

    The fact that more and more people talk about some of the goings on is proof that the COS isn’t as tightly knit as they’d like it to be. Anonymous’ existance (not sure if that’s the right term here, but I’m sticking to it) is further proof that more and more ‘outsiders’ are becoming aware of some of what’s gone on.

    Who knows, maybe this will open the doors for people to take a closer look at some of the other organizations out there.

    Posted on 07-Feb-08 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  24. Jean Evrard wrote:

    Anonymous might be considered as inadequate, it’s not important. What is important is
    o to fight the scientology by all legal means
    o to sue them in all countries for fiscal evasion, for funds extorsion, for abuses of all kinds, for illegal representaion and use of “medical” treatment, for … the lsit is endless
    o BOYCOTT all Tom Cruise movies
    o stop distribution of all DVDs of Tom Cruise
    o etc

    Posted on 11-Feb-08 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  25. I think I agree with most of what you say Rev… certainly we see eye to eye on the issue of law… and also the issue of the right of a lawful institution to exist.

    But there is also the right to criticize an organisation and even to destroy it – in the sense of trying to de-motivate further support for that institution. Such a process can also be conducted legally… and if this is what Anonymous is doing, then I certainly support them.

    I believe in reason, knowledge and a critical disposition. I believe these things will help the world. I believe that an institution that tells people that they are alien spirits is not helping them access the truth about the reality we find ourselves within. And we need to do everything we can to discourage people from adopting such a destructive point of view. But again – it has to be done legally, and with respect for those who might not agree with our points of view.

    Posted on 14-Feb-08 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  26. Sassy Solipsist wrote:

    How very well worded, word wielder. Indeed, it is a mystery to me as well how it escapes so many ppl…the full meanings & implications, the ironies & angles, twists & turns, and layers upon layers…my my my…yes, indeedy, as ye stated…that THEY stated…the types they go after…or is that a direct Palahniuk quote? Well. No matter. They are no different, are they? Can’t take it, but sure can dish it out, and how. It is all too easy when you hide behind masks, illusions, one another, fake names, stolen borrowed ips proxies MOB RULES sheep herd mentality fever rabid pitch drool school of blood thirsty swarming sharks master plan attack cool cold pre calculated organized btw it is HUGE and Growing all the time ignorant smart young older whatever tax bracket span underground guerilla warfare plan some in it for fun but not all still its a giant food chain a Lady Macbeth, if you will, all of them have blood stained hands in the end. We all do. What a shame. To think that so many would go along willingly w/ reputation and propperty ruining destruuctiion, tresspassing, breaking and entering, theft, surveillance, posting God knows what and who knows where, stealing info., infiltrating computers, phones, every intimate personal detail, plus harming the health of ppl, plus their pets, plus same for their family and some of their friends. Based on what? And no help from Police, bcoz they were in on it, too. Huh. Yep. So. And no…It ain’t just the ” Scientologists” or is that Aesopian speak for something or somebody else? THEY, the so-called ANONYMOUS must have some over lord influential types…I mean, would there have been a Manson Family w/ out Charles? Psycho that he is and was? You know? They, the sheep, what might have started out as The Fight Club, now Club Mayhem, Loose Cannon, full of Mindless Meathead Mongrells on Moronic Missions…must have some fucktard leaders to give them a clue…jeez. Is there any intelligent life anywhere any intelligent lifeform in the universe…and if so…plz…just hurry and beam me up now!

    Posted on 01-Jun-11 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

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