If you don't already know about Anonymous - or if you think you do, but aren't really sure - then you should probably read the excellent Wikipedia article about this multifaceted participatory online movement's origins, achievements, scandals and goals.
Although it originally spawned from a number of unrelated Internet message boards and humor sites - 4chan, Ebaum's World, Encyclopedia Dramatica and others - almost ten years ago, Anonymous today is far more than just a loose affiliation of hacker/trolls who occasionally venture out of their mothers' basements to smear pubic hair and petroleum jelly on unsuspecting Scientologists. It is a genuine phenomenon that is evolving into an important - some would have us believe dangerous - social movement.
Pinning down Anonymous isn't easy. Anyone can call themselves a representative and claim to be initiating an action on the group's behalf. Self-declared members are free to join in on these actions, or not. Some Anonymous campaigns - such as their anti-Scientology crusade, their international anti-censorship activities and their campaigns in support of WikiLeaks - enjoy broad-based support and substantial approval. Other stunts - such as bombarding epileptic support group websites with flashing videos designed to trigger seizures in the photo-sensitive - not so much. However, since Anonymous has no leaders, collects no dues and maintains no headquarters, it is difficult, if not impossible, to bestow credit or lay blame.
Which makes the fact that they've published an "Open Letter to the Citizens of the United States of America" not only odd, but downright baffling. It raises all sorts of questions. For instance, if Anonymous has no leadership, who wrote this? Is it a hoax? And, if so, how would anyone ever know? If Anonymous attempts to deny authorship of this (or any other) document, that denial would be equally unverifiable, and thus suspect.
A quick perusal of this Open Letter reveals three things:
- First, Anonymous could use a good copy editor. The text of this document contains spelling mistakes, dangling participles and mixed metaphors galore.
- Second, despite a few nods to "fair taxation" and "states' rights", it appears as though Anonymous is planting its flag firmly on the left side of America's political playing field. Ending corporate personhood, making healthcare a human right, ensuring clean air, water and food, enacting prison reform and decriminalizing marijuana... their list of demands reads more like a High Times editorial than a revolutionary manifesto.
- Finally, make no mistake about it, Anonymous wants YOU. They are recruiting. And this, despite the fact that, in a number of important ways, "they" don't even exist.
Personally, I'm still up in the air about Anonymous. I certainly approve of their anti-Scientology activities, and find their efforts to support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to be commendable, even noble. On the other hand, some of their goofier, more mean-spirited pursuits - the "lulz" element of their shenanigans - leave a bad taste in my mouth. But that's just me.
After the page break, below, I will publish the full text of Anonymous' Open Letter for y'all to peruse at your leisure. It's being published all over the place, but I figure we might as well warehouse a copy here, as part of the Useless Eater Blog's efforts at archiving potentially important parapolitical documents. Where possible, I have retained the spelling and grammatical errors. Enjoy! - YOPJ
We, Anonymous, would like to offer you, America, the opportunity to join and support our movement. We are a group that formed on the internet-one that knows no constructs or absolutes, and one that has recently grown exponentially. We would like to introduce an Operation. An operation that involves Americans getting our Natural Rights and dreams back. Right now, you can help by passing on the information. Information is Power...Share the Power of the Information with other like-minded individuals. The more people we represent, the more Power we have, both as individuals and as Anonymous. Thank you for your time and your Power.
CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Many events have taken shape over the course of only a few year, and slowly our system has been working towards the gains of itself rather than the gains of its people. While we all have watched and rallied against the system working against us, there have been other gains of the system that have gone without a peep as back room deals and bargaining allow for the passing of legislation and research funding that has resulted in the loss of more liberties such as censorship, phone and Internet surveillance and eminent domain laws. Not to mention the higher taxes, lower wages, and loss of work due to exports deals. We repeat the history of our mistakes instead of evolving our society. Generations in the past spoke of what we face as current issues, the only difference being that of our technological advancements.
We have forgotten such words our society found guidance and value in:
“We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government laying its foundation on such principles and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness”
In the past few months, Anonymous has made headlines through the actions of a few. The media tries to instill fear of which Anonymous is as a “group”, and in the process failed to recognize it as an “ideal” that is gaining momentum.
Anonymous is an ideal that the people can use to further help other people. In this case, you’re not being heard and transparency in government operations is non-existent in many matters. Mobilize yourself to find your information, and we’ll be giving you resources to further help you.
Take the information you find and tell your government your demands.
We want AMERICANS to wake up!
We want AMERICANS to read!
We want AMERICANS to think, and above all question all things!
We want AMERICANS to analyze, criticize, critique and learn to read between the lines, to expose and to deconstruct! We want you to believe in the infinite power of the people!
We want you to learn that we’re all truly brothers and sisters in humanity regardless of all the artificial barriers that have been set up to separate us!
“Think For Yourself, Question Authority” -Timothy Leary
Inform. Educate. Guide. Evolve. Wake up the People.
The time for the next step in our species’ social evolution has come!
To effectively reform the system that has enslaved us, we must consider following the advice and example of those who have preceded us. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and JFK are good places to start. All took fierce positions against central banking, government corruption and corporate power.
The time has come for us to unite, the time has come for us to stand up and fight!
You are Anonymous!
We are in the information era.
We are Anonymous,
We are Legion,
We do not forget,
We do not forgive,
Grievances and demands
A starting point for reform could be established by citing a list of worthy objectives provided by ampedstatus.com
• Enforce RICO Laws
• Break Up the Big Banks
• End the Fed
• Break Up the Mainstream Media / encourage citizen journalists
• Shut the Revolving Door
• End Closed Door Lobbying
• Increase Government Transparency
• End Corporate Personhood
• Amend Campaign Finance
• Verify All Votes
• Investigate War Profiteers
• Investigate War Crimes
• End the Wars
• Restore Civil Liberties
• Uphold the Constitution
• Clean Air, Water & Food
• Reduce Healthcare Costs, Profiteering
• Make Healthcare a Human Right
• Improve Education For All, Reduce Costs
• Reform Prison System
• Reform drug laws (Stop spending so much money on drugs! NYC spent $75million alone on marijuana arrests)
• Immigration Reform
• Rebuild Infrastructure
• Protect Internet Freedom
• Empower States’ Rights
• End Corporate Welfare
• Fair taxes for everyone!
• Enforce corporate responsibility
• Force corporations to apply local labor laws in their global operations
• Strengthen environmental laws and force corporations to clean up their act
• Work for a real separation of church and state -and a real split between corp and state?
• Reinstate Habeus Corpus
• Allow felons who have paid their debt to restore voting rights
• Stop prison labor from competing with local businesses
• End lifetime appointments to the SCOTUS
• Abolish the “Patriot Act”
• Abolish the lobbying system (no paid lobbyists)
• Close Guantánamo
• Establish and define “financial terrorism” as a treasonous act and prosecute offenders vigorously
• Enshrine gender equality in the constitution
• End corporate money in the election process
• ”Reduce non-emergency military funding”