Home / Future / The Future of Hacktivism: the Collective Party

The Future of Hacktivism: the Collective Party

During the week, I’ve been discussing various aspects of
risk and riot in the system, from the potential for an uprising to how
anonymous works
.

One of the key areas to consider is also where all this goes
in the future.

That’s what I thought would be good to talk about today.

I should be clear that the focal point here being where
anonymous and occupy go in the future, rather than how the cyberwars play
out.  That’s something I’ll come back to
tomorrow as it’s worth a chat about Stuxnet and the potential for corporate cyberwars.

But circling back to wikileaks, anonymous and the power of
one, we are seeing an emergence of a new form of crowdsourced activism.

Calling themselves a collective, the anonymous hacktivism movement
really gives vent to the idea that anyone anywhere can instigate a movement for
or against anyone anywhere.

They have pro’s and con’s, but no focus.

As a result, they are variously described as a swarm of
bees, hornets or birds.

Probably the best illustration is the flock of birds that gather
in the fall and fly this way and that. 
As one bird branches out, tohers follow but not necessarily all.  Then another group follow another, and another,
another. 

It’s
a never-ending flock of birds flying this way and that, with no uniformity or
clear direction.

But this can only last for so long and, as mentioned on
Monday, an uprising cannot happen without some form of organisation and
leadership.

So much as the anonymous group love their anarchy of today I
propose they are looking for and will find a leader.

And, as we keep talking about this as the Great Recession
and that we need to learn the economic lessons of the Great Depression, I would
propose that one of those lessons is that in times where many suffer economic hardship,
an opportunist will find opportunity.

So I’ve rewritten an excerpt about the Great Depression and
placed this in our current situation:

The stock market in
the United States crashed and the impact was felt globally, no more so than in
Europe.

Millions were thrown
out of work and several major banks collapsed.

The people lost trust
in governance and governments, and began to reject the paltry efforts of their
leaders.

A new political party
was created known as the Anonymous Collective, and began as an open global democracy
until one leader took hold: Julian Assange.

The Global Great Recession
provided a political opportunity of a lifetime for the new leader.

People were ambivalent
to government control everywhere, and challenges from right- and left-wing
extremists meant that most political parties struck a middle ground collation approach.

However, the moderate
political parties were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and eventually
the extremists won out.

In this case, it was
the extremes of the Collective party.

This new party ignored
regional boundaries and operated on a globalised basis through the network.

They promised to reject
Wall Street capitalism and corporate control; to get rid of governmental austerity
measures to ensure that people could live better; to strengthen the global
economy and provide jobs for all, by getting rid of the stranglehold of Angela
Merkel in Europe, the corruption and human rights issues in China, and the general
dominance and bullying of the Americas over the rest of the world.

Although their original
message was compelling: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We
do not forget. Expect us.” It was felt to be too dark.

The new Collective Party
turned this around by creating a positive focus: “We are the Collective.  We are strong.  We are working together for the global good
by getting rid of the global evil.  Join
us.”

The message resonated
in every corner of the cybersphere, and people did join by their hundreds of thousands
globally, downloading the Collective’s messaging apps and programs.

Suddenly, all communication
was off-net and traditional powers, governments and authorities had no control.

The result was that governments
determined to shut down the Collective, wipe out Julian Assange and shut down
his operations.

However, the Collective’s
leadership was smart and, as it found challenges in every geography, it fought
back using the very instruments that the authorities were using to try to shut
them down, namely, democracy.

The Collective’s leadership
said that it would launch a Collective party in every country where people
wanted representation, and would pursue political power solely through
democratic elections.

This stance gained the
Collective credibility with many disillusioned people but, more importantly, with
many disillusioned policymakers and politicians in parties across the world.

The new enthusiasm of
a political party with real political might increased its popularity
ten-fold.  Mixed with the strong use of social
media and real-time messaging, the Collective Party had real strength by the
time the next elections took place in the USA and Europe.

Combined with the fact
that coalition-based austerity measures had brought little economic improvement
and were extremely unpopular, people wanted change and the Collective was the
first party to offer a real alternative.

The Collective Party
exploited the disillusionment of people by targeting their political messages
specifically at those who had been affected by the Recession, such as bankrupt entrepreneurs,
retailers whose stores had gone out of businesses, small businessmen, redundant
white collar workers, failed bankers and the general middle class.

Meanwhile the
Collective’s leader, Julian Assange, had finally sorted out one big issue.

Having formally
renounced his Australian citizenship he had remained, for almost seven years,
stateless and was unable to run for public office himself.  In fact, he faced the risk of deportation on
many occasions.

That changed when the
interior minister of Ecuador, who was a member of the Collective Party,
appointed Assange as administrator for the state's delegation to the United
Nations, making Assange a citizen of Ecuador and thus recognised as an acceptable
member of the UN taskforce for economic change …

I could play this out further but it is pure speculation and jest.

Meanwhile, you might find this extract from Wikipedia
interesting:

The stock market in
the United States crashed on 24 October 1929. The impact in Germany was dire:
millions were thrown out of work and several major banks collapsed. Hitler and
the NSDAP prepared to take advantage of the emergency to gain support for their
party. They promised to repudiate the Versailles Treaty, strengthen the
economy, and provide jobs.

The Great Depression
in Germany provided a political opportunity for Hitler. Germans were ambivalent
to the parliamentary republic, which faced strong challenges from right- and
left-wing extremists. The moderate political parties were increasingly unable
to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 had helped to
elevate Nazi ideology.

The elections of
September 1930 resulted in the break-up of a grand coalition and its
replacement with a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Brüning of
the Centre Party, governed through emergency decrees from the president, Paul
von Hindenburg. Governance by decree would become the new norm and paved the
way for authoritarian forms of government.

The NSDAP rose from
obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930
election, becoming the second-largest party in parliament.

Hitler made a
prominent appearance at the trial of two Reichswehr officers, Lieutenants
Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, in the autumn of 1930. Both were charged
with membership in the NSDAP, at that time illegal for Reichswehr
personnel.[128] The prosecution argued that the NSDAP was an extremist party,
prompting defence lawyer Hans Frank to call on Hitler to testify in court.

On 25 September 1930
Hitler testified that his party would pursue political power solely through
democratic elections,[130] a testimony that won him many supporters in the
officer corps.

Brüning's austerity
measures brought little economic improvement and were extremely unpopular.

Hitler exploited this
by targeting his political messages specifically at people who had been
affected by the inflation of the 1920s and the Depression, such as farmers, war
veterans, and the middle class.

Hitler had formally
renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but at the time did not
acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years Hitler was stateless, unable
to run for public office, and faced the risk of deportation.

On 25 February 1932
the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the NSDAP, appointed
Hitler as administrator for the state's delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin,
making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick,[135] and thus of Germany.

In 1932 Hitler ran
against von Hindenburg in the presidential elections.

The viability of his
candidacy was underscored by a 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club in
Düsseldorf, which won him support from many of Germany's most powerful
industrialists.

However, Hindenburg
had support from various nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republican
parties, and some social democrats. Hitler used the campaign slogan
"Hitler über Deutschland" ("Hitler over Germany"), a
reference to both his political ambitions and to his campaigning by aircraft.

Hitler came in second
in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35% of the vote in the
final election.

Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established
Hitler as a strong force in German politics.

This is the third entry in a series about Hacktivism:

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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6 comments

  1. Hear hear!
    You’ll probably be dismissed for mentioning Hitler, but quoting that so-called “Godwin’s law” is just a way to shut-up thoughtful people when they bring up consequences too unpleasant for the hoi paloi to think about.
    For the rest of the world, it is beyond clear that the financial sector has lost its way and is bankrupt on many levels. The only question is: And, how is this to end? For that reason, we continue to read the financial press, to see signs of the collapse to come.
    We do not see any signs of house-cleaning. Maybe you will be pilloried for this dark and traitorous view, but someone has to shake it up, if only so that the rest of society understands that we’ll have to rebuild the finance sector at some point.
    Society needs finance – but we don’t need the current lot of operators.

  2. Come on Chris, this is a ridiculous simplification. You can do better than this.
    If any comparison can be made with “hacktivism” you’ll need to look to the second part of the 19th century, after the steamdriven rotating printing press enabled an information revolution of widely available newspapers and cheap books.
    Hitler, like Mussolini, was a keen fan of writers like Gustave Le Bon and Edward Bernays, who basically wrote a manual on how to manipulate large groups of people. This has little to do with anarchist movements such as hacktivism, except for the brilliant twist in which the Fascist Manifesto was able to take all these disparate grassroots movements and aim them towards a nationalist goal. But that is not the case nowadays.

  3. ‘Ridiculous’? ‘Simplification’?
    Come the revolution Paul, you’re first against the wall!!!
    Chris

  4. LOL.. Well, maybe the cushion wall in psychoward eleven.. Why should i end up against any wall?
    I may be wrong, but I can’t escape the impression that no hacktivist has ever threatened me, whereas under the guise of protection and security gradually all kinds of liberties are gradually being nibbled away.
    I’m not in favour of dumb hacktivism, but someone else’s wrong doesn’t make me right. Hacktivism is a lot of individuals who cooperate on a per-case basis, it is an anarchist movement and as such have no leader. Assange is not their leader, his activities just fit the with hacktivist view on the world, and as anarchism does not equate to anti-social there is a case in trying to protect him. If there were any sort of leader, i’d look at Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, not Assange.
    Beit is as it may, this is civil liberty in action.. things could be a lot worse.

  5. Ha, no worries Paul.
    Chomsky’s getting a bit old to lead the revolution at 83, and Zinn passed away two years ago so he’s not going to be the revolter.
    Assange is 41 and is in the right place, right now.
    After all, it would take organisation to start a revolution and Assange has big money backers and celeb friends. Start small and soft, gather the collective, get the investment dollars, then start the process.
    It’s possible. Unlikely I know, but possible.
    Watch that space.
    Meantime, anarchy is just lawless civil unrest unless it gets a focus, organisation and leadership. That’s why someone – whether it’s Assange or someone else – will take this mantle and shake it up.
    Chris

  6. Well, unlike Mussolini he is not receiving checks from MI5 to write newspaper articles that were supposed to deflate the importance of Italian anarcho-syndicalist movements.
    Anarchy is simply a decentralized approach, grassroots, or emergent behaviour. It is surprising as for some 60 to 70 years small-scale decentralized socialism were the primary ways of organization.. It lasted until the 1905 Russian revolution that philosophizing journalists started to dream about centralized socialism and such.. but like Marx once said “I am not a Marxist”.
    Of course, i you read the Fascist Manifesto, it is an incredibly smart trick by which it aims to bundle the natural urge for individual souvereignity and extrapolate its (rather vague) values into a nationalist context. As Gramsci predicted politics was ripe to replace religion.
    But that is merely the ideological stance, in a more pragmatic way the whole system was pure corporatism, irrespective of any ideology.
    Wars cost money though, and unlike Mussolini i doubt if Assange has the connections to secure a $100 million loan with J.P. Morgan & Co.
    If hacktivism is anything like the “self organizing” open source movement.. it simply means that 99% of the initiatives fail, but overall it may simply be several hundreds, maybe a few thousand people. It is surely not a mass movement, and likely with a very high pimple density, and whomever is an activist now is not part of the 20% of people who are highly suggestible and maleable beyond any norm. Considering the at 10% adoption rate most factoids are regarded as “common sense”.. it is much more efficient for any leader to concentrate on this suggestible group and apply simple social psychological mechanisms as described in The Lucifer Principle.
    Take care
    Paul

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