Social Text: Blog: Is Anonymous Anarchy?
For many, the political movement known as Anonymous conjures one thing and one thing alone: anarchy. I have now seen this association made so many times, I thought it might be a good idea to lay out in some detail where the connections between Anonymous and anarchism might lie, dispel a few myths, and ask some questions for further exploration.
From the outset it is key to note that anarchism can mean quite distinct things so let me provide three relatively narrow definitions, which don’t fully exhaust its meaning and expression.
First I will look at what I will call contemporary political anarchism (CPA). To help define it, I will draw heavily on one of its foremost chroniclers, thinkers, and participants, the anthropologist David Graeber. CPA has experienced an efflorescence of sorts, especially visible during the heyday of the counter-globalization protests. CPA is diverse, encompassing many different strains, philosophies and regional differences. However, we can say without too much controversy that its recent incarnation is marked by a lefty sensibility, an anti-capitalist/anti-neoliberal ethos, a commitment to consensus, and new modes of imagining directly democratic action. Graeber describes it in this way: “However you choose to trace their origins, these new tactics are perfectly in accord with the general anarchistic inspiration of the movement, which is less about seizing state power than about exposing, delegitimizing and dismantling mechanisms of rule while winning ever-larger spaces of autonomy from it.”