internet as anarchist
The fundamental tenet of anarchism is the resistance to an Archos, Greek for “master.” To advocate for anarchism is to position oneself in opposition to a master, i.e., to claim the fundamental right of self-determination, autonomy, and freedom from a centralized system of (especially coercive) control. To act anarchically simply means to act independently of a master. It does not mean acting in an uncoordinated or unorganized fashion, t.. nor does it always mean a total absence of layered responsibilities, more commonly known as “hierarchy.”
The Internet is anarchist because the above describes not only the actual operation of basic Internet network protocols such as Ethernet and TCP/IP, but also its designers’ original intentions. When Bob Metcalfe invented Ethernet in the 1970’s, he intentionally designed his system in a way that would function anarchically.. Metcalfe’s Ethernet instead purposefully permitted any participating device to say anything on the network at any time it wanted.. t
what we desperately need (first) is a means to undo our hierarchical listening ness.. ethernet/internet.. still not there
Many engineers believed this approach was too chaotic to succeed. How could a system of coordination function with no command center? It would be pure anarchy!
Today, every Internet connection, local network, telephone uplink, datacenter backhaul, and Wi-Fi signal to your computer uses Ethernet. The anarchist approach proved simpler, more efficient, and ultimately more successful. This is no surprise to any practicing anarchist, although many practicing anarchists still won’t recognize the anarchism in action when they post their next Tweet.
Most people, including and arguably especially most digital technologists, can intuitively understand the principles of anarchic coordination..t
already in us
But most technologists aren’t able to see the parallels between their beloved technology and the anarchist viewpoint largely because they simply do not spend much of their time thinking about social organization or politics. At least, not beyond the next four-year election cycle… This must change. And we’re going to change it.
How? Such a change will not happen through the proliferation of code bootcamps or “learn to code” initiatives. It will not happen through diversity campaigns sponsored by and centered within the tech industry. Technologists, like most people in a comfortable and financially privileged societal position and class stratification, are not generally willing to examine their biases or change their worldview. It is both unreasonable of us and strategically foolhardy of us to ask them to.
Simply put, the cost of radicalizing technologists is enormous. Changing an individual’s worldview is a very heavy lift. As a strategy writ large, it is a failing one. The “battle over hearts and minds” is not a battle worth fighting, at least not directly, because what changes hearts and minds is not reason, but experience. t
Not reciting facts about the present, but taking actions that inspire imagination about the future. Not engaging in debates, but actually making concrete changes in someone’s material circumstances..t
ie: cure ios city
By and large, technically skilled hackers wrapped themselves in the glow of their terminals the way politicians wrap themselves up in their country’s flags. ..the earlier generation of hackers fumbled because they failed to recognize and center the importance of the anarchist principles underlying the very technologies they wrongly treated as inherently liberating.
If they had brought a more explicitly anarchist lens with them, they would have recognized that neither anarchy nor liberation are states that can be described by their state machines, but rather they are constant processes in which individuals must repeatedly take action to reaffirm their resistance against the formation of an Archos.
Instead, anarchists must make ourselves capable of physically running networking cable from one neighborhood into another. We must learn to administer critical internet functions like the Domain Name System ourselves, independently from commercial providers. We must work to scale out, rather than scale up, massive datacenter operations and place them physically in the communities that rely on them instead of halfway around the globe, for exactly the same reason we must abolish police departments whose patrols are often conducted by personnel who don’t live in the neighborhood they are responsible for policing
actually.. this can all be irrelevant.. if we legit trust the no master/prep/telling ness.. and trust 8b people
imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..
*This is a lot of work, but not as much as one may at first think… t Best of all, the resources it actually requires in terms of money and equipment are minimal and becoming ever more ubiquitous. There is also no need to write new code or build new apps to make this happen. We already have all the raw materials we need to get the job done. **The only thing we lack is broader commitment from anarchists, themselves..t
*not even a lot of work.. if we org around something deep enough ..
**what we lack .. is focus/org/infra around something that everyone already craves ie: maté basic needs
In New York City, several anarchist and anarcho-autonomist collectives have been slowly converging to provide technological and digital infrastructure support services to anti-fascist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist organizations in a repeatable, reproducible way. These services range from computer *training for activists and advocacy groups to direct assistance with digital components of advocacy efforts, and even private audits of an ally’s security posture when requested.
*red flag.. let go
Some groups, like Anarcho-Tech NYC, are entirely *volunteer-run organizations operating without any licensing or legal recognition and a financial budget intentionally as close to zero as possible..t
*matters little.. if still think we have to ie: train et al
Others, like Tech Learning Collective, provide frequent free, by-donation, and low-cost technical *training to otherwise underserved communities and organizations advancing social justice causes in an effort to help fund **projects for radical social good while simultaneously “upskilling” politically motivated and technologically-curious students.
Together with technology-centered community groups like Shift-CTRL Space who *connect local, grassroots organizers with free resources on technology, this growing “digital rainbow coalition” focusing on a range of IT and telecoms infrastructure and **education initiatives is demonstrating how to have an outsized impact on anti-fascist organizing in the 21st century.
**more red flags
As anarchists, we like to say that another world is possible. The truth is, another world has been here all along. It’s in the palm of our hand every time we read a text from our friends. All we have to do is learn how it actually works..t
well.. that’s not all.. ie: half world doesn’t yet have legit access..
what we need.. is to
1\ org around an infra that is deep enough to resonate w 8b people today
2\ via a mech that is simple enough to be accessed/used by 8b people today
3\ in an ecosystems that is open enough to set/keep 8b people free today
and that we can do (but only if we just focus on that deep enough org/infra.. otherwise we’re spinning our wheels)
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people