(Mis|Dis)Information on the Activist Frontier

If you troll your way gently through the stagnant backwaters of the anarchist internet, you will from time to time run across anonymous claims of responsibility for assorted revolutionary criminal acts that are purported to have taken place. I can only assume that these claims are made for propaganda purposes, a la the quaint and antiquated idea of “propaganda of the deed”.

I am a big fan of anonymity and pseudonymity, and occasionally like to ponder some of the issues that inherently arise from anonymous and pseudonymous communications. So it is that I’m, I guess, somewhat well-poised to ask what seems like a really obvious question:

Do the self-described anarchists realize just how exploitable this system is?

Look at it this way – for the most part, these are anonymous individuals claiming credit for criminal acts that otherwise go unreported. Except for the anonymous claims on the internet, there’s really no evidence that most of these inspirational acts took place.

As far as I can tell, the Indymedia link I posted, above, is the first mention anywhere of “Marshall Animal Defense” online, and is – I’m guessing here – intended to establish their bona fides as radical anarcho-primitivists.

Did they really damage a bunch of buildings? Does the group even exist? I don’t know – I can’t prove anything either way.

But, if I wanted to infiltrate the self-described anarchist community, I’d create a group out in the boondocks somewhere – and I’d promote the group by taking credit for a variety of radical criminal acts that never actually happened. Instant anarchist street cred, just add hot air.

Just something to think about.

Conversely, if I was a jack-booted thug who liked beating up dirty hippies and wanted an excuse to harass the hell out of the local vegan college kiddies, I’d fabricate a whole bunch of radical activist incidents in my area that only ever existed as posts on websites, and use that “evidence” to persecute the hell out of the local troublemakers. (You wouldn’t even have to lie that much, either – where you might otherwise preface things with “Following a series of more than a dozen acts of vandalism and property damage attributable to anarchist extremists…”, you simply write something like “After claims by self-described anarchists on online message boards claiming responsibility for more than a dozen acts of vandalism and property damage…”. It’s like lying with statistics, only easier.)

Happily (for those of us who aren’t, and don’t much care for, self-described anarchists) the only way for the extremists to prove either of these scenarios is to basically prove a negative. Good luck with that one, guys and gals…

Published in: General, Security | on July 23rd, 2009| No Comments »

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