Ku Klux Klan 2010

Things become very interesting when you realize there’s really nothing new under the sun. Once you realize that all this has happened before, and will happen again if run unchecked, the possibility opens of learning something from history.

Let’s take Ku Klux Klan as an example. They were not inherently evil; at least, seeing other people as evil is only helpful in justifying one’s own righteousness. What is helpful, however, is to try understanding the group dynamics and the social mechanisms responsible for forming such a group. While the (evil) people are gone, the group dynamics remain, and will cause the same thing to happen again.

Painting somebody as evil only helps when you need to feel good and justified about your own actions. Do you think the Klan viewed themselves as evil? Honestly? No? Good, then we’re gettings somewhere here. Painting another human being as evil only helps in justifying doing harm to that human. However, everybody is usually looking out for some kind of interest — be it their own, that of their family or community, that of a perceived social order, or in cases I personally detest, something supersititous. (Millions have died in religious wars for believing in a fairy of the wrong color.) Everybody generally sees themselves as good.

When a large enough community feels like society’s justice system can’t uphold their values, they will take it upon themselves to uphold the values. This is what I mean by the Klan not being inherently evil; they were defending a way of life that they thought were objectively better, and saw themselves as good people.

In doing this, they needed several layers of protection. They were established townsfolk, good providers and respected citizens, who had been upset with people in town who acted in ways that didn’t match their values. The conductbreakers were seen as evil, and they were the good ones who would set things straight again, so that everybody could lead shiny, happy lives ever after. So, some anonymity was needed: a cloak. An ugly cloak, but still, an easily recognizable cloak. A group identity, one group voice, and anonymity for the individual members.

Their means of pushing their values was one of setting examples. If you didn’t adhere to their values, you would be a target. You would be singled out for violation of their standards of conduct. They would not forget, they would not forgive, and you would be attacked. Usually by sabotages to your property or, more commonly, to the services you would provide to others.

There is, of course, the question of whether they were striking from a position of strength of from a position of underdog, and that striking from an underdog position would make it more justified. I would argue that this is only a matter of perspective. The group will always see themselves as underdogs, but in reality, they may be the incumbent power in their particular town or battlefield. Even further: if they were not the incumbent power, they would lack the capability to organize and strike in the first place.

Overall, the message to the community was clear: “if you do not adhere to the [read “our“] code of conduct, you can expect us to pay a visit.”

This is the antithesis of democracy and freedom of speech, but that is not my point. Armed conflicts can and do arise when groups disagree with each other and they cannot resolve their differences through democratic conflict resolution. My point is that there is little new under the sun.

UPDATE: A comment suggested that I might be referring to the Pirate Party sticking to threats and violence. To be super clear: That will never happen. This blog post is not a threat. The Pirate Party does not threaten, intimidate, silence, nor attack: that would be quite the opposite of, well, everything we stand for. The point of this blog post is to say that people are people, and that sorting people into good and evil does little to help long term.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

Discussion

  1. A

    We understand what you are writing.
    When we started days ago many of us thought that if nobody’s willing to take the role as the angry mob, then we have to.
    In my own opinion, a few minutes up to an hour of downtime for each one of “them” would have been sufficient to get the message through. A continuous attack with several hours of downtime really wouldn’t sway the opinion on the matter to our benefit. So I stopped my own share in the attacks just a few days ago when I couldn’t see that “we” were aiming for the same goal.

  2. B

    SRS BSNS MR DEAR SIR!

    anonymous is
    – Not “a” group
    – Not something that you can just dump something on

    Anon is anon is anon. Being mad at anon is like being mad at the whole of humanity at once. Anon is the sum of all of humanity. It is the mirror of humanity. It is not guided by someone. It is not controlled by someone. It does not originate from anywhere – anon comes from all over the world at the same time.

    What you see, when you stare at anon, is but a picture of humanity itself. There is no one to blame, except the environment that shapes anon.

    Declaring anon to be like kkk is to declare that all children are retards.

    1. Frank Tele2

      But children are retards. They shit their pants and cry all the time.

  3. B

    Being mad at anon is like being mad at the children because they are growing up. If anon would not exist, it would be created within minutes by other children. Anon is the result of our environment — there is no agenda. There is no motivation. There is no goal. Its just children.

    Anon is a mob of children, defending their last and perhaps only method to communicate freely.

    Slandering anon results in no good. Except your own failure.

  4. Anonymous

    Rick, det är sånt här som gör piratpartiet ovalbart. SLUTA FÖR FAN.

    1. Jerker Montelius

      Vad menar du? Att piratpartiet skulle vara mera attraktivt om vi inte tig ställning mot anonyma attacker?

    2. och

      Mycket insiktsfullt luftslott där….

  5. anon

    På allvar. Det hör gör PP desto mer ytterkant, du har sänkt partiet nästan egenhändigt. det här kommer garanterat att plockas upp av media. kom ut ur bubbland för i helvete.

    1. Jerker Montelius

      Förklara dig. Varför skulle ett ställningstagande mot antidemokratiska anonyma attacker göra partiet till ytterkant?

    2. och

      Starka ord, men vad är innebörden?

  6. Elias.L

    usa = kkk
    eller anon = kkk ?

    Jag fattar inte nu så kan någon förklara ?

    Å för övrigt är jag på internets sida.

  7. Mollemand

    Expecting ‘us’ to be better people than others is a flawed ideology. We are no better – nor worse – than any other fraction of voters.

    Yes, we want the attack on our blood given human rights to end, but the dep. of filthy tricks are winning despite our numbers, and that should give you a hint:

    Our parliamentary efforts has no effect against dictatorship. You of all should know. We are fighting bullets with butterflies.

    And that is the hour you grab a torch and a pitchfork, and go to town. The hour of debating has past, when the foundation of your democracy has lost your faith.

    At that point – this point – a violent demonstration of the peoples power is not only called for. It is necessary.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      You are making my point for me, good sir. I am saying exactly your first sentence: People are, and will be, people.

  8. Elias.L

    The revolution is now, people need to get more angry and do something!

  9. Frozen (Johan Lidström)

    Rick, I really feel this post could hurt PP. As you are a front-figure for us, what you write is likely to be attached in some way to PP as a party.
    And I for one do not see Anon as an fanatical religious group, from what I can tell from lurking on the internet, Anon is probably more diverse (in most senses of the word) than PP itself, so to compare them to something like a klan, is moot. Anon as I see it is more akin to an anarchy, sharing only the culture of anonymity with KKK.
    Anon itself has stated that they feel like they are picketing the targets, that they are trying to make a point with the companies/groups that bend to the will of the political elite, telling them “we, as citizens of the internet strongly disapprove of your actions”.
    I do however think they go too far; as DDoSing might make our side of the argument less likely to be heard. But this post is also going too far!
    That is my feelings on the subject, thank you.

  10. Frank

    Without further clarification this reads as a bad attempt at a subtle threat, comparing your – our – entire party to the KKK. I assume you refer to for instance anonymous and so on, but I suggest you make that point a lot clearer before you publish things like this… regardless of people being people running what amounts to a smear campaign against your own partymembers will not make people like us any more.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Ok, I will clarify.

  11. Frank

    On the subject of Anon however I can mention that they are indeed hurting the cause. I wanted to write to Visa to let them know that I’m unhappy and would be cancelling my cards, but the webpage was down… All they are succeeding in is showing Visa that ONE customer with a botnet is angry, while stopping unknown numbers of other customers from complaining.

    1. och

      There’s nothing stopping you from complaining when the site gets up…. That’s purelely misleading rhetorics.

    2. ayla

      Well its back up now so its not too late.

  12. Erik Levin

    Rick, even after your update, I still don’t understand what you are saying. What do KKK have to do with recent events? Who is dividing things into good and evil?

    To ask outright – are you comparing Anonymous’ “Operation Payback” with Ku Klux Klan? Are you seriously comparing Internet trolls DDoSing a couple of websites with racist murderers? If so, you are going miles, light-years, too far. If not, feel free to clarify even further, because I really don’t get it.

  13. MrArboc

    Rick – very well written!

    1. A

      And this is the one magic moment in life when i fully agree with MrArboc. Feels awkward :)

  14. Henrik Grund

    He’s not making a comparison. He’s making a juxtaposition. There is a difference you know. Don’t be so literal, take in the spirit of the text rather than nitpick the details/shit nobody cares about. Even I, as someone involved with Anonymous, can see his point and anyone reflective enough to see things in a larger perspective can agree with the sentiment. He isn’t even criticizing anyone, just stating facts of society and mankind.

    TL;DR: Stop being so goddamn butthurt.

  15. Erik Ernst

    This is a very clever post, in fact it places Rick between some of the most sharp thinkers in Scandinavia, a far greater threat to the establishment, than pinging an ip.

    The post can be read and understood in many ways, for those of you who jump to conclusion, please re-read and think.

    Now, using kkk as an example was cheeky and tricky because our brains works in different ways, and many obviously jump to conclusions, but the question of good and evil are always interesting, you manage tp povide us with every possible reason why a civilized social movement, should think twice before they engage in anti-parliamentary activities.

    We are in this together, thats important to remember, and each of us play our little part, with what means we have. As long as the next step seem logical, as long as we keep offering alternative ways to fight, then our movement as a whole should grow.

    All that aside, I dont expect any leader of any pirate party to come out in an open defence of anonymous, in fact the less said the better in some ways, but as a random member of pp Denmark, I see no harm in throwing my full support behind anonymous or any other group fighting for things I believe in.

    And blah blah;-)

  16. Erik Ernst

    I would like to remind people, that the fight for freedom is not a competition.
    Would a cavalry accuse footsoldiers of trying to get the attention of the general…

  17. […] det anses värre och farligare att söka sanningen än att vara rasistiska bigotter, så är något mycket fel. Wikileaks försöker återställa den balansen och för mig är det självklart att stödja dem i […]

  18. Mårten

    Rick makes a good point.

    To those not swayed by his argument I have another way to look at it:

    Lets say there is a group of 10 people, two of them are at odds: lets call them E (for evil) and G (for good). E is spreading lies about G saying G is a terrorist, likes to harm cute animals and steals from children. E is gaining support in the group from the 8 uninvolved persons who doesn’t know/understand that E is lying.

    Now, consider what happens if G gets provoked and starts behaving badly throwing eggs at E. From the bystanders perspective it would appear as if E is right, G is a mean and dangerous person who throws eggs at people. Doing nothing isn’t good either, people will eventually be swayed by E’s propaganda. G should instead deny the accusations and try to expose E as a liar.

    It doesn’t even matter if E is right or not. You could switch the names, the accusations might be true and the denials false (ie E is good and G is evil); the effect will still be the same.

  19. Christer

    I’m happy to see that some commenters understood something of this brilliant post!

    As someone else already pointed out, the article does not debate anything but what is good and what is evil, and what is neither one not the other. The KKK is just an example, there has been numerous others, and there is no shortage of other examples around us in the world now.

    Read the article again and re-evaluate your own actions in light of the mechanisms Rick describes. Why do you do what you do, the way you do it? Is there a better way?

  20. […] post about group behavior when faced with changing conditions elicited some response. Despite my not having mentioned the ongoing attacks anywhere in the entire […]

    1. Anonymous

      What you are trying to do is draw parallels between anonymous and the kkk. i wonder what you hope to achieve by comparing a murdering racist organisation to a group of citizens who are trying to step up to governments and organisations bent on chipping away at the last frontier of freedom of speech remaining in this world-the internet. goodluck buddy

  21. Perspectives « Stenskott

    […] nonsensical statement from my political party, we condemned the attacks since they’re associated with terrorism. Well. One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. It seems that […]

  22. Frank Tele2

    Vad är det som är så svårt att fatta med posten? Att han inte pekar ut just någon speciell grupp som den ondskefulla gruppen? Är det så ingrott i oss att söka en punchline som pekar ut en grupp eller ett parti? Han tänker, låt mannen tänka! Heja RF!

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