More and more, I am seeing Anonymous and The Pirate Party mentioned in the same sentence. In historical perspective, this is for good reasons. Make no mistake about it: I love Anonymous and deeply respect and admire their courage, commitment, and ability to deliver time and again.
Two years ago, it was common to see The Pirate Bay and The Pirate Party in the same sentence. At the time, the people in the ‘Bay were complaining that they can’t be the only bastion for freedom — more people must stand up for their rights, many more. This appears to have happened. Nowadays, the pair is more commonly Anonymous and the Pirate Party (or parties).
There is a major shift in political values underway. This has happened several times before, and tends to happen about every 40 years. When it happens, a number of forces must cooperate to bring about changes. It typically happens in three waves.
The first wave consists of activists provoking the issue. You had this with wild (illegal) strikes in the labor movement, you had it with Greenpeace with the green movement.
The second wave consists of academics, analyzing and theorizing what the issue is about.
Finally, the third wave is when the issue is politicized at the party level with a new party (or, in rare cases, taken up within an agile enough previous party — not all countries with proportional representation systems have green parties, but the vast majority does).
All these three waves remain in full activity until the new values have been integrated with society. There is also usually quite some overlap between the three waves, with high-profile individuals being active in more than one of them.
With the labor movement, you had wild strikes leading to labor unions leading to labor parties and social democratic parties. With the green movement, you had Greenpeace (and similar) leading to ecotheory leading to green parties.
I do not find it regrettable that what Anonymous does is mostly illegal. That’s just the pattern of history. However, I do find it sincerely regrettable that catching corporations and our elected leaders with cheating and lying, and calling them out on it, has been made illegal.
Greenpeace defied the law, too. Mostly in the same way, even. The law has always been written to defend incumbents against change. Greenpeace broke into polluting industries that had faked their paperwork, daringly climbed their chimneys and called them on it with huge banners. And everybody loved them for it. I did, too. Illegal, sure. But in the light of history, who were the villains, and who were the heroes? This follows the pattern of changes.
“Anonymous and the Pirate Parties” are being mentioned in the exact same contexts today that “Greenpeace and the Green Parties” were being mentioned in the 1980s. As general troublemakers on the outskirts of the law, but with large popular support in the sentiment of the people, in particular the younger people. (You may read “people” here as “voters” if you prefer.)
It is not so much that Anonymous are necessary, as they are inevitable, looking at history. Still, they are necessary too in order to shift society’s values into one that respects privacy and holds our leaders and corporations accountable. As are the Pirate Parties. The two are mentioned together for very good reasons.
I love Anonymous just like I loved Greenpeace in its days. They are men and women of honor, commitment and courage, and they are instrumental in making a better world.