Re: H/Activist ethics

From jjf <>
Date Fri, 15 Dec 2000 19:28:20 -0000

[: hacktivism :]


I must say your faith is great. I am glad that the spirit of non-violent direct (h)action is so strong in most people and it pays to sit down after a frustrating experience and listen to/read what yourself and others have to say about the virtues of this path because it does best reflect the end to which we are all working.
However, I fear that there is a danger of constricting oneself and letting oneself be constricted too much in what one deems to be "exploring, learing, creating and teaching". A look at the issues that 2600 has had to deal with this year shows that they have found themselves in conflict with the powers that be for exploring where and learning what they were not authorised to, creating tools that were deemed illegal and teaching others things which were not allowed to be taught.

Most of the time I would refute the defacing or DOSsing of websites, but when placed in the context of a far superior power it sometimes makes sense to use a pin to prick them, rather than wait to be trampled. Some of the causes we are fighting for are more important than somebody's access to a website or a few hundred EURos. Public complacency is vast and at times the only thing to do is to start a ruckus to get attention. Opponents of GMO testing in the field have taken to ripping the offending organisms out of the ground in Britain and successfully argued their case in court as a matter of preventing a greater evil - thus getting away with a caution and the judge's approval at the same time (understand the law who will).

What I am saying is that all of the things you list are an (h)activists staple work, but going beyond that is sometimes necessary and often empowering. The key is, as you say, to think strategically. But humans aren't just strategic/intelligent beings. They are also emotional. And the old black lady who sat down on a "whites only" seat in a US bus 40 years ago was doing something the majority felt was illegal or inadmissible. But she did it and stirred up people's emotion. And those emotions led to debate and that made people think. In the end everbody with a bit of sense had to admit that what she had done was right and that the system had to change. Emotions vanquish complacency.

Civil rights require civil disobedience.

jjf [two "j's", one "f" ;-) ]
> Well first, you gotta have faith.  Faith in yourself., faith in your
> friends, faith in life.  Believe in the Ideal.....
> Then, recursively, and incrementally, explore, learn, create, teach.
> Communicate constantly... cherish diversity... and do not lose
> sight of the big picture.
> Stimulate imagination.  Seek feedback.  Self-actualise.
> Possess and distribute sharpened tools of all descriptions.
> Build databases, templates, and testbeds.
> Know where to look.
> Know the issues, and the technologies, players and other
> background information.
> Think strategically: why is it important?
> Know the triage: attend only the needing, not the well, or the dead.
> Be free through a focus on reliability, depth, and breadth.
> Don't outgun them, OUTBREED them....
> And know, that someday, someone you'll probably never meet, in a
> place you'll probably never visit, will smile... because of something
> you did.
> Stuart

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