Re: a kinder, gentler hacktivist...

From "ZC" <>
Date Thu, 9 Sep 1999 14:11:57 -0400

Hey Carmin et al.
This is my first posting to the list.  I consider myself an activist, although I admittedly haven't the computer knowhow to be a hacker.  Maybe someday!
Carmin, I must say there is a distinct and clear danger presented when you endorse corporate good-will projects.   Corporations do not give money to 'worthy' causes out of a desire for a better planet.  They do so to increase their bottom line.  In fact, that's the only reason a corporation does anything of any sort.  It conjures up a strange image to imagine an activist sitting in front of a terminal madly clicking their way to a better future through some corporate website.  Believe me, your time is much better spent fundraising on your own or, even better, organizing to shut these corporations down.  They and the global tides of free capital they support are mainly responsible for the plight of these underfed nations.  The legitimacy that your patronage to their program provides them will never amount to changing the conditions of undernourished lives.  The root cause is never addressed, in fact, it is supported.  It reminds me of a quote I read once somewhere:  "Building more jails to answer crime is like building more graveyards to answer a disease."  Corporations are the disease.  And getting them to donate a couple of thousand dollars to ease world hunger (while endorsing them) runs the same vein.
That said, in light of the recent discussion on Freedom of Speech, I don't want to give the impression that I would in any way wish to stand in your way.  Aside from Parsifal's agism and elitism, I was most offended by her/his insistence that there is only one way to counter oppression.  To reuse the analogy:  if s/he wants to stand on the other corner screaming louder than the Nazi, fine.  I'll be busy defacing his banners and signs, fine.  And maybe someone like Pete will come up and kick him in the nuts, fine.  We should be very careful not to limit the actions of others who share our goals.  It is this diversity of ability and resource that will inevitably turn the tide.  It is only my recommendation that you reconsider supporting your local planet-friendly corporation--a myth, in my mind.
And don't worry about offending or disgusting.  That's your Free Speech perrogative, n'est pas?
And to the point of hacktivism:
I agree wholeheartedly with pj.  Defacing a website with boobies and weewees for a couple of hours might be a good prank (which might earn you bragging rights at Lambda Lambda Lambda), but it has little real-world significance.  Power in terraspace translates into power in cyberspace and vice versa.  Just as in terraspace, cyberspace offers information to be found and/or stolen.  There are also structures to be demolished.  As in all things, effective planning, networking and understanding of real-world consequences are crucial to all efforts.  Therein lies the strength of hacktivists being activists (or at least being in contact with them).  There is a great deal of strategy and sustainability to be gained in forging these ties.  Random, unfocused attacks will not topple even the smallest of institutions--they are simply a small annoyance.  Coordinated, strategic efforts are capable of just about anything.
Regards to all,
-----Original Message-----
From: carmin <>
To: <>
Date: September 8, 1999 7:48 PM
Subject: Re: a kinder, gentler hacktivist...

[: hacktivism :]

Belinda Johnston wrote:

> [: hacktivism :]
> Also in agreement with Brad on the cynicism of the hungersite.  I visited
> it once and discovered that my donation had been made by a multinational
> pharmaceutical company.  I find it kinda disgusting that these corporations
> only make these donations in exchange for some advertising.  Or, in the
> words of the site's FAQ: "Our sponsors pay for the donations as a form of
> advertising and public relations. For some, it is simply good advertising.
> For others, it is analogous to funding shows on public television or making
> corporate donations to other worthy causes. It allows them to get their
> name in front of  people, to be associated with a good cause, and to
> generate good will towards their company."
> Surely we know "world hunger" is caused not by a shortage of food but
> rather by an inequitable division of resources that is a direct result of
> multinational capitalism?  I don't see how this site, one that panders to a
> belief that we've done a good thing for the world by simply clicking on a
> web page and allowing some company to think that it's done a good thing by
> offering the price of half a cup of rice (on the condition that it gets
> some free advertising), can be considered an example of  "activism."  B.

these are good points.  i am really dreamy and utopian at times.  sorry i
posted the list.  I especially apologize to those list members who found the
hunger site to be disgusting.  I will most certainly be more considerate in the
At least the web gives us all freedom of choice -- no one makes you stay at a
site longer than you wish.

that said, imho, i would appreciate it if someone can show me proof that not a
single 'hungry' person 'eats food' because of the hunger site.  I think that if
one person gets one meal because a gazillion ppl clicked a button and saw some
company logos, that's OK.  Yeah, we see ads all the time.   But we don't really
look at them most of the time.   besides, i-net biz analysts say banner ads /
hit counts / impressions / click thrus / etc. are far less effective than
predicted.  I don't care whose money buys the food, or how little of the corp.
pie is being shared. I'll take whatever the corp.s are willing to give, while
looking for ways to get still more from the .coms / .govs / .mils / etc.

what does activism mean?  I thought it just meant that you do something about a
cause that you believe in.  Maybe that's a false assumption, but if my
assumption is true,  then what's wrong with a 'click' as a form of electronic
activism?  I'm no expert and maybe my defn of activism is far too broad, but I
think whatever you do, in terms of how involved you wish to get, is up to you.
Everything counts & yes, some actions are greater than others.

as for US problems... true we don't have to look far -- but that's no reason to
limit or judge efforts.
life is short.  and there's never enough time / money / energy / etc.  we
choose our battles. we choose our tactics.

                   Feel without touching
             Better living through cyberspace

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