201. This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by a rule, because every course of action can be made out to accord with the rule. The answer was: if everything can be made out to accord with the rule, then it can also be made out to conflict with it. And so there would be neither accord nor conflict here.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1958
A rule about the non-bindingness of rules–this rules lies at the heart of the the rules of the internet. Because there is a rule stating that there are no real rules, anything can be posted on the internet without breaking the rules, yet simultaneously any post can be accused of breaking the rules. Thus, the rules do not determine what gets posted, which paradoxically results in the enacting of the rule.
That the General Will is Indestructible: As long as a certain number of men consider themselves to be a single body, they have but one will, which relates to the common security and to the general welfare. In such a case all the forces of the State are vigorous and simple, and its principles are clear and luminous; it has no confused and conflicting interests; the common good is everywhere plainly clear and only good sense is required to perceive it…The general will is always right, but the judgment which guides it is not always enlightened.
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762
Anonymous does what Rousseau’s theory of the general will never could: get shit done. Acting as a ‘single body’, hacktivist collective Anonymous, which emerged out of 4chan’s /b/ board, organizes movements and carries out cyber-attacks on institutions and groups deemed (by Anonymous) inimical to the social good. When Anonymous carries out attacks on groups the dominant culture considers a worthy target, they are heroes. But their transgressive tactics are not always so readily accepted.
In its ordinary sense the word ‘crowd’ means a gathering of individuals, of whatever nationality, profession, or sex, and whatever be the chances that have brought them together. From the psychological point of view the expression ‘crowd’ assumes a quite different signification. Under certain given circumstances, and only under those circumstances, an agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from those of the individuals composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their conscious personality vanishes…
Crowds are only powerful for destruction. Their rule is always tantamount to a barbarian phase. A civilization involves fixed rules, discipline, a passing from the instinctive to the rational state, forethought for the future, an elevated degree of culture—all of them conditions that crowds, left to themselves, have invariably shown themselves incapable of realising. In consequence of the purely destructive nature of their power crowds act like those microbes which hasten the dissolution of enfeebled or dead bodies. When the structure of a civilization is rotten, it is always the masses that bring about its downfall.
-Gustave le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, 1896
[T]hey preserved a kind of social intercourse that, far from presupposing the equality of status, disregarded status altogether. The tendency replaced the celebration of rank with a tact befitting equals. The parity on whose basis alone the authority of the better argument could assert itself against that of social hierarchy and in the end can carry the day meant, in the thought of the day, the parity of ‘common humanity’.
-Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, 1962
Just like the idealized version of the public sphere, anyone can participate in Anonymous. Social status is disregarded and all members are equal. Unless, of course, you’re a woman, or you don’t know how to hack, or you oppose cyber-terrorism, or you don’t like the idea of having to expose yourself to bigoted ideas in the name of resistance.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
-Exodus 20:7, ~6th century BCE
This rule exists to be broken: /b/ relies on other media talking about it, especially the mass media. Mass media portrayals of /b/ reinforce its ethos as the internet’s seedy underbelly.
You shall NOT misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
-Exodus 20:7, ~6th century BCE
Talking about /b/ is punishable by conspiracy theory.