Tony Ortega sier noe pent om Anonymous

Adrian Chen, en journalist som har hat sine sammenstøt med Anonymous før, har skrevet en anmeldelse av Gabriella Colemans Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. Han mener Anonymous har het en neglisjerbar virkning på Scientologikirken. Det har fåt Ortega, som ellers ikke har så mye til overs for dem til å skrive en artikkel om hvilken virkning Anonymous har hatt på kulten.

Ortega er kunnskapsrik skriver godt. Artikkelen er verdt å lese. Jeg vil derved gjerne sitere en av kommentarene. Det er John P. Caåitalist, en anonym kommentator som ofte har fornuftige ting å si:

I believe that the role of the Anonymous crowd in the mass 2008 protests was actually a significant watershed in the anti-Scientology movement, potentially even the most significant moment in decades. That’s not to minimize the role of individual activists opposing the cult over the years. For example, what Paulette Cooper endured in a decades-long campaign of intimidation and litigation visited on her for writing the first expose of the cult is something that no one should ever have to face.

What matters about Anonymous is that it brought scale to efforts to thwart the cult. On a single day, Miscavige was bombarded with reports of dozens to hundreds of protesters per site at a sizable fraction of the perhaps 200 cult installations around the world. I don’t know the exact numbers, but an estimate of 10,000 protesters at upwards of 50-60 different orgs and cult sites is reasonable. And even more importantly, the cult never saw it coming. I am sure that Miscavige figured that OSA had its slimy tentacles in enough facets of life that it had a good hand on the cult’s opponents. But here on a single day were literally orders of magnitude more people taking up arms against Scientology than OSA had on its enemies list.

The shock at the level of individual low-ranking staff, to know that opponents outnumbered the cult’s staffers had to affect the individuals coming to work through throngs of mask-wearing, sign-carrying Anons. But the biggest impact had to be on Miscavige: it meant that the entire playbook he’d used for years (and that Hubbard had used before him) of personalized, individually calculated cruel revenge against enemies could not possibly work. There simply weren’t enough PI’s in the world to track, identify and rain down torture on thousands of people, especially since Miscavige probably wanted to approve all the details of operations against opponents. Sure, the cult was able to track some Anons and harass them, often by trailing people back to their cars, but only a small fraction of Anons actually experienced any real effects from their protests.

The symbolism of the masks was also significant: no longer was anti-cult activism the province of a small number of committed crusaders; now even casual dislike of the cult could be enough to motivate many to show up and make their voices heard. Casual disgust for the cult now joined the fight.

The other thing about the protest that clearly had to rattle Miscavige and most of the rest of the cult was the fact that Anons seemed to be having fun. They were bringing a new weapon to bear: mockery. That’s the most effective weapon against humorless fundamentalists, whether they be Scientologists or fundamentalist Christian charlatans such as faith healer Benny Hinn, moral scolds such as Rick Santorum, and a seemingly infinite list of others.

Anonymous has left a second significant legacy: the creation of community sites where people could go to band together to oppose the cult and coordinate their effort. They were able to use standardized discussion forums to coordinate their efforts. Those sites now attract and retain opponents and allow them to coordinate efforts quickly, whether that’s simply deciding to show up for the monthly protest at the NY or SF orgs, or whether it’s marshaling opposition to zoning at a new facility.

Many have said that the Internet is killing Scientology. In one dimension, that’s because typing the word “Scientology” into Google now brings up more protest sites than pro-cult sites (the same is true for Narconon and others as well). I believe Anonymous is significantly responsible for making that happen, because the Anonymous internet presence clearly boosted search rankings for anti-cult information, forever giving the lie to the usual cult rhetoric about a “handful of bitter defrocked apostates on the corners of the Internet” being behind all the anti-cult information.

And in the other dimension, it’s bringing people together to oppose the cult, starting with simple on-line coordination of protest activity, and continuing in the form of in-person relationships. Because opponents are now well-coordinated, and because the relationships of the cult opponents using those sites extends well beyond Anons, it’s now all but impossible for the cult to shut down individuals, and if they are successful in that, there’s zero chance that shutting down individuals can shut down the whole movement.

All of this has wrought a major change in the daily culture of the cult. I believe it is possible to show that the cult has become significantly more inward-facing and paranoid. Before Anonymous, Sea Org staff were free to roam downtown Clearwater. Today, culties are bused from their “berthing” to work and are escorted in the building under security that divorces them further and further from the rest of the world.

The cult’s attempts to monitor its public and get them to avoid Internet sites with “entheta” are also failing miserably, and are indeed backfiring. The internet is simply too valuable a tool for culties whose business and social life are still rooted in the real world – many older wealthy donors have real-world businesses (not ones selling only to culties) and they simply can’t avoid the Internet. That’s been the route out for all the successful entrepreneur ex’s that I’ve talked to.

A paranoid inward-facing cult won’t survive for long, as the obsession with security trumps the basic economic reality of the need to recruit new members and to produce a “product” that customers will want to buy in the current age. Pouring thousands of gallons of gasoline on the already incandescent embers of David Miscavige’s paranoia by the initial wave of protests and the creation of resilient communities powered by the Internet to oppose and coordinate their anti-cult efforts and to enable those communities to attract new members is the legacy of Anonymous.

The cult was already doomed due to structural factors we’ve already discussed (restrictions against innovation to change a hopelessly obsolete product sold by an organization only permitted to operate by the simplistic and ludicrously wrong rules forever enshrined in “admin tech”), but Anonymous, more than any single individual (and I say this with deep respect for the courage of all of those individuals who have risked much and suffered more for their activism), has accelerated its demise.

Applaus!

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