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Possibility of Leaderless Resistance

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atuuschaaw
Post Posted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:54 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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This posting I'm sure will be Déjà vu for many of you. But I wanted to touch on the theory of Leaderless Resistance and how it's simplistic non-hierarchical structure with it's unidirectional phantom cell support system can be one of the most successful forms of strategy for dissent. The theory behind this type of structure is said to have come from a U.S. intelligence officer but has morphed and been adapted by hundreds of different organizations with differing focuses.

Any discussion of the theory of leaderless almost inevitably leads to those familiar blank stares, the old deer in the headlights analogy. The hollow stares are usually followed by a number of WTFs along with their arguments concerning the importance and necessity of powerful charismatic authoritarian figureheads in any organization. Yes, I agree. In the past it has been the lone independent and inspirational thinkers who have been chosen as foundations for entire social movements and shifts of norms.

Before I had Internet access to the pulse of the world, I had only knew of a few who I considered great leaders in social and civil rights issues. Now I know that literally thousands of these charismatic leaders are out there. My screens are filled with their wisdom and sincerity on a daily basis. It is this open access to the web that helps flatten the world of rank — while allowing the structure of leaderless resistance the perfect means to operate successfully.

These seemingly structureless/leaderless organizations can unfortunately be used by those we may label evil as well as those we would possibly call good. Resistance can be violent or it can be non-violent. But the fact remains, this type of structure has been proven to work, and continues to be successful. It is used by terrorist organizations, white separatist groups, neo-nazis, animal rights, the environmental movement, and many, many others using the clandestine cell style of structure.

I look at WikiLeaks and I can not believe it does not utilize this same type of resistance. Dubbed "WikiLeaks insurance", huge amounts of files are publicly offered by WikiLeaks for Torrent downloads and then seeded by thousands of their supporters. Thereby successfully distributing these unknown files across the globe just waiting for the key to unlock the encryption. Ingenious in my humble opinion.

According to a quote by Assange concerning the WikiLeaks organization, "It is my role to be the lightning rod. That is a difficult role. On the other hand, I get undue credit." Assange is indeed the figurehead who remains in the crosshairs of all the authoritarian governments and empires. But cut his head off and the structure remains in place. This is the power of the horizontal.

Quote:
As a result, leaderless resistance cells are largely insusceptible to informants and traitors. As there is neither a center that may be destroyed, nor links between the cells that may be infiltrated, it is more difficult for established authorities to arrest the development of a leaderless resistance movement than more conventional hierarchies.


It is asymmetrical in character and perfect for use when facing an obvious institutional power imbalance. From my desk here in Sardis, this leaderless resistance seems to be very successful, regardless whether we believe a leaderless organization is possible or not.

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SharynS
Post Posted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:06 am

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Quote:
...the figurehead who remains in the crosshairs... ...But cut his head off and the structure remains in place. This is the power of the horizontal.
Scaling that back a few layers, isn't that similar to how family units organize, function and perpetuate?

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atuuschaaw
Post Posted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:51 am

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Quote:
Scaling that back a few layers, isn't that similar to how family units organize, function and perpetuate?


Yeah I suppose an analogy could be made. I'm also confident if we scale upward and add a few more layers, it's exactly how intelligence units would organize, function, and perpetuate. Wink

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doug slaydon
Post Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:19 pm

Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Posts: 194
I like the idea, as dissent in this world is a short lived career; but where would we be without our martyrs? The talking heads make Assange a criminal, but a nice article in the Nov 29 "Nation" cites Pcf Manning as the leak on conscientious grounds that torture continues under the Obama administration with military complicity. Now we merely turn the victims over to Iraqi forces for torture! Also we recently find out through Wikileaks that the Obama administration interferes with Spain to obstruct indictments in Spanish Courts against SIX former Bush Administration officials for war crimes!

Obama we thought we knew ya! I guess "change" means "compromise"?

Back to your topic: if the organization's survival is a priority I think the clandestine "cell" is brilliant, and probably one of the alternatives to an increasingly oppressive and undemocratic society. The United States government is obviously a corporate entity with all pretense stripped away by the Supreme Court via the "Citizens United" ruling.

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SharynS
Post Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:21 pm

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Bageant's mustreadlongassrant targets America but it's not the only country that can't get the tea stains out. Reflection is helpful right.

The only way out is in.

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atuuschaaw
Post Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:36 pm

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Quote:
Back to your topic: if the organization's survival is a priority I think the clandestine "cell" is brilliant, and probably one of the alternatives to an increasingly oppressive and undemocratic society.


I also think it would be one of the top alternative structures under any sort of oppression. For this to work, I do believe there has to be a focus on shared purpose rather than a shared organization. Organizations are too susceptible to attacks on many levels and the structure can be torn apart with some effort.

If everybody within a movement was a leader, there would no longer be any need for leaders. As Sharyn pointed out from Joe's essay, "The only way out is in". I think this Wikileaks issue is much larger than we realize, and we are taking a huge leap into the age where information really is where value can be found.


Sharyn, nobody drives a nail home any better than Joe eh? Wink

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:24 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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Location: Toronto
I don't want to be a turd in the punch bowl but I'm not sure I understand exactly how the concept of leaderless resistance applies in the case of the wikileaks drama.

It's unclear to me what kind of organization wikileaks actually is or even if it is an organization at all.

The msm implies that Assange has some kind of loose network of associates who hack into computer systems sending him information and, more recently, hacking into systems to wreak havoc in his defence, there's little factual info about what's really going on.

It's possible that he is basically a one-man operation who receives stuff from various random unidentified sources. That doesn't make for an organization at all. It's possible that the recent hackings are not part of any organized process but just some opportunistic shitdisturbing by enthusiastic hackers who aren't motivated so much by sympathy for Assange as a mob-like motivation to go out and cause some havoc or push out the boundaries of hacking a bit.

Alternatively, if it is an organization, how is it leaderless? Assange appears to have cast himself very clearly in a leadership role whether he's as one-man band or part of some organization - he's certainly front and centre.

Even if there is an organization of sorts present in all of this, it's unclear to me that it's a resistance. Assange's MO doesn't really lend align well with the white knight of transparency image that's being promoted in certain quarters. From a certain angle his actions appear to be more destructive than constructive. He has certainly been less than transparent about a lot things.

I dunno, maybe some of you can enlighten me. Again, the questions that are puzzling me are:

What makes wikileaks an organization?
What makes it a resistance organization?
How is it leaderless?

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SharynS
Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:57 pm

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Not so much the wikileaks organization but "Operation payback - the 'Hackavists" group which sprang up almost instantaneously out of basically nowhere. Agree or disagree the group organized for a common interest, will do the job and will probably disappear as fast as it appeared. In short pretty much all the makings of a leaderless organization.

Behind the scenes at Anonymous.
Quote:
An Anonymous spokesperson, from whose hand most of the manifestos originated, described the structure of the different groups to us.

“The core group is the #command channel on IRC. This core group does nothing more than being some sort of intermediary between the people in that IRC channel and the actual attack. Another group of people on IRC (the main channel called #operationpayback) are just there to fire on targets.”

Occasionally new people are invited to join the command to coordinate a specific attack, but a small group of people remains. The command group is also the place where new targets are picked, where future plans are discussed, and where manifestos are drafted. This self-appointed group makes most of the decisions, but often acts upon suggestions from bypassers in the main IRC channel.

Now let’s rewind a little and go back to the first attacks that started off the operation in September.

The operation’s command was ‘pleasantly’ surprised by the overwhelming media coverage and attention, but wondered where to go from there. They became the center of attention but really had no plan going forward. Eventually they decided to continue down the road that brought them there in the first place – more DDoS attacks.


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atuuschaaw
Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:06 pm

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I agree that "Operation Payback" is a great example. But I also see Wikileaks as using some of the same leaderless tactics in their "Insurance" which has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people. They don't necessarily know one another, but they are all interconnected by purpose, ideals, or goals. Wink

I loved this quote from "Anonymous". Smile

Quote:
"Anonymous is not an organisation...and it most certainly is not a group of hackers, Anonymous is an online living consciousness, comprised of different individuals with, at times, coinciding ideals and goals." more...


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wm pasz
Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:23 pm

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OK so we've now moved from resistance to payback - a totally different concept. What is the goal of this payback and what do you think it will accomplish? The other questions are still out there btw.

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atuuschaaw
Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:44 pm

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I see no difference other than the spelling. Resistance-payback...call it what you like, it is still the hive mentality with no apparent leaders. Their goal at least for now seems to be opposing the corporations who oppose Wikileaks. What will it accomplish? Not sure, but it is adding another facet to the Wikileaks issue and keeping it front and center. From what I've been reading today thousands per hour are throwing caution to the wind and downloading the tools used by Anonymous in their concerted attacks. Most younger individuals I'm sure...but computers do not discriminate on age. A flexing of cybermuscle I suppose.

What are some of the other questions...I've slept many times since then. Wink

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SharynS
Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:10 pm

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Quote:
Operation Payback describes itself as "an ongoing campaign by Anonymous against major anti-piracy & anti-freedom entities."
Hard to pin, is that payback and/or resistance?

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Elvis
Post Posted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:42 am

Joined: 01 Feb 2006
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Watch how fast the number is moving...

http://www.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/?rc=fb

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atuuschaaw
Post Posted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:10 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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Morgan Meis on Wikileaks:

Quote:
Ischinger titles his piece as a question: “The End of Diplomacy as We Know it?” He claims that the leaks are about much more than “hurt egos.” “This is more serious: It is about war and peace, and it can be about life or death.” And that is where Ambassador Ischinger lost me for good.

That is where I went over to the other side, where I became a Julian man. There is only so much bullshit that any man can ingest, and I’ve been topped off. Mr. Ischinger is in the same lineage as all the noble men and women who have been managing the competing interests of war and peace for the last few hundred years. They have armed nations, and then disarmed them. They’ve left regions to stew and boil in endless carnage in the name of a greater stability. They’ve arrayed armies of invasion in other instances when the powers that be deemed it appropriate. From Klemens von Metternich to Wolfgang Ischinger, we’ve been told that the secret doings of this management of peace and war is at the service of a greater order and well being. The Hobbesian nightmare of the state of nature, a war of all against all, is continually gestured to as the price of giving up on the obscure ways of the diplomatic art. We need them, these architects of peace and war.

And yet we know, we have always known somewhere in our hearts, that this is the bullshit of the powerful. Necessary bullshit, perhaps. A bullshit to which we have no better alternative. But I won’t be told that I have to take my bullshit and like it. That I have to suffer the lies and manipulations of the great maestros of war and peace and smile and thank them for it. I want, at least, to be served my helping of bullshit with a side of discontent. I want to be displeased about the lies and the duplicity and the cynicism. I feel better knowing that the diplomats know that we know. This is a thin victory, even a little bit spiteful. It does not, pace the rather grandiose claims of Julian Assange, lead to a better and more honest world. I suspect we simply have no idea what the final impact of WikiLeaks will be, good, bad, or indeterminate. Probably indeterminate. But damn if the raw glimpse of truth didn’t feel refreshing. The sweat of men like Wolfgang Ischinger cleanses us all. Their worry gives us a little more strength to trudge on ever forward into the next war, the one which they are surely planning even now, with fewer emails, and as secretly as they can. Leak Soup


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doug slaydon
Post Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:39 pm

Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Posts: 194
Over half the military force in Afghanistan and Iraq is privatized, so what is the incentive to end the wars? There is no congressional/presidential oversight applied to the private corporate armies and what will stop them from operating domestically?

I have a good friend who watches "Fox/Hannity/Beck" to exercise his mental dialog with the conservative viewpoint. I applaud him, but have no interest in doing the same. I also choose information sources that reinforce my political bent, i.e. "The Nation", as I am not aware of a credible conservative news source (Christian Science Monitor?). I am increasingly skeptical towards the United States system of politics and feel it is beyond working "within". Until we in the USA can adopt a more representative form of government such as a parliamentary system that represents all minority views I see just more of the same "best democracy money can buy".

Beginning my second year in South Carolina I have come to think that the things people hold as the "truth" are those very things that limit them the most. Conversely those traits which people attempt to hide are the very truths that offer us the most opportunity for growth.

So my opinion: the "conservative" view lacks compassion and humanity enough to question themselves, this will be the "hand they don't see that smacks them right in the face" to paraphrase Nietzsche.

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