Anonymity has been valued by anarchists as a means of hiding from the state and the law-abiding masses since its origins, something which is manifest today through practices classified under “security culture”, anonymous claims to clandestine actions published on anarchist websites, the adoption of pen names or keeping one’s name off of one’s writings – all things which have been aided by the rise of the internet. For the anarchist, anonymity can offer both cover from the eyes of the government and one’s employer and the ability to say or do otherwise unsayable or un-doable things without suffering social sanction.
Yet at the same time there are people who put a lot of stock in not being anonymous, at least not all the time. The reasons for this are many – a desire to own one’s actions and ideas, to connect with others by putting a name and a face on what one does, or even to achieve some level of fame. “Openness” is something which has also been aided by the internet – we are now more “reachable” than ever by anyone with internet access – but has also been weaponized as a tool of oppression by state, capital, and those who aid the work of the state through no-platforming and doxxing. Anonymity may come with its own costs – alienation from one’s potential allies, a fragmented life in which one feels they can’t realize their politics in any but discreet spaces, to name a few, but the costs of openness can range from the tyranny of the crowd as a visible enemy to one’s livelihood and relationships being endangered by the access one’s enemies can have to damaging personal information.
How much value do you place in anonymity in your own life and projects? Do you generally favor anonymity or openness in your projects, and why?