Issue 2 of FreeHacker is available to download and read online, or print at home.
- Origins of Anarchist Hacking
- What is Hacker Music?
- Activists Need Strong Encryption
- The Internet Will Have Borders
Origins of Anarchist Hacking
The community of anarchist hackers has heterogenous roots which are worth dissecting to understand the contemporary movement. There are many ways to subdivide the origins, but I see about three distinct groups which the current batch of anarchist hackers are inspired by or a continuation of. Each one is worth elaborating upon in greater detail, but for now I will provide a brief summary. Each of these three groups have their origins in the 1980s and 1990s.
The first is the free software movement, as founded in 1983 by the announcement of the GNU project by Richard Stallman. Free software advocates believe in the creation of a society where all software grants users the freedom to share and collaborate on it with full access to the source code. The spirit of voluntary cooperation has been widely recognized to be similar to what anarchists advocate for the rest of society outside of software. Most members of the free software movement were not and are not anarchists, seeing software development as being very different from the management of other parts of society. The ideals of the free software movement would also inspire the pirate movement, which desires the total abolition of copyright beyond software itself.
The second group are security hackers (crackers), which formed collectives such as the Chaos Computer Club in 1981 and the Cult of the Dead Cow in 1984, and the e-zine publication Phrack first published in 1985. Cracking is the practice of breaching computer security for any purpose: political, financial, or as a matter of curiosity. Many crackers in these groups were only interested in the art of cracking, and not really politics. Explicitly political cracking would later be termed “hacktivism” by a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow in 1996. Hacktivists have a wide range of political views going as far as Marxism, anarchism, and right-wing libertarianism.
The third is cypherpunk, including crypto-anarchism. This was founded in 1992 with the launch of the cypherpunks mailing list. Cypherpunk is much more explicitly political, believing that widespread access to strong cryptography would deterministically erode state and corporate power. Therefore, the focus of the cypherpunks is on making cryptography widely accessible and preventing governments from regulating cryptography. Although political, cypherpunk is overwhelmingly associated with right-wing libertarianism. Crypto- anarchism was initially conceived of in explicitly anarcho-capitalist terms, being a kind of society where economic transactions could be totally hidden from governments.