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LulzSec, Anonymous … freedom fighters or the new face of evil?

As you’ll know by now, hacktivist group Anonymous has vandalised the home page of the Syrian Ministry of Defense, posting a message which started: “To the Syrian people: the world stands with you against…

Hacktivists remove choice from consumers – and in their own way lay down the law. anonmunich

As you’ll know by now, hacktivist group Anonymous has vandalised the home page of the Syrian Ministry of Defense, posting a message which started: “To the Syrian people: the world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad”.

The response from within Syria was swift, with the so-called “Syrian Electronic Army” retaliating by defacing Anonymous’s fledgling social network, Anon+.

So, was the backlash uncalled for?

Groups such as LulzSec and Anonymous have what many see as laudable goals.

They promote freedom, or at least they claim to. The real question in all this is: what constitutes freedom?

Though the political situation in Syria warrants attention, online vandalism is not the answer. If we look to the commercial sector the issue of freedom becomes all the clearer.

Corporations such as e-commerce giant PayPal – who themselves appear to be in the sights of LulzSec and Anonymous – are in business to make a profit. The service they provide to society is directed by this profit.

Simply put, the model in place is one of freedom. As much as we might want to rail against the corporate structure, PayPal represents freedom far more than groups such as LulzSec and Anonymous ever will.

PayPal provides a service. If you, as a customer, are not happy with that service, you have the freedom to find other ways to have this service fulfilled.

In making the decision to utilise the service (or not) you are making a choice – in effect, you are “voting” with your dollars.

This is freedom.

What groups such as LulzSec and Anonymous do is attempt to stop the average person having a choice at all. In engaging in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against a business, so-called hacktivists are not promoting freedom: they are using force to promote their views, and removing the choices other people would have made.

It’s one thing to attempt to convince people to change their view – but there are many ways of doing this. Some of the recent non-violent rallies against Walmart (in response to a sexual discrimination lawsuit) in the US are examples of one, non-dogmatic approach.

US Congressman Jim Langevin stated in May: “the vast majority of our critical assets are in private hands”.

I agree with this statement. The businesses and corporations that make our lives as good as they are form the foundations of our society.

Many attacks against large corporations by LulzSec and Anonymous have been direct attacks against our critical infrastructure. Where does it end?

As LulzSec and Anonymous grow, their goals and ideas grow in scope as well. At the moment they seem to be pursuing what can only be described as a “nebulous” freedom, but as they engage in attacking the ties that bind our societies, is this even what they’re doing?

Both groups promote their views through force and coercion yet say they want freedom.

Adolf Hitler expressed the same sentiment in 1926: “What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfil the mission assigned to it by the creator”.

Force and coercion do not create freedom – they only create fear, uncertainty and doubt.

At the end of it all, when hacktivists attack critical systems to force their views, we all suffer.

Join the conversation

82 Comments sorted by

  1. simon neville

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    How is this any different to a Union setting up a picket line? By you argument they to are using force and coercion. Shall we compare them to Nazi Germany?

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    1. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Michael Wiebrands

      First, there is no true monopoly without intervention (that is government subsidies).

      Next, the team at Anon used a speach that was a sppoof of Hitler's as if this was serious. They missed the point of it. They also have the same quotes etc.

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    2. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Michael Wiebrands

      Michael stated that "Monopolies and corporate abuse definitely don't." promote freedom. This is true.

      He also implied that Monopolies and corporate abuse dare capitalist. This is not true.

      Capitalism is a Darwinistic system where only the “fittest” businesses survive. Abuse makes an opportunity for competition and also alienates customers. This results in a reduced profitability. Abusive businesses in a capitalist structure fail.

      They do not fail when government supports them. This is either a…

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  2. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "The response from within Syria was swift, with the so-called “Syrian Electronic Army” retaliating by defacing Anonymous’s fledgling social network, Anon+."

    I doubt that the "Syrian Electronic Army" actually exists. Anonymous probably defaced their own website - those tricky rascals.

    Actually I can't think of any event that is probably more inconsequential than this supposed cyber-vandalism. Even photos of Madeleine Pulver buying coffee has more intrinsic news value - just.

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  3. Shozaburo Takitani

    Internet Activist

    I have issues with Anonymous, Lulzsec and Antisec now (they are all one in the same actually).

    I would not call these groups hacktivists. For one, as a hacktivist, the primary goal is to actually free up communications for activists in oppressive regimes, to battle internet censorship and to generally preserve the freedom that currently exists on the internet.

    Anonymous and their cohorts, whilst believing that they do good, actually do the cause far more harm. Attacks such as the ones perpetrated on law enforcement are actually detrimental to that goal. It gives further incentives to govts that are already considering data retention etc to proceed with that sort of legislation.

    Hacking is NOT hacktivism

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  4. Byron Smith
    Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

    PhD candidate in Christian Ethics at University of Edinburgh

    Putting to one side the actions of these groups for the moment (which is not the same as condoning them), I will simply repeat my comment from your earlier article.

    Insofar as freedom consists of "voting" for corporations with our money, then, by definition, we live in a plutocracy. I have no problem with the idea of markets making decisions based on profit. I do have a problem with this model being put forward as all there is to say in response to concerns about unethical behaviour by corporations. Consumer choice may be a good thing in certain circumstances, but it is a very different thing to political freedom and ought not be confused with it.

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  5. Ender Wiggin

    logged in via Facebook

    Anyone who violates Godwin's law, forfeits their right to be taken seriously.

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  6. Jason Brailey

    Admin Officer - Research

    "Wage slavery or starvation is not a choice, it’s a threat". I am not sure who originally said it but it certainly rings true. You completely ignore the ways in which capitalism and the profit motive have created a self perpetuating cycle that has us all locked in for the ride from birth. I am not sure that I was ever offered the choice, except between ways of getting money and things that I can spend that money on. It is seriously difficult to really feel that a DDoS attack is as much of a threat…

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    1. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Yes let us all ignore economics and believe that there is sufficent without working for it and that allocation occurs magically in an optimal manner with no markets.

      So, Jason, please enlighten us to the alternative system taht works well, optimally with fewer misallocations than a market?

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    2. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Seriously, misallocations? People with billions on one hand and billions with barely dollar on the other? Misallocation? A starved child actually misallocated to death? This situation and society is the best we can come up with seriously? I certainly don't claim to have a magic tonic that can fix the issues I raised, yet to accept the current order without question or challenge is sick in my mind. I am certainly not ignorant of economics nor am I ignoring it, it is after all economics that rewards some for setting others to work for them while denying others despite their hard work and best efforts.

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    3. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Misallocation - yes.

      You are placing socialist thrid world countries into the same basket as capitalist countries. Wealth is made, it does not simply exist.

      So, where is your better society Jason? You are simply skirting the issue with bable about how terrible capitalism is forgetting that nearly all of history was poverty. The only change to this was innovation which only came in any extent through capitalism.

      Then, it is simpler to ignore this and rant about the mythical alternatives.

      "It is seriously difficult to really feel that a DDoS attack is as much of a threat to freedom as a police baton, a soldiers gun, a lobbyist, campaign donations, the corporate media, or the stranglehold that politicians exert on the political agenda. "
      How was "Shoot a sherrif saturday" a simple DDoS.

      How is publishing operational data that places lives at risk not harmful.

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    4. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      "I certainly don't claim to have a magic tonic that can fix the issues I raised, yet to accept the current order without question or challenge is sick in my mind."

      Basically, you are bitching without alternatives. Capitalism is the best option available like it or not. Socialism killed far more people through starvation than any system in history.

      You think you can create a better system, do so.

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    5. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Jason,
      "it is after all economics that rewards some for setting others to work for them while denying others despite their hard work and best efforts. "

      This is the flaw that Marx used to lead the world into socialism and it is flawed.

      There is no such thing as intrinsic value.

      How much work and effort is meaningless, all that matters is what people value at the end.

      Working harder at something to get the same result does not make it more valuable.

      If one person is not as skilled and takes 100…

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    6. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Thomas Edwin Yeats

      “You speak of communism not socialism”
      I speak of socialism generally.

      India was never communist, but they managed to starve millions of people to death.

      Henry Hazlitt wrote of the issues in "Socialism and Famine" in Newsweek, August 31, 1964. We seem to have forgotten all this over time. India blamed "speculators" and "hoarders" and announced the imposition of strict controls on the purchase, sale, storage, and transportation of grains. This only made it worse.

      Instead of allowing markets…

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    7. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      No such thing as intrinsic value, yet CEOs are intrinsically worth many times more than the people that actually do their work? So it boils down to what people value in the end? I don't know a single person who values the CEO of any of our major banks to the dollar sum that they are paid. This is where your arguement falls over, this is not a democratic process, it a process by which the decision makers decide that A,B & C will happen, like it or suffer. The choice between VISA, Mastercard, PayPal…

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  7. Jason Brailey

    Admin Officer - Research

    Look around you, capitalism is failing and has only kept its head above water due to government intervention all around the world! How can an economic system that demands infinite growth be sustained on a finite resource base?

    You accused me of forgetting or disregarding economics - I would suggest that you are wilfully ignoring the fact that a great deal of the wealth that is 'made' is 'made' on stolen lands, from stolen resources leaving the victims of that theft (both historical and contemporary…

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    1. Andrew Hack

      IT Project Manager

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Re: failure of capitalism

      I suggest you do some research into fractional reserve banking, credit bubbles and how central banks cause the business cycle. The Austrians (economists) are the only ones to have predicted the crash and with much precision. Search for "Peter Schiff was right" on youtube for evidence.

      I'm at odds as to how you make out that Apple is the cause of Chinese oppression. My own humble understanding is that it is actually caused by the oppressive communist government as well…

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    2. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      "You accused me of forgetting or disregarding economics"
      Yes Jason, I do. See...

      http://gse-compliance.blogspot.com/2011/08/trade-it-actually-is-lack-that-is.html

      Basically, the trade per capita in counties such as Africa is negligable. It is not trade, it is the lack of trade that is an issue.

      "'made' is 'made' on stolen lands, from stolen resources"
      Most and I mean most wealth has nothing to do with base resources. It is not from Africa, it is not mased on base materials. It is the value add made from production.

      "I don't subscribe to the nonsense of socialism or capitalism being the only possibilities"
      Fine, fuedalism, failed. I do not want facism and corporatism is a "lite" form of this (which includes bailouts). True, there are many systems.

      Name one that works better?

      The reason the west works better is capitalism. It is a competitive world. Resources are not what makes a country strong, it is how they use these.

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    3. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Andrew Hack

      How did I suggest that Apple was the CAUSE of Chinese oppression - I am merely say they are capitalising on it just as you have. Did you read the original article? It argued that business and corporations were the well spring of our (very debatable) freedoms I raised Apple in China to show that there is no relationship between corporations, business and even alleged freedoms.

      The frustrating thing about capitalism is that it makes itself necessary not in the ways I have already pointed out but…

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    4. Andrew Hack

      IT Project Manager

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      What you are talking about with Monsanto is corporatism. Corporations lobby government for special benefits that quash the competition. Free-Market Capitalism calls for the government out of the picture.
      Semantics?
      Well, do you blame Monsanto for lobbying the government or do you blame the government for giving in to lobbyists?
      I choose to blame the government and the people who voted for that government and continue to let the buggers get away with it.
      Do you blame the banks and financial institution's…

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    5. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Jason
      "I don't subscribe to the nonsense of socialism or capitalism being the only possibilities.and am saying that your article,"

      Please, as I have requested, show me the examples.

      You keep stating all the alternatives (and demonstrating the lack of awareness of these in confuding corporatism and capitalism).

      So, socialism has failed, fuedalism is far from ideal, we do not want to even mention facsism...

      What then?

      Please Jason. Enlighten us all to the range of alternatives you dsay exist.

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  8. Nancy Weston

    logged in via Facebook

    Actually I agree with Jason, to accept our current situation is near-sighted at best.

    Sumer did ok without capitalism.

    "You are placing socialist thrid world countries into the same basket as capitalist countries. Wealth is made, it does not simply exist."

    Wealth is made by draining and using those Third world countries to the benefit of Capitalist countries, if we didnt have China making our consumer goods do you really believe Australia could afford to produce it at the same cost whilst paying…

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    1. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Nancy Weston

      " There are obviously alternatives or man wouldn't have been able to come up with the idea of capitalism in the first place,"

      Than provide one, I am not the one skirtingt the issue, you ideòlog's are.

      As for Sumar, it was based on a slave economy. So are you saying capitalism is not better than a society where 1 in 10000 people were rich (and not even by today's standard) and the rest poor?

      Next, wealth does not even start from the third world, it is nothing to do with the 3rd world, these countries are poor as they have too little trade.

      "What would our standard of living be if we had to produce everything ourselves?"
      Most people would be dead, this is what trade has allowed.

      "There are obviously alternatives or man "
      WHERE ARE THEY!!!!

      You keep saying they exist, show one that works. Too hard?

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    2. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      You should investigate naturalised ideologies (ideologies that hide themselves as common sense). I am not sure I have ever clashed with a more rigid ideologue that you have proven to be and ironically you have brushed me as a ideologue. Stuart Hall (communications/media studies) wrote some pretty interesting stuff about it.

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  9. Brian Jenkins

    logged in via Facebook

    Craig, I think your analysis is incredibly simplistic (and even violates Godwin's Law as pointed out by others).

    For the purpose of this discussion, let's accept that capitalism is the best system available (or even your rather extreme view that there are no alternatives). Capitalism vests considerable power in certain individuals and groups - particularly through the massive wealth and resources of large corporations. Those corporations use that power, as you say, to drive their profits and they…

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    1. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      Godwin's Law is not a law by the way, it is also not logically consistant.

      "r even your rather extreme view that there are no alternatives"
      No, I say it is the only one that allows this level of growth and hence this level of population that has been found.

      As for the comments, not a opne here has thought their arguement through and are all basically "capitalism sucks" with nothing as an alternative. Then, using the products of capitalism to say it sucks with no idea of global trade and what this actually brings people.

      More, they confuse 3rd world issues and politics with a idea of capitalism.

      Next, capitalism is not government handouts - this is corporatism (which is closer to facism). I do not support corporatism, but these arguement show the people making them have no idea of these distinct systems.

      The only example offered as an alternative, Sumar, was a slave society - some counter example.

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    2. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Yes, Craig, I'm quite aware that Godwin's Law is not literally a law.

      My comment, if you'd please re-read it, is nothing to do with whether capitalism is or isn't the best or only system that "allows this level of growth" and doesn't even mention Sumar. The point I made was that, yes, Anonymous and Lulzsec wield undemocratic power (which I believe is the premise of your article) but that PayPal's power is also undemocratic. An attack on a corporation might limit my freedom (including my freedom…

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    3. Andrew Hack

      IT Project Manager

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      Struggling to comprehend how supposedly we are all shackled in servitude by PayPal. 0_o

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    4. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      "PayPal refused to release funds that had been donated to Wikileaks "

      SO WHAT!

      Use Visa.
      Use Mastercard.
      Bank Transfer
      SWIFT

      There are and were options. PayPal was not the exclusive option. If you do not like what PayPal does - DO NOT USE THEM!

      ***WHY**** is this such as difficult concept?

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    5. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      More, there is ALWAYS a way to make a payment. Use a bank and system taht does not stop anything.

      Use a digital coin, use a SWIFT transfer. As stated, even with MC, Visa and others stopping this, so what. You can still donate now if you want.

      And if VISA and Master Card have stopped, why would you expect PayPal to offer a backdoor serive that violates their terms of service with Visa and MasterCard placing their entire business at risk?

      So... Visa and MC stopped this first - where is the uproar about these?

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    6. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Companies provide a service FREELY. You are NOT forced to use them. If you do not like this, then start a company of your own.

      MAKE an alternative to PayPal that does not stop funds to anyone. See if people REALLY want this. If they do, then simple - you will make billions and supplant PayPal.

      A company can offer ANY product range they wish ANY (within legal frameworks) that people will buy and use.

      If you do not like the offering, there is a simple answer - STOP using them.

      WHY is this so difficult for you to see?

      People make an effort for an incentive, this is why they start a company. They do not just do this from some feeling of being nice. You work not to be "nice" but to earn a wage/salary.

      If you want, you can earn less and do something "nicer".

      PayPal has a right to choose what it offers as a product. We are talking freedom here. You cannot force a company to offer a service. That is NOT freedom.

      If you want a service to exist that does not exist, START A COMPANY!

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    7. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Did I say that I was Lulzsec and that I personally believed that boycotting PayPal was the right thing to do? Did I say that my money was withheld from Wikileaks and that I threatened or attempted to hack PayPal in retaliation?

      I'm pretty sure I didn't! I'm pretty sure I simply provided a link to a news article explaining, for Andrew's benefit, why PayPal might have been the target of hacktivists. I note that you have also linked to one of your own articles that makes an identicle point!

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    8. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      And I should also say that I don't come to The Conversation to be shouted at by someone with so little respect for his readers that he can't even be bothered to read their comments properly before launching into a tirade on a tangentially related topic. I don't come to the Coversation to be told by someone with a background in IT security why I would or wouldn't start a company, what motivates me to work or what freedom means to me.

      I come here for the high standard of respectful and intellectual exchange and, while I don't always agree with what I read, I (and, in my experience, the other authors and readers of this site) try to maintain a level of respect and dignity in disagreement.

      You might think you're right and everyone else is wrong, but here's a newsflash: *everyone* think's they're right. Thinking you're right isn't a license to be rude.

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    9. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      I have never stated I agree with PayPal or not, simply that I detest the actions of a few people who seem to have the idea that they can force people into their way of thought.

      I do not personally care either way if PayPal stopped payment or not.

      I am not a fan of WL, but I do not agree with the idea of attacking PatPal for thier stance.

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    10. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Really? You shouted at me that if I don't like what PayPal does, then I shouldn't use them. Who were you yelling at, Craig? Because your reply was addressed to me and yet it was, in fact, Lulzsec (and a bunch of other people) who don't like what PayPal does.

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    11. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      If you read all the comments, you will see that they are not all in reply to you. Yes "you" did not mention Sumer, but to quote anther comment from another person "Sumer did ok without capitalism". Yes, a slave society.

      So, not all my responses are targeted at you Brian.

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    12. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      That lttle button that says "reply" that you keep clicking: guess what? That means "reply".

      Just to make it easier to see who you're shouting at, it would be great if you could reply to the actual comment that has gotten your caps-lock finger all jittery before spewing out your stream of consciousness.

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    13. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      Brian,
      Please do note that I am passionate about certain things.
      Jumping on comments (that by Nancy) happens when this occurs. When people (and it was not you, but your comment can under this other and the click order her is at times an issue) start saying Sumar was a better alternative to capitalism, then well my ignorance hackles start coming up. Stating a slave based society (where there basis of wealth was still more of a proto-capitalism that was exploited by their own government is good... well you have seen.

      I am writing somethng on Sumar today.

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    14. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      The fact that you disagree with Nancy about the benfits and drawbacks of capitalism or think she is mistaken on a point of ancient Sumarian history doesn't make her ignorant.

      Well, I think I've spent enough of my life on this thread, I'm officially retiring from this conversation, if you can call it that.

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    15. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      Brian, “The fact that you disagree with Nancy about the benfits and drawbacks of capitalism or think she is mistaken on a point of ancient Sumarian history doesn't make her ignorant.”

      Let us start by going to the dictionary.

      “Ignorant:
      - lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact.
      - uninformed; unaware.
      - due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.”

      So let us analyse this step by step.

      Nancy made the statement, in plain terms, “Sumer did…

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    16. Thomas Edwin Yeats

      Mr

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Capitalist and sumerian-slavery based economies actually have some striking similarities and these people appear to be baiting you Craig.

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    17. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Thomas Edwin Yeats

      As I noted, easrly Sumarian society was a form of proto-capitalism. It was later when they added the priesthood and became a proto-socialist form of government that resulted in the collapse.

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    18. Thomas Edwin Yeats

      Mr

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Historically all forms of "proto-capitalism" relied on slavery, as did the present one until relatively recently. Many would argue that it still does in the form of wage differentials and the flight of captial to the lowest wage nations. You needn't go all the way back to ancient sumer to find it. Slavery is a characteristic of capitalism.

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    19. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Thomas Edwin Yeats

      Thomas, I should be used to comments such as yours that “Slavery is a characteristic of capitalism.”

      After all, this is one of the most common forms of anti-freedom rhetoric. Mudslinging falsely to draw attention from the alternatives. It is typical of both socialism and fascism; they are really close cousins in this. I do hope you do not simply subscribe to this?

      Capitalism drove out slavery. It was and is the only system that has repealed slavery. Even in forms of proto-capitalism the merchant…

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  10. Andrew McNicol

    PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

    You said,

    "PayPal provides a service. If you, as a customer, are not happy with that service, you have the freedom to find other ways to have this service fulfilled."

    and

    "Force and coercion do not create freedom – they only create fear, uncertainty and doubt."

    I think these are both correct. However, I think the, 'don't like it, choose another service', view in these sorts of conversations is a little simplistic, and ignores some of the social and technical barriers in choosing other services…

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    1. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      To briefly clarify my point about coercion: there are many social and technological factors involved in choosing services. If all your friends use Facebook, for example, you're missing out on engagement unless you also create an account to participate.

      To some extent, our choice is limited. To some extent, existing systems make our choices for us. This complicates the democratic ideal of freedom.

      I think the example of PayPal certainly applies here.

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    2. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      "then you're actually being coerced into using the standards everyone else has adopted."

      There are generally options. There are many options for nearly every vendor. Do not buy from vendors with PayPal - same effect.

      WikiLeaks can get payments from other sources. It CAN get money transfers. It can get bit coins it can do many things if it wants. There are MANY options that allow people to send money to WL.

      "We can certainly vote with our dollars. But sometimes that's just not enough when you're…

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    3. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      "If all your friends use Facebook, for example, you're missing out on engagement unless you also create an account to participate."

      You choose. You do not "need" to be on facebook. You make a choice. You may see benifit and that benifit may be far larger for the network effects, but it remains a choice.

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    4. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      "I believe, in changing the system, we need to recognise that we need to do more than simply 'don't use it, choose another service'. "

      True, start something. Make an alternative. Have a vision. Make a company or organsiation that actually promotes your views. PayPal and others care more about competition than they do feedback.

      Create something that people want. Make it something that is "ethical". See if people actually want the service.

      If they do want this, you change things.

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    5. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      "A few people want more people to care and seek to force people to.

      Does not smell like freedom to me."

      True, but I think my point is more that neither hacktivists taking down systems nor corporations silencing dissent are exactly freedom inducing. The territory is much more complicated. People may justify attacks as evening out the playing field, and perhaps to some extent they are correct. Regardless, it is raising important issues of democracy.

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    6. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      While many people do work on alternative systems, or even implementing broader standards that limit corporate monopolies and make it easier for individuals to express their freedom of choice, there are major issues of accessibility here. Not everyone has the knowledge or resources to work on an alternative, or to find out how to support existing projects. If some people are always in the 'not able to work to change the system' category, which I believe they are to varying degrees, what are their…

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    7. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      I see the 'network effects' as being heavily influenced by coercive forces, which means that, while it's still a 'choice', it's not one that's entirely in our own hands.

      I think I see where you're coming from, but this is perhaps why we differ here.

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    8. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      Andrew,
      "True, but I think my point is more that neither hacktivists taking down systems nor corporations silencing dissent are exactly freedom inducing."

      Of course it is. As I have said time and again, anyone in the west with an idea can start their own company. Capitalism is a great competitive and darwinistic crucible. It sorts out the best ideas. The fittest memes. Fit here, means those that suit society best.

      Society is reflected by its corporations. - not that corporations have a goal to…

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    9. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      "If some people are always in the 'not able to work to change the system' category, which I believe they are to varying degrees, what are their options?"
      Come on? If somebody wants to be an NBA basketball star but they are only 5'2" tall, they also have limited options.

      The question comes then to what is fair?

      Do we make a "fair" world. That is one that all people have a true equal advantage?

      Do we start children all the same? Do we place people in farms from when they are infants to standardise…

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    10. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      "I see the 'network effects' as being heavily influenced by coercive forces,"
      Andrew, you need to read up on creative destruction. So first a quote.

      "Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary. And this evolutionary character of the capitalist process is not merely due to the fact that economic life goes on in a social and natural environment which changes and by its change alters the data of economic action; this fact is…

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    11. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      "I can say "I attacked and demanded money from Crown Casino as I do not agree with gambling." This is simply a post hoc justification."

      That's a possible scenario, true, but I'm not talking about post hoc justifications. I'm talking about clear motivations that influence the planning and execution of actions.

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    12. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      ""while it's still a 'choice', it's not one that's entirely in our own hands"
      Yes it is, you choose."

      And I strongly disagree. I could provide more examples, but I just don't think we're going to see eye to eye on this. . .

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    13. Andrew McNicol

      PhD candidate (Media) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      "If some people are always in the 'not able to work to change the system' category, which I believe they are to varying degrees, what are their options?"

      I guess I wasn't originally clear with this sentence. It would certainly be defeatist to claim some people have absolutely no ability to change a system. But this is not what I'm saying. I don't see this as a binary category where individuals are empowered or not, hence the 'to varying degrees' part. My point was that empowerment is not equal across the board, which raises the obvious questions about equality.

      Between some of the condescending remarks, you appear to say things that agree with this.

      I'm also not talking about an alternative system to capitalism; I'm talking about an alternative system to PayPal.

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    14. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      "And I strongly disagree. I could provide more examples, but I just don't think we're going to see eye to eye on this. . ."

      I have the grace to accept those thngs I cannot change and like it or not, there are things that cannot be changed.

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    15. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Andrew McNicol

      ""an alternative system to PayPal."
      Again, there ARE alternatives.

      You keep saying you want an alternative that is PayPal, but also that does x,y,z in effect.

      The alternatives are there, but they are not to your liking.

      Life is not fair, it will never be fair, if it was, the world would be a crappy place to be in any event.

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    16. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      "My point was that empowerment is not equal across the board, which raises the obvious questions about equality. "

      Again Andrew, life is not fair. It will not ever be fair. There is no such thing as equality. They can never be equality.

      Empowerment is not binary and there is not simply one type of empowerment. A person who is empowered in one area may not be empowered in another. Someone with huge advantages in one aspect of their life will have disadvantages in others.

      The whole notion of striving…

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    17. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Darwinistic? Having more money, better connections, attending an elite school, having access to people with money to invest in your 'great idea', these things are not natural forces and will not lead to evolutionary leaps. Is a major international bank not being allowed to crumble despite utter failure, yet a little Joe's small being allowed to really natural selection? Competetive? Seriously? Are you talking about the 'groceries wars' between Coles and Woolies here? What of corporate welfare? Bail outs? Armies being used to maintain or to bolster 'national interests' ie corporate interests? Where is the choice amongst this? I really cannot believe that you called anyone else ignorant!

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    18. Andrew Hack

      IT Project Manager

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      How dare Coles and Woolies have competing prices! Because I HATE having to pay less at the cashier. 0_o

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    19. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Jason
      "Having more money, better connections, attending an elite school, having access to people with money to invest in your 'great idea', these things are not natural forces and will not lead to evolutionary leaps. Is a major international bank not being allowed to crumble despite utter failure,"

      What a load of utter BS.

      As one who started in a poor household with a single mother and who paid for his own education, I again say BS.

      The bailouts of banks is NOT capitalist in nature. Capitalism…

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    20. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Jason said: "You should really sit and write a book."

      Actually, I am in the process of writing my 14th as an author/co-author.

      The current out next year is on CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection).

      Then it is on the effects of Dynamical Chaos in economic systems (no. 15) following this.

      Then a few links...
      http://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-ISSMP%C2%AE-CBK%C2%AE-Press/dp/1420094432

      http://www.amazon.com/Regulatory-Standards-Compliance-Handbook-Information/dp/1597492663

      http://www.amazon.com/Official-CHFI-Study-Guide-312-49/dp/1597491977

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    21. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      Jeez, I take back everything I said. I really do think that you have earned the right to call people ignorant, and to tell them to get a clue. You are clearly an intellectual titan- excuse my ignorance.

      I will read a few of your many books and will no doubt get up to scratch on history, politics, biology and economics! I will skip the bits about computer security - I might try to contact the dark side about that topic, they seem to know a little more.

      I am impressed that you even gave little old me the time of day!

      Appreciate it.

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    22. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Despite your sarcasm Jason, the answer is simply you should not trust what I say as a result of books I have published, papers I have written, published and presented or even degrees that I have been awarded.

      That would be the logical fallacy of argument from authority. Not that this is my argument, but I am not simply an expert in computer security and forensics. I am also qualified in economics, politics, maths and statistics, physics, chemistry, management and law as well as other things.

      Ignorance…

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    23. Jason Brailey

      Admin Officer - Research

      In reply to Craig S Wright

      The way I see it, your original argument attempted to construct or to perpetuate a myth that was patently and demonstrably illogical. Corporations and businesses are NOT concerned with freedom, they are concerned with profit. Being able to 'choose' between Paypal and Mastercard as a method of payment is not freedom, this is merely consumer choice. Being denied the option of visiting Paypal's website or of even using its service is therefore not an attack on freedom spurred by the spirit of Hitler.

      Craig, we are poles apart and we will never find common ground on this topic, this does not make me ignorant nor in need of a 'clue'.

      I hope you find some way of saving consumer choice in your future research/security work.

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    24. Craig S Wright

      PhD; Adjunct Lecturer in Computer Science at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Jason Brailey

      Jason, you clearly missed the post on choice. There are over 100 alternatives to Mastercard and PayPal.

      WikiLeaks - not the end consumer decided on PayPal and that was THEIR loss.

      The intention is not related to the end, but in any event, corporations are made of individuals. Many who want freedom.

      The fact is that freedom is created through open exchange.

      Yes actually, attacking PayPal is anti-freedom.

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