[sixties-l] Fwd: Hactivism and Soul Power

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 11/22/00

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    >Forwarded By: Richard Thieme <richard@thiemeworks.com>
    >Islands in the Clickstream:
    >Hactivism and Soul Power
    >The danger with taking the moral high ground is that, once you take
    >it, you no longer have it.
    >Saul Alinksy, a great community organizer, was committed to delivering
    >power into the hands of the powerless. He worked to create structures
    >that would shift the flow toward the dispossessed. He was an engineer
    >of the Tao, or "Way," which is often likened to a waterflow seeking
    >its own level. The Tao is impossible to resist because it's how energy
    >in the universe flows, it's the flow, and it's the energy, all at the
    >same time. So when we align our energies with the Tao, our actions are
    >boosted beyond anything we might achieve on our own.
    >Alinsky focused on the flow, not the organizational structures. The
    >structures were necessary but temporary, like irrigation ditches
    >designed to channel the waters of a river. He helped organize the Back
    >of the Yards Council in Chicago, for example, to give power to
    >neighborhood people but when, a decade or so later, the Council has
    >become reactionary, he organized others against it.
    >Once we seize the moral high ground, we lose it if we try to hold it.
    >We become what we are fighting. Organizational structures become
    >constraints instead of means of liberation. When we identify the right
    >with organizational structures and then act on behalf of those
    >structures, we can justify anything. Once we think we're right because
    >we belong to the organization instead of determining right action by
    >the context, we turn the Tao into a river of blood.
    >Enter hactivism.
    >We hear a lot these days about hacktivism. One form of hacktivism is
    >the use of hacking skills to crack web sites and deface them or
    >replace them with political messages.
    >During recent Israeli-Palestinian battles, criminal hackers or
    >"crackers"  affiliated with both sides attacked one another's Web
    >sites. In one incident, a Pakistani stole the credit card numbers of
    >members of a pro-Israel lobbying group and posted them on the Web.
    >A single computer in the hands of a child has more leverage in the
    >digital era than a rock in the hands of a rioter. Destroy one node in
    >the network and another node becomes the center.
    >Hactivism is celebrated by some as a sign that young technophiles are
    >growing up and using their skills to a purpose. Instead of leaving
    >graffiti, they are "hacking with a higher purpose."
    >If we mean that technophiles are creating software like "Hactivismo,"
    >a program that enables oppressed people to access human rights
    >information or news reports blocked by their governments, that might
    >be true.
    >But the use of cracking skills to defame and deface, regardless of
    >one's side, always defeats the higher purpose. Whatever sense of
    >righteousness motivated the act in the first place is lost in the act
    >Such hactivism is "hacking-and-hiding," throwing stones, then ducking
    >for cover, which merely escalates the level of virtual violence. It's
    >a power play on behalf of a power rush.
    >Action on behalf of the Tao, that is, action on behalf of the
    >powerless, the dispossessed, the genuinely victimized, always
    >transforms the battlefield by revealing injustice in the bright light
    >of undeniable revelation. Such action manifests what Gandhi and Martin
    >Luther King, Jr. called "soul power," which is the power of a human
    >being with integrity, focus, and high intentionality to expose an
    >unjust law by confronting it ... and accepting the consequences.
    >King's letter from a Birmingham jail sounds like it was written on the
    >"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, " he wrote,
    >"tied in a single garment of destiny."
    >This "systems approach" to human consciousness ought to resonate with
    >people who live on the Web. But for that to happen, we have to not
    >just live in a web - we all do, online and off - we have to SEE the
    >web in which we live, we have to see the luminous threads connecting
    >us indissolubly into a single field of consciousness. We have to see
    >that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" because
    >life in our quantum world is non-local.
    >"Whatever affects one directly," said King, "affects all indirectly."
    >A hacker once suggested to me that the chat rooms in which he once
    >hung out resembled an island of lost boys, bootstrapping themselves
    >into adulthood without benefit of counsel. They needed an image or
    >icon of higher possibility, he said, which could disclose, illuminate
    >and called forth their hidden possibilities into the light of day.
    >He too was talking about "soul power."
    >First, said King, collect the facts to determine whether injustices
    >are alive.  Then negotiate. Then comes self-purification, and only
    >then, direct action.
    >Self-purification has a quaint ring to it, doesn't it, after decades
    >in which we extolled greed and self-indulgence?
    >But listen to the words of a man who spent his life as a spy.
    >"We need something like a 'holy knight,' he said. "We need people
    >trained in the deepest spiritual truths. In some of the situations in
    >which we put our agents, the only thing preventing a horrible death is
    >their capacity to tune into multiple levels of awareness.
    >"We looked to the east, to martial arts and generic spiritual
    >disciplines back-engineered from other cultures, to train them in
    >those spiritual arts. But I think we have models in our own
    >traditions, we just don't know how to use them."
    >He was talking about the will and discipline to act on behalf of what
    >we see in the depths of our souls. The structures we build on behalf
    >of liberation may constrain us or set us free, but ultimately, it is
    >right action that creates freedom: Right action on behalf of real
    >victims of injustice, after which we have the courage not to mistake
    >the means for the end, the tools for the task, or the people now set
    >free for the freedom they sought.
    >November 21, 2000
    >Islands in the Clickstream is an intermittent column written by
    >Richard Thieme exploring social and cultural dimensions
    >of computer technology and the ultimate concerns of our lives.
    >Comments are welcome.
    >Richard Thieme is a professional speaker, consultant, and writer
    >focused on the impact of computer technology on individuals and
    >organizations - the human dimensions of technology and work - and
    >"life on the edge."
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    >Islands in the Clickstream (c) Richard Thieme, 2000. All rights reserved.
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