Posted on | September 10, 2013 | 59 Comments
Barrett Brown interviewed by NBC’s Michael Isikoff, 2011
“There are strong reasons for believing that what to us appear the worst features of totalitarian systems are not accidental byproducts but phenomena which totalitarianism is certain to sooner or later produce.
“Just as the choice architect who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure.
“It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more ‘successful’ in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”
– Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)
Last night someone on Twitter sent me a link to a Pastebin file that contained the transcript of an IRC chat that Barrett Brown had with a hacker in March 2011. Brown at that time had been acting as unofficial spokesman for “Anonymous” for about a month. At that time, Brown was angry at Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs.
Anyone who knows my history with LGF knows how I feel about Charles Johnson. Put it this way: If Charles Johnson went out riding his bicycle on the Pacific Coast Highway and got run over by a semi truck, I’d nominate the truck driver for a Nobel Peace Prize.
OK, so no love lost there, but what this IRC chat transcript revealed was that Barrett Brown was willing to use a hacker (whose knowledge of Johnson and LGF consisted entirely of what Brown told him) to shut down Little Green Footballs — for pure personal spite.
Barrett Brown was a selfish, arrogant famewhore and, after Charles Johnson “parted ways with the right” in late 2009, Brown saw in this a potential opportunity to jump on a bandwagon that would enhance his own gloriousness, and used his blogging access at Vanity Fair to promote a proposed collaboration with Charles Johnson that would eventually become “Project PM.” Eventually, however, Brown’s wretched habits — Barrett is one of the most shameless bullshit artists ever to walk the Earth — made this collaboration impossible. By December 2010, Johnson and Brown had a falling-out, and Barrett recorded a YouTube video describing their abortive partnership:
“Obviously, it was a mutually beneficial working relationship. We had certain shared goals, you know, we said nice things about each other. We had sex on the beach. We wore condoms, though. I’m just kidding — it was barebacking. . . . Charles Johnson is not being very factual. He’s deleting comments. He’s deleting his own comments. It’s really a little much.”
That video was later deleted, but clearly Barrett Brown bore a grudge against Johnson so that, four months later in March 2011, he solicited a hacker to knock Little Green Footballs offline.
Here’s the thing: It took only five minutes for the hacker to accomplish this criminal mischief, merely to satisfy Barrett Brown’s grudge.
There’s no love lost between CJ and me, of course, but the digital vigilante ethos of Anonymous, which enabled Brown basically to put out a “hit” contract on his enemy, is what was wrong with the Anonymous project from Day One. The radical slogan, “By Any Means Necessary” — which recognizes no ethical limits in political combat, but justifies dishonesty and criminality as long as these serve to advance the Glorious Cause — encourages and incites wrongful tactics against anyone identified as an Enemy of the Glorious Cause.
And anyone can become such an Enemy, simply by becoming a nuisance to one of the leaders of the radical mob.
This brings us to the Hayekian insight: Why the Worst Get on Top.
Barrett Brown coveted leadership status with Anonymous for selfish reasons, and one of those reasons was that, if anyone disagreed with or criticized Barrett Brown, he could sic his hacker buddies on them, to shut down their Web sites, to dox them or otherwise harass them, to intimidate them, to smear them.
The Pastebin of the March 2011 IRC chat between Barrett and the hacker whose attack temporarily shut down Little Green Footballs has been deleted (because, I suspect, the person who posted it is friends with the hacker) but what I read there stunned me. This hacker had never heard of Charles Johnson or LGF, and had no knowledge of how or why the yearlong collaboration between Charles and Barrrett had ended badly. All this hacker knew was that Barrett said Charles was a bad person and, within a matter of minutes, the hacker had LGF offline.
Think about that. No matter how much you hate Charles Johnson — and I hate him like God hates sin — this vindictive hacker attack incited by Barrett Brown was entirely unscrupulous. Besides being an all-purpose douchebag, what had Charles Johnson done to deserve that, except to have once befriended Barrett Brown?
Yet who but a douchebag would ever be Barrett’s friend?
Bad causes attract bad people. Julian Assange is a bad person and WikiLeaks is a bad cause, and when members of Anonymous mobilized in support of Assange (and in support of the traitor
Bradley Chelsea Manning), it was inevitable that those marching beneath the Anonymous/WikiLeaks banner would include some of the very worst people in the world, e.g., the criminal drug dealer “Sabu,” who rolled over like a punk to save himself from prison.
The radical anarchist is the enemy of all mankind. He may be able to cite a laundry list of grievances against the status quo, but his real grievance is his own childish resentment of authority, his sociopathic craving for a lawless world in which there are no hindrances to the fulfillment of his own depraved and selfish desires. Alienated from society, with no friends except those fellow outcasts who share his resentful attitude, the radical anarchist seeks to destroy, rather than to reform, the institutions of civil society. His impulses are those of a juvenile vandal hurling a stone through the glass window of a department store and claiming that this is a blow against “Corporate America.”
Anyone who thinks they can benefit from association with such radical anarchists must eventually learn a painful lesson.
Because the ethos of anarchism is wholly selfish, the radical who is your “friend” today will sooner or later betray your trust and, because his irresponsible worldview always absolves him of fault, the radical will blame you for whatever went wrong between you. And if the anarchist thug mob sides with your ex-friend in the resulting conflict, you will find the outlaw tactics you once cheered (when they were directed against your enemies) are now turned against you. And because you have, by joining this mob, eschewed the protection of law — anarchists don’t call the cops, eh? — you will find you have no effective way to fight back against your thuggish ex-friends.
Utmost savagery is therefore the only safety within the mob. Obtaining a reputation as a dangerous antagonist — a man not to be crossed, who wreaks total vengeance against his enemies — can only be accomplished by repeated acts of brutality, and such acts therefore become habitual to members of the mob. What was the purpose of the Moscow Show Trials, except to demonstrate Stalin’s ability and willingness to destroy anyone who threatened his power?
This is why I am an opponent of such tactics, and of any individual or movement that encourage such tactics. Being an enemy of radicalism is always less dangerous than being an ally of radicals. If you see someone acting on the principle that the end justifies the means, be assured their vicious means will soon become ends unto themselves.
Perhaps Charles Johnson can write a lengthy explanation of why his friendship with Barrett Brown was such a mistake. And perhaps, in writing such an account, Charles Johnson can persuade some journalists to stop celebrating Barrett Brown as a First Amendment hero.
Charles Johnson might thereby cheat a truck driver out of a Nobel Prize nomination, but this would be a small sacrifice, eh?
P.S.: Jen Emick found a Google cache of that deleted Pastebin showing Barrett inciting a hacker against Little Green Footballs. A certain Twitter account claims that this IRC log is a forgery, but that Twitter account is a Neal Rauhauser fanboy, and so is not to be trusted.