But times change, and that change has been accelerated by the changing context in which human communities have been coming to organize their activities outside the state. The rise of al-Qaeda and other non-governmental communities has provided evidence that the apparatus and legitimacy framework of a state is unnecessary for the organization and deployment of power--even military power. See, e.g., Miles Kahler, "Collective Action and Clandestine Networks: The Case of al Qaeda," in Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance (Miles Kahler, ed.) Cornell University Press, 2009.
But globalization has permitted the successful growth not merely of non-governmental organizations structured in a way that mimics the state, but of other forms of organization that express temporal and objectives related aggregations of individual will for collective action. These temporary but powerful aggregations of action are organized around fidelity to ideologies that serve as the foundation for action. The power of these amalgamations and their effectiveness in actions against other non-state actors, and even states, has been recently evidenced in the reaction to the concerted activities against Julien Assage and his efforts to disclose secret information obtained principally by those who work against the interests of the United States and its allies.
Among the most interesting forms of coercive action collectives that have emerged from the Assange affair has been a collective (I do not call them a group) that styles itself "Anonymous."
Anonymous is not an organization. There are no official members, guidelines, leaders, representatives or unifying principles. Rather, Anonymous is a word that identifies the millions of people, groups, and individuals on and off of the internet who, without disclosing their identities, express diverse opinions on many topics. To be Anonymous does not imply thinking or acting in concert with others who are Anonymous; rather, it describes a way of communicating and promoting social change. . . . We continue to believe that diverse individuals who share common ideals can progress beyond the temporary satisfaction of retaliation and toward efficient, targeted and sustained activism. Together, we can shed a beacon of hope that will illuminate our defense of freedom and our consciousness of shared humanity. (Why We Protest).
Kim Jong Il is Healthy (well, at least, on canvas), Where the Hell Am I, Sept. 30, 2008 (quoting David Heather: "As important tools in the mobilization of the masses, posters have to have an instantaneous impact on the viewers' understanding and their desire to act upon this understanding. Their message has to be accessible, clear and direct; informative and explanatory, as well as exhortative. The link between contemplation and action is crucial.").
a collection of individuals united by ideas. You likely know Anonymous, although you don't know exactly who we are. We are your brothers and sisters, your parents and children, your superiors and your underlings. We are the concerned citizens standing next to you. Anonymous is everywhere, yet nowhere. Our strength lies in our numbers. Our will as a whole is the combined will of individuals. Our greatest advantage is a knowledge of the fundamentals we share as human beings. This knowledge is a fruit of our anonymity. (More About Anonymous).
Anonymous is comprised of people from all walks of life and has no rigid hierarchy or leadership. Our organization is accomplished entirely through the voluntary action and collaboration of individuals, many of whom do not know each other directly. . . . The leadership of Anonymous is non-existent. We have no controlling party. We fall under the sway of no individual or organization. We are directed only by the decisions of the whole. Guidance comes from the message, not from the individual. (More About Anonymous).