Non-Self as the Revolutionary Praxis of Anonymous
[No Self, Not Self and 18 Forms of Emptiness, Pt. 2]
Since Buddhism has arrived in the west in the age of post-modernism, neo-liberalism and global capitalism, it’s time that we put aside traditionalist dharma born in the Iron Age of the Near East. We need to liberate buddhemes such as no self, emptiness and karma from their status as devotional relics and repurpose them as revolutionary praxis for the hyper-linked, hyper-textual age.
The push-back against the global corporate state has moved past identity politics and the notoriety of the individual activist. It has evolved into the anonymous post-identity of hacktivist groups like Anonymous, Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA), and the masked feminist protest group, Pussy Riot. These groups use mask to hide their individual identities and amplify their solidarity as a group. Masked anonymity is redeployed as a revolutionary non-self.
We Interrupt this Message
“We are Anonymous and we are everywhere—you just never know where we’re going to show up next.” The revolutionary performative is deeply collective and marks the group as dissident. Yet it can also be deployed anonymously and virally, until it emerges as a disruption of the expected. The revolutionary as masked non-self unleashes the courage of the hacktivist to boldly confront armed police and fascist regimes.
Anonymous pioneered the use of the V for Vendetta mask to hide the individual identities of group members. Besides shielding activists from police surveillance, it also works as a performative non-self as protest.
Hacking is the insertion of a shocking substitute message for the expected ‘real’ one at a site of networked distribution. Anonymous hacks into global computer and surveillance systems to disrupt commerce, government surveillance, and retrieve high-security information.
The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) is a United Kingdom-based anti-authoritarian left-wing activist group that uses clowning and non-violent tactics to act against corporate globalisation, war, and on other issues. (Wikipedia).
Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk band, engages in forms of anonymous protest. All the members of the band wear a balaclava for their public performances, which, although it masks their individual identities, strengthens the impact of their collective protest. They use shocking performance to uncover structures of power, disrupt relations of oppression, and scream for a liberated, autonomous yet relational form of life. They devise performances that use common tropes (punk rock) in ordinary environments (church), yet remix and reinterpret them to shock audiences into the realization of their place in the power structure and the possibility of liberation.