wikis and anarchism?

All over the world, political systems and worldviews are in crisis, and many people seem to express their political choices in their consumer choices, in clothing or musical taste. Anarchism is presented as one of the few genuine alternatives to global capitalism, and it also fits well with much of the new collective and anti-hierarchical spirit of the ‘information age’ and ‘network society’, apparent in blogs and wikis as new grassroots media. As it happens,, the Finnish umbrella website of various anarchist groups also sports a wiki on anarchism. Visiting it today, it displays a front page loaded with wiki spam (“buy darvocet, generic darvocet, order darvocet…”) and comment areas covered with over one thousand porn advertisements. Even while deeply sympathising with philosophical anarchism as the fundamental ‘good life philosophy’, there is something symptomatic in the obvious lack of care or disregard that this wiki displays. As I understand, media and society are rather similar phenomena as you go deep enough. Having a good, open wiki requires similar preconditions like a good, anarchistic society: an active, functional community who actually cares about each other and their surroundings. Not really having that care, you end up with a failed experiment, filth-covered wikis, and streets with broken windows.

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the Tampere University, Finland. Occasional photographer and gardener.

2 thoughts on “wikis and anarchism?”

  1. I think what you’re seeing here is runaway capitalism, not an uncaring anarchism. The aforementioned sex ads and such are not there because the authors of the wiki don’t care. I suspect they were naive and did not put in place necessary safeguards to keep out the overhwleming ocean of sex-based internet spambots and web sites.

    In order to have an anarchism-based society, even if it exists only in cyberspace, one must start with certain requirements for membership in the society. Since the rules are what sets apart one society from another, the rules for an anarchist society must be established and enforced in order for the society to recognize and support itself, and maintain its distinction from other societies. Anarchism is not about no rules, its about no rulers.


  2. Hayduke, thanks for your comment. I totally agree, and it was also interesting to visit your pages and read the essays on anarchism. The problem is that the popular image of anarchism today at least here in Finland is dominated by the violent extremists who seem to be interested in attacking imperialism by destroying private property, rather than by committing into visible, constructive acts of alternative social organisation (whatever those would be). That wikis needs to be protected, that common space needs to be protected, that there needs to be rules, even if the rules can be deeply different from those that underlie contemporary society, that I believe.

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