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by
No. But /b/ might be.
The question doesn't make much sense as an anarchy is a form of society while the internet is a tool.
As others have more ably pointed out, the internet as a "thing" (combining the hardware and protocols) is not in itself anarchic. But what about the social structure, and how that structure is shaped by the technology that supports it? The nature of internet communication makes coercion prohibitively expensive. Governments can somewhat restrict child porn, but even that's an uphill battle. To most people, the internet is a largely lawless place, the largest uncontrolled social space the world has seen. As such, do we perhaps have something to learn by observing internet culture? If not anarchy, surely it tells us a lot about how people would behave in genuinely anarchic settings. I must say it seems to be a mixed bag in some regards, with the occasional freewheeling stimulating intercourse competing with omnipresent group-think and misogyny. Maybe someone can give their own thoughts, as my own aren't well formed enough to attempt an answer.

2 Answers

–2 votes
No.
by (550 points)
+3 votes
The internet came into being through the efforts of military organizations and capitalist entrepreneurs. Individual sites and networks may be self-managed and/or self-contained but the core infrastructure of the internet is still operated by governments, capitalists, etc. The existence of "internet kill switches", ubiquitous (and invisible) surveillance, and the number of laws (defined almost exclusively by, again, state and capitalist actors) governing the use of the internet sort of undermine the idea of the internet being an ungoverned space.

Not to mention that the infrastructure of the internet may or may not be something that could only ever be sustained by an ecologically unsustainable capitalist civilization.
by (8.7k points)
I like your answer better.
Yours is more to the point though!
Further more, it most certainly won't be an example of anarchy if CISPA passes...

edited to into a comment
just a logic point here, if it's already not, which you're implicitly accepting, then "most certainly won't if..." doesn't make sense.

also, this isn't an answer to the question, so should be made a comment, please.
Sorry, would you like me to hide this one?

And, I was just saying that it would be much worse.
Otherwise, no shit, it's not an example of anarchy.
You might ask, "Is TPB an example of anarchy?", but that's even iffy.
as i said, it should be made a comment. you don't need to hide it (go into edit. an option to "make into a comment" will be available.)
i understand what you were saying.
I disagree with your answer. Not so much with the "No" part, mainly because I think that the Internet cannot be an example of an anarchy as it is not a society (a book cannot be an example of anarchy either) but more with your reasoning and your assertions about why that is.

It might be that the internet was currently conceived via non-anarchic means but quite frankly I think that the origin of a tool hardly describes what it can be used for but rather just a small part of what it might be used for.

Then the infrastructure of the internet is quite flexible and can be replaced with technology that I think is quite managable in an anarchist society. Have a look into peer-to-peer networks and you might get an idea how an internet might be sustainable.
re: the last paragraph of the comment above:

actually, peer-to-peer networks require the same infrastructure as client-server networks, or star networks, or hierarchical networks, or ....  at least in order to function with the same ubiquity that makes the internet so (seemingly) useful. what you are referring to as "peer-to-peer" is application architecture, not networking infrastructure. the infrastructure still needs to be there, and it is not likely to be feasible without the massive extent of resource extraction, energy (over)usage, displacement of living beings from their habitats, and general planetary destruction as that required by the current internet.

sustainable? no more so than what there is now. sure, more and better "green capitalism" may provide new technologies that might be minor improvements in some areas, but like every other aspect of life in the wonderful world of democrapitalism, greening it up doesn't seem to address the problem, which is behavioral. ie; covering the planet (and the moon, and ...) with solar panels and wind turbines may provide everyone the level of electrical power desired by the developed world (which is the level the developed world wants for the rest of the world, because of course the developed world has the one right way to live for all - and oh yeah, there might be a little bit o cash to be made in that process as well). but does that really address the root issue(s)? might not one ask "why the fuck do modern/civilized humans require so much god damn electricity? and is there any chance we might wratchet it down just a bit, at least until we figure out this poisoned air/water/soil thing?"
Our current network works via connecting end user machines and servers to infrastructure that is responsible for relating all the traffic.
The "one laptop per child" laptops do not need external architecture for networking and according to their site the network performance of those laptops goes up when more of them are in the same network, because they can share unused bandwidth more effectively. That is what I meant when I said "peer-to-peer" networks.
For the internet to be usable it does not need to be as performant as it is today.

To judge how sustainable it is to have the internet I would like to see some statistics on how (electrical) energy usage is distributed on different tasks. I did a quick search but I couldn't find anything usable. If someone else knows where I could find something... Wikipedia doesn't have anything detailed enough.
of course a local area network (lan), which is what you seem to be describing in your "peer-to-peer," doesn't require external infrastructure other than the electricity it uses to run its local equipment and the massive technical and transportation infrastructure required to produce that equipment.

but it also does not allow communication outside that local network, which is the primary value (in this context) of "the internet". the internet is what allows multitudes of those local networks (and the individual people/computers on them) to communicate with each other, opening up the possibilities that are so highly touted (and from some perspectives, rightly so).

while i don't have (or particularly need for my own understanding) statistics, some of the major sources of power involved in running a global network include: obtaining all the resources and requisite extraction to create/build the actual technical infrastructure (computers, networking hardware, cables, monitoring equipment, massive cooling systems, buildings to house them, security to protect them, people to program them, ...); as well as everything needed to actually run it reliably and perpetually.

i realize that is extremely high level and non-specific, but i don't have time right now to go into greater detail.

the actual performance (as in speed of communication) of the internet is not what i am referring to here. shit, we could all use sneaker-net to communicate, especially in your local area network. just not so useful if you want to communicate with someone on another continent, say.

also (to bring it back to the original question), everything i mentioned as being required to create and maintain an internet infrastructure requires massive specialization, something that i personally consider to be largely antithetical to my anarchy.

it is impossible for me to imagine a "sustainable" internet. and though i use the internet frequently and for many purposes, i would love to see it gone, along with most of the rest of what human technological "progress" has wrought (and even worse, what it threatens to bring about, eg the singularity, brain/computer melding, etc).
I voted on an answer here and my response got eaten, so here's a shorter version.

Brain/electronics melding is part of my personal utopia.
You should read this book, which is almost completely unrelated to the question and does *not* describe my personal utopia:
http://sifter.org/~simon/AfterLife/

For statistics I want a breakdown how much of all energy available to humanity is used where. This is because I think that modern capitalism is highly energy-inefficient as it relies on such things as advertising, electronic measures to enforce property rights (lights, electric fences, prisons), high transport costs (in energy) to lower costs (in money)... The same goes for many customs that should become obsolete, like driving large distances for conferences (I acknowledge that talking to someone in person is quite different from talking to them via some kind of medium, but I don't think that applies to organizational matters and if it does there probably is something fishy going on).
Retaining the internet (which I think is quite useful) should be possible when you get rid of those things.

But you are right - intercontinental infrastructure is a problem.
>>  Brain/electronics melding is part of my personal utopia.
>> ...   customs that should become obsolete, like driving large distances for conferences

those examples make it very clear that we have widely divergent desires.

to be clear, i find the latter case to be an extraordinarily limited (and far too specific) example of a practice that i would like to see eradicated. driving *any* distance, for *any* purpose, requires all the same resource extraction, life disruption, infrastructure, etc. the ability for humans to travel long distances in very short periods of time is a huge convenience in today's world (for those that can afford - or otherwise obtain - it), but are all the trade-offs really worth it? clearly no one answer. but i know MY answer.

ultimately, if you and i end up in the same "anarchist society", we will very definitely be at odds (though obviously not on every issue). and as long as what you do does not impact my life in any undesirable ways (and i assume vice versa), we will coexist just fine. unfortunately, the desire to meld your brain with a computer somehow indicates a desire for *more*, and that desire tends to result in the imposition/oppression of others (when realized).


ps: maybe you could tell me something meaningful about the book you claim i should read. saying it is completely unrelated, and does not describe your utopia, gives me absolutely nothing of interest to go on.
To the book:
It is a science fiction novel about a scientist whose mind gets uploaded into a computer with functioning brain emulation software. This causes a major shift in how human society operates.
What I find interesting about this book is that it ignores conventional "obvious" morality completely and is straight utilitarian (I am not). Particularly interesting is how completely dystopian earth seems at the (chronological) end of the book while, when I think about it, it just seems dystopian because I as a human couldn't live there while the people that humanity became can live with it just fine - just like our oxygen-rich atmosphere would be highly toxic to most of the first organisms on earth but is perfect for us.

>> those examples make it very clear that we have widely divergent desires.
I thought so since I came here.
Most people here seem to be primitivist (or is it called something else?) while I am transhumanist.

>> to be clear, i find the latter case to be an extraordinarily limited (and far too specific) example of a practice that i
>> would like to see eradicated. driving *any* distance, for *any* purpose, requires all the same resource extraction,
>> life disruption, infrastructure, etc. the ability for humans to travel long distances in very short periods of time is a
>> huge convenience in today's world (for those that can afford - or otherwise obtain - it), but are all the trade-offs
>> really worth it? clearly no one answer. but i know MY answer.
Well, I don't want to drive a car either and I don't want to drive far, I just see how it helps in the production of food, for example. I also think that we do need efficient food production, so I think that at least this should be worth it.
I just wanted to pick an example that is as independent of personal preference as possible.

>> ultimately, if you and i end up in the same "anarchist society", we will very definitely be at odds (though
>> obviously not on every issue). and as long as what you do does not impact my life in any undesirable ways
>> (and i assume vice versa), we will coexist just fine.
I agree completely.

>> unfortunately, the desire to meld your brain with a computer somehow indicates a desire for *more*, and that
>> desire tends to result in the imposition/oppression of others (when realized).
You could be right about that.
My idea is to expand my body (including the brain) with electronics to the point where my consciousness is not dependent on my original biological body anymore. Living off of sand and light is what I want to achieve, in a way.
just a couple last (counter)points.

first, i am NOT a primitivist. it seems common for technophiles to assumme everyone who does not think technology is the answer to all problems is therefore a primitivist. not true. some - like myself - who have a strong critique of civilization are not necessarily primitivists. compare the writings, for example, of john zerzan or kevin tucker with those of, say, wolfi landstreicher or feral faun. a few possibly relevant links:

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/lawrence-jarach-why-i-am-not-an-anti-primitivist.
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/various-authors-a-dialog-on-primitivism
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/various-authors-an-open-letter-on-technology-and-mediation

i'd say there are a number of folks on this site with anti-civ critiques and who would not identify as primitivist. and for sure some who would.

also, you said (of long distance driving) "...see how it helps in the production of food".  i assume you meant the transportation of food. which raises its own major questions for me, but i think our little side discussion has moved far enough from the original question. :-)
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