Alec Empire Interviewed an Anonymous Nazi Hunter for Us
Hey, you know what's a big re-emerging trend in Europe at the moment, besides the Cosby sweater and poverty? Fascism! I mean, it's only the middle of July and so far we've seen nationalists playing football with anarchists' heads in Poland, slapping women on Greek TV and crashing May Day and Gay Pride parties in Sweden and Bristol respectively.
The hacking/general mischief collective Anonymous is pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to scary fashions. Completely unfazed by the hotness of fascist women, a few months ago the group declared war against the many Nazi-loving websites that have begun to flood the internet, with something they called Operation Blitzkrieg and later with a website dedicated to leaking fascists' personal data called Nazileaks.
Finally, do you know who is very good friends with Anonymous? Alec Empire, of Atari Teenage Riot fame. And so, he interviewed one of the members of Anonymous involved in Nazileaks for us. You know, sorta like they do it in Interview magazine – only with a dose of social conscience.
Take it away, Alec.
Alec Empire: Thanks for doing this interview. You are well known for taking down websites and online stores run by neo-Nazi groups. Could you give us an idea of how many of these sites you have managed to successfully attack and sabotage so far?
Anonymous: To be frank, we can't say. Besides the FuckNaziFriday leaks, we attacked so many sites just for fun and without making it public that we never counted.
The worst part about the neo-Nazi sites you're taking down is that the groups behind them manage to get away with it and are often even protected by law. Do you feel that you had to take action, especially in a time when neo-Nazis seem to be able to recruit more and more people? Do you believe that the legal system in Germany is doing anything to stop these groups from growing?
It is not only the duty of the legal system to stop these groups, it is a challenge for society to deal with this shit and to prevent these groups from becoming more influential. The activities and crude and absurd thoughts of the neo-Nazis must be exposed to show what bullshit they are. In our opinion, it is a main goal to drag the Nazi scene out of its plot to garner public attention. Part of this is to leak as many names as possible of their supporters and sympathisers, to show them that the public takes note of their activities.
There has been criticism from people out there who feel that it's wrong to "censor" neo-Nazis, and who believe that our society should tolerate them. I've heard this argument many times in my life – especially from those who are lethargic and never take action...
Well, it may be surprising, but we do not support censorship as we stand for freedom of speech, unless faced with sick and dangerous ideologies. Once you start censoring, you will soon be censored too. We see ourselves as politically diametric to the groups we target. They stand for all we refuse, including the oppression of minorities and censorship. And of course, it's important to show others that and how they can fight groups like Nazis. It's fun, too! When we started playing around with the Nazi sites, we were pretty amused by how stupid and incompetent their setup is.
I know, right? How can you tell people you're going to build a better society for them if you can't even build your own website? Can you tell us about Nazileaks, please?
Initially, Nazileaks was about leaking data we found through Nazi sites. Some are already older, some are really fresh. We want to point out that we do not intend to claim all the leaks for ourselves. Nazileaks is made to inform all those who are interested. It is addressed to the Nazis, too, to show those dumbasses that their conspiracy is nothing but a wet dream. And we will keep on going after them ;)
Whenever I speak to people who don't know much about you, I always get the "Why are they anonymous? What do they have to hide?" thing. I think your actions are the perfect example of why it is so important to allow people to protect their identities online. One big problem that anti-fascist groups have had over previous decades was being constantly threatened and bullied by neo-Nazis. Could you imagine doing what you do without anonymity?
That would be nothing but kamikaze. Hiding our identities is essential for our activities, the same as it is for others who do anti-fascistic work. But aside from that, anonymity will become more and more important, since the governments intend to spy on their citizens more every day. With anonymity, we can observe what the authorities are doing and stay a step ahead of them. And why shouldn't we be anonymous? Would using our real names be more helpful? For what?
It was awesome when you put the Atari Teenage Riot/Anonymous video for the song "Black Flags" up on various neo-Nazi websites. When we saw this on Twitter, we posted it to our fanbase and everybody was like "YES!" Do you think music has a role to play in the fight against Nazis?
Haha, the pleasure was ours to have the infamous ATR playing on the fucking Nazi sites! Music is a good medium for reaching many people and spreading the message.
For us, it was extremely important to keep the song free for activists to use. To me, you guys using the song for this purpose was exactly whywe have to be more open about copyright, for example.
Imagine if the various Anonymous activists had had to ask for "legal" permission beforehand – it would have been impossible. I often use this as an example when I speak to other musicians about how important it is that artists control their own music and do not give it away to music industry bosses who will control it to such an extent that the music is not allowed to spread. Most music industry channels are completely against music with a political message, because they fear it might offend their audience, so a free internet is vital for musicians to spread music that does not conform to that. Isn't it more important to keep those doors open, instead of focusing too much on "music piracy"? Most musicians don't seem to understand why it is so important for them to not let these new laws pass.
Do you listen to music when you use your computer for activism? Or do you need absolute silence? Or do you become one with the machine so that the outside world, even the room you're in, doesn't exist any more?
For some hacking activities we need silence. Getting the victims databases isn’t a one-click-procedure, it can take days or weeks. But when we release data which defaces the victims' servers it's an event with some beer and loud music.
Will the battle against neo-Nazis ever be won? The fascists use the same technology we do, but they don't seem to be getting the message that white supremacy is a dumb idea yet.
It's a main part of the nature of humans that they only understand/see what they want. No technology is able to successfully change this. This we're actually quite happy about, because it results in opinions, even if not all of them meet our point of view. So what? We have to deal with it, it is the quintessence of plurality and democracy. And this is what we finally stand for.
Follow Alec on Twitter: @ALEC_EMPIRE