How foreign Anonymous impairs the Anonymous movement

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Anonymous image

Or to be clearer: how non-English speaking anonymous groups impair the movement without knowing it.

First of all, what is anonymous? Being anonymous if having no distinctive character or recognition factor. It’s having no social identity.

And what is Anonymous? It’s the same + a touch of freedom, justice and human rights activism.

Out of the many videos found of Youtube, to me this one best describes what the anonymous movement is.

To make it short: Anonymous is an idea. An ideal of justice and freedom. It is everybody and nobody at the same time. Nobody can claim to be member of Anonymous, because first of all there is no membership, and second, claiming to be member of Anonymous makes you automatically non anonymous anymore in the eye of the public. However everybody can be A/anonymous. And if an action undertaken under the Anonymous flag is not followed, accepted, or supported by a majority of other anonymous people, then it automatically isn’t part of the Anonymous movement.

This makes it difficult to know whether something is or isn’t Anonymous. Basically, the only way to know is by identifying the number of people taking part of it. If it’s large enough to make a significant impact, it means Anonymous, through the actions of an ever-changing mass of anonymous people, hit. And if does, and then a counter-action denunciates a fraud under the Anonymous flag, then the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of both actions are determined by what actions outweigh the other in terms of participation.

But the most important part is the name. Anonymous. In English-speaking countries, people of this movement wanted to remain anonymous so they called themselves Anonymous. Logical. The strength of the idea remains untouched. Remember: being anonymous means having no identity. The Anonymous, calling themselves Anonymous keep the no-identity important part of the definition clean in the eyes of English speaking people.

But in non English-speaking countries, I believe it has been a huge mistake to keep the same English name – Anonymous. Because for the public in those countries, this name gives a distinctive character to the movement, an identity. It makes a distinction between being Anonymous and whatever-the-word-“anonymous”-is-translated-in-other-languages.

In France for example, they call themselves “Anonymous”. However if you’re French you’re not Anonymous,  you are “Anonyme” [anoneem]. Only then you become truly anonymous to the eyes of the French people. Same goes with other countries.

We are Anonymous

French Anonymous poster: “We are Anonymous. We defend human rights and the rights of all living species on this planet”

Remember the Spanish “Indignados” movement? Wouldn’t you find it weird to keep the same name for the French “Indignés” protests? The Americans didn’t even translate it by “indignants”, it rather was the “Occupy movement”.

However, this translation pattern didn’t happen with Anonymous, whereas the very (non) identity aspect is crucial to the legitimacy and coherence of the movement.

In Spanish-speaking countries, no somos Anonymous, somos anónimos.

In Italy, non siamo Anonymous, siamo anonimi.

In French-speaking countries, nous ne sommes pas Anonymous, nous sommes anonymes.

In Arabic-speaking countries, well, you get the message right? (Any visitor speaking Arabic here?)

One might replicate Anonymous is international and has no nation. It’s true. But even though it is just idea, it’s still carried by people. People speaking various languages. And therefore, each Anonymous operations should adapt to the language context in which actions are undertaken so that the actions remain truly anonymous. This obviously goes with operations at a scale of a country or a region.

So if you are a non-English speaking Anonymous, stop betraying your very own (non) identity, call yourself the translated word for “anonymous” in your language. Because you’re not anonymous for English-speaking people, you should be anonymous for the people of your country.

What do you think?

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Posted in Politics

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About me
I'm passionate about sustainable lifestyles and urban agriculture. I believe that community-supported initiatives and bottom-up policies are key to foster necessary societal changes. I'm an advocate of degrowth, agro-ecology, sharing economy and participatory democracy. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia, I like learning, reading, writing, sharing, hiking, dancing, eating, and celebrating.
Nicolas Giroux
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