This text was written for LeMondeDiplomatique, were it appeared their February 2012 issue. Below is the manuscript as I submitted it. Here's the published version in English, Deutsch, francais, Espangol, Brasilian Portuguese, Norwegian, Slovak, etc
In the course of just one year, using the identity “Anonymous” highly efficient digital attacks have been carried out against global corporations and national governments. All in the name of freedom of speech and social justice. The media coverage has done little to clarify the events, rather, contradictory characterizations of Anonymous have been espoused, ranging from an elite hacker conspiracy, to a loose network of ignorant teenagers, from a major cyber-terrorist threat to a mere nuisance driven by sophomoric humor. None of these characterizations is entirely incorrect, because each captures some fragments of the phenomenon, but they all miss the central element of Anonymous, namely that it is not one, but many, and that it is not a group or a network, but a swarm, or to be correct, multiple swarms that feed off each other.