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A loose collection of empowered small agents working under the identity of 'Anonymous' effectively rendered the UK Government's Home Office website inoperable by a denial of service attack last week. The explanation provided by the perpetrators is that they are members of a 'group' protesting about its government's obsession with mass surveillance of the UK's general population, and also to protest about the British government's willingness to extradite UK citizens to the US for crimes allegedly committed within the UK. Meanwhile, both UK and US government current crime reduction understanding of why this sort of thing happens is largely limited to the debunked notion that the ludicrously simplistic RAT opportunity truism (ratortunity) can be a cause of crime. Ratortunity is essentially the illogical conclusion of the weird premise that those who commit crimes start to do so because they were able to do so after they succeeded; or that offenders who attempted to commit a crime failed due to an outcome decided before they even started (see: Sutton 2012).
Alternatively, perhaps we should be more rational and logical and concern ourselves more with cultural and political explanations for human action in order to understand how ' supply and demand for deviancy' interacts with what causes motivations to increase and decrease, so that targets of crime become more or less relatively vulnerable at different times by offenders who are able to train themselves to be more effective if motivated and able to do so. This is something I begin to work towards in my essay The Switching Point (Sutton 2012).
Moreover, the Norwegian Criminologist Nils Christie offers some interesting thoughts that might shine some light on other potentially promising explanations for what Anonymous are up to than the current administrative criminology, Crime Science, and Crime Opportunity Theory Ratology platitudes that effectively do no more than inform us that offenders offend simply because they can, which effectively amounts to little more than that punchline to the old crude joke that asks : "why do dogs lick their private parts?"
Outside of such officially sanctioned and widely accepted, yet muddled, thinking that truisms can be theories of causality, here is what Christie writes:
'The extreme growth in the number of intellectuals in industrialized societies might open the way for a measure of protection against the consequences of the market economy and the accompanying dangers of ending up in conditions close to civil war. The growth in the number of students will probably create a huge academic surplus. Surplus in the sense that they will not get a paid job where their education is of relevance to their employment. They might in the future end up as members of a highly educated proletarian class, with income from social security, or, in the best case, from a basic minimum wage for all. In this situation they will nevertheless remain as a category particularly trained for cultural activities. Intellectuals, artists and old fashioned craftsmen, probably what is called "artisans" by the English, have one activity in common - they build. They build with music, clay, paint, figures or words. Absorbed in their mėtier, their activity will often be transformed from labour to work, or in the German version, Werk, that final goal for creation. When that happens, the market economy loses its totalitarian reign. Human beings find other reasons than money for labour, and wealth ceases as the symbol of fulfillment of life.'(Christie 1998: 127)
Thinking about Christie's conclusions I cannot help but wonder, and wish to know more about the extent to which, Anonymous might actually be working as a useful outcrop of grass-roots governance in a democratic civic society?
Christie, N. (1998) Roots of a Perspective. in Holdaway, S. and Rock, P. Thinking about criminology. UCL Press. Taylor and Fancis. London.
Sutton, M. (2012) On Oportunity and Crime. Dysology.org. http://dysology.org/page8.html