As this piece was first published in 1996, I’m most definately not the first to repost this. Heck, I’m probably not the first to include such a disclaimer as to my taking the easy way out and not furnishing you with a proper post. I could have gone two ways– as before, by sheepishly admitting my unoriginality; or by issuing a terse belch of a comment that would be interpreted as nothing more of me being proud of being unoriginal. So much goes unsaid now, with this prevalent attitude of “everything’s been said and done before, so why expound on it,” but I don’t care. Here, instead of daring you to discover whether I have any thoughts at all, I’m making it easier for you to crack into my thought mechanics and find out what makes me tick. I won’t say anything silly or terse like “Read this it’s good” or “this is awesome!” but I state with no ounce of triviality or condescension: this piece resonates so profoundly for me that I consider it an integral part of my personality. No other piece of work has influenced me so in my first, cautious footsteps into the “world of computers” or, indeed, my growth as a person.
We truly are in a new phase in societal evolution, where the flow of information and thought is beginning to change this planet for the better. Of course, this is threatening the old power structures that have ruled for so long– would these corrupt, dogmatic systems exist at all if everyone knew of their corruption? What if everyone found out about every last dirty lie States and corporations have been telling for centuries? If we found that our problems are the same as people across the world? If we realized that the arbitrary division of peoples was just that, and we could live and love with people half a world away? I will protect this beautiful new world we’re making– because it’s truly free.
The Hacker Manifesto
Another one got caught today, it’s all over the papers. “Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal”, “Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering”…
Damn kids. They’re all alike.
But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950’s technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?
I am a hacker, enter my world…
Mine is a world that begins with school… I’m smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me…
Damn underachiever. They’re all alike.
I’m in junior high or high school. I’ve listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. “No, Ms. Smith, I didn’t show my work. I did it in my head…”
Damn kid. Probably copied it. They’re all alike.
I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it’s because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn’t like me… Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I’m a smart ass.. Or doesn’t like teaching and shouldn’t be here…
Damn kid. All he does is play games. They’re all alike.
And then it happened… a door opened to a world… rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict’s veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought… a board is found. “This is it… this is where I belong…” I know everyone here… even if I’ve never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again… I know you all…
Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They’re all alike…
You bet your ass we’re all alike… we’ve been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak… the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We’ve been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.
This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore… and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge… and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias… and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it’s for our own good, yet we’re the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can’t stop us all… after all, we’re all alike.
No, don’t ask me what I’ve done; I wouldn’t tell you anyway. I’m not into anything for notoriety, “criminal intent” or monetary gain, I’m just cursed with curiosity.
Let us then surrender to the notion that our fight is to exist, and our methods are simple persistence. To deny this is high treason against ourselves; that we are possessed of any nobler goal than to live our lives unencumbered by the yoke of the Fascist denigrates that which is core to our being.
We are free. It is the fate of those who enslave their minds to the dogma of rigid order to be those who enslave, and to hate and destroy the things they cannot enslave. Born free, we shall die free, for neither our birth nor death exists to submit to the whims of the Fascist, the Theocrat, the Corporatist. We die when we are ready to die and we are born when we are ready to live. Are we not then reborn every day we commit ourselves to the struggle to live? Do we not die when we yield to the cruelty of those who would have dominion over our innermost thoughts?
The bullet may shatter our lungs, the rod may deform our skulls and the lash may eat away our flesh, but there exists no weapon that can choke the life out of our thoughts. Pity the totalitarian, for he cannot recognize this. His is a world of rigidity, where cause has a dogmatically prescribed and politically approved effect. He thinks that his chemical gas can change minds, and his steel-toed boot can influence votes. Does it? Do his armbands, his starched shirts and criminal thugs convince you that theirs is not only the path to utopia, but that a utopia exists?
We, the free people, know utopia cannot exist. We know this because utopia purports to be pure virtue, but this necessitates the coexistence with pure corruption. The totalitarian claims that their Utopia, once achieved, will drive out all corruption and impurity; but the free person knows this to be false because Utopia must therefore have always existed, and if it were pure virtue, it would never need an army of the demonstrably corrupt to be its ardent proponents. Rather, we free people know that the struggle itself is what matters most, not the goal. The Fascist believes that by simply occupying the arbitrary position of their narrow definition of “utopia” that all will crumble before them. What consternation they must feel when the sub-humans, misfits and undesirables not only continue to exist, but actively resist. We know that living is pain, and those who would have us believe that a mystical cure-all exists for this are lying.
Our very existence does harm to them more than any number of bombs, bullets or ballots. This is why we, the free persons– the Anarchists– are hated.
I wear their hatred proudly.