After the jump, you will be confronted with a more in-depth analysis of "Anonymous" and the war that they're fighting.
The Anatomy of a Cyber-War
Project Chanology was commenced in retaliation to the internal Scientology video that was leaked over the internet on January 15th only to be stripped off of most websites due to copyright violation claims of the Church of Scientology. On January 16th, "Anonymous" (the group in the video), was successful in momentarily taking down Scientology.org via denial-of-service attacks (DoS's for short). After a series of ensuing attacks, many unsuccessful, but some successful nonetheless, "Anonymous" issued its second public statement on January 25th, 2008:
So, who are these people who call themselves "Anonymous"? While the press is describing them as a group of vigilante activists, that definition is only partially true.
"We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget."
Logistically, the group that calls themselves "Anonymous" is an online community, its namesake being the "chan" forums (4chan, 711chan, etc.) they congregate at, which require them to post anonymously. To say the worst, it is an online gathering of a bunch of kids who are "hackers on steroids" (quoted from FOX 11 News, Los Angeles). While both interpretations are technically correct, I'm willing to bet that anyone who is part of "Anonymous" would tell you that those definitions are completely wrong. So, as none of those explanations suffice, I will make an attempt to give the best explanation I can give for the group that calls itself "Anonymous."
Think of the internet as a single organism where all of its content, as a collective whole, is its consciousness -- a mind so to speak. When applying Freud's three principles of psychoanalysis to this collective whole, the group that calls themselves "Anonymous" would invariably be classified as its inner desires, more commonly known as the id. The forums they post on are completely random and nearly devoid of rules; the only restrictions being illegal content. Thus, the "humor" of the majority of the posts is centered around black comedy in the form of amorality that is [more often than not] offensive, misogynistic, aggressive, racist, homophobic, instinctual and xenophobic in nature. No racial group is spared, no villain is overlooked for praise, no fetish is unrecognized and no taboo or obscenity is too great... and that's the point. Language on the forums is intentionally destroyed and reinvented in the form of abbreviations that are nearly nonsensical to the average person. "We are the face of chaos... We laugh in the face of tragedy. We mock people who are in pain. We ruin peoples' lives simply because we can... We are the embodiment of humanity with no remorse, no caring, no love and no sense of morality. We only have a desire for more and more" speaks their video manifesto to FOX News in response to their report on them.
Hacking is their trademark, as many affiliated sites boast that "Anonymous" is responsible for about 90% of all the hacking that occurs on the internet. Their targets are wide, and often times indiscriminate. They are responsible for the attacks on Ebaum's World and Hal Turner's website. If you or anyone you know has had their Myspace account hacked into, that is most likely the work of "Anonymous." A successful hack that causes misery to the receiving party is called "lulz", a play on internet semantics that is a corrupted LOL. If the scope of a "lulz" is huge, it is termed "epic lulz" and depending on the severity of a failed hack, it can be termed "fail" or "epic fail".
Is the war against Scientology the work of activism? Well that's the $60,000 dollar question. Internally, there are huge arguments about the actual intents if this war.
Given the id-ridden nature of "Anonymous", many of its members are asking questions like, "Since when did we start doing this hacking bullshit for the greater good of mankind?" If you listen to the declaration of war video, you'll notice that it says, "Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind, and for our own amusement." Given that the movement has been growing substantially in both support and press over the last week, there are implications that the group's true intents might still be nihilistic in nature, only bringing morality into the picture in order to enlist more manpower to aid their gigantic undertaking.
The Projected Winners?
It's impossible to tell at this point. As of right now things look grim for "Anonymous". They are taking on an organization with more political & media influence and more money than they have. Many of their most recent raids have been trumped due to Scientology.org moving it's site to a more secure server. Additionally, some of their own sites have seemingly come under attack. 711chan and partyvan (partyvan being the site that hosted Project Chanology's website) are out of commission. However, I wouldn't count on believing any of this and most of these "defeats" could very well be red herrings. The support for "Anonymous" is growing by the day and that is something that is not to be discounted. This movement is startlingly similar in style to V for Vendetta and "Project Mayhem" from Fight Club where everything and anything is more than what it seems. Only time will tell. While I am merely an observer of this happening and personally do not endorse either side, I do have to say that it would be pretty damn funny seeing Tom Cruise pwned.