The direct action group Anonymous has gained a great deal of attention in recent years as a result of its various "ops", usually targeted against governments and large corporations.

However, because of its deliberately amorphous nature, claimed lack of leaders, etc., I find it difficult to get a clear grasp of its overall aims.

Has any serious analysis been done of the (perhaps emergent) ideology of Anonymous? Can it reasonably be described as anarchist, anti-capitalist or something else?

Is it even reasonable to call it a political movement in the first place?

  • ebig maymay :^) we barely forget and forgiveness is a virtue Nov 4, 2016 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


It's not a political movement as it does not have a coherent ideology or goals. It is a mask that can be worn by anybody who wants to gain support of other people to perpetrate certain actions, usually online.There are some factors though that unite those that perform actions under the banner of Anonymous - namely, they consider themselves to be opposed to wrongs perpetrated by people in power, they usually act by disrupting some part of internet infrastructure or publishing some private data that are related to the targets of the attacks. Anonymous is a brand or an idea rather than a movement. This specific idea is not about the goal but about the mode of action - so I do not think one can find any specific aims there.

While actions perpetrated by Anonymous often conflict with various laws, it is not because they are political and ideological anarchists or want to destroy governments in principle and create stateless society, but rather because they perceive specific governments and organisations acting contrary to their (i.e. specific group of individuals perpetrating specific action) wishes and want to punish them for that.

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    An interesting perspective ... perhaps it makes more sense to consider Anonymous as a framework within which political actors can operate, rather than a political actor in itself, then? Nevertheless, there does seem to be some kind of limitation on what is and isn't considered a viable cause to promote via Anonymous. I don't study the group closely (I'm a bit old for 4chan), but I haven't heard of the name being used as cover for (for example) protests against proposals for marriage equality legislation.
    – user97
    Dec 7, 2012 at 2:33
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    I'm not sure there are such protests at the level of Anonymous actions at all - i.e. it may be that target demographic audience of Anonymous just does not have enough individuals that oppose this particular legislation and are inclined to protest in such ways.
    – StasM
    Dec 7, 2012 at 7:18
  • @StasM - Probably a valid guess. But go and try and organize an Anonymous protest against an Arab regime (on any grounds) and see how successful you will be.
    – user4012
    Dec 9, 2012 at 5:49
  • @DVK I do not need to try - this was already tried, for example: mashable.com/2011/08/08/anonymous-syria
    – StasM
    Dec 10, 2012 at 8:35
  • @StasM - since your URL gives me "Sevice Not Available", I will make up a conspiracy theory that it was indeed taken out by Anonymous and this proves me right :) Also, in all seriousness, Syria is a pretty poor example, since 100% of Arab states aside from Iran oppos Al Assad at this point. I meant things like protesting Saudi Arabia over its treatment of women, or Iran over stoning of apostasists or gays.
    – user4012
    Dec 10, 2012 at 16:29

As Anonymous is completely unorganised no study on it can be done as they simply would need to include everyone claiming to be an Anonymous.

You can find people from every corner of the political spectrum involved in Anonymous, I personally know of some from the far-left as well ass from the christian democratic center to right-wing extremists. So describing them as anything is impossible. It is only a label you use if you do not want to create a new organisation for a protest.

Calling it a political movement is surely too far fetched.

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    I don't think this is right. Anonymous claims to be completely disorganised, yes - I'm not sure that should necessarily be taken at face value, though. And while anyone can claim to be Anonymous, not everyone does - which means it ought to be possible to survey the statements, actions etc. of the group in order to establish what it believes, or whether it believes anything. It does seem, at least, to have a core of anti-authoritarianism ... I'd be surprised, for example, to hear that Anonymous is targetting strikers at Wal-mart rather than their employers.
    – user97
    Dec 6, 2012 at 23:39
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    On a tangent ... not everyone would describe Christian Democrats as being in "the center". I'm pretty sure elements of the US Republican Party would consider them to be on the far left, for example.
    – user97
    Dec 6, 2012 at 23:47
  • @ZeroPiraeus of course I describe left-right based on a multi-party system, not by the standards of the U.S. ;) This is probably due to my European descent. We already saw "Anonymous" actions also against "the little guy" because they someone offered help and got rejected. I would not say that this is what most of Anonymous stand for. It is simply that every group of Anonymous acts more or less on their own and so deriving an ideology is not possible. Dec 7, 2012 at 7:03
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    Do you have specific examples of "right-wing extremists" in Anonymous? ( I don't mean 1 guy in a group of 10s of thousands, i mean statistically significant subgrouping)
    – user4012
    Dec 10, 2012 at 16:33

Anonymous is a loosely associated international network of hacktivists.

Because Anonymous is essentially loosely associated and... anonymous, there is no official organ that decides who qualifies as a member of Anonymous.

Although those associating with Anonymous tend to be explicitly anti-authoritarian and consider themselves dissidents within the Western democratic, capitalist system, there is no official ideology. In theory, one can be anywhere on the political spectrum.

In practice, however, Anarchism and variations on Anarchism are the most popular ideologies among those associating with Anonymous, due to the Anarchic, anti-authoritarian nature of the network itself.

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