paint-brush
THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANSby@brucesterling

THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS

by Bruce Sterling 101mAugust 28th, 2023
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

The story of the Hacker Crackdown, as we have followed it thus far, has been technological, subcultural, criminal and legal. The story of the Civil Libertarians, though it partakes of all those other aspects, is profoundly and thoroughly POLITICAL. In 1990, the obscure, long-simmering struggle over the ownership and nature of cyberspace became loudly and irretrievably public. People from some of the oddest corners of American society suddenly found themselves public figures. Some of these people found this situation much more than they had ever bargained for. They backpedalled, and tried to retreat back to the mandarin obscurity of their cozy subcultural niches. This was generally to prove a mistake. But the civil libertarians seized the day in 1990. They found themselves organizing, propagandizing, podium-pounding, persuading, touring, negotiating, posing for publicity photos, submitting to interviews, squinting in the limelight as they tried a tentative, but growingly sophisticated, buck-and-wing upon the public stage. It's not hard to see why the civil libertarians should have this competitive advantage. The hackers of the digital underground are an hermetic elite. They find it hard to make any remotely convincing case for their actions in front of the general public. Actually, hackers roundly despise the "ignorant" public, and have never trusted the judgement of "the system." Hackers do propagandize, but only among themselves, mostly in giddy, badly spelled manifestos of class warfare, youth rebellion or naive techie utopianism. Hackers must strut and boast in order to establish and preserve their underground reputations. But if they speak out too loudly and publicly, they will break the fragile surface-tension of the underground, and they will be harrassed or arrested. Over the longer term, most hackers stumble, get busted, get betrayed, or simply give up. As a political force, the digital underground is hamstrung.
featured image - THE CIVIL LIBERTARIANS
Bruce Sterling  HackerNoon profile picture
Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling

@brucesterling

Prominent US sci-fi author, Mirrorshades editor, cyberpunk pioneer. Sold debut story, Man-Made Self, in '76.

L O A D I N G
. . . comments & more!

About Author

Bruce Sterling  HackerNoon profile picture
Bruce Sterling @brucesterling
Prominent US sci-fi author, Mirrorshades editor, cyberpunk pioneer. Sold debut story, Man-Made Self, in '76.

TOPICS

THIS ARTICLE WAS FEATURED IN...

Permanent on Arweave
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story in a terminal
 Terminal
Read this story w/o Javascript
Read this story w/o Javascript
 Lite
Muckrack