This post is long, long overdue: in fact, I should have started this website with this post. This is the original Hacker Manifesto by The Mentor, a member of the Legion of Doom hacker crew. It was first published 29 years ago today in Phrack magazine.
A lifetime ago.
It succinctly and eloquently expresses the nature, power, and aspirations of hacker culture, for good and for ill. In the decades since it was written, computers have become a much larger industry, but the hacker mindset and the Silicon Valley mindset should not be confused. There’s nothing in here about IPO’s, networking, or brogrammers. This is a simple, clear philosophical statement, and a call to action: both on the part of hackers, and on the part of the society with which they coexist. You can see the roots of anarcho-hacktivism right here, as tiny shoots about to go very, very big.
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.
Featured Image by alice_d25 on Flickr
Categories: Anarchism, Crypto, Cyber, Cyberpunk, Hackers, Manifestos, News, Philosophy
This is a beautiful piece of Radical Literature. It reads much like the “Port Huron Statement” (authored by Tom Hayden). Even though the Manifesto was composed nearly three scores ago, things have only gotten worse. In the time since it was written our freedoms and civil liberties have been canceled without regard, those that tell the truth–whistle-blowers–are dealt with by the state through assassination or prison. In the unlikely event either of these measures are impossible for the system to impose; you will be painted crazy, a kook, mentally unstable and/or paranoid. In short, truthful statements and warnings from anyone has, and will continue to, derive this persecution. Tell your Great Grandfather all he fought against in WWII has come home to roost and the United States has become a police state with more secrecy than Nazi Germany. Good luck comrades.