Sexual Harassment, Anarchy, and the Tor Project

Back in November of last year, I shared this openDemocracy video of Jacob Appelbaum, “journalist and researcher for the Tor project, [talking] about technology, freedom and resisting surveillance at the World Forum for Democracy.”

While this current post has no bearing on his rousing speech or the approach to technology with regard to communication (and vice versa) it supports, I’m compelled to write it as a sort of follow-up.

Recently a number of women claiming sexual assault, sexual humiliation, and rape have spoken up publicly about being victimized by Jacob. Some of them are/were significantly involved in the Tor Project while others may be associated with the broader cryptographic & cybersecurity community.

I read all of the accounts to date, some of which are still anonymous, one of which is lengthy and provides a large amount of context, and I believe that they should all be believed. I’ll link them at the bottom.

In the media—especially social media—talk abounds in regard to the subject of sexual harassment permeating all levels of society, but I want to highlight something that will be different than what we in the US usually hear and expect with regard to our legal system and notions of punishment.

Two of the victims, Isis Agora Lovecruft (@isislovecruft), and Alison Macrina (@flexlibris) are or were involved in anarchist collectives (Isis Agora is much more prominent about her anarchist status, as evidenced from her personal website) and as a result have opinions that contrast with what mainstream society may expect.

Below are some excerpts from their posts.

Alison Macrina:

People speaking up were dismissed as a lynch mob — an ahistorical and offensive way to describe a critical mass of people who had previously been silenced and were demanding accountability. There have been repeated calls for “due process” and the involvement of the court system, which ignores the violence that system perpetuates against both accuser and accused. Calls for police intervention are particularly alarming to hear from a community in which so many advocate for a stateless society.

For all of you screaming “This is not what justice looks like! Why don’t you just go to the police?!” let me just wax realpolitik and, like a good little German, quote some Gesetz and cite some statistics.

The “due process” of a state court, in my case, will be detrimental to both Jake and I, as well as numerous other people. The law is very clearly against both of us in this case, with the overwhelmingly likely outcome that he would be kicked out of Germany.

Isis Agora Lovecruft:

Not to mention that, if our goal is to prevent more people from being harmed by Jake, prison is not an option. Overwhelmingly likely, even in Germany, Jake would be raped in prison. I do not wish these painful things I’ve gone through on anyone, not even those who have caused me pain. Further, most abusers have a history of having been abused at some point in their past, and Jake going to prison certainly will not help him amend his behaviour.

And here is part of Lovecruft’s statement on her website:

I am an anarchist! And when I say that, I do not simply mean that I would like to see all States destroyed, social hierarchies crumble, and state capitalism perish. I mean that I believe inequalities in power dynamics pose a hindrance to the progression of human thought and scientific understanding, that the overall degrees of freedom for collected conscious agents should be maximised, and that all forms of government are intrinsically immoral due to their disregard of individual consent. I don’t believe in control even down to the microcosmic, interpersonal level. Expressed more colloquially: “fuck you, you’re not my dad! make total destroy! kill it with fire.

I note these statements—which are but small passages of their posts regarding Jacob and his abuses—because they are in stark contrast to the prevailing incarceration-centric approach here in the US, which can be seen very notably and recently in the Stanford case of Brock Turner.

I by no means wish to say Brock doesn’t deserve an extended prison sentence (I signed a petition to recall Judge Persky who so leniently let him off, but my justification for signing lies outside the scope of this post), but only to juxtapose the community-centric approach and emphasis on transformative justice that anarchists—especially these two—espouse for terrible crimes.

Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts – TED2012

Susan Cain is so inspiring.

I read her book, Quiet, in 2013 and nearly every page spoke to me. Not only is she a powerful writer, but she is quite the public speaker, despite acknowledging that being up in front of a large TED audience is not her “natural milieu.”

Marx’s Theory of Historical Materialism

I’ve been going through this Yale “Foundations of Modern Social Theory” course, and this is the best lecture so far. This lecture has taught me more about Marx’s ideas & theories than I’d known up to this point. And while I don’t know nearly enough to consider myself a Marxist by any stretch, my appetite for more has been whetted and I’m glad there are two more remaining lectures in the course on Marx.


Outside of an anthropocentric domain, speciesism is a wider problem than racism or sexism: it affects immensely more beings. I want to believe that fixing the former eventually will fix the latter (a top-down approach), though perhaps a bottom-up approach is more realistic: most humans are concerned with humans first, be it themselves, their friends and families, their colleagues, or their community. With practice and progress, this should extend to their fellow people everywhere.

I feel I need to revisit Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation at some point; it’s what spurred this thought.

A further adjunct for the above is the idea of “reciprocal compassion” that Tocqueville believes comes about from democracy, as discussed by Yale professor Steven B. Smith in this lecture:

Since non-human beings are unlikely to be an active part of democracy as we know it (and hence active agents if eliciting change), do modern democracies help foster compassion with animals and other living things?