News came down today that a major conflict has erupted in Second Life. An armed battle by protestors, complete with digital mini-guns, pig bombs (don’t ask) and holographic attacks by Thomas the Tank Engine (again, don’t ask) against Jen-Marie Le Pen’s Front National headquarters in Second Life (why the Front National are even in Second Life is kind of strange – not often a neo-fascist party decides to take up residence in the metaverse).
This is the first major cyber attack in-world in Second Life. The SL Left Unity and AntiFN stormed the FN’s island and opened fire, shooting the place up, blowing up structures and even buying land right beside the FN’s headquarters to protest the presence of the Front National in Second Life. In short, it was vicious.
I know it’s all “in-world” and therefore not especially interesting to most people reading this blog (although you should take Second Life seriously because if Reuters is covering it, that’s a pretty good sign one should take this forum as important) but really, there’s a surprising level of relevance this attack has to the avatars who coordinated the attack today.
As some people may know, there’s a major election happening soon in France that will feature the most radical makeover of French society since the days of Charles De Gaulle. Doug Saunders of The Globe wrote his usually-brilliant column Reckoning (I think Saunders is one of the best writers at the Globe, he’s always interesting and has original, insightful takes on the world – can’t wait to read his eventual book on whatever topic it may be) last weekend about the choices French voters must make soon over the destiny of the country. Nicolas Sarkozy, the heir apparent to Jacques Chirac (although Sarkozy is loathed by the establishment of his own right-wing party, Union for a Popular Movement) and Ségolène Royal, the candidate for the Socialist Party, are at odds over the future of the country. Sarkozy wants France to embrace a more American approach to French society, including a radical change in the country’s labour laws and reforming the welfare state, while Royal is a big fan of Tony Blair and the British Labour party’s approach to politics, including the so-called Third Way strategy.
Unfortunately, European politics does carry with it smacks of extremism that doesn’t always have rational reasons for existing (as a Second Lifer put it over the cyber attacks, “it’s [as if] the history of the 20th century has already been forgotten. It is time to say enough!”), the Front National has a significant base of support, unfortunately (try 18 per cent in the last election for Le Pen’s presidential bid).
Ideological war of words are constant themes in French politics; looks like politically-motivated violence, however “real” it may be (that honestly depends on whether you give a damn or not about Second Life), is front and centre again.