Violence in the streets scares the shit out of the authorities. More than guerrilla geeks, student rioters in the streets send the authorities into a panic, making them so repressive that the violence boomerangs. The authorities lose control of the situation and whatever moral high ground they may claim. Guerrilla geeks also frighten the authorities, but Internet attacks are an abstraction even when damaging. Watch this 15-year-old British schoolboy lay out the stakes with courage and eloquence. Is he a younger version of Mario Savio for 2010? Those Brits seem tougher, way tougher, than our candy-ass American students.
Update: Jan. 3, 2011 -- "They can't stop us demonstrating," he said, "they can't stop us fighting back, and however much they try to imprison us in the streets of London, those are our streets." But, as it turns out, it's not their Internet. The video of the speech has been taken down from YouTube. Other videos showing the riots in the streets, including one also linked in this blogpost, have been taken down as well. Apparently the Internet itself scares the shit out of the authorities.