@mix I think you are still taking the story too literally. Those things definitely sound like not good things, but are you sure that's really what happened? I mean, whats the source here? maybe all this stuff get revealed after hackworth is brough before some neovictorian court of inquiry, and he puts it like that to avoid seeming like an active participant (he claims he was captured and brainwashed, rather a fugitive in hiding)... I am able to twist the story this way because the particular mindcontrolling aspect of the drummers isn't really very integral to the plot, I mean, you could insert something more like the walkaways into the slot the drummers are in, and keep most of the events of the story the same and it would still work. Like, is it ever explained why the drummers want to liberate the source, other than to create chaos?
Hmm, I think TDA isn't really about the glory of social hierarchy though, that's a backdrop. It's primarily about hackers or tricksters - agents of change slash chaos that exist at the fringes of those social hierarchies, and cause dramatic change to happen (not specifically for better or worse though) - hackworth is certainly that, and the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is a machine for producing hackers (that somewhat backfires on Mr. X). But I think Stephenson's conception of the trickster is fundamentally individualistic.
But the walkaways arn't like that. They certainly have the technical skills and attitude to pass for characters in a Stephenson novel, but they driven far more by caring for each other, and talk about collaboration and empathy far more than any Neal Stephenson characters I can think of. And most importantly, that's not tacked on, it's integral to the plot, if you removed that aspect of the walkaways it would be a completely different book, whereas I think the drug-cult aspect of the drummers is a only a minor element of the overall story.