This is so very excellent, in so many ways!
|elf (elf) wrote,
@ 2011–12–29 10:41 am UTC
|Entry tags:||#occupy, communication, kyriarchy|
A few days ago, Cory Doctorow gave a speech at 28c3, the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin, and he talked about, among other things, the Occupy movement. That part caught my attention so hard I had to transcribe it. This begins 45 minutes in, during the Q&A portion, in which he starts by comparing the laws against computer freedoms to the war on drugs, and then tangents somewhat:
I’m much more optimistic about what computers can do for justice struggles because by definition, people in charge have already figured out how to coordinate their actions, right; that’s how they got to be in charge. So, giving them technology to make them better-coordinated is a small, incremental improvement, whereas people who are oppressed, by definition, have no capacity to steer the state and work collectively. Adding the capacity to work collectively to people who are at the bottom is a phase change for them in a way that it’s not [for the ones on top] – it’s a difference in kind and not just a difference in degree. And so I think that computers and networks allow us to do stuff together that we could never have done before, and the more computers and networks we get, the more things we can do together with them.
There is this kind of tedious thing that happened, about 6 or 8 months ago, whenever I mentioned the word "anonymous" in public. I would say, "anonymous is a group that…," and someone would come along and go, "they’re not a group." And I’d say, "anonymous, last week, did…" and they’d say "anonymous never does anything." And I’d say, "People using the name anonymous did–" "Well, they didn’t all call themselves anonymous; some of them called themselves ‘lulsec’ and some of them called themselves ‘anti-sec’," and like that and on and on and on. And for a while I thought it was just this sort of tedious word game, you know it’s "free/libre/open-source," you know, this kind of endless kind of "correct speak."
But then I realized that it was actually because anonymous and many other new kinds of institutions that we’ve seen in the last year are novel. That we don’t actually have a vocabulary; there’s something new on this earth. This kind of affinity organization that doesn’t have the same hierarchical structures even if there are pockets of leadership the way that there are with anon-offs or bits of Occupy being spokespeople or coordinators, that it’s not anything like what these institutions would’ve been ten or twenty years ago.
You couldn’t have had anything on the scale of Occupy, you know, simultaneous coordinated actions in cities all over the world—you couldn’t possibly have had that without a big, sort-of military-style command and control organization prior to the network, prior to the internet. And so we lack a vocabulary to describe them; we lack a vocabulary even to think about them in some ways. So we say, oh, "Occupy doesn’t have a set of unitary goals; they must not be serious." What’s interesting is that prior to this, assembling a big organization without first agreeing on your goals was cosmically insane because you’d put all this energy into organizing and then it would turn out you weren’t all there for the same reason and you’d have all to go home again.
And now what we can do, is we can all get together and figure out the stuff that we agree on–our minimum common agreement, our TCP-IP of protest–and then we can work on that stuff, and when we come to some stuff that we don’t agree on we can all go off and have a different Occupy over there to do that stuff, because the organizing itself has been cheap. It’s no longer the case that the job of an activist is 98% stuffing envelopes and 2% figuring out what to put in them. Now we get the envelope-stuffing for free, and we get to spend a hundred percent of our time figuring out how to do stuff together. And so I do think that there is hope, because the terrain is not the same as the terrain in the war on drugs.
I hadn’t thought of it that way–that internet-based communication allows for the exact opposite of "if you build it, they will come." It allows for, "bring them here; then we’ll decide what to build."
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