Builds Upon: The Dark State
There is a single most common complaint I hear about the new wave of protestors that has emerged across America and the world.
“They don’t know what they’re protesting about!”
To the consternation of many, there’s no list of universal demands or theses.
When news reporters ask “Why are you protesting?” the answers they get describe a general feeling of resentment rather than a specific list of individuals or institutions.
This leads many people who would otherwise be sympathetic with the protestors to dismiss them.
So far, many have made the mistake of confusing these protests with past movements.
This time there is no charismatic leadership organizing everything and making speeches for the history books. There is no cadre of leaders that constitutes a ‘head’ that can easily be cut off.
It is a spontaneous manifestation of the internet—a continuation of the world wide wave of dissent that broke out earlier this year in Tunisia.
There never will be specific demands, just a brooding cloud of discontent.
And this will be not a weakness, but a great strength.
A concrete agenda might merely narrow a protest’s objectives and needlessly shorten its duration. It opens the protest to more sophisticated attack and criticism from its opponents.
A token concession or empty promise has the potential send everyone home.
Most importantly, the lack of a list of grievances sends an important implicit message: the onus is no longer on the people to formulate specific objections and argue for the legitimacy of their discontent.
They are no longer on the defensive as they always have been before.
The very open-endedness of these protests allows the protesters to take the initiative.
All that matters is that they are discontent. Until someone does something that makes them not discontent or simply shoots them all, they will do whatever it is they deem suitable to address the matter.
This approach allows no room for excuses. Either something is done to make people happy or the protests continue.
Elites suddenly find themselves in the situation of the typical employee: do your job in a way we like or you’re fired.
This is not primarily a statement of principle or a polite request and this is where many people are confused.
It is an ultimatum.
Just a few years ago, there was a primordial soup brewing on some imageboards.
The topics of discussion tended to focus on anime, porn, and anime-porn, but somehow this soup began to spontaneously evolve until there was a community that could act on collective goals without formal organization or leadership. In fact, none of these people even knew each other and it did not matter. They were all Anonymous.
What started out as one nameless person inviting an entire faceless community to prank call an asshole boss developed over the next couple of years into an untraceable internet military that’s capable of taking on corporations, governments, and religions.
There is an important principle that Anonymous shares with the current protests.
A school of fish coordinates its movement to strategically reduce risk for each individual. Thus, the school can behave in ways that would be far too risky for each individual, for the benefit of all.
Until widespread, reliable, high speed internet, people did not have the ability to pull off this level of group coordination and individual people, unless truly desperate, do not often risk themselves for a better society they will not live to see.
However, this ‘school’ form of organization has reduced individual risk while increasing individual effectiveness in collective action to the point where participation is far more attractive than it once was.
Result: society’s established powers can’t ask as much or get away with as much as they used to. The balance of power is shifting towards the ruled and the rulers, understandably are reluctant to accept this.
For a few hundred years now, elites have had their own version of Anonymous that has helped them to accomplish their goals. It’s called a corporation.
Shareholders come together to in order to mitigate risk and allow them do things that would ordinarily be too risky. By acting collectively, they can do away with individual accountability.
These elites failed to understand what would happen if technology sufficiently improved the ability of the peasantry to communicate and coordinate their actions.
The result is effectively a counter-corporation.
The incarnation of these protests as of the writing of this article is known as ‘Occupy.’ These particular public actions may soon cease or they may not. It does not matter.
Authorities do not yet understand that an intelligent collective of peasants, just like a corporation of the wealthy is extremely resourceful and adaptable.
Sending some campers home from public parks accomplishes little. New forms of opposition will soon emerge taking advantage of every possible systemic weakness. The game has changed.