View Full Version : Dadaist roots of OWS

October 28th, 2011, 06:21 AM
The antic, Dadaist tone is telling. This is a movement that addresses the mind, not the belly—”mental environmentalism,” the founders of Adbusters dubbed it, an antidote to the “pollution of our minds” by “infotoxins…commercial messaging and the…financial and ethical catastrophes that loom before humanity.”

This sounds more like something that was cooked up in a university linguistics class than by conventional grassroots populists. But when combined with anarchism, the hacktivism of the WikiLeaks phenomenon, and the arcane theories of Guy Debord and the so-called Situationists on the May 1968 student demonstrations in Paris, a potently popular recipe appears to have emerged. It is, as Janet Malcolm put it in a different context, yet “another example of the Zeitgeist’s uncanny ways.”

In mid-July, a senior editor at Adbusters, Micah White, floated an e-mail to subscribers with the idea that they “flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades, and occupy Wall Street for a few months.” As a result, a group of about one hundred people began meeting regularly in Tompkins Square Park to plan the protest, creating the NYC General Assembly, a bold and difficult experiment in direct democracy that has become the ever-expanding decision-making body of Occupy Wall Street.

At some point during the summer, the loose collection of hackers known as Anonymous joined the protest. The members of Anonymous are identifiable by the Guy Fawkes masks they wear, and they are known for, among other things, their “denial of service” attacks that involve saturating target websites such as those of banks and credit card payment centers with so many requests that they overload and crash.

Much has been made of Occupy Wall Street’s conscious emulation of the mass protests last January in Cairo’s Tahrir Square—a comparison that a few weeks ago seemed like the height of delusional grandiosity, but that looks slightly less so now. Part of the emulation is strategic: the organizers of Tahrir Square used online networking sites not only to attract new followers, but to stage spontaneous protests that allowed them to stay ahead of the police.

This is a new way of demonstrating that labor unions and traditional political organizers know almost nothing about, and that the hacktivists of Anonymous have mastered. Two members of Anonymous involved in the Wall Street protest who go by the names of Jackal and MotorMouth told the reporter Ayesha Kazmi of The Guardian recently of their “online flash mob” techniques of shooting out messages about street-meeting places and then appearing there as others gather.

The swift, almost simultaneous, presence of people on the street, often thanks to online messages, creates its own volatile brand of protest, in which violence of the sort that emerged in the Copenhagen demonstrations in 2009 is explicitly rejected. Kazmi writes that

when it emerged that a handful of activists were prepared to incite rioting and provoke the police days before Occupy Wall Street was to begin, Anonymous developed a Twitter application called URGE, launching an online campaign designed to quell potential violence. Anonymous “culture-jammed” Twitter with messages to keep protests peaceful, using top Twitter trends from around the world.

from New York Review of Books

October 28th, 2011, 08:11 AM
I think it should be more like LaLaists.

October 28th, 2011, 08:47 AM
Lalaists!! good one!!