The left is fond of military analogies so I want to open this piece with the observation that poor generals plan for the last war rather than the next one. Those militaries that planned for World War Two by perfecting the trench systems that dominated World War One had their powerful & expensive fortifications quickly overwhelmed in the opening weeks of the war through blitzkrieg. And in turn by 1943 Blizkrieg was defeated though defence in depth at Kursk.
Recent changes Facebook has made to Pages & Events have greatly reduced its usefulness for radical political organising. Here I reject the idea that the reason for these changes is political censorship and examine what the actual reasons & effects are. In doing this I'm building on my article of last week that argues that Facebook should be a collectively owned public utility and not a private company - in part because of the way it has sabotaged its own usefulness in the search for advertising revenue.
Over the last few months changes made by Facebook have greatly reduced the effectiveness of Events and Pages because it has become much less likely that someone following a page will see made by that page. According to Facebook on average only 12% of followers will see a given post. In 2011 Facebook did the same to events, multiple changes in the way events work saw response rates to event invitations decline from around 80% of those invited responding to this figure often being less than 20%.
I was on the panel for the 2012 Dublin Anarchist bookfair discussion of the continued usefulness of old / print media. It was a well set up panel with a good range of people from publications following quite different models of print and distribution. I've included the write up of the session and the audio and video I recorded and edited of it below. For the curious the video was taken by a Go Pro Hero2 camera which I'd placed on the edge of the table as an experiment which turned out to be 'good enough' to use.
The revolutions and revolts that swept the world in 2011 took almost everyone by surprise. One of the first strong attempts to explain why they happened is Paul Mason’s ‘Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere.’ He argues that “the materialist explanation for 2011...is as much about individuals versus hierarchies as it is about rich against poor.” By far the most provocative element of his book is the idea that communications technology, in particular the internet, is transforming the way people behave and that a significant contribution to the revolts of 2011 lie in these changes. If he’s right it had profound consequences for the form and structure of revolutionary organisations including anarchist ones.
This article also availale on audio & video, see end.
To what extent do the revolutions and revolts of 2011 reflect a new world born from the shell of the old? Were these revolts of the internet generation -- networked individuals? Are people not only using new technology but becoming transformed by it? For anarchists, what lessons can we learn and to what extent must we transform our organisational methods and structures?
Andrew Flood looks at Paul Mason's recently published book 'Why its kicking off everywhere' and in particular what Mason has to say about the internet and the emergance of the 'Networked Individual'. The recording is of a WSM supporters meeting in Dublin and the 20 minute presentation is followed by 30 minutes of discussion on the ideas outlined, roughly as summarised below.
What do you do when the people making the right arguments are manipulative idiots who have so alienated people that opening their mouths amounts to emptying a full magazine into their feet? I started this blog having just come from an Occupy Dame Street assembly. There I witnessed a car crash in glorious slow motion. I felt that deep sort of frustration, where you can see just what is coming, but remain unable to tear your eyes off the disaster as it wrecks all around.
The issue on the face of it is simple. The Dublin Council of Trade Unions has called a pre-budget demonstration and would like Occupy Dame Street to co-organise it. Straightforward enough you'd imagine. Well it's a bit more complex. Occupy Dame Street is a little prone to an anti-union line that is about the 8/10's Sunday Independent’s 'The unions are running the country' and 2/10's the left communist’s 'The unions are running the country.' [Ian, please note that the 2/10's comprises both people who might be called 'autonomists' with some degree of accuracy: Everyone else, there are two in-jokes there, only one of which most of you have a hope of working out].
Like I suspect many other Anarchist Writers readers I've been playing a part in the Occupy X movement. I've visited the camps in Cork & London (and published photos of both, see end of this post for images from Dublin) and I've been active from time to time in the General Assembly of the Dublin Camp at Occupy Dame Street. I also did a workshop on activist journalism at Occupy Dame Street about 10 days back.
This article from 1995 was written as the internet started to go 'mainstream' and looks at the anarchist resources that already existed at that point in time online including the first WSM site online.