Over the last couple of years the WSM has been going through a process of re-examining the way we relate to people interested in what we have to say. Alongside this we have recently begun to try and get a better understanding of what it is we do. Both these processes have some major implications in reaching an understanding of what the usefulness of a revolutionary organisation is in the modern era of broad and loose social networks.
Mainstream media were very excited earlier this week with Forbe's proclaiming the republics "extremely pro-business environment" with of course no critical commentary over what that reality means for the mass of the population who rely on paid labour or social welfare to get by. What lies behind phrases like " low tax burden, investor protection"? Why has there been more investment by UC companies since 2008 ( $129.5 billion ) then in the previous 58 years? Should we really be cheering being No1 for attracting corporations?
We turned on anonymous commenting on articles about a year back after we added Mollum to the site,a Drupal module that checks content to see if its Spam or genuine. For a good while the results were good but over the last few weeks Mollum has been losing the battle and the work of checking posts and deleting spam has become too much. So until the situation improves anonymous commenting is once more off and you need to register to post.
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%.
Last week I edited the last of the audio recordings from the 2012 Dublin anarchist bookfair and got them online. Each year we try and record any of the suitable sessions and get them up shortly after the bookfair. This is never 100% successful as the hectic nature of the day along with random technical and other difficulties always manages to sabotage some recordings, this year was better than most as I we 'only' missed 3 of the targetted 9 sessions. The audio from the 6 that made it are below, its almost 9 hours worth of listening in all so don't eat it all in one sitting.
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.
Dublin last weekend saw about 400 people take part in a demonstration against the intention of Seán Sherlock, the Labour Party Minister for Research and Innovation to bring into law a requirement for Irish internet service providers to block access to sites that allow the downloading of copy righted material. This is a similar law to the SOPA and ACTA laws that Hollywood & music industry lobbyists tried unsuccessfully to force through the US Congress. A second demonstration is to take place this Saturday.