On the second anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Adbusters editors Kalle Lasn and Darren Fleet offer a manifesto for the movement their Vancouver magazine helped launch.
Look outside your window today and admire how permanent everything is. The cars faithfully zoom in and out of traffic without end. The financial skyscrapers frame the streets, investing your dollars and cashing your paychecks with ease. Financial skyscrapers frame the streets, investing your dollars and cashing your paychecks with ease. People pour out of apartments on their way to the office, to visit friends, to look for work. The social order, all the basic interactions of the day, are predictable, normal, most likely the same as yesterday. The sheer rigidity of the political system is not in question.
And now imagine that it all snaps. That everything you know is turned upside down. The coffee shop is closed. The bank door is shut. People stop following even the most basic prompts.
Looking out the window today, we have that same feeling we had on Sept. 16, 2011, the day before those first courageous occupiers packed up their tents and made their move on Wall Street. Only this time, as we gaze beyond the glass, there is an assuring upward tilt on our otherwise steady lips. We have a confidence in this generation that we didn't have before. There are still curveballs that can shock the financial and psychological order. There is a growing conviction that the things that can happen, will happen. The world is still up for grabs.
Revolution is a Rhizome
What we experienced here in 2011 is still reverberating around the globe. Most recently, in Turkey and Brazil, that feeling in the guts – that the future does not compute – is vibrant as ever. And because of that gnawing anxiety in the depths of an increasing mass of people, the new mode of activism, what Spanish journalist Bernardo Gutierrez calls a “new architecture of protest,” is spreading like a frenzy: what starts out as a simple demand – “don’t cut the trees,” “don’t raise the transit fare,” “don’t institute that corrupt judge” – erupts into an all-encompassing desire to reboot the entire machine.
In the coming political horizon you can expect that wherever there is a crack, a scandal, a teachers’ strike, a pipeline deception, you’ll find a hornets’ nest underneath. When you have a connected generation, all of their unique and individual demands become connected too. Protest becomes a cornucopia, not a straight path. And the desire is not to destroy the system but to hack it, to re-code it, to commandeer it… to see revolution not as pyramid but as a rhizome… to see the system not as an unchanging text but as an ever-changing language of computation, an algorithm.
More than ever we are seeing the realization of the modern-day truism, “we are all one.” Now, as we have the technology to organize – who cares if the NSA is listening in, in fact we welcome them to listen in and to be inspired – this first-ever global generation will be able to articulate itself more clearly, more viscerally, more intensely and at a frequency like never before.
Take a look out the window today. It wasn’t always this way. It won’t be this way forever.
A Generation Under Pressure