Saturday, February 5, 2011
Is Revolt, Insurrection, Revolution Even Possible
with (or is it without?) such techno-props as the Internets, social media, and "individuation?"
Once again, we are seeing the emergence of "techno-triumphalism" in all the credit-taking for the Egyptian Revolution, much as happened with all the claims that the Tunisian Revolution was being driven by WikiLeaks' revelations.
WikiLeaks is claimed to be at the bottom of the Egyptian Revolution, too, right along with the blogosphere and Facebook and all the rest.
All of these techno-props of the post-modern era, though, are mechanisms of individuation, atomization, separation. Even WikiLeaks.
Is a revolt or revolution possible under the circumstances?
It was a matter of turning OFF the Internet in Egypt that helped get the masses of people into the streets in Cairo and the rest of Egypt. Not having access to to the Internet, to social media, or even in many cases to cell phones, nor to Al Jazeera or other more or less objective media was part of the impetus to revolt. State controlled television was predominant in Egypt during the height of the public demonstrations. And it was full of nothing but pro-Mubarak propaganda.
In the United States, it is widely assumed that the primary purpose of a protest demonstration is to get on teevee. The same propaganda media that is routinely discounted and denounced by the American Resistance (such as it is) is supposed to broadcast -- and comment positively on -- the various protest demonstrations that happen all the time in this country. Only they don't. They haven't really done so since the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, and even then the coverage was dishonest and derogatory.
131 protesters, including Chris Hedges and Daniel Ellsberg were arrested at the White House on December 17, 2010, as part of a Vets for Peace/"Hope is Action" action to bring attention to and protest the continuing wars and quasi-wars our government seems to be incapable of letting go of. There has been no mainstream media coverage at all. And there has been very little lefty blogospheric interest in the action, either.
Previously, I cited an action at Quantico on January 17, 2011 in which numerous activists protested the conditions under which Bradley Manning -- and many, many other prisoners -- are being held. There was no coverage of this protest action in the mainstream media and very little in the lefty blogosphere. But it happened, and it seemed to be so effective, the Base and Brig commanders became stupid Captains Queeg, and the following week harassed and attempted to intimidate anyone who even mentioned Manning's name at the gate. (This at least is what the guard's actions against David House and Jane Hamsher looked like.)
The lack of coverage did not diminish the importance of these actions, and the failure of the major media to even bother with such incidents is a measure of their complicity in the increasing authoritarianism of our rulers. It is not a bad reflection on the protests that they get no coverage in the propaganda media. Were the protests in Tahrir Square covered by the Egyptian state media until recently?
But is it possible to have a revolution without the props of extensive mass media coverage, and all the social and internet media? Is it possible to have a revolution (a genuine revolution) with mass media coverage and full-scale internet interest? Case in point: TeaBaggers, who got all the coverage in the world and leveraged that into millions of dollars for campaigns and elections -- of people who would then fight against the issues and interests the TeaBaggers ostensibly espouse.
A revolution comes from the bottom up, or it comes not at all.
A revolution comes via the personal associations and physical actions of the revolutionaries, or it comes not at all.
A "Cyber Revolution" is a contradiction in terms.
More mimeographs, please. Samizdat rules!