Looking back on the events of 2011, I have to keep reminding myself it wasn’t a dream.
Who would have guessed, in the summer of 2010 when Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, that it would trigger the overthrow of the Tunisian government? And who would have guessed, at the time of Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia, that the fire would spread to engulf the Arab world? That the Arab Spring would inspire activists in Wisconsin, Spain, Greece, and Palestine? Or that a second great wave of activism, the Occupy movement, would spread from Wall Street to hundreds of cities around the world?
The major Occupy encampments in the United States were forcibly removed — with notable police violence — but the movement continues as a self-organized school of revolutionary praxis, throwing off new innovations in the technology of resistance on a weekly basis.
The Occupy movement set new benchmarks in the culture of video-induced openness, as realization began to dawn on uniformed thugs from U.C. Davis to Oscar Grant Plaza to Zuccotti Park that everything they do from now on will be on Candid Camera.
Local spinoffs of the Occupy movement took the first tentative steps — sure to become a Long March — in reoccupying vacant, bankster-owned housing and restoring it to the control of the evicted, foreclosed and homeless.
Groups like Avaaz and Telecomix, and countless more, developed new techniques for maintaining secure local meshwork communications, Internet access, and communications with the outside world, for protest movements in countries whose governments might presume to “shut down the Internet.”
The folks at Anonymous, in their recent hacks of the BART police, Texas law enforcement and Stratfor, devastated their targets with the release of sensitive data. The technical sophistication of these attacks makes the “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” DOS attacks of a couple of years ago look like the Model T. How long ’til we see a new federal Cabinet department or Fortune 500 corporation hacked every week, with accompanying releases of incriminating emails and documents? Perhaps coming soon to an employer near you (I’m sure you’re crying on your pillow at the thought just as I am).
Dozens of encrypted alternative currency projects are emerging all over the world, along with experiments in digital platforms to support networked underground economies. New platforms for networked collaboration, and innovative projects in free online course materials and instruction, are springing up like mushrooms.
The Open Source Ecology micromanufacturing demo project has secured enough funding to finish prototyping the entire toolkit of fifty machines in the Global Village Construction Set. That means lathes, cutting tables, routers, 3-D printers, sawmills, compressed earth block presses, tractors, electrical power generators, etc., all with open source designs and producible at a tenth or less the cost of their commercial counterparts. OSE Europe has opened up new demo sites across the Pond, with the intention of carrying out serial production based on the open documentation of those prototypes.
All over the world, self-organized, voluntary associations of free people are finding new ways to meet the needs of daily life with unprecedented low cost, agility and resilience. We’re demonstrating the superior efficiency of self-managed networks, in which the work is controlled by the people doing it, without stupid and irrational interference from pointy-haired bosses in the obsolete corporate and state hierarchies.
We’re rendering the enormous concentrations of land and capital in the hands of the ruling class superfluous, leaving them with no one to work their fallow land and idle factories and produce unearned wealth for them.
And we’re doing it all in open defiance of the Lords of Scarcity, who depend on an increasingly authoritarian state to criminalize us for circumventing their monopolies. At a time when the state’s claimed powers on paper have reached an unprecedented level of totalitarianism (just consider SOPA and NDAA alone), their ability to enforce their writ becomes more hollow by the day. Every day, someone comes up with a breathtaking new tool allowing networks of free people to run circles around the authoritarian dinosaur institutions of the corporate state.
Every day we, the new Children of Israel, show Pharaoh we can make our own bricks without his straw or his mud — and he can’t stop us from leaving Egypt for the Promised Land.
What will the next year hold? If last year was any indication, expect another quantum increase in the possibilities for human freedom and happiness, beyond anything we’ve seen so far. Hold onto your seats.