Tag Archives: activism

Did you hear the one about the Anarchist Manager?

24 Sep

The 3rd Anarchist Studies Network conference took place between the 3rd and the 5th of September, at that network’s home, Loughborough University. As with the 2nd ASN conference two years ago, we organised a stream at the conference which invited participants to consider the relationship between Anarchism and (Critical) Management Studies (CMS). Over the past two years we also organised a similar event at the Manchester Critical Management Studies conference and a double book launch, here at Leicester. These various events, taken together, are leading up to a special issue of the open-access online journal ephemera, entitled “Management, Business, Anarchism”, due to be published this November. It has been an interesting two years.

that'd be great

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Criteria for an Activist Social Media Platform

10 Jun

Last weekend I attended the Unlocking Ideas hackathon run by the People’s History Museum and the Working Class Movement Library, both based in Manchester. The 24 hour hackathon took place in the incredible Islington Mill artist space in Salford. I’d never been to a hackathon before and wasn’t sure what to expect. With little or no technical skills in terms of computing I was worried that I’d be out of my depth and unable to contribute to what was going on. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.

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#WhatisAnarchistStudies

18 May

This is a short video I recorded on the meaning of Anarchist Studies and the prefigurative relationship between activism and academia. The video is part of a virtual issue of the journal Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, edited by Duane Rousselle. The full issue, available online, includes contributions from Ruth Kinna, Jacques Ranciere, Jamie Heckert, Nathan Jun, Jesse Cohn, Michelle Campbell and others, all answering the question, ‘What is Anarchist Studies?’

Facebook censorship (don’t worry, it doesn’t actually work)

26 Apr

At the Unlike Us #3 conference in March, Peter Olsthoorn, the Dutch journalist behind The Power of Facebook, asked who among the some 100 people in the audience likes Facebook. Only 3 or 4 people raised their hands, of which I was one. It wasn’t such a surprise given that Geert Lovink, one of the conference’s organisers and head of the Institute of Network Cultures, took part in Quit Facebook Day back in May 2010.

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Tweets, streets, strategy and tactics

28 Jan

A couple of weeks ago I received the good news that a review I wrote of Paolo Gerbaudo‘s Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism had been accepted for publication in Organization. At present I’m not sure whether the review will remain behind a paywall once it’s finally published. Only today I heard that Sage, who publish Organization, have decided to make all their content free for the time being, an obvious response to the tragic and scandalous death of Aaron Swartz. In any case, I’m including the full text of the last but final version of the review (the one I submitted) below. This is almost identical to the review that will be published and only a few phrases and wordings were changed by the editors for readability.

The most interesting thing about Gerbaudo’s book, so far as it relates to my own research on social media and activism, is his account of tactics and strategy. While he doesn’t explicitly develop either concept, the way he uses both is, in my opinion, spot on and gets right to the heart of the distinction and how it relates to organising. Authors such as Marianne Maeckelbergh (in her The Will of the Many) also include discussions of tactics and strategy, but seem to frame the distinction as one of ‘good’ practise which doesn’t reduce political actions to their ends versus ‘bad’ practise which does just that and potentially sacrifices any current concerns to some future goal.

Gerbaudo, instead, is correct to note that the distinction between tactics and strategy comes down more to the immediacy of the practice in question. Political activity that is spread over a long period, such as mobilising people for a demonstration, would be described as strategic, while activity that is concerned with minute to minute organisation, such as during a riot or when a demonstration turns into a running confrontation with the police,  would be described as tactical. The difference is a matter of degree, not quality. As I mention in the review, the clearest statement of this comes from a perhaps unlikely source: Carl Von Clausewitz, who writes: ‘tactics teaches the use of armed forces in the engagement; strategy the use of engagements for the object of the war‘. Here the distinction is clear; strategy is involved in, for example, getting people to the demonstration, tactics is about what you do when you’re there.

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