The Logic of Not Demanding

The 24-hour news cycle moves on and we’re left feeling empty. Nothing has changed.

Photo by Dave Rempel

Audio version read by George Atherton – Right-click to download

The Tea Party protests are shaking things up in conservative politics. But what have we dissenters from the left accomplished recently? Not much. We fill the streets, wave our signs and choke on some tear gas. Black bloc anarchists smash a few windows and pull off some daring stunts, but then the 24-hour news cycle moves on and we’re left feeling empty. Nothing has changed.

In a perverse way our protests may actually be reinforcing and validating the global consumerist regime. I sincerely believe that the G20 Summit leaders and organizers sigh with relief when they hear that we are once again mobilizing massive protests against them. After all, what would a successful economic summit be without thousands of angry protesters clashing with rows of automaton riot police and a few cop cars burning in the streets? Without sporadic spectacles like that, capitalism would lose its dynamic spark.

Maybe it’s time we deny them their regularly scheduled spectacles and try something new.

Next time they call an economic summit, why don’t we just ignore them? Instead of massive displays of anger, let’s give them eerily empty streets … silence … not a peep … nothing to validate their billion dollar security budgets. We refuse to react, refuse to engage, refuse to make demands. We don’t tell them what we want because they already know what we want: We want their system to die. Why make demands of the thing you want to destroy? Negotiating only grants legitimacy and continuity.

Instead we live like cats on the prowl, pulling off little acts of rebellion that frustrate their doomsday machine at every turn. Acts like cutting up our credit cards, moving our money, buying locally and spreading revolutionary memes. We meet in little groups in local indie coffee shops plotting audacious pranks and acts of civil disobedience: slowing traffic, liberating billboards, detonating stink bombs – crazy, random acts that hurt the bottom line.

Every day of the week we create weird, wild, wonderful happenings wherever we live around the globe. And we grow bolder with every 0.001 C˚ rise in the global temperature … more passionate with every 0.001 inch rise in the sea level … more defiant with every billion dollar Goldman Sachs bonus package. We attack capitalism – not at officially sanctioned protests – but like bees attacking a wounded beast with a billion incessant stings. We keep escalating our actions until the cost of doing business as usual becomes impossible to bear. And the bloodied beast finally falls to its knees.

This November’s Carnival is a good time to start: Let them have their conferences and summits … we will have our revolution of everyday life.

Will this be effective? What other new strategies can we employ to disrupt the status quo? Find activists near you and plan something for the Carnivalesque Rebellion Nov. 22–28.

Kalle Lasn, inspired by A.G. Schwarz and Tasos Sagris in We Are an Image from the Future.