Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> [text] Learn in the Net, act everywhere
Simona Levi on Wed, 26 Jun 2013 11:18:06 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> [text] Learn in the Net, act everywhere


I have just released the english translation of my text on tactics learned in the Net and
used in a part of the Indignados' Movement, in Spain.

I hope it can help to understand in with direction some groups are evolving.

It is just my point of view, related to the practices I'm involved in. The movement is
very large and many other practices are taking place at the moment.

I hope you found it useful.




Notes for a R-evolution 2 (version 2.0): Stage two: Vices vs. New
Tactical Virtues

Published on March 22, 2013

What we've learnt from the Net and how we can extrapolate it to all
spaces of struggle

(Some thoughts geared towards action, compiled for the Radical
Community Manager courses that we organise at X.net)

The Internet is not just a tool, it is an epoch in history.

Technological progress changes the ways in which we organise, think about and see the world.

The Internet is both a tool and a battleground.

The internet is not 'a space in which to publicise myself', it's
a device for sharing and connecting inputs, an opportunity to find new
forms of action and to change the rules of the game.

[Important! Explanatory note: What we say about the Internet only
matters if it affects the outside world.

Note on the explanatory note: when we say 'affects the outside
world' we don't mean it leads to a protest or demonstration, we
mean that it changes the world' but we hope that this becomes clear
as you read on.]

Outline for political action as at 24 June 2012.

A few things to consider before reading the following outline:

a ' the only two things we can count on with absolute certainty are
death and our fingers.  {AT} Mic_y_Mouse

b ' The Net is constantly moving and evolving; this is what defines
it, at least for the time being. A tactical formula that works for a
while will stop working unless it is constantly changed and improved.
The things that we are going to tell you here are changing even as we
write. We can only hold onto the essence, the philosophy, the ethics
of these practices, rather than the practices themselves.

c ' the thoughts compiled in this text refer to the way political
actions are structured. We can start many actions simultaneously, but
we have to study each one separately. We're talking about actions
from inside the illogical logic of the system. Naturally, we also have
to inhabit spaces outside of the system. But those are governed by
other rules and ways of behaving that aren't included in these pages

d ' It is clear ' or maybe it isn't ' that we have to
tactically consider what a particular moment in history demands from

For example: there's a big difference between the actions required
by the momentum of the Indignados' Movement in its early days and
what the Indignados need now. In other words, the tactics that worked
six months ago won't work now, and the ones that work now wouldn't
have worked then.

e ' For this same reason, the first bad habit we have to get rid of
is our tendency to emulate ourselves.

This bad habit is closely linked to onomastic obsessions: celebrating
our own anniversaries, in our own 'historic' places. We write
ourselves into history before we've finished.

An that's a pity because our main asset is surprise: the ability to
do the unexpected, unexpectedly, in unexpected places.

So here it is, a step-by-step outline in which every step is vital:

1 ' Cry elsewhere (4)

It seems obvious, but it isn't: we have to ask ourselves what our
objective is, and then stick to it.

The objective must be specific. Not a hypothesis. A concrete plan with
demonstrable solutions.

We have to carry our legitimate hopes, dreams, dogmas and faith with
us (see below when we talk about our 'ideological body of beliefs'
and 'memeplexes'), but we have to store them away at the bottom of
our hearts/minds.

The only things that belong in the shared space of struggle are
concrete things that can/should be achieved.

How can we tell whether or not something is concrete? J

One clue is to apply the following military formula, to the letter.

Ask: who, what, how, when, where. And above all: why.

If you can't answer these questions, your objective is not concrete
enough to share. And even if you can answer them, it still might not

Where am I going with this? I simply want to start by sharing these
things that I've learnt. By suggesting that it's probably best
not to bother anybody unless we are well-prepared and clear about our
objectives, so that we can contribute solutions, not problems.

When we talk about objectives, the critical aspect tends to take all
the picture; the proposal itself and affirmations tend to be weaker
and lacking in grounds.

It's easy to know what we don't want because we experience it. But
it's difficult to know what we do want, because it has to be a mix
of invention and experience at the same time, otherwise it won't
have any consistency.

Perhaps we only know the questions and not the answers? It's
important to resolve our doubts and do our complaining in other
spaces, to 'cry elsewhere', otherwise we do not know how to be

The Internet, the ethics of the Net and the hacker ethic (2), have
taught us to do things, rather than demand that things 'get
done' The only thing we demand is the removal of all obstacles to

The hacker 'ethos' has been summarised as follows (2):

- The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved

- No problem should ever have to be solved twice

- Boredom and drudgery are evil

- Freedom is good

- Attitude is no substitute for competence

That said, and once we have our concrete objective, we have to come
together and define:

2 ' Who we want to be and who we are:

- an individual

- a closed group

- an open group

- a diffuse group

- a platform of groups and/or individuals

- etc.

We can be several of these at the same time, but we have to be aware
of the different kinds of behaviour each identity entails. Mixing them
unwittingly can turn out badly ' tactically and even 'legally'.

When you choose one or more of these identities it doesn't mean that
you withdraw from more general voluntary or inevitable spaces for
interaction (assemblies, neighbourhoods, cities).

We must occupy and work in all possible spaces. But we have to respect
the identity required by each dynamic.

If things goes wrong, keep reading to find out the importance of the

Note on step 2: Some thoughts on the opportunity to be a one way or
another (inspired by conversations with Xavier Barandiar??n).

[Note on the note: you have to read this note because even though
it's a note, it's actually more important than point 2 itself J]

Herd (loosely based on Wikipedia definition): a herd is an association
of a number of individual agents interacting with one another and
with their environment. Their collective behaviour is decentralised
and self-organised. The herd acts as a unit that moves in the same
direction, but its function emerges from non-coordinated behaviour of
individuals who follow their own impulses.

In a herd, each individual spontaneously carries out different
roles according to their ability during brief periods of time. Any
individual can briefly take control, or be at the centre or at
the most exposed edge for a few moments, until another individual
naturally takes over.

'Herd' in the very positive sense of the term. We can also think
of a flock of birds.

(see also 'swarm behaviour', although this is a slightly different
metaphor to the one I'm suggesting here)

A herd cannot act with speed and precision, but it has a great
capacity to expand and grow.

Our brains spontaneously synchronize stimuli: if something 'makes
sense' a connection happens; if it doesn't, there is no
connection. Connection means collective 'attention' although it
does not necessarily lead to a collective decision.

Catalyst (loosely based on Wikipedia definition): a catalyst is a
substance or device that speeds up a scientific process. In chemistry,
catalysts are small groups of molecules that change the rate of a
reaction, making it faster (or slower). Catalysts decrease the amount
of energy required for a particular process. Catalysts amplify and
guide the power of a reaction. They are small, flexible groups that
channel 'collective attention.' They do not consist of more than
20-50 molecules.

Rub??n S??ez says: 'In biochemistry, the metabolic pathways that
enable the functioning of the extremely complex system of the human
body are based on networked catalytic cycles. In fact, the emergence
of life (the most brilliant of all known emergent properties ' no
offence intended to creative thought) is linked to the emergence
of the first self-replicating catalytic cycles. If we manage to
create various catalysing groups and interconnect them in the
right way, we will generate catalytic cycles. And if we manage to
continue to work in that way, we will generate the capacity for them
to self-replicate. The end result ' after leaving due time for
evolution, interconnection and social metabolism ' could be a new
socio-political order as an emergent property.'

Certain times in history require us to behave as a herd, other times
require us to act as catalysts.

We should not be afraid to be few in number if that is all we can or
should be. And we shouldn't attribute the qualities of a catalyst to
a herd.

At this stage of the Indignados' Movement, the time has come to
speed up processes by working as many small, independent nodes with
autonomous decision-making capacity, who know what needs to be
done, and support each other when and only if it becomes necessary,
recognising each other through our work, which is also the basis of
our reciprocal trust.

3 ' We already know that it's not enough to simply know who and
what we are.

We also have to decide how to show ourselves in the outside world.

We can show ourselves in the form of:

- a 'brand'

- an ephemeral identity

- an anonymous identity

- a lobby group

- a communication medium

- etc.

We can take on several of these identities at the same time, but we
should be aware of the different kinds of behaviour they entail.
Mixing them up unwittingly can end up badly ' tactically and even

Just as in the previous case ' or even more so ' numbers aren't

whether we are few or many, we are the future no matter how we present

4 ' Our interactions should not be horizontal in nature, but
merit-based, in the positive sense: the kind of merit that is always
in process, always available to those who cultivate it through work
and experience, following their own needs. This idea tends to shock
people who are unfamiliar with networking dynamics, but it's
patently obvious to the members of most virtual communities, who work
with it as part of their everyday practices. We are all different.
This is what guarantees the impossibility of imposing verticality onto
a 'meritocracy', because there will never be just one merit or a
single skill, there will always be many different ones developed by
all sorts of people. This is why forces tend to come together around
'finished work', theories-put-in-practice and ways of life, rather
than around fantasies and opinions.

It is not our identity that defines us, it is our results.


Horizontality is a fallacy: as Michel Bauwens and many others have
amply shown, in a given group 1% of people execute, 9% contribute and
90% parasite, complain and weigh it down (btw, these are the ones who
have not done their 'crying elsewhere'. For them, we paraphrase
some advice from marketing wiz Paul Arden: energy is 75% of the job;
if you haven't got it (or can't have it), be polite).

To explain this 'provocation' J that I'm using to try and shake
up what I see as a certain stagnation, all I'm trying to say is that
when somebody expresses an opinion, we should be able to ask: 'This
thing that you're expressing an opinion on ' what have you done
in relation to it, or what do you know how to do'? If the answer
is: 'I haven't got the faintest idea, my opinion is based on my
beliefs', well this person loses points and will find it much harder
to win the stuffed toy prize at the end.

And lastly  {AT} axebra, sent me this important clarification: 'We can
prevent a meritocracy from becoming an excuse to fall into influence
peddling and corruption by including two other variables from hacker
culture: Transparency (so that merit can be analysed objectively '
as you can see the code that each developer has contributed in open
source projects), and that the result must become part of the Commons
(the material generated cannot be claimed by a particular individual
or group, but must benefit everybody, like free software or a corrupt
politician going to jail J).

5 ' This is also why we defend attribution (which includes
anonymity, that is the impossibility of attribution if the person
who 'makes' it prefers it that way): individual autonomy and
empowerment create healthy groups that each member can contribute to
according to her abilities, opportunities and knowledge at each point
in her life, and be recognised and respected for it. Recognition from
the community and the outside world means selfcare and identity. It
frees you from the frustration and anxiety of affirmation, and allows
you to calmly free the fruits of you work for the common good.

A needs-based approach is basically charity.

A skill-based approach recognises that skills have to be valued or
they will go to waste.

We're not asking for anything, least of all charity. We simply are.

6 ' In praise of the concept of the 'fork'

>From way back, we've always defended 'divorce' J (the fork): we
cooperate as autonomous individuals around specific projects; ideally,
we don't ask the group for things that it can't give us, because
we've already done our crying elsewhere. We can take different paths
at any moment. Being together and hating each other is not a strength;
it is cowardly and it's a weakness. Distributed networks don't
need a nucleus in order to operate. We are autonomous individuals,
independent nodes that happily, voluntarily come together for a common
purpose at a particular time. We can try to achieve the same aim
separately if our methods and moods are different; in the most of the
cases, every bit helps. We interact through dynamics of cooperation,
not dependency.

Against the concentration of powers, the Internet
'de-concentrates' powers. J

The Network of Networks is a distributed network, and this is the
basis of its functioning and philosophy: relevant trust networks
that are distributed and autonomous in relation to their specific
activities, in which no node needs to know in detail what the others
are doing in order to move forward and support each other. These
nodes, which are separate but linked by bonds of trust, can support
each other when the need arises, but as a rule they operate as
sovereign, autonomous groups.

Centralisation is neither possible nor desirable; federation is the

A global association of selfish radical reformers. [1]

Altruism is selfishness that hasn't come out of the closet.

Even in its smallest form (two people), 'democratic' organisation
is not about attaining the impossible goal of always agreeing (dogma
and centralist control). It's about creating a space of ethical
trust that allows some of us to look after certain aspects and
develop our skills in them, while at the same time we can let go of
controlling other aspects because we know that others will take care
of them. This forces us to shed the prejudices that lead us to try and
control the actions of others.

People who are obsessed with centrality (the centrality of an
assembly, a neighbourhood, parliament) don't realise that the
things that are outside of the centre will always be 'more': more
representative, more numerous, bigger, freer, more flexible, more
volatile, newer and, above all, more real.

What better example than 'representative democracy': the
dictatorship of the largest minority over the majority of minorities.

It's not true that if we want to reach our goal 'we must stay
together', that 'together is better', that the herd is always

It's always good to separate. It's the only thing that makes it
possible to come together again.

We can live together for as long as we please, but we will never be of
the same flesh.


7 ' We are uncountable and unlocatable. So why are we so determined
to be counted and located? Why, when, and for what?

Why do we organise demonstrations?

Why do we collect signatures?

We have an unprecedented historical opportunity: why then are we
playing against ourselves?

It's rarely useful to count ourselves; it's even more rarely
useful to let ourselves be counted. It's only useful when there are
more of us than the minimum number required for a specific purpose.

That's something we have to know in advance. And I mean 'know',
not 'wish'.

How can we find out?

By using a mathematical formula that I worked out and can guarantee
100%: you are able to summon 10% of the people you are directly in
contact with. That excludes twitter, fb and similar networks.

In other words, if I have 100 email addresses, 10 people will turn up.
If I hand out 1000 flyers, 100 people will sign.

That's the way it is: if we want 10,000 people at a demonstration,
we need to contact 100,000 people directly.

There have been rare exceptions, and all of them were very well
organised in advance, such as the Indignados' Movement (3 months

So we shouldn't bother people with mass calls for participation
if we can mathematically calculate that we won't end up massively
summoning anybody.

We have to know how to work with what we have. We can grow without
frustration, without envy, with pleasure.

A few can be as effective as many, depending on the circumstances.

This means that we can free up our energy and cover more fronts at the
same time. The lower the numbers required to bring about catalysis,
the more catalysts will be able to have.

All of us may not be present at a particular moment, but that
doesn't mean that our numbers are not much larger than they appear.

8 ' There's no 1 without the 8: what is our target group?

- our peers

- people who think like us

- sympathisers

- people who listen but are unlike us

- people who do not listen (but are similar)

- people who do not listen (and are different)

- the enemy's friends

- the enemy

- institutions, the media

- etc.

Each of these groups requires a different use of tools and, more
importantly, a different aesthetic in order to make it from the
screen/street -> to the retina -> to the brain -> to the guts.

We can have several 'targets' at the same time, but we should be
aware of the different kinds of behaviour they entail. Mixing them up
unwittingly can turn out badly ' tactically and even 'legally'.

If we want to analyse further, there are several options to choose
from. By way of example, I'll just mention a few elements of the
Mactor method used by the army, among others:

'the information gathered about the actors is set out in the
following way:

' their objectives, goals, projects under way and maturing.

' their motivations, constraints and internal means of action

' their past strategic behaviour (attitude).

' the means of action that actors have at their disposal.

' ''

9 ' Remember that when we talk about political action we are really
talking about communicating to bring about change.

Communication is a dialectical relationship between the communicator
(us) and the interlocutor (our target).

This means that we can't just express what we have to say. We also
have to say what the interlocutor can understand, in a way that she
can understand it.

As systemic psychologists say, it is impossible to not communicate, in
other words:

- If our interlocutor can't understand the language we're using,
we probably actually want to be misunderstood (by the people we are
addressing), we want to take the role of the victim; (1)

- Silence is communication too;

- excessive communication is not 'message', it's 'noise' (or
SPAM) and only puts people off.

10 ' The content: our (brilliant) ideas

Meme: (loosely based on Wikipedia definition): a meme is a unit
of cultural evolution that is analogous to the gene in that it
self-replicates and mutates. A meme can be anything that is copied
from one person to another and can include habits, skills, songs,
stories and other types of information. Memes reproduce through
copying that brings about variations and selection. As only some
variants can survive in a battle to the death, memes compete for space
in our memories and for the opportunity to be copied again.

Given that social learning takes place differently in each person,
the process of imitation cannot be considered to be perfect. This
means that there is an extremely high rate of mutation in memetic
evolution, and that mutations can even take place within each and
every interaction in the imitation process.

Clusters of memes join together and form memeplexes, in which each
meme is a cultural unit in a complex cultural system, such as the body
of ideological beliefs that each person creates and uses as a guide.

Memes, which we can consider to be in-between stages of the creation
of memeplexes, are terribly concrete. And if we apply the metaphor to
ourselves, it is very difficult for a coalition of several memes to
come together and create a memeplex that exactly matches our own body
of ideological beliefs' there's a lot of work to be done.

This shouldn't discourage us. It's a good thing.

It leads us to be more concrete and to win frequent, well-aimed
victories in the present. And to lose some non-definitive battles too.

Meme transmission shares the characteristics of all evolutionary
processes: fecundity (some ideas are particularly effective),
longevity (they persist for a very long time) and accurate copying
(traditional conservatism, specially as taught in primary education,
that is, Freud's 'compulsion to repeat').

In the same way that genes self-replicate just because its their
nature (that is, unconsciously), memes also tend to replicate; a
good idea isn't really a good idea unless it can also spread
successfully. This means that memes are indifferent to truth.

Ergo, it is not enough for an idea to be good to win.

Whether we like it or not, no power means no rights.

I'm not talking about tension between good and evil, but about
something much more trivial, more like 'the customer is always
right.' In the current climate (the dominant meme), it's not
enough to say something 'isn't true': We have to create a
stronger meme, one that can devour the existing one.

How? How do we make our meme go 'viral'? The basic thing about
memes is movement.

A text (5) that Xabier Barandiaran has written about bacterial
networks can help us understand:

'Life is a fusion of two types of stability: the stability of
dynamic self-organised systems (autonomous or autopoletic systems)
and the stability of replicating forms or templates (DNA-ARN)',
which are comparable to genes. The first are systems that function
outside of thermodynamic balance, the latter are energetically stable
structures subject to recombination. The fusion of these two forms of
stability leads to the concept of information (genetic information).
As such, they are also the biological bases of communication' and of

In this sense, there are two basic types of evolution: the first uses
horizontal transfer, and the latter uses vertical inheritance.

Vertical or Darwinian evolution is probably better known: it makes
it possible to follow the genealogy of genetic changes over time and
their lineages, going all the way back to our evolutionary origins.

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the transfer of genetic material
from one organism to another organism that is not its offspring (not
from generation to generation): bacteria, single cell beings, exchange
their genetic code.

According to neo-Darwinist theory, mutations are the source and the
direct cause of evolutionary change, but they are by no means the
mechanism that leads a change to become fixed.

Natural selection is what leads some changes to become fixed and gets
rid of others. A gazelle might be born with some type of advantageous
gene, but if it is eaten by a predator just as it raises its head,
goodbye advantageous mutation.

In horizontal transference, bacteria have the capacity to send
hundreds of thousands of copies of the genetic sequence into the
environment. They generate a massive parallel, distributed process
that spreads innumerable copies of a resistance gene, in which the
bacteria on the receiving end can instantly incorporate the new gene
as part of their metabolism.

The basic idea is that exchanging instructions that have successfully
solved a problem (bacterial evolution) may turn out to be a faster and
more effective evolutionary mechanism than saving those instructions
in order to attain a greater comparative reproductive success
(Darwinian evolution).

In short, it is an evolutionary or innovatory model that increases
individual autonomy through collective cooperation. This is precisely
the model that we advocate in the free culture movement, and the one
that we practice, among other things, in technopolitical networks.'

11 ' The new: Transforming our imaginary so that we can subvert

Newness is our responsibility. It's extremely difficult. Our
ontological nature makes us tend to be dependent, possessive and
insecure. But above all we tend to be conservative: we only trust
familiar patterns, we feel a compulsion to repeat. Our whole psychic
structure is totally resistant to change. Doing something that
is unfamiliar and truly new for us requires an extreme effort of
consciousness and will, while our nature tries to pull us the other
way. Particularly during difficult times, we return to familiar places
and defeated practices.

But didn't we want to bring about change? If so, we must make
this effort. Indignados' is a digital native movement, and this
'novelty' was behind the great qualitative leap in comparison
to past movements. But when difficult times hit, it has tended to
regress back to familiar models that have been used before, and are
now obsolete. We must defend the courage to experiment with new ways
of doing things, right up to the very end. We should learn to read the
signs, so that we can plan ahead.

'The best way to predict the future is to create it' (Peter

And 'You can and should shape your own future. Because if you
don't someone else surely will do it for you.' (Joel Barker).

The future is made up of tendencies that are a continuation of the
past and present, along with elements that are totally new. This means
that we have to understand what's happening today and what happened
before. We have to learn from history and then put the same amount of
effort into inventing.

'The past belongs to memory, the future belongs to imagination and
will.' (P. Mass??)

Yes, it requires willpower. It requires taking a strategic attitude to
our desires and our nightmares. Survival itself means learning to see
what's ahead.

'Those who do not read the future are doomed to repeat it' (George

We can't subordinate the effectiveness of an action to ideological
prejudices. This doesn't mean that anything goes, even immoral
acts. Once we've pre-set our objectives ('ethical' should be
implicit), we should sweep away the prejudices that pop up in our
minds because of human nature. It's simply fear of the new. Just
sweep them away. With our willpower. Do our crying elsewhere.

This pays off.

We know that there is no juicier vertigo than to achieve something
new. It is like fast-forwarding through history, hurtling at full
speed, with the wind in your hair.

12 ' 'Doing' and not 'doing'

Not 'doing' things that we need to do can end up being expressed
in many forms.

For example, hatred.

A person who gives up, festers in hate. She is the eternal victim.
Inversely, if somebody is festering in hate, it is because she has
given up.

Hatred is legitimate and inevitable.

But right now I think we can channel it in other ways that will be
much more harmful to our enemies.

I would sing it like this:

Without pleasure and rage, there's no empowerment.

Without empowerment there's no rebellion.

Without rebellion there's no r-evolution.

Not 'doing' can also take other forms.

Perfectionism, for example.

The best way to response to this problem may be to read the hacker
manifesto called the 'Cult of Done' (3).

I am pasting it below, but first I want to remind you that we only   .
have to 'do' the few times that it is necessary ' with specific.
goals, focused plans and quick, targeted victories As mentioned      .
earlier, too much 'doing' is not 'doing', it's noise (see  .
SPAM above)                                                          .

The 'Cult of Done' (3) goes like this:

1. There are three stages of being: not knowing, action and

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.

3. There is no editing stage.

4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as
knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're
doing, even if you don't, and do it.

5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea
done, abandon it.

6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things

7. Once you're done you can throw it away.

8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.

9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you

10. Failure counts as done. So do make mistakes.

11. Destruction is a variant of done.

12. If you have an idea and you publish it on the Internet, that
counts as a ghost of done.

13. Done is the engine of more.

13 ' Our way of disseminating:

Viral Marketing (based on Wikipedia definition):

'Viral marketing is a technique for producing exponential increases
in 'brand awareness' by means of self-replicating viral processes
analogous to the spread of viruses.'

To put it briefly, we're talking about the following stages of an

a ' observe the situation without prejudices (that is, without
deforming it to make it fit in your theories and desires)

b ' choose the concrete stages or 'memes' that will create

c ' find a lowest common denominator that you share with your target
for each meme.

d ' create them in the right order.

e ' before you release it (and only when it's completely finished,
eso you don't bother busy people) check it with like-minded
epeers for feedback, improvements, contamination, positive nergy,

f ' aim it at the target and release it, knowing that it will
activate 10% of your selected target.

g ' if the meme manages to take over the space of another existing
one, it will be co-opted (1) and the operation will have been a

h ' so we'll disappear.

Things are won without anybody noticing.

No real change has ever come about overnight. Not even the discovery
that the earth revolves around the sun.

Ideas and memes that catalysts have fought for, shaped, brought to the
forefront, have then been co-opted and used for good or evil, by any
individual or any form of human organisation that has adopted them.
Even commercial television.

Yes, winning is also painful, it means ceasing to be useful (in this
battle ' don't worry, there are many more to come!). It means a
loss of identity, loss of authority, of control, of unity and purity,
it means nostalgia and emptiness. But apparently offspring are always
a blessing in the end

We invade the mainstream without shame, letting it co-opt us, because
it will never restrict us.

Why do we want to spread?

- Perhaps because we want to 'contaminate' even more people,
to expand an idea to an infinite degree, so that it takes hold and
displaces others (to broaden the base and stability of an idea)

- To make our ideas occupy the memetic space that was previously
occupied by ideas contrary to our own (displace the enemy)

- To empower ourselves (Watch out! This goal is rarely compatible with
the other two ' although achieving the other two would empower us,
so this one on its own is of less interest)

Unfortunately, in most cases we only achieve c) even though we're
really after a) and b), because we are weakened by the innumerable
self-referential tics that only amuse the person or group that
launches the action and like-minded people. Self-affirmation can
be good, until we reach a certain threshold. Then it becomes
counterproductive because it is not inclusive, it creates borders,
hinders expansion, creates a boundary that limits us and makes us
recognisable and exclusive.

Also, you get what is known as 'double bind' in psychological
jargon: a contradictory imperative that is inherently impossible
to fulfil, such as 'be free', 'be spontaneous', 'be

We need to realise that our target audience is probably made up
of people who are not like us. This means that we have to let
go of insecurities, stop repeating our beliefs (which should be
well-embedded in our souls by this stage), and concentrate on what our
interlocutor ' the target of our efforts ' needs (even if this
target is our enemy).

As in all dialectic relationships, we can't ask the other party to
come to us. We have to find shared ground, or go and find them on
their own territory.

Note on a target group that I'm particularly interested in:

In the current context of the Indignados' Movement, I'm
particularly interested in 'the middle class' as a target group.
I'm using this term in the positive sense too. I can consider myself
middleclass. By middle class I mean people who are middle class and
those who want to be so. And those who don't want to be middle
class, they feel upper class, but will end up being so anyway. And
professionals, and working class or unemployed people who aspire to
the promise of the 'middle class', that is, the idea of some kind
of dignified life within this system that sells the precariousness
of life as a temporary circumstance when it is actually the main
condition of their existence.

The middle class is the largest group of people who participate or
sympathise with the Indignados' Movement on a mass scale, and
identify with the movement's outrage or 'indignation'. It is
also what sets 15M apart, not to mention the fact that it allows for
the 'non-criminalisation' of the movement to a large extent. The
middle class are also the group that political parties need to cajole
in order to legitimise their power. It therefore has great leverage in
this battle. The middle class is the group that has suddenly flirted
with politicisation on a mass scale. It can continue along one of two
paths: it can follow the opportunity for change, roll up its sleeves
and contribute to pushing the current system over the edge, or it can
succumb to the fear that the existing system wants to instil, in which
case society will become increasingly fascist, as has occurred at
many other times in history. Once again, we have the tension between
repeating familiar models or having the courage to create something

Without relinquishing the radical nature of our utopias, we have to be
able to mediate among ourselves; it's important to breathe optimism
and empowerment into adversity. Rage is not standardised, and each
of us has different limits and experiences. If we want resounding
victories, we must be inclusive.

14 ' We shouldn't do the things we like to do, but the things that
we can win at: and we'll end up liking it.

Classic head-on confrontations, are not effective because they are
predictable. They are only effective when you have enough resources to
win. You should not try to surround the enemy either unless you have
the numbers to do so.

We can apply the 10% rule that we discussed earlier. To the letter

We are perfectly aware of our numbers.

It is possible to win many things if you have fewer numbers and/or
less means than your opponent, as long as you are smarter, given that
winning basically means that you get the enemy to make a wrong move
and disappear.

What can we do?

- find vulnerable points ' if we can't directly attack the centre
of gravity, we need in-between points;

- break and/or infiltrate the enemy ranks;

- make the enemy doubt your strength and its own, by staying under the
radar, unidentifiable and uncountable;

- break down its leadership;

- etc.

If the enemy is powerful, it's not in our interest to make it feel
that it is under attack, because then it will swell. It's in our
interest to make the enemy feel betrayed, unmasked, abandoned.

Why do we continue to confront the enemy directly even when we lack
the numbers or means? Why do we need to measure how radical we
are against daddy-the system? Why do we do the same thing in our
personal life? We do it when we feel small or defeated or angry. To
be aggressive towards the hierarchically pre-designated interlocutor
is a consequence of depression. If we ignore this interlocutor, it
doesn't mean we are not firm. Reacting to provocation is a sign of
weakness. Indifference and steamrolling ahead are signs of tenacity.
The measure our radicality is history, now and always. The history
that we are able to create.

Note to the police (if any have read this far): we are entirely
peaceful but unremittingly firm in our determination to sweep away
injustices, legal or otherwise, by means of all the ethical actions
that we consider to be tactically necessary.

It's not a matter of principle.

We will do it because these injustices deprive us of the pleasure of
life, they attempt to condemn us to be engulfed by sad passions.

It is life or death for our being-human.

The system wants us to be sad and servile. Joy is our greatest
revenge. We have a lifetime in which to disobey.

15 ' We have to do our crying elsewhere 2 (4)

The proposals that we bring to our spaces of organisation have
to be in a finished state. We don't organise a campaign just
because we need affection (let's join forces!). And we don't get
behind a fantasy just to feel less alone. And then there's the
counterproductive obsession with counting how many of us there is, in
order to find out whether we're right.

We don't organise a campaign as a way of getting people to work
for free towards our grand ideas. And we don't really believe that
everybody has to stop what they are doing because what we're doing
is better. We don't organise campaigns to educate them.

And we don't organise campaigns and then infinitely examine the
nuances because we're afraid of going out on the battlefield.

Here lies the difference between moralism and ethics. Moralism is a
state of racism and cowardliness at the same time. It is the sense of
superiority of the person who does not act.

Then there is the ethics, which is implicit in actions. It is the
direction of 'doing' (the body of theory we carry in our hearts).

There's no time for purity.

There's not enough time; the enemy, the real enemy, quickly

We are guided by ethics, not by moralism: our goal is to share not to
educate/indoctrinate (1).

When we think about anything we've ever learnt, we can see that we
learnt it because we encountered it at a point in our lives when we
were receptive to it, and needed that knowledge. Whenever we've
learnt anything it was because our practices became learning, ideas.

We won't force anybody to learn; we can only share what we know, so
that it can be picked up by those who need it.

The ethics of doing, the ethics of sharing, free us from the moralism
and stagnation of dogmas.

All these steps are anti-natural.

We tend to be self-referential. Our psychic structure pushes us
towards familiar things; our compulsion to repeat prevents us from
being spontaneously faithful to the objectives that we set ourselves
and encourages us to betray the things we know are good for us.
Our historical responsibility, our rational efforts, must focus on
remaining faithful to our desire for change. This means overcoming the
fear of the new in the ways we think and behave.

As our colleague Toret says: when you have no imagination, you turn to

And as Marx ' Groucho Marx ' says: better new than never.

All these steps are anti-natural. They all lead us to what we truly

We've been able to do it and we'll keep doing it; this is why
we've been able to take a r-evolution into a space of arid thought.

As I write, there's no doubt that I am missing some of the
subtleties. In general, I'm better at creating history than talking
about it. Like everything we do, egoism drives what I do. The future
doesn't interest me. I don't have children to pass it on to, and
I don't think the human species deserves to survive. But the future
is here in my present, every day. And as the saying goes, 'I'm
interested in the future, as I'm going to spend the rest of my life

See you there, along with my personal heroes who aren't in any book.

My heroes are my comrades in the fight.

Justice and quality

Simona Levi

Barcelona, March-June 2012

(translation: Nuria Rodr??guez)

PS: I've been accused of overlooking the more 'feminine' texture
of the struggle. Perhaps because of my military tone? J I actually
don't overlook it at all, but this didn't seem the right place to
show it. Children may be reading. J

But I do think that we should take advantage of the widespread
contempt for women. The enemy don't see us coming, and by the time
they realise, it's too late for them.

Licence: you can do whatever you like with this text as long as you
mention the authorship.


[1] : This text is a continuation of this one which I wrote last year.
It's called 'Working Notes for a R-evolution' and it includes
the following subjects, which you may miss in this second text:

- The defense of the Internet and of sharing

- The Internet as a tool for counterinformation and self-organisation;
as a way of ending impunity and the atomisation of ideas for change.

- Netiquete and a new ethics that favour maturity and autonomy thanks
to the recognition of each individual's merits and skills, and the
standardisation of forms of organisation that favour decentralised
control, the empowerment of end users, and the shared distribution of

- Timing

- Spaces: affinity groups and online collaborations; anonymous, viral
presences; 'brand' development; assemblies.

- The 'how': be radical, demand the possible.

- Learn to win: whenever there is change, there is loss.

- This war is a language war

- We need to be present at all levels.

- Letting ourselves be co-opted.

- Finding resources within the system.

[2] Erick S. Raymond, ??The Cathedral and the Bazaar??, Indianopedia

[3] Thanks to my friend Stef for passing me 'The Cult of Done'.

I think this is the original source, but I'm not certain.

[4] When I say 'do your crying elsewhere' I don't mean 'go
and cry on your own somewhere like a stray dog' I mean 'we should
treat our spaces of organisation as a space where we go once we have
our ideas straight, not a space where we can dump our insecurities and
weaknesses.' We have to build ourselves strong affective networks
that include other spaces in which we can care for each other and show
our fragilities. But we shouldn't ask strangers who may feel as
needy and lost as we do to cover our emotional needs and understand
our fears. Our space of political action and our emotional space may
be the same, but this is not usually the case.

This is not a text on spaces of affect ' don't look for any of
that here; that's a text I haven't finished writing yet. J

[5] Xabier Barandiaran and Lluis Guiu Metabolismo, comunicaci??n y
evoluci??n en redes bacterianas y tecnol??gicas

Other texts that I consider complementary and very useful:

- Amador Savater: '??C??mo se organiza un clima?

- Un mensaje para el #12M15M desde el barrio de Internet

- This DVD: very useful, even though it's completely off-topic

- Jacques Lecoq, my theatre teacher, taught me two things that he
never wrote down:

1- When you start an improvisation, accept things as you find them.
Use the elements that are available, never say 'no' to them and
try to impose your own.

2 ' Always ask 'why'? about everything.


Spanish original version: http://conservas.tk/tacticas/

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mx.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org