The above image was made with stable diffusion using the prompt 'a classical reclining figure painting being broken.'
In the UK, the activist group Just Stop Oil recently defaced more classical art to protest against fossil fuels. These kids seem totally disconnected from reality, and I get the sense that older activists who should know better are pulling their strings. Here in the US, messaging like "death to Israel" and "glory 2 the martyrs" was recently spray painted on a DC building as part of pro-Palestinian protests. Although many march for peace, there are clearly Hamas supporters among them.
When swastikas were seen in the crowds of Canadian truckers protesting vaccine mandates in 2022, it helped cultural commentators characterize the movement as racist. Few are painting the current pro-Palestinian demonstrations with the same brush despite their racist features. There's much broader support in the mainstream for pro-Palestinian sentiment than there was for vaccine mandate protests.
Personally, I agree with Just Stop Oil that fossil fuels should be phased out. Just as I agreed with the Canadian truckers that vaccine mandates were terrible. I also agree with pro-Palestinian demonstrators that Israel's killing of civilians in Gaza should stop, and that US military aid to Israel should be reduced to zero. But I feel completely disconnected from the activism around these issues. It's ineffectual and embarrassing.
The whole formula of using demonstrations to force officials to change policy seems outdated. And most protest events are heavily manipulated by special interests, both on the ground and in media portrayals, so their messaging is untrustworthy. Public opinion about these events is largely manufactured by the choices of social media giants. As I see it, traditional activism is a failure.
In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, civil rights demonstrations brought over 15 million people out into the streets across the country. It was the largest protest in US history and it accomplished very little. 15 million people all working in concert should have moved the needle, but it didn't. The energies of this group were dispersed and nothing really changed.
As traditional activism fades, there are at the same time new forms of activism becoming possible in the digital age. Networked action. The formation of swarms. The technical replacement of control regime systems with better alternative systems.
The problem with this stuff is that it's boring. It may also feel contrary to our instincts. When I'm outraged, my instinct is to jump up and down shouting, not calmly participate in an alternative economy. And while I'd prefer to see constructive solutions come from the new activism, much of what I'm seeing so far is destructive.
Consider cancel culture. A few years ago in Minneapolis, an online swarm formed to cancel the Holy Land Deli over racist posts made by the daughter of the establishment's owner when she was a teenager. This happened in the context of 2020's madness, and a boycott of the deli destroyed the business. The episode illustrated the potential of the swarm to ruin any company. There's power in that, though in this case I think that power was misused.
Read my novels:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is available as a web book on IPFS and as a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt.
- The Paradise Anomaly is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Psychic Avalanche is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- One Man Embassy is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Flying Saucer Shenanigans is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Rainbow Lullaby is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- The Ostermann Method is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Blue Dragon Mississippi is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
See my NFTs:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
- History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
- Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.