This type of protest has been very effective over the last year in toppling regimes in north Africa. It’s proving relatively successful in the US too.
Open source protest is an organizational technique. Probably the only organizational technique that can assemble a massive crowd in today’s multiplexed environment. Essential rules of open source protest include:
- A promise. A simple goal/idea that nearly everyone can get behind. Adbusters did pretty good with “occupy wall street.” Why? Nearly everyone hates the pervasive corruption of banks and Wall Street. It’s an easy target.
- A plausible promise. Prove that the promise can work. They did. They actually occupied Wall Street and set up camp. They then got the message out.
- A big tent and an open invitation. It doesn’t matter what your reason for protesting is as long as you hate/dislike Wall Street. The big tent is already in place (notice the diversity of the signage). Saw something similar from the Tea Party before it was mainstreamed/diminished.
- Let everyone innovate. Don’t create a leadership group. The general assembly approach appears to work.
- Support anyone in a leadership role that either a) grows the movement or b) advances the movement closer to its goal. Oppose (ignore) anybody that proposes a larger, more complex agenda or those that claim ownership over the movement.
- If a new technique works, document it, use it again, and share it with everyone else. Copy everything that works.
- Spread the word of the movement as widely as possible.
That’s the gist of it.
What’s the real goal of this protest? Frankly, it’s probably a recognition that the center of power in the US doesn’t reside in Washington anymore. It’s on Wall Street. This protest dispenses with the middle men (the US government) and goes straight after the real power.
My guess is that the Adbuster team that launched this open source protest felt that an October financial meltdown was possible, hence the September start-date. If the meltdown does occur, this movement is going to go global, just at the moment when the banks are going to be at their most vulnerable. Regardless, this effort is going to set the groundwork for a fast launch in the future when the next financial meltdown occurs.
What’s the big picture? Global guerrillas are getting better at building open source protests. We are going to see more and they are likely to become a prominent feature of the geopolitical landscape. It will also be interesting to see if open source protests could end up taking down a Too Big To Fail bank (i.e. Goldman) or a US President in the next 5 years. That would be very cool to see.