Using netwar protest

Organizing networked civil disobedience protests
Future protests will be even more information intensive. Both protesters and their opponents will have to come to terms with the implications of netwar and the struggle for information, understanding and "topsight." Because the ultimate prize in a netwar protest is understanding, not opinion, it is the quality of information, not the quantity, which determines the final outcome.

Networks conduct netwar protests as opposed to institutions. Netwar protests are shaped by decentralized command and control structures; are resistant to "decapitation" attacks targeting leaders, and are amorphous enough to weld together coalitions with significantly different agendas while concentrating forces on a single symbolic target.

Network protests operate by "swarming" their opponents like bees or white blood cells - more like organisms than machines. They approach stealthily and from many directions in offense. In defense, they can react like anti-bodies moving towards points of attack. Netwar's line between offense and defense can be blurred, leaving opponents unclear about what is occurring and how to respond.

The diffuse communications network of netwar protests allows protesters to continuously adapt to changing conditions. The consultative form of decision-making enhances the ability to coordinate large-scale actions, rendering attempts to arrest "ringleaders" fruitless, since leadership is widely shared throughout the network of protest groups. The communications network is continuously expanded and modified.

The US Direct Action Network (DAN) represents an emerging species of political organization based on networks rather than institutions. The primary networked organizations in the Direct Action Network are a coalition of groups such as Rainforest Action Network, Art & Revolution and the Ruckus Society. Through the Direct Action Network, these groups coordinate non-violent protest training, communications and collective strategy and tactics through a decentralized process of consultation/consensus decision-making.

Netwar protest is inherently less violent than other forms of protest, particularly when it involves non-governmental organizations dedicated to human rights and peace causes. One of the first full-blown manifestations of netwar protest was the Zapatista conflict in Chiapas. The networked intervention of international groups placed very real limits on the use of violence by the Mexican government in supressing the insurrection.

Independent Media Centers were established in Seattle during the WTO protests and in Washington, D.C. during the IMF protests. They focus on the protest marches, rallies and what they perceived as police misconduct and brutality. Information indicated that members of the IMC conducted counter surveillance of law enforcement. They also monitored broadcasts of police radio communications and provided real ttme broadcasts of same over the Internet. The IMC provided communications between groups of demonstrators and orchestrated their movements.

1. The current theory of controlling protests usually revolves around the willingness of protesters to be steered into some venue in which the protest can be neutralized, marginalized and trivialized. When this agreement doesn't exist, the older police strategy is to treat a protest as a riot -- gas, baton charges, assault and occasionally arrests.

2. The netwar spectrum includes a new generation of revolutionaries, radicals, and activists who are just beginning to create information-age ideologies, in which identities and loyalties may shift from the nation-state to the transnational level of "global civil society."

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies