There’s not much doubt that for the foreseeable future 2011 will be remembered as the ‘Year of Protest’. When a mainstream magazine like Time selects ‘The Protester’ as their cover-story 2011 Person of the Year then something of significance is clearly happening. Though whether the last twelve months will in the long-term come to represent anything as significant as 1989’s fall of the Berlin Wall or 1968’s extraordinary mix of Paris, Prague and Vietnam is probably too early to judge.

However what can be claimed already with a degree of confidence is that the organisational forms of protest in 2011 changed decisively. Certainly if we are making any kind of comparison with those led by a traditional ‘Bolshevikised Left’ these were protests that looked very different in the manner they were organised.

The aspirations of those that had always preferred to organise horizontally and cut out the middle man vanguard party have been realised via a mix of the internet, smartphones, twitter, facebook, flickr and more. This is a culture of dissent that is deeply distrustful of leaders and takes producing a movement that has the evolution of forms that are participative and pre-figurative as one of its founding principles.

This is an approach epitomised in the West by the Occupy Movement, chronicled in the instant journalism of Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action that Changed America written by the Writers for the 99%. This is activist authorship at its best. Messy, from the frontline, loyal to the ethics of the movement in its form, written up by those who took part almost as soon as the action comes to some sort of an end. The detail is impressive, the basis of the various affinity groups, the spreading of the message across New York, the courage in the face of brutal policing. There is a real sense of a making of community, but also the divisions that would on occasion erupt.

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