Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations

Yesterday marked the continuation and escalation of a campaign led by the decentralised activist network UKUncut against major UK businesses who fail to meet their full tax obligations. The first target, Vodafone, was actioned at numerous sites across the country and done with a level of organisation and effectiveness that came to many as a surprise while also eliciting genuine support.

Yesterday marked the continuation and escalation of a campaign led by the decentralised activist network UKUncut against major UK businesses who fail to meet their full tax obligations. The first target, Vodafone, was actioned at numerous sites across the country and done with a level of organisation and effectiveness that came to many as a surprise while also eliciting genuine support.

This sentiment of surprise was founded upon the fact that such a de-centred and seemingly chaotic operation could come together so effectively and leverage such a level of disruption against one of the world’s largest multinationals. The target yesterday was Topshop, owned by tax exile and Tory adviser Philip Green and was actioned by the UCL Student Occupation also campaigning for a progressive agenda within their own campus.

It is this model of disorganised disruption and of dissent entrepreneurship that is at the heart of both the movement against the proposed increases in tuition fees as we are seeing today with the student protests (orchestrated in no small part by occupation’s such as that at UCL) and also at the core of the campaign led by UKUncut more generally that will unfold over the coming months.

This is a paradigm informed by decentralised and self-organising networks that are inherently more flexible, dynamic and are more capable of reacting to fast changing events than those of centralised, hierarchical organisations with bureaucracies that by their very nature hinder quick and effective decision making.

These networks such as the UnCut movement or the student movement with outstanding micro-organisations such as the UCL Occupation (which has received over 60,000 hits on its blog in a little under a week) who have so dynamically organised yesterday, today and going forward will inevitably be more flexible and effective than organisations with generic ‘leaderships’ such as major businesses, the police or even the National Union of Students.

With social media tools at their disposal such as Twitter, Facebook and Skype and the ‘feedback loop’ to inform actors on the ground provided by rolling news coverage these embryonic movements may seem like an organized chaos. Indeed in many ways that is precisely what they are and that is why they might just triumph.

The movement for change will be brought about by micro-organising, flashmobs and dissent entrepreneurs such as the flashmob organised by the UCL Occupation outside TopShop yesterday. The ground for how politics is conducted and coordinated is changing beneath our feet and with these new norms and structures for political contention and mobilization the world in the words of those great English radicals the Levellers is ‘turned upside down’.

32 Responses to “Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations”

  1. Crimson Crip

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations: http://bit.ly/fkW5ER writes @AaronJohnPeters

  2. aaronjohnpeters

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations: http://bit.ly/fkW5ER writes @AaronJohnPeters

  3. L DTUC

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations: http://bit.ly/fkW5ER writes @AaronJohnPeters

  4. Carl Packman

    Anti-cuts networks more flexible and effective than big organisations #demo2010 #solidarity dayx2 ( @aaronjohnpeters ) http://bit.ly/fKUEs0

  5. GuyAitchison

    Anti-cuts networks are more effective than big organisations – article by @aaronjohnpeters http://bit.ly/goFDE0 #solidarity #dayx2

  6. UCL Occupation

    RT @GuyAitchison: Anti-cuts networks are more effective than big organisations – article by @aaronjohnpeters http://bit.ly/goFDE0 #solid …

  7. Hash

    Interesting, micro-organising: ground 4 how politics conducted & coordinated changing beneath our feet http://bit.ly/f9A6Vs

  8. Deb

    RT @GuyAitchison: Anti-cuts networks are more effective than big organisations – article by @aaronjohnpeters http://bit.ly/goFDE0 #solid …

  9. Trakgalvis

    RT @GuyAitchison: Anti-cuts networks are more effective than big organisations – article by @aaronjohnpeters http://bit.ly/goFDE0 #solid …

  10. Bham Labour Students

    http://bit.ly/fKUEs0 it's an exciting time to be young

  11. Faircutsplease

    RT @GuyAitchison: Anti-cuts networks are more effective than big organisations – article by @aaronjohnpeters http://bit.ly/goFDE0 #solid …

  12. Helen Lambert

    Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations http://sn.im/1jzdd4 #ukuncut

  13. Little Richardjohn

    The means of communication is determining the form of the protest.
    Today’s jellyfish tactics against the police exploits their weakness. Another option might be to occupy a large public space. If they want to keep protesters immobile then its only fair that the protesters get to choose where they are kettled, and come prepared for a long stay. The job of the police would then be to move the protest, which is a very different televisual feast to kettling it, which can be spun as a defence of public order.

  14. False Economy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations: http://bit.ly/fkW5ER writes @AaronJohnPeters

  15. diana smith

    I liked this creative approach to protest. http://bit.ly/fkW5ER imaginative and good humoured.

  16. Emma Coften

    RT @mulberrybush: I liked this creative approach to protest. http://bit.ly/fkW5ER imaginative and good humoured.

  17. Anthony Painter

    Don't buy this decentralised, disruptive networks and political change argument…yet. http://j.mp/hy3mET via @leftfootfwd

  18. Malcolm Evison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations http://bit.ly/e6e6yz

  19. Richard Blogger

    @Little Richardjohn

    I agree. But it sounded more like the “jellyfish tactics” was more spontaneous than planned. With a little more organisation it could be more effective – everyone has a phone, most access Twitter or Facebook or something similar on their phone so it is not difficult for the breakaway groups to make their position known and be directed.

  20. The Network Gang

    #Networks Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big …: The movement for change will be broug… http://bit.ly/hAn4Wy

  21. David Hatton

    This seemed more of a calmer and more peaceful protest, thankfully those protesting acted more like adults this time, rather than spoiled brats that didn’t get there way. Attacking policemen and smashing buildings up is unacceptable, and thankfully this time, it seems people were more calm and peaceful, and hopefully the government will acknowledge that. Isn’t time time we had a little perspective though? http://davidhatton1987.blogspot.com/2010/11/little-perspective.html

  22. Nigel Stanley

    This is a false choice. Big organisations have weaknesses but so does ad-hoc networking. I’ve responded in detail at Touchstone http://www.touchstoneblog.org.uk/2010/12/false-choices-in-the-cuts-campaign/

  23. noelito

    think @compassoffice have got it spot on, to see why just compare http://bit.ly/dKuNJV by @arronpeters and http://bit.ly/hyOnIZ

  24. Hazico_Jo

    RT @leftfootfwd: Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations http://bit.ly/e6e6yz

  25. Fighting the cuts: The false choice between networks and organisation | Left Foot Forward

    […] Aaron Peters recently argued in an article on Left Foot Forward that anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations. He is certainly right to see the student mobilisation of […]

  26. Join us at Topshop and make Philip Green pay | Alex Pinkerman – Marcus Evans Offices

    […] us, the most exciting feature of the anti-cuts battle has been the emergence of new, decentralised networks. We launch this second phase of our campaign as part of a movement unrecognisable from just a month […]

  27. Cuts, protests and alternatives « sgmpolitics

    […] small, locally organised campaigns or large national one are the best way forward. There’s one side of the argument; and the other. The small scale occupations staged by UK Uncut have certainly […]

  28. Christos Chamos

    Τα social networks στην υπηρεσια της αυτοοργανωσης http://tinyurl.com/26oubjf

  29. Aaron Peters

    @cherylbaker agreed – organisations can not afford to keep up with networks – the procedural costs are too much http://bit.ly/fKUEs0

  30. aaronjohnpeters

    @cherylbaker agreed – organisations can not afford to keep up with networks – the procedural costs are too much http://bit.ly/fKUEs0

  31. 2011: The year political activism and progressive politics goes open source | Left Foot Forward

    […] Discontent has mobilised across several groups, including schoolkids, university students, trade unions and, most importantly, passionately concerned members of the British general public from a diversity of backgrounds. The first organised and innovative manifestations of this discontent have been facilitated by networks not organisations. […]

  32. The “occupy” protests come to the City this Saturday | Left Foot Forward

    […] Anti-cuts networks are more flexible and effective than big organisations – Aaron Peters, November 30th […]

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