Rethinking Anarchism


Tree vs. Rhizome, Revisited
December 3, 2008, 7:15 am
Filed under: Analysis, News | Tags: , , , ,

The question of what’s next for Obama’s support network just won’t go away. Here’s an article about it that came out today on NPR: “The Fate of Obama’s Net Roots Network.”

The story is that Barack Obama was elected on the back of the biggest wave of “participation” ever seen in a US electoral campaign. This was accomplished largely through mobilizing a constituency through the Internet and allowing local volunteer organizers a relatively high degree of autonomy. Supposedly, the campaign is a network organization, a “rhizome,” rather than a top-down “tree.”

If this is true, if the Obama campaign was in fact a “movement,” the answer to the “what next” question will not come from the President-Elect or his campaign strategy team, but from the network itself.

I doubt this will happen. It seems to me that the Obama campaign was not a qualitatively different way of doing politics- but a quantitatively different way of campaigning. The goal was the same: elect someone. The tactics were the same: phone calls, doorknocking, maybe some house parties, but the scale was different.

These quantitative changes are not without value. It shows that massive numbers of people are looking for solutions, trying new things. If Obama does not deliver the goods, at least some of the now-organized population will move on in search of qualitatively different approaches… and different targets, tactics, and strategies.

I hope that revolutionary anarchists are part of the dialogue when people realize that the change we need isn’t going to come from anyone other than ourselves.

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