Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Letter from Greece #3

In Greece on 24 November 2012 at 00:06

Protest against the fascists. The banner says ‘exclusively public, for free health for everyone without terms and conditions’. Photo via

Dear people,

I received another excruciating letter from a friend in Patras…

“Things are getting worse and worse. Fascists now make raids in public care and check if the health booklets of patients belong to a Greek citizen or a foreigner. They keep terrorizing the people undisturbed.

On Saturday we had the celebration of the Insurrection of Politechneion (university students in 1973 went into the university, occupied, made a radio station, stayed there and demanded the fall of the junta of Papadopoulos). Every year we march. This year police officers were so harsh even here. They threw teargas in the middle of the crowd to break up the march.

My friend and I feel that we live under a junta again, and the biggest problem is that Greek society cares about silly things on youtube and on TV. They are blind (…)

Many people commit suicides… last month only in Patras I heard about 3 people from 15 to 34 I think (…)

I want to leave Greece. I don’t want when I narrate the story of my life to have a civil war as a chapter. I love Greece, I really do, but I can’t stand fanaticism, racism and violence. I don’t know how to react to all this. I don’t know what to do. I want something creative to unite people. Greek society won’t go out on to the streets for another “useless protest”, they don’t believe that something can change. You were here, you saw, you know. We are people that wait for someone else to save us and we don’t care if this someone else is crazy, or fascist, or murderer.”


The Two Faces of Andalusia

In Spain on 21 November 2012 at 20:13

Acampada IberCaja, Seville

Seville, November 21

Dear people,

There was a time when Seville was the only link between Europe and the New World. From the 1500s onward until the early 18th century, the Spanish crown granted the monopoly of trade with the Americas to this city some 50 kilometres from the Atlantic, upstream the Guadalquivir river.

As a result, Seville grew rich and splendid. But there was a flaw in the Spanish economic model of the age. It wasn’t based on investment and growth, but on plunder. All the gold and silver from the subjugated native empires did little else than boost inflation, and when the influx stopped, it meant recession and decline.

Today, Seville has two very distinct faces. The one you get to see as a visitor is shiny and bright. The other is one of misery and despair.

Near the grand Alcázar palace, I found an encampment called ‘Acampada Utopia’. I figured it was the right place to inform myself on the state of the 15M movement in Seville.

In and around the Andalusian capital there are some fourteen local assemblies active, of which eight in the city itself. The spearhead of the movement, here like elsewhere, is the battle against foreclosures. For seven days now, people have been camping in front of an IberCaja franchise and collecting signatures in favour of changing mortgage legislation.

Last night, the camp was raided by police. All tents had to be taken down. But even without protection, the people have decided to resist.

The reason why they are camped in front of this particular bank has everything to do with a building called ‘La Corrala’, on the outskirts of the centre of Seville.

A property abandoned for many years, La Corrala was occupied six months ago to house evicted families. It was subsequently sold to IberCaja bank. Now the bank wants the families to leave. It has been putting pressure on them by having their electricity and water cut off.

The protesters’ demand is that the families can stay, paying a reasonable social rent, as a first step towards realising the people’s constitutional right to dignified housing.

Next Saturday, Seville will host a demonstration in support of this right by people from all over Andalusia. (Check out, Twitter @corralautopia)

Seville is splendid, really, but when I look through a local newspaper, it seems like the world is coming to an end. Doctors are on indefinite strike against cutbacks in health care, the university is on the brink of collapse, but the most striking news comes from nearby Jerez de la Frontera, home of sherry.

Jerez is officially bankrupt. There is no money to pay public salaries, schools are closed, garbage collectors have been on strike for two weeks straight. According to estimates, the city produces about 250.000 kilos of trash every day. It all ends up on the street. More than 30.000 tons by now. I can’t imagine what the place smells like.

The population is engaging in a daily fight against the invasion of rats. “What is the health ministry waiting for?” a desperate woman exclaims, “for the plague to break out?”

Last night, citizens have started to torch heaps of trash all over town. When riot police was deployed, it led to confrontations. Stones and bottles were hurled at them. The officers used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

During the day, the people express their anger by piling up trash in front of town hall. The negotiations between the outsourced cleaning authority and the garbage collectors have broken down. Already, Jerez is preparing for another night of stinking inferno.

Iberian Convulsions

In Lisbon, Madrid, Portugal, Spain on 19 November 2012 at 11:45

The ‘White Tsunami’, Madrid November 18. Photo via @LibertadSigloXX

Lisbon, November 19

Dear people,

The day after the strike, everything was back to normal – or whatever can be considered normal these days. Only the dockworkers continue to strike. According to the newspapers the government is considering to deploy the army to make sure the Portuguese ports continue to operate. But there is a legal problem with this. The army only has authority within the borders of the country if there is a state of emergency. And for the moment the government still respects certain rules.

According to those rules the police wasn’t allowed to shoot footage during the riots, for privacy reasons. So to identify the people who were throwing stones, authorities are using television images and the footage that people posted on the Internet.

It’s a curious situation. In the weeks before I arrived, the police themselves had protested against cutbacks, and the army as well.

In 1974, left leaning officers from the lower echelons of the army staged a coup to put an end to 15 years of colonial war and over half a century of military dictatorship. Ever since, the army has been a counter force on the side of the people. In case things get out of hand, the government most probably won’t be able to count on them to restore order by force.

For the moment, it won’t be necessary. Poverty, misery and malnutrition are on the rise in Portugal, but there is no day-by-day organised resistance like in Spain. Neither is there a real squatter movement active here, even though you find abandoned property all around. In the centre of Porto they amount to roughly a third of all buildings.

Here in Lisbon, there exist two neighbourhood assemblies, one in Benfica and one in Graça, where I am staying at the moment. The rehabilitation of abandoned buildings is one of the local assemblies’ primary goals, but they prefer to go the legal way instead of occupying.

In Spain, yesterday there was a massive demonstration of medical personnel – the ‘White Tsunami’ – against the privatisation of health care. At the same time, much less publicised, there was a demonstration of police officers against the cutbacks. It was funny to see images of police vans being deployed to control a crowd of their colleagues. One of the banners they carried made it to the news. It said ‘Citizens, please excuse us for not being able to arrest those who are responsible for the crisis – politicians and bankers.’

Next Thursday the students go on strike in Lisbon and in about a week there will be more protests as the budget for next year will be discussed. There are too many things. We need a serious revolutionary newspaper, with online local editions. Sign up! Make it happen. I’ll lend a hand.

For now, I will soon be leaving Lisbon to follow the sun. This means I will reduce the frequency of my reports. But don’t worry, if anything big happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

News and Footage of #14N

In Lisbon, Portugal on 15 November 2012 at 19:36

Dear people,

Here is some footage of yesterday’s European General Strike.





Police aggression against minors in Tarragona:

Check also the overview of  European protests by the Guardian, RT and RoarMag

Battlefield Lisbon

In #GlobalRevolution, Lisbon, Portugal on 15 November 2012 at 03:25

November 14, 2330 hrs.

‘Intifada’ is how the Portuguese news described the events in Lisbon today. Maybe it was a bit of an overstatement, we’ll have to see. In any case, nobody I spoke to ever witnessed something like this happening in Portugal…

Dear people,

A spectre is haunting Europe. For the first time ever, the proletarians of twenty countries joined together in a general strike. If anything, austerity measures are creating a sense of unity among the European peoples.

I’ve seen brief images from Greece, Italy, Spain and England. But today was too big to get a clear picture of everything. I will just tell you what happened here in Lisbon.

There were two feeder marches. One of the big unions and one of dockworkers, anarchists and social movements. Naturally I joined the latter.

It started off very small. A couple of hundred people gathered at Cais do Sodré near the harbour around one o’ clock. Once we got moving, the march had already swollen considerably. We had music, and we had firecrackers, courtesy of the anarchists. They could hear us coming from afar.

At the monumental Praça do Commercio an undercover police officer made a clumsy attempt to arrest one of the people throwing bombs. He almost got lynched by the mob. His colleagues in uniform stormed in to bring him to safety. The arrest was never made.

At Rossio we joined with the march of the unions. That was when the crowd really got big. Through the narrow streets we walked up to Bairro Alto, ‘high hood’. The firecrackers resounded frighteningly loud between the old buildings.

All the way, there was a clear distinction within the march between the unions at the front, and the movements at the back. At the top, we split. The red flags took the road, the black flags descended a small staircase to reunite at São Bento, the Portuguese parliament.

The building is on a hill, accessible through stairs, and surrounded by lawns. It was all fenced off with barriers. It’s an interesting sight, massive police protection of institutions against the rage of the people. It accentuates the ambiguity of the word ‘democracy’.

In front of the stairs, the union leaders staged their little piece of theatre, they were applauded by their members, and thankfully, they soon left.


But the people stayed. Something was about to happen. You could feel it from the beginning. For the moment, the drum band was drumming, the people were cheering. I was talking to a friend of mine. She said the crowd was actually pretty calm, too calm.

Before she even finished her phrase, it started. All along the line, people tore down the barriers. At the stairs, the front line moved up to face the police, but the crowd fell short of taking the stairs by storm. They could have succeeded, but the moment of hesitation was enough for police to organise and to form a line.

Taking down the barriers

So the bombardment started. It was around four thirty. First came the paint bombs. When they were finished, there came the bottles. When those were finished, there came the stones.

Now, you have to know that the streets in Lisbon are made of typical small stones. They are easy to dig up and they are the perfect size for throwing. The anarchists pulled their scarfs over their faces and they had a ball. Behind them, the entire crowd backed them up. The line of police had orders to stand and resist. It went on for hours. Given the amount of ammunition at hand, it could have gone on for months.

At the start of the assault, there had been some small skirmishes at the stairs in which the anarchists conquered one of the officers’ shields. With spray paint, someone cancelled out the word ‘police’ and replaced it with grand capital letters spelling ‘PEOPLE’. The roar was awesome when they brandished their booty.

And the beat went on. The drummers accompanied the stoning. Another police shield was smashed, a lone molotov was thrown to the delight of the crowd. But after about an hour, some people were growing restless. To them it was of no use to go on. They wanted everyone to stop throwing, and charge. At that moment I witnessed the most amazing demonstration of courage by some unprotected citizens who defied the stones by taking the stairs. Two girls sat down on the steps with their hands folded in meditation. But the assault continued, and they finally had to retreat.

Among the people battering the shields of the police there was an adorable old man throwing pebbles. He was completely relaxed, and he had an excellent aim. With one stone after another he could hit the same police officer on his helmet. He didn’t care to hide his face, he was having the time of his life.

Around six, authorities had enough of it. Via megaphone it was announced that people had to disperse or police would charge. The answer came with firecrackers and an intensification of the bombardment.

So police charged. And after having resisted for so long, they were bloody pissed off. They clubbed people down like savages. I took the space that the first line had left open in their wake, shooting footage of the violence. It was not very smart, I should have counted with the second line coming down behind me. One of the bastards went for my camera, then he went for me, then he got assistance. So now I know what a billy club feels like. It makes you mad. Really really mad. In the heat of the moment, I managed to save my footage, to shout all kinds of bad things about these goons and their mothers, and to get the hell out of there in pretty good shape, all more or less at the same time.

Part of us regrouped in a narrow street. We built up barricades from big plastic containers full of trash, and they were set alight. When police advanced, we retreated and built more barricades. Within minutes there were piles of trash ablaze at every street corner. The stench was disgusting, but the sight was wonderful. There was a sense of liberation in the air. “It’s good this is happening. Things needed to be shook up here in Portugal”, someone said.

Meanwhile police were blocking streets left and right, and advancing. We descended towards the sea and the big avenues. At a certain point, police officers started shooting rubber bullets. That’s when most of the group dispersed.

We reunited again at Cais do Sodré, where the demo had started. Phones were ringing continuously, stories came in about police hunting isolated citizens in the alleys and beating them up. Then they came to the square, in full riot gear. They raided the bar where we had found refuge, they took away the usual suspects. One of them was the streamer from audiovisuals. He hadn’t been able to broadcast today, because they had already confiscated his equipment before it all went down. Now he was taken in for questioning. Unlike another person that was taken away from the bar, I haven’t seen him return.

“This is what democracy looks like”, one of my comrades commented.

By now the images have reached the far corners of Portugal. Tomorrow we will have to see what their influence will be on the Portuguese state of my mind. If it were for me, without a doubt, I’d be back at parliament.

Lisbon on the Move

In Lisbon, Portugal on 14 November 2012 at 12:26

Photo by Esad Hajdarevic

Lisbon, November 14, 1130 hrs.

Dear people,

Yesterday I met up with a comrade from the Communications commission of the Indignados Lisboa. He later took me to an anarchist hide-out where banners were being prepared for the general strike, and where I had the opportunity to meet other people active in local assemblies and working groups. They filled me on the history of our movement in Portugal.

Bear in mind that the scale of the protests here is in no way comparable to what happened in Spain. When it all started, last year in May, there was an acampada of the Indignados Lisboa in the central Rossio square. The people who organised it were not an heterogeneous mix of citizens, they came specifically from anti-militarist groups opposed to NATO. The acampada lasted two weeks, and ended like most camps do, in internal struggle and decay.

In October, when the fall wave rose, there was another encampment, this time in front of parliament, and this time inspired by what was happening in the USA. It was called ‘Occupy Lisbon’, and it was a distinct group from the Indignados Lisboa.

Unlike Spain, where the 15M is kind of an overarching movement of many different struggles, in Portugal the resistance consists of independent movements which loosely collaborate. Among these are not only Occupy and the Indignados, but also the Zeitgeist movement, Anonymous and various unions and semi-political organisations.

In February of this year a nationwide encounter of popular assemblies was held in Coimbra. Later on, in April and May, activists met in Lisbon to exchange ideas and coordinate struggles. But it wasn’t until September 15 that the movement in Portugal really took off.

That day, two months ago, an estimated one million people all over the country took the streets and forced the government to swallow the latest austerity measures. Considering the fact that Portugal only has about ten million inhabitants, the number was enormous.

Since then, the government has disguised the same austerity measures in different ways, and the people have made a habit out of demonstrating and striking. Every week, more or less.

From what I hear, the situation is not as tragic as Spain as far as evictions go, but the privatisation of everything, including health care and water is dangerously looming over the country, here as elsewhere in the South of Europe.

In the anarchist cove I met the two people who form the Lisbon audiovisual team, broadcasting from And as they explain to me their way of working I realise how technologically advanced we are in Madrid. We can cover any small event with one or two streamers, who can operate independently without need of a laptop or a generator. In case of big events we can deploy four to eight streamers (‘cells’ or ‘units’), sometimes even more. We can mix everything comfortably from a studio while keeping an eye on the headlines from around the world.

Here in Portugal, our comrades have one laptop and a couple of webcams at their disposal. They use a car to function as generator for the laptop. Still, they make maximum use of the limited means at their disposal, but they need more people. And I wonder, in a few years time, looking back, we will be amazed about how primitive our current technology is. And at the same time we will be happy that we were there to witness the pioneers of this amazing technology called ‘livestream’.

Good Morning Portugal!

In Lisbon, Portugal on 13 November 2012 at 13:36

‘Ave Maria’, the Merkel version. Rossio, Lisbon.

Lisbon, November 13

Dear people,

I took the overnight bus to Lisbon in order to be here for the November 14 general strike. Latest news from Spain before I left: 46 super judges from all over the country have spoken out against the evictions, and self-proclaimed themselves the spearhead of reform. Also, the mayor of Madrid went to La Princesa hospital in support of the struggle against the hospital’s closure.

Now here I am on the estuary of the Tago river. They say that Spain and Portugal live with their backs against each other, and I have a feeling it’s true. In general, they don’t speak each other’s languages. It’s not obligatory in school. The Portuguese speak better English than Spanish.

Maybe this could be explained with the strong bond that has united England and Portugal for all of modern history. The two countries maintain the longest still active alliance in the world, going as far back as the late 14th century. The thing they share is that they face the ocean more than they face the continent.

Another thing you notice is that Portugal is a lot darker skinned than Spain. The country has a long and intricate relationship with Africa. As empire builders, they were the first to go there and the last to leave, over 500 years later. As a result, black blood has merged into the lifeline of Portugal. In Spain on the other hand, most of the blacks you encounter are recent immigrants, mainly from Francophone Africa.

One of Portugal’s most notable former colonies is Angola. The country was ravaged by fifteen years of colonial war followed by over twenty years of civil war. For a decade now, the country is in peace, and it’s finally starting to exploit its huge mineral and oil resources.

This has led to the creation of a super rich elite, Arab style. If you are looking for the most expensive hotels, restaurants, night clubs and casino’s, don’t go to London, New York, Las Vegas or Dubai. Go to Luanda, the Angolese capital. You will live like a satrap. By contrast, the majority of the population in Angola is still among the poorest of the world, with low life expectancy, high infant mortality, etc.

Instead of investing in their own society, the Angolan super elite prefers to invest in the mother country. With Portugal being pushed to privatise, the petrol dollars from Africa are flowing back to Europe to buy up banks, utilities, etc. At the same time, Portuguese engineers are moving to Angola, attracted by the absence of a language barrier and the possibility of becoming super wealthy in a short time.

Understandably, there is also a significant Brazilian community here in Portugal. I don’t have any figures, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this emigratory flow is about to reverse. If it hasn’t already started, we might see many Brazilians returning home, and many Portuguese going with them in the coming years.

Yesterday, Merkel was here to assure herself that German directives were well implemented. A few hundred people protested against the visit, burning a Merkel puppet outside the presidential palace. Tomorrow there is the general strike, and from all the banners and manifesto’s I witness around town, everybody wants to be there.


Update from Newsdesk

In #GlobalRevolution on 11 November 2012 at 01:00

One of the Occupy Wall Street distribution centres. Photo via @alexisgoldstein

November 10,

Dear people,

By now we all know that the regime in Ukraine remains in power after fraudulent elections. Observers and journalists reported widespread irregularities. CBC Canadian broadcasting referred to ‘government thugs’. I didn’t find any details in the western press, but through a comrade in St Petersburg I found stories about paramilitary forces raiding electoral booths and destroying ballots, about police collaborating and employing tear gas to fend off protesters…

In Spain, occupations of hospitals are continuing. The other day I got caught up in one of the two daily parades at la Princesa. At 11 in the morning and at 6 at night between 500 and a thousand medical personnel, patients and sympathisers march around the hospital with banners, blocking all the streets and chanting for public health. As from the end of November, medical personnel will be reduced to emergency staff, as the doctors will go on an indefinite strike against privatisation.

On the evictions front, the occupations, the acampadas, the moral objections by judges, press, bishops, mayors, police officers and European Union officials were not enough. It had to be another suicide before the government finally acknowledged there was a problem.

Under pressure from popular outrage, the prime minister offered a two year moratorium for the most ‘vulnerable’ cases. Which raises the question what vulnerable actually means and who is going to decide which cases apply…

On the other side of the pond, New York continues to suffer from the Sandy aftermath. Many people who didn’t have the means to leave and a place to go had no choice but to stay behind in the city during the disaster. The relief efforts of Occupy Wall Street have brought all those people closer together. At, an article was posted that sums up the way OWS has outperformed FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard on all levels. The text is by Rebecca Manski. I publish an excerpt. Read the original here.

“The heat was still off. The buildings still dark. Red Hook after 5:00 was so eerily desolate and devoid of light as to drive a person mad. And those folks who were homebound could die up there with not a soul to know…. So teams of volunteers dipped into the piping tins of fresh food piled up on the tables, crafting solidly balanced and nutritious meals to send throughout the neighborhood. Teams of 40 volunteers every few hours were sent trudging up and dozens of flights, knocking on doors and handing warm plates through dark doorways, many of them to isolated people who hadn’t seen anyone in days.

By Friday, Red Hook was in such a state of abundance in terms of food, that Occupy started to coordinate distribution to various other underserved sites it had gotten off the ground in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Staten Island. There was so much food, most of the Red Hook kitchen staff became a distribution force, packing up cars that arrived every half hour, and dispatching them to the most remote disaster sites. (…)

What’s revolutionary about the way that Occupy Sandy is working at this moment, is that it’s not about service provision and receipt. It’s about taking care of each other. It’s about equitable distribution of resources.”

Rising Tide

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 8 November 2012 at 00:35

Ukraine protests. Check out more at

November 7

Dear people,

The city was invaded by German football fans yesterday. The sun was out, and they enjoyed it. In Calle Alcalà they saw a group of people gathered outside an elegant building, shouting slogans and brandishing giant masks.

One of them asked me what it was all about. I tried to be brief.

“There’s a big bank here that was bailed out and nationalised. This banks continues to foreclose on people every day, while millions of appartments are empty as a result of speculation. Today, the president of this bank receives a prize, here in the Madrid casino. The people outside want their houses back.”


I hope he takes this part of the story back with him to Germany.

The action went well. It had a clear goal and message. No doubt the suits and ties inside have heard it. “We have the solution! / The bankers in prison!”

Police were only two. They were in no hurry at all to intervene. As ninety-nine-percenters, I imagine they didn’t really mind to see people protesting against shameless bankers.

Not only Bankia has been under attack these days. Also Banesto, BBVA, La Caixa. It’s spreading everywhere.

Aside from the banks, there are hospitals and universities being occupied. The judges are occupying courts. El País has understood that something is going on in the country. El Mundo keeps filling its pages with the ‘separatist challenge’ of Catalonia day after day.

The hospital of ‘La Princesa’ has been occupied for two days. It comes as a reaction to the government’s plans to push through the complete privatisation of hospitals in Madrid, and to close this one down. Medical personnel has organised spontaneous assemblies to coordinate the protest.

“La Princesa is not for sale” is one of the slogans. And “We want to take care of everyone.” (Check Twitter @noalcierreHULP)

Students on strike have been blocking traffic today. And more news is coming in of actions in hospitals around Madrid. It’s too much to keep up with it. At the moment, we are four people and a cat at the revolutionary news desk. From abroad, we receive eye witness accounts of electoral fraud in Ukraine and subsequent popular protests. They say the story is completely ignored by the press. It turns out it isn’t true. Reuters, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune etc. are all over this story. It just seems that Google News filters it all out in Russia and Ukraine.

In Spain, people are now gearing up for the general strike on November 14. It has been called for by the unions, the big ones, but many people here in Spain don’t like the unions. So they started an initiative… Occupy the Strike!

Demonstration at La Princesa hospital against privatisation, November 6. Photo via @NoalcierreHULP


The Revolution is Already Here

In #GlobalRevolution on 5 November 2012 at 14:30

Photo by CaptSpaulding

Madrid. November 5, 2012.

Dear people,

Over twenty years ago, CNN brought us live war in the living room. And not just war, they brought every kind of live news, from all corners of the globe. Television had turned into a real time ‘window on the world’.

Back then, it was amazing. But to make it possible, CNN had to maintain an army of reporters, cameramen, editors and additional crew, working on different news desks in different countries. It was still Internet prehistory, and to lighten up the window with news was a very costly operation.

Now, November 2012, anyone, anywhere, can create CNN on his or her laptop. All you need is a decent Internet connection. The content won’t be provided by professional reporters or cameramen, but by the people themselves.

In occasion of Agora 99 we are launching ‘Occupy the Comms’, the ultimate toolkit for popular news reporting.

Occupy the Comms has been developed over the past five months by a dozen people in New York, California, Brussels, France, Madrid and elsewhere. The beta version has been online for a few weeks.

So what is Occupy the Comms?

In the first place, it’s a statement. The commons belong to everybody. You cannot occupy them. The only thing you can do is make them available, to all, as a means to cover the news and to spread it.

For the last decade and a half, step by step, Internet has offered people all the necessary tools to report on the news themselves. First came weblogs, then came photo and video sharing, then social networking greatly enhanced the quick exchange of information. The latest development has been live stream, the opportunity to broadcast video directly from your mobile phone.

Occupy the Comms is the next step in this evolution. It brings everything together. It allows everyone to participate in a horizontal way. And there’s no catch. Money is not an issue.

In short OtC works on three different levels. The first level is real time news, the second is editing, the third is all-round broadcasting.

The site is structured around groups. You create a group for a certain event. Automated bots can scan the Internet for all content related to that event, like live streams. The users watching those streams can collaborate by creating a pad that indexes what happens at what time and what additional information like photos, tweets and blog posts is available.

On the second level, contributors from around the world can use the primary information to create videos or articles that capture the event from any perspective in word and image. The site features a chat which enables online editors to work together on a project, to divide the tasks, and to minimise the time necessary to finish it.

On the third level, streams and edited content can be broadcast and mixed on specific channels like GlobalRevolution.TV, or any other channel you want to create yourself. Aside from those, they can be distributed through regular outlets like YouTube and Vimeo.

These are the basics. There are even more interesting features which make OtC a formidable weapon of 21st century news reporting.

For one, participation is completely anonymous, if desired. You don’t need a valid email to sign up. A fake one will do. You will not be asked to confirm. All communication is encrypted and will be automatically deleted after an hour. For two, a special application has been developed which anonymises the streamer. He or she will be known only by username. This will ensure the safety of people who are reporting from particularly repressive societies, where news casting is a dangerous activity. For three, the application features direct anonymous group chat from mobile phones. This will allow people not only to coordinate their coverage, but also to prepare and execute specific actions.

In many countries, journalists get threatened, molested or even killed every day, because their reports embarrass the powers that be. Through Occupy the Comms it’s no longer necessary for people to risk their lives to expose the truth.

The most powerful tool of contemporary media is live streaming. It’s still a very recent technology, we have only just started to understand the way it works and the limitless possibilities it creates. Technologically we are already able to live stream HD quality video, capable of matching professional broadcasting. The next step is to package it in a way that can rival any existing television station, and that can break the stranglehold of authorities and corporations on the dissemination of news.

Occupy the Comms creates the potential for popular media to compete with corporate media, and eventually to obliterate them. Corporate media can be made irrelevant by a joint popular effort in the same way that Wikipedia has made the Encyclopaedia Britannica and every other authority-based knowledge repository practically obsolete.

The reasons why this is possible are few and simple. First, we are omnipresent. At the moment there are almost a thousand streamers covering worldwide resistance. This number will keep growing fast. Streamers will invariably get to the scene before their professional colleagues will. Second, and most important, we have an immeasurable economic advantage. Because we don’t need to pay an army of journalists, we are completely cost effective. And third, we will be able to bring the news much quicker than any traditional news outlet. Streams will be live, and collaboratively edited videos or articles can be up in a matter of hours, sometimes even minutes. Once they go viral, we will reach millions of people, and we will ‘define the story’. No corporate medium will be able to manipulate the truth without being exposed almost instantaneously.

The Internet is reaching maturity. We are becoming aware of the full impact this will have, not just on the way we communicate, but also on the very structure of our society.

The nature of Internet calls for a society based on unity, equality and collaboration. It has already cancelled out borders, it has opened the doors to universal knowledge, and it is exposing corruption, manipulation, and oppression. In every sense it is causing a revolution.

Many of the features of OtC have been available for some time, thanks to websites like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Flickr etc. But all of these platforms have a fundamental flaw. They are hierarchical corporate entities. They will sell out data for profit. They will forcefully or voluntarily collaborate with authorities. They will extradite their users to any malevolent government in order to protect themselves, their shareholders, their revenues.

Occupy the Comms is not an organisation, it doesn’t have a board, it doesn’t serve any shareholders. It doesn’t respond to any authority. It’s a toolbox for people, and nothing else.

Obviously this is an enormous potential danger for anyone interested in maintaining the status quo. Powerful people may seek to destroy it. For this reason, most of the effort in developing OtC was spent on security.

The physical machine itself is invisible. It doesn’t have an IP address. It serves to run various virtual machines which host the content and the communications. There is a backup server in a safe country. Neither of the physical machines are located in the United States.

Instant torrents will be created for all the important content which is uploaded. In case of cyberattack, it can easily be mirrored on dozens of other sites. OtC is like a mythological creature. You can cut off its head, but then ten new heads will sprout up on the spot.

The communications part is not yet completely secure. Last month, Anonymous was asked to scan it for holes, and they found more than one. These issues are being addressed. They will be solved. Once they are, it will be extremely hard for even the most advanced intelligence agency to lay their hands on the communications. They would have to freeze the memory of the physical machine. And even if they did, they would have nothing more than a heap of encrypted data, which in general will not be linked to any personal identity, and which will only be related to the last hour of activity.

During the past few weeks I have had the privilege to witness the development of this ground breaking tool. The backbone of the project was created by comrade ‘Jack’, the man who started the Audiovisual commissions of Acampada Sol and Occupy Wall Street, and who continues to play a vital role in training people in the art of tactical media. He is a Russian-born mathematician who used to work as a Wall Street banker. In the 1990s he was among those who created the infamous collateralised debt obligations. “Dude, I was one of the people who built the bomb that blew up the economy.”

With Occupy the Comms, he has created a device that is potentially even more devastating.

OtC was built specifically for tactical media purposes, but its uses go far beyond the coverage of news. Collaborative art, science and entertainment projects are next. With all visual content generated around the world, and the evolving communications possibilities, you will soon be able to make feature length movies and documentaries on practically everything, at home, at zero cost.

Still, Occupy the Comms is very primitive. For the moment it even lacks an accessible, intuitive interface. But appearance is beside the point. Contrary to any institution, OtC doesn’t aim to last. People will create better technology to take its place in the years to come. What counts is that collaborative efforts can cover reality in all its dimensions. They can change our views, and in doing so they can change the world.

The tools to make it happen are already available. The revolution is already here. All you need to do, is plug in, and play the game.


Check out the OtC Manual