Olympic Protests Hint at a Global Revolution

April 7, 2008

Just as the IOC’s decision to host the XXIXth Olympic Games in Beijing signaled a massive shift in the global balance of power and capital, so has it pried open the floodgates of a transnational movement for revolutionary change. This is an unprecedented struggle for multiple worlds that has multiple authors, multiple constituents, multiple visions (not one world running on a neocon-neoliberal feeding tube; see my 3/28 post). This photo in today’s New York Times captures vividly the disjuncture between the old orders (represented by the vertical elements: gilded monument in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower in the background) and the bodies of the multitude (the horizontal socialscape of living and mobile people):


The protests in London and Paris that today extinguished the Olympic flame (for the first time since the torch relay began in the 1936 Nazi Games) are just one node in a larger constellation of contemporary, emerging forces. This constellation is vast, complex, and ever-changing, connecting the Zapatistas in Mexico, the poor in Thailand, the landless in Brazil, Sans Papiers in France, and countless unreported others. This constellation is radically different from the struggles of the American revolutionaries in 1776, the Paris Commune in 1871, the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the student revolutions in 1968. In “We Are Everywhere“:

“What is emerging now is a dialogue of a million voices which is building the first truly interconnected global uprising, an unprecedented transnational social revolution, a revolution made up of thousands of revolutions, not just one. A revolution that is not predetermined or predictable: not going around in circles but moving in every direction simultaneously. What we are witnessing now is actually a lot more like evolution, a work in progress that makes itself up as it goes along, constantly adapting to each others’ needs. An unprecedented global (r)evolution, is taking place and many of us don’t recognize it.

… As networks grow more connected, by webs and actions, wires and stories, many things will emerge that we, as mere neurons in the network, don’t expect, don’t understand, can’t control, and may not even perceive. The only way to understand an emergent system is to let it run, because no individual agent will ever be able to reveal the whole. The global movement of movements for life against money, for autonomy and dignity, for the dream of distributed direct democracy, are following an irresistible logic. It is a logic as old as the hills and the forests, an eco-logic, a bio-logic, the profound logic of life.”

2008 Beijing Olympics: Free Tibet

March 28, 2008

The torch has been lit for the XXIXth Modern Olympiad which opens in Beijing, China on 8/8/08. Its slogan “One World, One Dream” promotes a globalized neoliberal hegemony where individuals share a single vision. Shockingly blatant and fascist in its call for autocracy (as opposed to democracy, which would translate into a “Multiple Worlds, Multiple Dreams” slogan), this multinational sports spectacle recalls two prior games: the XIth Olympiad in Berlin 1936 which coincided with the Nazi regime’s rise to power and the XXth Olympiad in Munich 1972 marked by the desperate Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.

In 2008, these games again prefigure a new world order, one dominated by China. Massive unrest in Tibet and the government’s violent military crackdown this month reveal just how repressive and authoritarian the Chinese reality still is (despite the pr frenzy over its art fairs, cultural hotspots, open doors, and new markets). While no one wants—or perhaps can afford—to boycott the games, French president Nicolas Sarkozy has already threatened to skip out. With so many eyes (and recording devices) on China, here’s hoping the Olympic Games do prefigure a new world order, one that includes—not just dreams of—a free Tibet.

A brilliant graphic published by Neil at Beau Bo D’Or:


…and a variation depicting Beijing’s air pollution: