President Obama’s spying program may be no match for a less reported phenomenon: the lightening spread of revolutionary memes across the world.
Focusing on identifying plots by individuals or specific organizations to carry out attacks against civilian populations, this vast, unconstitutional program leaves spontaneous demonstrations unhindered. Looking for needles in haystacks, it can’t see the forest for the trees.
In a few short years social media has disseminated memes – defined as ideas, behaviors or styles that spread from person to person within a culture – beyond individual nations and cultures, across oceans and continents, to be taken up by societies that until now had been in different time warps.
While Obama and Xi focus on cyber spying, their citizens – and those of Brazil and Turkey, at the moment – are adopting identical strategies and tactics to transform their worlds. Brazil’s president, a former guerrilla, may have seen in international games a quick fix for her country’s poor, but those poor know that similar initiatives have led to austerity in other countries and are not duped by the siren songs of international finance, just as the Turkish people want no part of big business real estate projects.
The American media does not allow its viewers to identify the Anonymous masks among Brazilian crowds protesting a government that prioritizes international games over social spending. Similarly, few Americans are as yet aware of the French or Russian English languages channels that would allow them to see what the rest of the world sees and hear their governments’ take on events.
The workers of the world (now called simply ‘the 99%’) don’t need guns to bring down their rulers, though these latter dispose of ever more sophisti-cated weapons. Intellectuals may lament the leveling of culture, but this turns out to have an up-side: nourished on the same soaps, Turks and Brazilians, who superficially couldn’t be more different, reach the same conclusions about what they do not want and use the same technology that made ‘reality tv’ possible to fashion a different reality.