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From Kevin Carson and David S. D’Amato, two Market Anarchist takes on the concept of stigmergy and spontaneous order, and its relationship to the explosion of networked, leaderless resistance in grassroots, radical social movements.

The term ‘stigmergy’ applies to any form of human social­iz­at­ion in which coord­i­n­ation is achieved not by social negotiation or administration or consensus, but entirely by independ­ent invidual action against the background of a common social medium. That’s essentially the organizational form used by the Linux developer community, by networked resistance movements like the Zapatista global support network of the 1990s, and by the post-Seattle anti-globalization movement. Those with the highest level of interest in a particular aspect and the highest affinity for finding a workable solution contribute to that part of the project. In networked movements, any contribution or innovation in a single cell will only be adopted by those who find it valuable. Those that are considered valuable instantly become the property of the entire network, and those solutions that work become immediately available for adoption by each cell deciding only for itself.

That’s exactly what’s happened with the social movements of the past year and a half. The Occupy movement itself oper­ates stigmergically, with innovations developed by one node be­com­ing part of the total movement’s common toolkit. It’s only a matter of time until local Occupy movements become centers of innovation, not only in protest tactics, but in new forms of social organization in the communities where they live. In communities all across the country, people will realize that they’re neighbors who live in the same town or city – there’s no reason their cooperation has to be limited to the park or town square. Occupy will become not just a protest movement, but a school for living. . . . All over the world, we’re figuring out ways to live without the land and capital of the classes who think they own the planet, ways to make their land and capital useless to them. And they can’t stop us because we have no leaders. . . .

Includes “The Stigmergic Revolution” (Carson) and “The General Idea of the Revolution in the 21st Century” (D’Amato).

Introduced February 2012.

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