Placeholder Image

字幕表 動画を再生する

  • So recently, we heard a lot about how social media helps empower protest,

  • and that's true,

  • but after more than a decade

  • of studying and participating in multiple social movements,

  • I've come to realize

  • that the way technology empowers social movements

  • can also paradoxically help weaken them.

  • This is not inevitable, but overcoming it requires diving deep

  • into what makes success possible over the long term.

  • And the lessons apply in multiple domains.

  • Now, take Turkey's Gezi Park protests, July 2013,

  • which I went back to study in the field.

  • Twitter was key to its organizing.

  • It was everywhere in the park -- well, along with a lot of tear gas.

  • It wasn't all high tech.

  • But the people in Turkey had already gotten used to the power of Twitter

  • because of an unfortunate incident about a year before

  • when military jets had bombed and killed

  • 34 Kurdish smugglers near the border region,

  • and Turkish media completely censored this news.

  • Editors sat in their newsrooms

  • and waited for the government to tell them what to do.

  • One frustrated journalist could not take this anymore.

  • He purchased his own plane ticket,

  • and went to the village where this had occurred.

  • And he was confronted by this scene:

  • a line of coffins coming down a hill, relatives wailing.

  • He later he told me how overwhelmed he felt,

  • and didn't know what to do,

  • so he took out his phone,

  • like any one of us might,

  • and snapped that picture and tweeted it out.

  • And voila, that picture went viral

  • and broke the censorship and forced mass media to cover it.

  • So when, a year later, Turkey's Gezi protests happened,

  • it started as a protest about a park being razed,

  • but became an anti-authoritarian protest.

  • It wasn't surprising that media also censored it,

  • but it got a little ridiculous at times.

  • When things were so intense,

  • when CNN International was broadcasting live from Istanbul,

  • CNN Turkey instead was broadcasting a documentary on penguins.

  • Now, I love penguin documentaries, but that wasn't the news of the day.

  • An angry viewer put his two screens together and snapped that picture,

  • and that one too went viral,

  • and since then, people call Turkish media the penguin media. (Laughter)

  • But this time, people knew what to do.

  • They just took out their phones and looked for actual news.

  • Better, they knew to go to the park and take pictures and participate

  • and share it more on social media.

  • Digital connectivity was used for everything from food to donations.

  • Everything was organized partially with the help of these new technologies.

  • And using Internet to mobilize and publicize protests

  • actually goes back a long way.

  • Remember the Zapatistas,

  • the peasant uprising in the southern Chiapas region of Mexico

  • led by the masked, pipe-smoking, charismatic Subcomandante Marcos?

  • That was probably the first movement

  • that got global attention thanks to the Internet.

  • Or consider Seattle '99,

  • when a multinational grassroots effort brought global attention

  • to what was then an obscure organization, the World Trade Organization,

  • by also utilizing these digital technologies to help them organize.

  • And more recently, movement after movement

  • has shaken country after country:

  • the Arab uprisings from Bahrain to Tunisia to Egypt and more;

  • indignados in Spain, Italy, Greece; the Gezi Park protests;

  • Taiwan; Euromaidan in Ukraine; Hong Kong.

  • And think of more recent initiatives, like the #BringBackOurGirls hashtags.

  • Nowadays, a network of tweets can unleash a global awareness campaign.

  • A Facebook page can become the hub of a massive mobilization.

  • Amazing.

  • But think of the moments I just mentioned.

  • The achievements they were able to have, their outcomes,

  • are not really proportional to the size and energy they inspired.

  • The hopes they rightfully raised are not really matched

  • by what they were able to have as a result in the end.

  • And this raises a question:

  • As digital technology makes things easier for movements,

  • why haven't successful outcomes become more likely as well?

  • In embracing digital platforms for activism and politics,

  • are we overlooking some of the benefits of doing things the hard way?

  • Now, I believe so.

  • I believe that the rule of thumb is:

  • Easier to mobilize does not always mean easier to achieve gains.

  • Now, to be clear,

  • technology does empower in multiple ways.

  • It's very powerful.

  • In Turkey, I watched four young college students

  • organize a countrywide citizen journalism network called 140Journos

  • that became the central hub for uncensored news in the country.

  • In Egypt, I saw another four young people use digital connectivity

  • to organize the supplies and logistics for 10 field hospitals,

  • very large operations,

  • during massive clashes near Tahrir Square in 2011.

  • And I asked the founder of this effort, called Tahrir Supplies,

  • how long it took him to go from when he had the idea to when he got started.

  • "Five minutes," he said. Five minutes.

  • And he had no training or background in logistics.

  • Or think of the Occupy movement which rocked the world in 2011.

  • It started with a single email

  • from a magazine, Adbusters, to 90,000 subscribers in its list.

  • About two months after that first email,

  • there were in the United States 600 ongoing occupations and protests.

  • Less than one month after the first physical occupation in Zuccotti Park,

  • a global protest was held in about 82 countries, 950 cities.

  • It was one of the largest global protests ever organized.

  • Now, compare that to what the Civil Rights Movement had to do in 1955 Alabama

  • to protest the racially segregated bus system, which they wanted to boycott.

  • They'd been preparing for many years

  • and decided it was time to swing into action

  • after Rosa Parks was arrested.

  • But how do you get the word out --

  • tomorrow we're going to start the boycott --

  • when you don't have Facebook, texting, Twitter, none of that?

  • So they had to mimeograph 52,000 leaflets

  • by sneaking into a university duplicating room

  • and working all night, secretly.

  • They then used the 68 African-American organizations

  • that criss-crossed the city to distribute those leaflets by hand.

  • And the logistical tasks were daunting, because these were poor people.

  • They had to get to work, boycott or no,

  • so a massive carpool was organized,

  • again by meeting.

  • No texting, no Twitter, no Facebook.

  • They had to meet almost all the time to keep this carpool going.

  • Today, it would be so much easier.

  • We could create a database, available rides and what rides you need,

  • have the database coordinate, and use texting.

  • We wouldn't have to meet all that much.

  • But again, consider this:

  • the Civil Rights Movement in the United States

  • navigated a minefield of political dangers,

  • faced repression and overcame, won major policy concessions,

  • navigated and innovated through risks.

  • In contrast, three years after Occupy sparked

  • that global conversation about inequality,

  • the policies that fueled it are still in place.

  • Europe was also rocked by anti-austerity protests,

  • but the continent didn't shift its direction.

  • In embracing these technologies,

  • are we overlooking some of the benefits of slow and sustained?

  • To understand this,

  • I went back to Turkey about a year after the Gezi protests

  • and I interviewed a range of people,

  • from activists to politicians,

  • from both the ruling party and the opposition party and movements.

  • I found that the Gezi protesters were despairing.

  • They were frustrated,

  • and they had achieved much less than what they had hoped for.

  • This echoed what I'd been hearing around the world

  • from many other protesters that I'm in touch with.

  • And I've come to realize that part of the problem

  • is that today's protests have become a bit like climbing Mt. Everest

  • with the help of 60 Sherpas,

  • and the Internet is our Sherpa.

  • What we're doing is taking the fast routes

  • and not replacing the benefits of the slower work.

  • Because, you see,

  • the kind of work that went into organizing

  • all those daunting, tedious logistical tasks

  • did not just take care of those tasks,

  • they also created the kind of organization that could think together collectively

  • and make hard decisions together,

  • create consensus and innovate, and maybe even more crucially,

  • keep going together through differences.

  • So when you see this March on Washington in 1963,

  • when you look at that picture,

  • where this is the march where Martin Luther King gave his famous

  • "I have a dream" speech, 1963,

  • you don't just see a march and you don't just hear a powerful speech,

  • you also see the painstaking, long-term work that can put on that march.

  • And if you're in power,

  • you realize you have to take the capacity signaled by that march,

  • not just the march, but the capacity signaled by that march, seriously.

  • In contrast, when you look at Occupy's global marches

  • that were organized in two weeks,

  • you see a lot of discontent,

  • but you don't necessarily see teeth that can bite over the long term.

  • And crucially, the Civil Rights Movement innovated tactically

  • from boycotts to lunch counter sit-ins to pickets to marches to freedom rides.

  • Today's movements scale up very quickly without the organizational base

  • that can see them through the challenges.

  • They feel a little like startups that got very big

  • without knowing what to do next,

  • and they rarely manage to shift tactically

  • because they don't have the depth of capacity

  • to weather such transitions.

  • Now, I want to be clear: The magic is not in the mimeograph.

  • It's in that capacity to work together, think together collectively,

  • which can only be built over time with a lot of work.

  • To understand all this,

  • I interviewed a top official from the ruling party in Turkey,

  • and I ask him, "How do you do it?"

  • They too use digital technology extensively, so that's not it.

  • So what's the secret?

  • Well, he told me.

  • He said the key is he never took sugar with his tea.

  • I said, what has that got to do with anything?

  • Well, he said, his party starts getting ready for the next election

  • the day after the last one,

  • and he spends all day every day meeting with voters in their homes,

  • in their wedding parties, circumcision ceremonies,

  • and then he meets with his colleagues to compare notes.

  • With that many meetings every day, with tea offered at every one of them,

  • which he could not refuse, because that would be rude,

  • he could not take even one cube of sugar per cup of tea,

  • because that would be many kilos of sugar, he can't even calculate how many kilos,

  • and at that point I realized why he was speaking so fast.

  • We had met in the afternoon, and he was already way over-caffeinated.

  • But his party won two major elections

  • within a year of the Gezi protests with comfortable margins.

  • To be sure, governments have different resources to bring to the table.

  • It's not the same game, but the differences are instructive.

  • And like all such stories, this is not a story just of technology.

  • It's what technology allows us to do converging with what we want to do.

  • Today's social movements want to operate informally.

  • They do not want institutional leadership.

  • They want to stay out of politics because they fear corruption and cooptation.

  • They have a point.

  • Modern representative democracies are being strangled in many countries

  • by powerful interests.

  • But operating this way makes it hard for them

  • to sustain over the long term and exert leverage over the system,

  • which leads to frustrated protesters dropping out,

  • and even more corrupt politics.

  • And politics and democracy without an effective challenge hobbles,

  • because the causes that have inspired the modern recent movements are crucial.

  • Climate change is barreling towards us.

  • Inequality is stifling human growth and potential and economies.

  • Authoritarianism is choking many countries.

  • We need movements to be more effective.

  • Now, some people have argued that the problem is

  • today's movements are not formed of people who take as many risks as before,

  • and that is not true.

  • From Gezi to Tahrir to elsewhere,

  • I've seen people put their lives and livelihoods on the line.

  • It's also not true, as Malcolm Gladwell claimed,

  • that today's protesters form weaker virtual ties.

  • No, they come to these protests, just like before,

  • with their friends, existing networks,

  • and sometimes they do make new friends for life.

  • I still see the friends that I made

  • in those Zapatista-convened global protests more than a decade ago,

  • and the bonds between strangers are not worthless.

  • When I got tear-gassed in Gezi,

  • people I didn't know helped me and one another instead of running away.

  • In Tahrir, I saw people, protesters,

  • working really hard to keep each other safe and protected.