Tim Jordan, 'Activism! - Direct Action, Hacktivism and the Future of Society'

IssueSeptember - November 2002
Review by Gareth Evans

A familiar subject by now for this slim new volume in the sharp, intelligent publisher's personal and polemical strand FOCI (Focus on Contemporary Issues) it maybe, but Open University social scientist Tim Jordan's exploration of alternative ways of being, interacting, protesting and resisting is heartfelt and wide-ranging.

Employing a global reach, he considers the actions of groups as diversely motivated as eco-activists, squatters, anti-vivisectionists, neo-fascists and anti-abortionists, teasing out strategies and attitudes in common and opposed.

Designed to challenge the idea that Western publics have abandoned political action and response, Jordan's book comprehensively refutes such a position, demonstrating instead how the old, institutionalised hierarchies of career politics have yielded to genuinely popular movements of often mass-mobilisation, frequently focused in intent but underpinned by an over-arching political understanding of global geo-politics and economics.

Giving substantial space to the equally significant struggles being waged in cyberspace by hacktivists keen to maintain freedoms of information and exchange in the virtual realm, he locates such resistance, in whatever form, as part of a worldwide shift in the practice of communal engagement in local, national and international issues.

Culture-jamming, subvertising, blockades, Reclaim the Streets-style carnival interventions: all form part of the opposition to monolithic structures and ways of thinking, becoming transgressive in form and content, whether via NVDA or dis/organisation.

Now imagination plays as equally important a part as rational analysis in both the process and product of such opposition. Pleasure is also added to the equation, with an overview of dance/ecstasy/rave culture, and the fresh strategies it developed to grow and flourish.

Jordan provides a lucid and useful route map through the numerous byways of a far from homogenous global phenomenon, ending with a pitch for the possible ethical code of this brave new age.

Topics: Activism, Technology
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