On Our Chaotic Swarm

Edinburgh, is a non-hierarchical occupation. Entirely leaderless. And as such have decided that we cannot back a national occupations manifesto. I’ll explain why we have taken this stance.

The occupations have formed a swarm network. This network is very hard to destroy. For every occupation that is forcibly evicted, five more have sprung up. We do not rely on leaders or student unions. And in doing so we lack weak links. We can afford to lose connections and nodes in this network, for new ones are continuously forming in their place.

An overarching manifesto is one such weak leak. It is easy to discredit a document, and in doing so, discredit all the signatories. We have to remain unquantifiable and chaotic. We act independently, and are hard to track definitively. We can leak rumours, and form truths.

In 1960, 4 black students staged a sit in. Within two months, the Southern states had seen the birth of an inspirational, powerful student movement. The first significant student movement in the US. They’d previously, similarly, been apathetic. Unlike the civil rights movement of the mid-50s this new movement was not borne of existing organisations or established groups. These students acted entirely on reports they had read in the papers, heard on the radio. They were hard to keep track of. They spawned random. A true grass roots movement.

Greensboro was arguably the spark that set off the symbolic civil rights movement of the 60s and the activism we so associate with the 60s and 70s. It was going to happen. It just had to find its spark. Millbank, whether you support it or not, was our spark. I witnessed the first window being smashed. Something changed that day. That moment.

I believe we are such a movement. As a networked, chaotic group we can act powerfully and unpredictably. We can appear larger than we are. More powerful than we are. From our nodes we can mobilise, organise. Entirely chaotically. We are inspirational. These are not my words. Our movement have been receiving global solidarity, and global coverage. Internationally similar protests are spawning. And they are looking to us for that inspiration. They are looking to us for methodology.

As such we must remain independent. The NUS is easy to attack. We are not. Student unions are easy to attack. We are not. Politicians are easy to attack. We are not. Any action against us, fuels our cause. Every act of police violence, fuels our cause. We must remain confusing and vocal. We must shout louder than we are. In doing so we will magnify our numbers. In doing so, more will join us. In doing so, more will listen.

It’s easy to ignore one voice. You cannot ignore a million.

The government is shifting. And this is only the beginning. We are leading the way. Our cause will succeed, no matter how long it takes. But we have to take action now!

The modern age of apathy is over.

SOLIDARITY!

Appleton Tower
Edinburgh

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6 Responses to On Our Chaotic Swarm

  1. Maurice Nagington says:

    I do support the idea of not having a formally appointed leadership. I’m a Quaker and as you may know Quakers do not have anyone in charge. However, this does not mean to don’t make decisions and statements on things. Instead we work hard as a community to discern what we are a community feel. This requires discipline to ensure that everyone is heard and that no one voice is given more opportunity to speak than another. It also requires alot of silent waiting to try and understand the spirit of what other people say. Whilst it can sometimes take an extrordinarily long time to come to a gathered decision, when one is reached it can be quite special and the process that we may have gone through to reach it can bring is closer as a community and enable deeper understanding of our, and each others values. The recent statements on climate change, same-sex marriage, economic stability etc all came about through this process.

    However, please don’t take this as a criticism of not having a leadership. I think it is a very valid way of doing things. I just want to highlight that it is possible to come to gathered discernings/decisions without voting taking place and without everyone disagreeing. Thoughts on this always welcome!

    • The system you describe could have been a quote lifted straight from one of the Appleton occupiers! From communication with other groups this appears to be the system in place across all the occupations. This works fantastically in the communities established, but are difficult to facilitate nationally. The groups share common interests, and are working towards a common goal. We are separate entities, sharing with a common interest.

      • Fred Bloggs says:

        I wish it was in place at Manchester… we appear to have an occupation mostly consisting of vote-happy SWP members who are incapable of doing anything non-hierarchically.

  2. Maurice Nagington says:

    Yes, I think I can see how one single occupation is much easier to organise as a community (in a short space of time which is what has occured here) than several smaller occupations. Either way it’s brilliant to see Scottish students standing together with other students in the UK. GOOD LUCK!

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