Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left
Online organizing and the new era of radical struggle
Digital Rebellion examines the impact of new media and communication technologies on the spatial, strategic, and organizational fabric of social movements.
Todd Wolfson reveals how aspects of the mid-1990s Zapatistas movement–network organizational structure, participatory democratic governance, and the use of communication tools as a binding agent–became essential parts of Indymedia and other Cyber Left organizations. From there he uses oral interviews and other rich ethnographic data to chart the media-based think tanks and experiments that continued the Cyber Left’s evolution through the Independent Media Center’s birth around the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.
Melding virtual and traditional ethnographic practice to explore the Cyber Left’s cultural logic, Wolfson maps the social, spatial and communicative structure of the Indymedia network and details its operations on the local, national and global level. He looks at the participatory democracy that governs global social movements and the ways democracy and decentralization have come into tension, and how “the switchboard of struggle” conducts stories from the hyper-local and disperses them worldwide. As he shows, understanding the intersection of Indymedia and the Global Social Justice Movement illuminates their foundational role in the Occupy struggle and other emergent movements that have re-energized radical politics.
“The first book to chart the intellectual and technological history of the Indymedia network and to place that history within the theoretical debate about social movement organization and politics. This is an important chapter in contemporary social movement activism and Todd Wolfson does an excellent job charting the rise of the Independent Media Center and the theoretical implications of this model for left political organizing.”–Andy Opel, author of Preempting Dissent: The Politics of an Inevitable Future
“Combining the passion of an activist and the reasoned arguments of a scholar, Wolfson wonderfully details the emergence of the Cyber Left. In Digital Rebellion he not only celebrates its political potential but also, and more importantly, provides a lucid critique of the forms it has taken thus far.”–Michael Hardt, co-author of Declaration and Empire
“Makes an original contribution through the depth of the empirical case studies of Cyber Left organization. . . . I cannot think of another book that puts so much of the story of the U.S. left’s experiments with the creation of an ‘electronic fabric of struggle’ within a single volume. . . . The author’s knowledge, thoughtfulness, and political passion is evident.” –Nick Dyer-Witheford, author of Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games
Paper – $30.00