It Is Not a Revolution, It Is a New Networked Renaissance

P2P Foundation collaborator, Bernardo Gutiérrez writes for OWS’ Theory Thursday segment on the interconnected, non-linear nature of the global revolutionary process. You can read the full piece here at

Revolution is getting too small for us. Its centenary semantic wall seems to crumble. Indeed, the Internet launches a gunshot of questions to the heart of the meaning of revolution. Revolution is just “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system”? The new system will emerge only after taking power? What if taking power after revolution, as in Egypt, comes from the hand of the army? Is it still valid the sequence revolution, counter-revolution, involution? Could it be that the network is building, without taking power, a new system from new protocols and unlikely connections?

A few years ago, the Marxist thinker John Holloway, in his book Changing the world without taking power, began to glimpse the secret ways of the new revolutions. Holloway, enthusiastic with those Mexican neozapatistas, fully questioned the meaning of revolution. Those masked people who built their own world outside the state, those Autonomous Zones of Chiapas, halfway between Hakim Bey´s pirate utopias and the indigenous culture of the commons, deeply inspired Holloway: “In this revolutionary struggle there are no models, no recipes, just a question terribly urgent. Not an empty question, but a question filled with a thousand answers”. Perhaps we do not need a new and unique meaning for revolution. Perhaps it is enough to interconnect the multiple new answers.

Renaissance // Re-Birth

The writer / activist Douglas Ruskoff has another “Thesis That Questions the Revolution”. In his book Open Source Democracy, Ruskoff argues that the revolution has not arrived and what we are experiencing is a new renaissance. “Renaissances are historical instances of widespread recontextualisation. It is the rebirth of old ideas in a new context. Renaissance is a dimensional leap, when our perspective shifts so dramatically that our understanding of the oldest, most fundamental elements of existence changes. The stories we have been using no longer work”. The Renaissance, the dimensional leap, precedes revolutions. The perspective of the paintings of Piero della Francesca (among others) led to mathematical theory that ended some centuries later with the idea of a flat Earth. The movable type of Gutenberg´s printing machine changed the writer-reader relationship (and blew political structures). The network, connecting peers, reconfigures most definitions. From media to revolution, the meanings of the dictionaries seem not to fit into this new dimension.

The Renaissance, according to the prestigious James P. Carse, was not an “attempt to promote another vision, but that alternative visions promise other visions.” The Renaissance was a new horizon more than a set of answers. A new horizon in the words of Carse, who arose against anyone and formulated a constant invitation to join him.

Perhaps the revolution is not in sight. Maybe we’re just in a deep process of Renaissance. And maybe we do not even need the revolution as we know it. In fact, a pessimistic view of the three years of interconnected revolts that began with Tunisian Revolution in late 2010 would present a grim picture. The army, at the helm of Egypt that toppled Hosni Mubarak. A exagerated neoliberal Government in the Spain shaked by 15M movement – Indignados. The conservative Enrique Peña Nietoruling México after #YoSoy132 explosion. Erdo?an, leading with an iron capitalist fist, post #DirenGezi Turkey. Changing the world without taking power?

3 Comments It Is Not a Revolution, It Is a New Networked Renaissance

  1. AvatarFabio Cecin

    I had the idea recently that we “need a new Renaissance,” and apparently we’re in one already. Nice.

    The Renaissance wasn’t about changing the rules. It instead just blew people’s minds, and then in the aftermath of that a bunch of rule-changing happened.

    Instead of holding really old world-views and within them keep rearranging the RuleChairs on the Titanic, we blow up the views and _then_ we look at the rules, we laugh at them, and we have a much easier time figuring out the new ones — IF we can still manage to call them “rules,” that is.

  2. AvatarAlain Ambrosi

    You’re right Bernardo. And that responds to what the French philosopher Deleuze said”.Why not think that a new type of revolution is becoming posible ..? (.pourquoi ne pas penser qu’un nouveau type de révolution est en train de devenir possible..)

  3. Avatarkarel Maet

    Indeed, revolution itselfs just breaks down the old structures, we must focus on new ways and the way those will grow and be able to keep growing or renewing! if not we’ll just make a void and old powers will fill it with ease and become stronger than ever (true history is a great teacher). We are evolving, breaking boundaries, creating conciousness, let’s not loose ourselves in reaction (hate), but focus on creation (love)! We are society! Now let us shape it by all means we have and leave it to the futures historybooks to call that a revolution.

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