Everyone compiles lists these days. Despite all the different media there are most of these lists are simply written word or if they are better photographic. We’ve had YouTube for quite a while now and it has provided me with some inspiration throughout the years. 2013 was full of great YouTube moments. I tried to sort the videos in some kind of chronological order. All videos which are from other non-English speaking countries have subtitles or the appropriate link with a subtitled version. For your viewing pleasure: sit back, relax and share. Happy New Year to you all!
Once labeled “the good pupil of the Eurozone”, Portugal is quickly turning into a Greek-style laboratory of austerity and neoliberalism. On March 2 of 2013, the Que Se Lixe a Troika (Screw the Troika) movement took to the streets in more than 40 towns and cities across Portugal. An estimated 1.5 million people (800,000 in Lisbon) participated in the demonstrations on the day. The movement’s reference point is the 1974 revolution. The choreographed singing of the revolutionary hymn “Grândola, Vila Morena” and protesters’ use of the carnation show that this movement isn’t about cosmetic changes to government policy. The new movement is aiming to get the old unfinished business of the revolution done. Inasmuch as Zeca’s revolutionary song acts as the link between different and disparate struggles against austerity, it also extends the collective memory of the revolution to a new generation of activists who don’t have the same political structures, parties, and institutions of popular power as during the height of the revolution.
Before this March most people will have associated Cyprus with Halloumi cheese. In the nick of the moment, it became the latest fault line of the Eurozone crisis. The euphemistic ‘Stability Levy’, which would steal up to 10 per cent from people’s savings showed that the Troika of EU, ECB and IMF will do anything to ensure that targets are met and banks are saved. Social movements will make use of whatever tools are at their disposal – and one man just happened to have a bulldozer.
In the fifth year since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Spanish state entered a new phase of the crisis. With more than 58 per cent youth unemployment ten thousands of precarious workers decided to migrate to countries such as Germany which have profited from the crisis. If 2011 was the ‘year of the protester’ largely due to the indignad@s, 2013 hailed a new phase of intra-European migration not seen since the 1960s. In response the indignad@s once again took to the streets under the banner “No nos vamos, nos echan” (We’re not leaving, they’re kicking us out”). This mobilization video by Juventud Sin Futuro shows that capitalism hasn’t crushed the creativity of the indignad@s yet – and will never do so.
We all know that moment in the strike rally or demonstration when a kid is supposed to say a few words about the public service under threat, or how children are affected by war. Of course, no one would ever dare to say a bad thing about the child’s speech. Everyone just claps politely. But when nine-year old school student Asean Johnson took the mic at the Chicago Teachers’ Union rally in May he blew the crowds off their socks. Not only did he take down Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel politically, he also smacked down President Obama rhetorically. Some say he would make a good US President, I say the kid deserves something better.
When a group of environmentalists started to defend one of the only green areas in downtown Istanbul known as Gezi Park little did they know that their actions would spiral into the largest social movement of modern Turkey. While football Ultras, Anti-Capitalist Muslims, Kurdish groups and socialist feminists built barricades on the banks of the Bhospurus, Turkish Airlines cabin crew – a group of workers who traditionally vote for Erdogan’s AKP – went on strike during the Gezi protests. With their faces hidden behind the Guy Fawkes/Anonymous masks – the symbol of the new wave of anti-capitalist protest since Occupy – they are lined up in a dance-formation in front of the Turkish Airlines headquarters in Galatar. Rather than performing a dance routine the female strikers subvert the usual safety announcement conducted at the beginning of each flight. This is culture-jamming at its finest.
At the same time as the Gezi protests in Turkey, Brazilians protested against the increase in bus fares, the FIFA World Cup, economic inequality and corruption of elected officials. In the first few days of the so-called Brazilian Autumn the media and mainstream parties simply tried to ignore the protests. When that didn’t work different political actors including the governing PT (Workers’ Party) mobilized its supporters into the streets. In turn, the media called on people to mobilize as well. From then on, different social actors and classes of Brazilian society articulated themselves through the movement on the streets. This youtube clip tells you everything you need to know about why the Brazilian elites adopted a different strategy. “Manufacturing consent” was so yesterday.
For those who don’t know Nigel Farage on the American side of the Atlantic you definitely haven’t missed out. Farage is virulent racist and campaigns for a five-year halt to all immigration to the UK. While his party, the UK Independence Party, keeps fascists out of its ranks, a recent television documentary has exposed Farage for bullying another Black child for the colour of his skin and singing fascist tunes at boarding school. While the referendum on Scottish Independence in September 2014 might see England and Scotland separated there will be one thing that the left on the two sides of the border will continue to have in common: their hate for Nigel Farage and their continuous use of the word ‘scum’.
Edward Snowdon, Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda… Their names have become synonymous with 2013. Snowdon replaced Julian Assange’s prime role in the information war for all the good reasons. Miranda though had to pay the price and was kept at Heathrow Airport for nine hours on suspicion of terrorism. How could that good-looking Brazilian ever be a terrorist?! The triad didn’t only leak information and let the public decide for itself. They provided us with a narrative which slowly but surely is winning ground. If you still think that television in our so-called democracies is so much better than the propaganda of the former Soviet Union or East Germany watch this clip. I usually never send people mean tweets but when I watched this interview I could no longer hold back and sent Kirsty Walk a number of mean Tweets that I still don’t regret.
Most of us think handing in petitions is boring. Probably all of us think that North Carolina is boring. But when Wal-Mart workers in North Carolina handed in a petition against the sacking of their colleagues they showed the new defiant spirit that runs right through the American working classes. It’s time for us on the left to tap along to that new beat!
The mainstream media labelled the federal elections in Germany “the most boring elections ever”. From the beginning it was clear that Merkel would remain Chancellor. The only thing the German electorate had any say in was whether her coalition partner, the liberals of the FDP, would cross the five per cent hurdle to enter parliament. In the end they didn’t. Now Merkel’s CDU is in a grand coalition with the social-democratic SPD. In other words, German politics will remain boring for the next four years. This video clip by the German Metal Workers’ Union (IG Metall) was the highlight of the election and will remain the beacon of the most boring elections ever. (click here for subtitled version – though the version below is funnier)
Welcome to the Weimar Republic! Sorry, I meant modern Greece. The fascist Golden Dawn is the third strongest party in the Greek parliament. In September their members stabbed the anti-fascist rapper Killah P (Pavlos Fyssas) to death. Hundred thousands of anti-fascists mobilised against the Golden Dawn in response. Protesters in Athens even shut down the Golden Dawn headquarters. In the days that followed Golden Dawn leader Michaloliakos was jailed. The ruling New Democracy Party which had been working toward a coalition with Golden Dawn turned their backs on the fascists and are now in the process of outlawing them. In memory of Killah P and all the other victims of fascism here’s a Killah P song with English subtitles.
The mobilisations and counter-mobilisations in Egypt confused many of us this year. First there was the Tamarod movement which overthrew President Mursi with their Rebel Campaign. Then the military used the vacuum to install the unelected General Al-Sissi. In response hundred thousands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and democracy campaigners came into the streets against the slaughter of MB members. If you still don’t know what went on check out this young guy Osama who destroys an Egyptian tv presenter.
What would 2013 be without the Harlem Shake? It became the opium of the masses in colleges and universities across the world. Thousands of students from Tucson, Arizona to Tokyo, Japan had forgotten all their Gramsci and consented to the dictatorship of the shake. Perhaps this is what Foucault had labelled ‘bio-power’. Ordinary people doing messed up things when things just got too ordinary. Simply labelling it ‘stupid’ or ‘infantile’ wouldn’t do the trick for the left this time. However this video did. It was both anti-systemic in form and content. It responded to the dictatorship of the shake by letting the people themselves speak. It didn’t need academic jargon, let alone Gramsci or Foucault, to stop the virus from spreading for the rest of the year.
Originally published on Mark’s blog at mdbergfeld.com.
Note: This piece was published before rs21 was established as an independent organisation in January 2014. rs21 was founded by a group of people who had been in the opposition within the SWP and who left in response to its persistent mishandling of rape and sexual harassment allegations against a leading member.