I spent some time contemplating history last week, and realised just how many times we have been through moments like this.
The Civil War in Britain; the storming of the Bastille in France; the Russian Revolution; the themes of many German philosophers during the 1800s, such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche; and more.
Throughout history there have been many moments where the mass poor attack the elite rich to rob them of their wealth.
‘Let them eat cake’, is a fine response, until the them concerned decide to spit the cake back.
OK, this is a bit of a radical conversation for a Monday, but it struck me more as there are so many films that resonate with this elite versus mass structure that have come out recently.
In the Hunger Games, a suppressed society set into different districts, are ruled by an iron fist dictator who keeps them in order by sacrificing two of their young every year in the hunger games.
One winner of the games gets glory, as does the winner’s district for that year, whilst the rest die and starve.
In Time is very similar but more adult in focus, with everyone living in districts once more, but this time in a time controlled society where you earn more time credits in exchange for labour. Unfortunately, as you age, you may find that you labour less and therefore your time shortens until you suddenly reach 00:00:00:00:00:00.
The synopsis of the film is that the world is one where time is the ultimate currency.
You stop aging at 25, but there's a catch: you're genetically engineered to live only one more year unless you can buy your way out of it.
The rich "earn" decades at a time, constantly remaining at the age of 25 and effectively becoming immortal, whilst the rest of us are forced to beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day.
There are many other films that have a similar historical reflection on the oppressed attacked the oppressor, with Metropolis being the originator of nearly all such themes.
Metropolis was made in 1927 Germany, just before the rise of Hitler and the Weimar Republic.
Money was becoming worthless and people were living in abject poverty except from the rare, hedonistic 1920s few.
It led to a people who could easily be led and manipulated back into structure, organisation and overthrow.
With all of these films and issues the themes are the same: when the few have the wealth at the expense the many, the many will strike back.
Why such focus today?
Because we are living in oppressed times.
This is obvious when the oppressor is a person – Colonel Gaddafi, President Bashar al-Assad, President Mubarak, President Ben Ali, Saddam Hussein – all ably illustrated by the Arab Spring.
But what if the oppressor is a system?
The system is the economic system of capitalism, which happens to have been the blog entry that gained most interest on the Finanser over the past year.
Capitalism is oppressing the people of Europe and America in the post-capitalistic meltdown.
The heyday of hedonism from crazy credit days has gone, and now we suffer the austerity of the post-boom bust.
No-one likes it, and it has spawned an equally interesting movement towards a Metropolistic movement called the 99%.
The thing is that the 99% seem to have no focus, no organisation, no leader and therefore no action.
But what would happen if they got a leader?
That’s what intrigues me about the other major anti-system movement: Anonymous.
They have a semi-leader, or martyr if you prefer, in the form of Julian Assange.
They have an organisation: the internet.
They have a focus: stop government and corporate authorities from the suppression of free movement of goods, services, voice and democracy.
This is something that I’m watching actively as I wait for a Metropolistic movement that might change our world from a Hunger Games just In Time.
And, just in case you blinked and missed it, it’s happening.
It’s called an Uprising.
This is the first entry in a series about Hacktivism:
- Part One, The uprising
- Part Two, We are Legion: the History of Hacktivism
- Part Three, The Future of Hacktivism: the Collective Party
- Part Four, Cyberwars: a far bigger threat than hacktivists
- Part Five, So how should a bank protect itself from hacktivists and cybercrime?