Rivista italiana
Agenzia Informazioni
e Sicurezza Interna





Italiano Tutte le lingue Cerca i titoli o i testi con
GNOSIS 3/2005
...When political activism meets 'the web'

articolo redazionale

The diffusion of the informatics multimedia systems and of Internet, in particular, has produced a real revolution in the traditional schemes of social communications, increasing, in an exponential way, its potentiality. The web, for its characteristics of openness, and freedom from territorial conditions, permits access to an almost unlimited audience, at ridiculously low costs, guaranteeing an ample margin of privacy and practically non-existent personal exposure risks. It is a ‘scenario’ in continuous and rapid evolution, which has opened important prospects and development opportunities, but lends itself, like all instruments marked to amplify and guarantee the maximum liberty of expression and movement, to ‘illicit’ or ‘inopportune’ utilization. The web has become the principal instrument of diffusion and propagation of the ‘antagonistic message’ when it is not, actually, ‘subversive’. In place of the old party section or of the political community where actions where decided, today, it is in the web where battle slogans are circulated, where subversive campaigns are planned, where advice is given on how to legally defend oneself in case of arrest or instructions are made available on how to make explosive devices.


The antagonist protest- from the streets
to the network
The media-activism

The “media-activism”, the term used to define the universe of independent communication (the English term ‘media-hacktivism’ derives from the contraction of hacking and activism), is a cultural phenomenon that has re-defined, through new tactic and strategic modalities, the mechanisms of the production and sharing of information, taking full advantage of the diffusion and growing availability of digital technologies and of the unlimited potential of the Internet network.
The incredible variety and availability of electronic audio and video equipment (video cameras, digital photography, cellular telephones), available to mass consumers, thanks to reduced costs, has given the possibility to anyone, even to those with no specific know-how, of improvising as “operator” of free communication.
What drives the media-hacktivism “people” to do all they can for independent information is the idea that the “institutional” system takes away “power from the individual, authoritatively deciding what could or could not be news”.
The aim, therefore, is to regain the media as a means of “production”, rather than “representation”, to construct information which is ‘true’, ‘objective’ and above all, ‘alternative’.
The knowledge of the mechanisms and the practice of the communication, throughout the lower echelons, have become essential pillars in the “antagonist battle” which, in the name of a “new idea” of democracy and participation, has gradually shifted its own centre of gravity from the streets to the “network”.
The “protagonist” of this struggle is the world protest community, militant or not, with the vast galaxy of social centres, which use the web to meet, chat and organize themselves, circulating films, videos, texts, audio documents and provoking “on-line” comments and debates on social and ideological subjects.
Events like “Seattle ’99” or “Genoa 2001” have given impulse to the phenomenon of ‘media-activism’, launching the figure of the militant / programmer / video-operator / journalist / hacker, committed to experiment forms of self-managed information, destined to “give voice to the minorities without a voice”.
In the development of the ‘textual medium’, there is a particular diffusion of a communication model, called weblog, or more commonly, ‘blog’: genuine self-managed sites for on-line discussions on topics of collective interest.
It is a system which permits anyone, in real time, to communicate his opinion and information all over the world, in a ‘horizontal’ manner, directly and with an immediate feedback.
From a formal point of view, blogs can be described as something between a discussion forum and the ‘personal homepage’; they present themselves like a series of communications, generally short to facilitate reading, listed in a web page, one after the other, in chronological order. The weblog model has been gradually changing from a ‘conversational system’ (notes, comments) to a new form of journalism which, for the “construction of news” is no longer based on the contribution of a single person, but on the collaboration of many, by-passing the classic scheme of one-directional communication.
It is easy to create a ‘blog’, thanks to the availability of free software, diffused under the name of the ‘copyleft’ (in open defiance to ‘copyright’) on sites which are purposely created, like, in the English language, or and in the Italian language.
With time, countless ‘virtual communities’ have sprung up and have been diffused on the web. They are based on this new method of communicating and navigating on the Internet, which have generated a veritable global network of independent media.

The international site
of the independent communication

The most significant outcome of these innovative dynamics is the Independent Media centre – IMC,, A world-wide network, started in November, 1999 in Seattle with the purpose of ensuring mediatic coverage of protests and events in connections with the WTO Summit which “risked being omitted and distorted” by traditional media coverage.
In the following, the American description can be read: “Indymedia is a media network, collectively handled for a radical objective and passionate narration of the truth. We commit ourselves to work, with love and inspiration, for the benefit of all those people who work for a better world, despite the distortions of the media”.
The Italian section of the network, Indymedia Italy, constituted in June 2000, on the occasion of the OCSE summit in Bologna, became very popular for the decisive role it played in the production of information before, during and after the Genoa G8.
The media centre, in fact, operated as a centre of collection and diffusion of the “real time” news, thanks to a veritable bombardment of sms, e-mails, fax, audio, video and photographic testimony from witnesses, which documented the “counter-information” during the “days of Genoa”.
The mechanism at the base of Indymedia is the open publishing - free and spontaneous publication of contributions of information, in line with the founding principle of the network “don’t hate the media, become the media”.
The web site has been constructed with the precise intention of favouring collective participation; the home page is subdivided into three columns:
- the first contains links to all IMC sites in the world and to all documentation and publications on specific topics;
- in the central section, there are several articles of interest, with news regularly updated by the “ collective editorial”. Since Indymedia does not have “physical” sites nor a centralized direction, the “collective editorial” is composed of the site mailing list (1) of registered subscribers and it moves along virtual channels, organizing work in a horizontal and collective manner;
- the right column, the newswire, is considered the “heart” of the system. It is the space dedicated to insertion of news by the users and to real time comments, the place where visibility to initiatives is given and where events are signalled.


Anyone, through a computer connected to Internet, can control and adjourn the contents of newswire, loading audio and video recordings, images, articles, communiqués and news. All material sent to this section is published systematically and ‘without censor’.
The only clear limitation to this system of ‘maximum liberty’ can be read on the site and it is relative to “contents which are explicitly fascist, sexist or racist”.
In fact, although Indymedia is not “spokesman of any particular point of view” it is underlined that “certainly” the greatest part of its organizers and users refers to the “the area of the left” and many “are directly involved in the anti-globalization movement”.

The site of the social centres
of the Italian Antagonism

The enclave of the Italian antagonism, to be found at the e-mail address (acronym of European Counter Network), hosts the sites of associations, groups, occupied places, communities, basic realities and of all those “non-institutional subjects who share the paths of the radical left, of workers’ own management and anti fascism”.
It is a vast container where the “information, news, documents and initiatives of the social centres and surroundings are published.
Furthermore, the server puts at the users’ disposal, mailing lists, to discuss and exchange opinions about domestic and international problems, among which are: anti-prohibition, the protest for animal rights, the right to free communication, the students’ struggles, the income and work.
To use this self-managed and visibility space, a membership fee is required “motivated by the necessity to share, altogether, the heavy costs of the connections and of the informatics equipment”.
The list of the numerous antagonist groups connected to the server is available under the title ‘Altravista’ of the ‘ECN services’.
To be introduced into the universe of the Italian protest movements, it is sufficient to click on one of the many web addresses, which are bombarded with information of the initiatives ‘in programme’, with reports and images of the already past events, with commentaries, announcements, and debates that, within a few seconds, give a complete picture of the panorama of “protests in progress”.

The site of “boycott and
fight campaigns”

TM Crew is an interconnecting and coordination instrument between the areas of protest, particularly, in the Rome area, where ‘historical’ structures are active such as radio Rossa, and various social centres, which are, especially, ‘politically committed’ like Acrobax, Forte Prenestino, Astra, Ex-Snia, Corto Circuito, Ateneo Occupato.
The site is known, above all, for the activities of organization, management and propaganda of specific ‘struggle campaigns’ launched on the web.
The best known, with the slogan, ‘Kill a Multi’ (kill a multinational) invites you to protest and commercially boycott some of the most well-known multinational companies, accused of an uncountable number of offences, all, in various ways, connected to the protest against the ‘degeneration of ‘economic liberty’ and against ‘imperialistic’ politics.
Opening the ‘Boycott Page’ of the site, a list of the campaigns against specific companies can be visualized. At the top of the list is Coca Cola, with the image of the traditional script modified in “Be aware” and Mc Donald’s brand, revisited in “Stop Mc Killer”, followed by other multinational companies, among which are Esso (Exxon/Mobil), particularly, contested in recent times, by the ‘no war movement’ due to the substantial ‘support’ given to the Bush administration, as the official supplier of the armed forces of NATO, in the war areas.


A campaign which has gone beyond a propaganda campaign, to become an action of real damage to the ESSO distributors, (with the cutting of petrol supply hoses) with a particular frequency over the whole national territory, in the year 2003 (2) .

Kaos tour 2005 – Connecting
Radical People

Notwithstanding the undoubted potential of this immense ‘global village’, which overcoming limits and barriers, connects people at the opposite poles of the earth, some groups are beginning to feel ‘imprisoned in the web’ and express the desire to “to come out of the digital world” to find ‘physical contact again’.
This is the case of the animators of the site www.autistici/, who have organized the ‘Kaos Tour 2005’ in order to answer “the pressing need to return to be flesh and blood and not only the fiddle and jig of information, more or less interesting, more or less making sense, more or less useful”.
The project, which has had the support of other antagonist sites like and Islands in the web, originated, consequently, for the purpose of creating occasions of encounter for the habitual users of the site - the virtual community - to get to know each other.
The path of the tour goes from Trento to Naples, passing through Milan, Rome and Florence, touching some of the most significant expressions of the militant activism.
In the name of “free and radical communication” debates and meetings have been organized on the ‘right to anonymity and privacy’ on the web, ‘self-management and self defence of information’, ‘the fight against the copyright’ and the development of ‘free software’ .
The final target of the tour is to stimulate cooperation and create connections between the various groups, to re-launch ‘the Italian telematic movement’ also supporting, in the self-managed multi-medial area, the development programmes of the Telestreet and web-radio.

(1) Direct participation in Indymedia Italia is guaranteed also through automatic distribution of emails to different addresses within a subscribers' list, thus creating a sort of working group. Crossposting allows the distribution of one message to many different discussion groups.
(2) The most recent action was carried out in Trento, on April 25th, 2005.