Mobocracy: a social revolution for good

by EcoStreet on April 22, 2009

in Activism

mob [mob]
1. A large disorderly crowd or throng.
2. The mass of common people; the populace.
3. Informal
a. An organized gang of criminals; a crime syndicate.
b. often Mob Organized crime. Often used with the: a murder suspect with links to the Mob.
4. An indiscriminate or loosely associated group of persons or things: a mob of boats in the harbor.
5. Australian A flock or herd of animals.

The history of the mob
Mobs have been collecting to make a point for centuries. It’s a natural phenomenon when a number of people aren’t happy with the status quo and want to send a message to the authorities for them to mass together to show their collective might. Riots have been a part of the course in England for over 500 years, and we’ve seen our own fair share of them here in South Africa, particularly during the apartheid government years when injustice abounded.

The mob reinvented
Fast forward to 2003, and mobs take on a whole new meaning with the advent of flash mobs in Manhattan, New York City. Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, organised the very first flash mob in May 2003. What started out as a social experiment to highlight the cultural atmosphere of conformity and of wanting to be an insider or part of “the next big thing” may have in fact ended up giving conformists the appearance of non-conformity.

Mobs with a cause
The first flash mobs were pretty apolitical, unlike historical mobs, more a sort of performance art. Participants have come together all over the world in the last few years to have pillow fights, dance with their headphones on in a public place (mobile clubbing), or walk like zombies in shopping centres. All just a bit of fun. But some flash mobs have emerged to demonstrate political opinions and as tools of direct action, like Critical Mass and Reclaim the Streets.

Want to take part in a flash mob?
Join the CAPE TOWN FLASH – MOB 2.1 on Facebook to find out what’s being planned in the Mother City.
Or if you’re in the London area, subscribe to the London Flash Mob email group.
Or start your own flash mob.

The latest mob phenomenon: Carrot Mobbing
A new mob sensation is spreading across the world. It started in Los Angeles earlier this year and has since spread to London. The idea behind Carrot Mobbing is to organise consumers to make purchases that give financial rewards to businesses who agree to make socially beneficial choices. The idea is directed consumption, not extra consumption. For example, the first UK Carrot Mob was an evening at a pub in Shoreditch, where the bar management had agreed to spend 20% of the evenings takings on energy efficiency upgrades. The Carrot Mob were all people who were going to go to the pub after work anyway, this way their spending power was used positively to get one pub to become more energy efficient. The next UK Carrot Mob is planned for a mini-market in greater London on the 6th of November.

To give you a taste of Carrot Mobbing, here’s the YouTube video from the first LA Carrot Mob.


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