Tea Partiers as open source political movement and open source warfare

Excerpts from Global Guerrillas. Lots more in the full post including how the Republican Party will fight back and try to co-opt it and if it could morph into a real insurgency. Read the whole thing.

The Tea Party movement in the US is an open source political protest. It emerged due to a substantial loss of government legitimacy (primarily from the mishandling of the global financial crisis) and continues to percolate as legitimacy continues to drain away from the government (health care, banking reform, unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcy, deficit, etc.)

As a movement, it is very similar to open source warfare and therefore shares many of the same dynamics. Here are a few of them:

  • Its main value is systems disruption. It can slow political processes. It can say no (the name, “Tea Party” is derived from an act of disruptive, albeit non-violent, domestic terrorism directed at the government).
  • There are lots of people trying to control it (grab the baton to lead the parade) and form it into a cohesive whole. All of these efforts will fail. Every attempt at control will be attacked and defeated by a majority Tea Party groups/members.
  • Swarms. Groups will rapidly converge on attractive protest targets.

I see the Tea Partiers as populists. The Populist Party of the 1890’s had real power for a while, succeeded in implementing some of their causes and certainly injected them into the mainstream. They were mostly Midwest farmers who were getting screwed by the banks. They ended up getting simultaneously co-opted and backstabbed by the Democratic Party, which should serve as a cautionary lesson for Tea Partiers.

Are they controlled by shadowy right-wing operatives? Well, I’m sure such operatives are trying to. But it seems home-grown enough to me. This is genuine dissent. It’s not unlike the Iraq anti-war protests, where the vast bulk of the protesters were anti-Bush and anti-war even if some of the organizers were hardcore Marxists with a primary goal of trying to recruit into their party. (Yes, I was there.) They didn’t succeed much at that. So, I can’t see how Republican operatives will make many inroads. The base they want to recruit isn’t interested in their message.

Firedoglake is seriously trying to link up with Tea Partiers. I agree. There’s is definitely common ground. They explain that the way to defeat triangulation tactics of the major parties is with a pincer movement that outflanks them on both sides.