Paolo Gerbaudo: “The Mask and the Flag: Populism, Citizenism and Global Protest” (2017)

Introduction to the book:  “From Tahrir Square, to the indignados of Southern Europe, Occupy Wall Street, the Gezi protest in Turkey and Brazil’s June Movement, contemporary protest bears the mark of anarcho-populism, a hybrid political culture in which the Guy Fawkes mask of anarchism is overlaid by the national flag of democratic populism. Emboldened by popular calls to mobilize citizens against economic and political oligarchies, these movements have broadened participatory practices previously confined to neo-anarchist countercultures. They have built assemblies, protest camps, and used social media as platforms for mass mobilization, often winning widespread support.  Gerbaudo argues that the populist turn has allowed protestors to break out of the activist ghetto and to tackle the fragmentation of identity politics. Paradoxically, an obsession with flat and acephalous organizational models has made them incapable of integrating those they first mobilized in mass protest, ultimately condemning them to defeat by state repression and internal exhaustion.”