Noticed an interesting footnote to OccupyLSX yesterday. Julian Assange, en route to speak at the assembly was ordered by police to remove his mask (which, I’m not sure, but probably was in the style of the V mask) .
This follows the theme of legislation and development of police powers during the past 10 years (accelerated to a greater degree in the post-riot environment). Visibility and visuality are key elements of the coding system of power (Louise Amoore has written most insightfully regarding this) and hence, the priority of law-enforcement is now not crime prevention or even interdiction, as identification and making visible are sufficient to extract an individual (in physical and informational space) and encode them within, paraphrase Vivien Jabri, what might be termed the “matrix of security”. The advanced technologies of face, gait and other modes of recognition, third and fourth generation CCTV ensure that once the individual has been coded in this way, any removal from this system is impossible.
Reflexively, anonymity can and should be considered a weapon. The hackers of Anonymous, Lulzsec and nameless thousands of other information-space activists stand as honorable testament to this. Visibility, so often conceived as commodity to be traded, is now considered a prerequisite for being considered as a “safe”, “non-threatening” citizen. If a mantra were to be adopted for the 21st Century’s gradual fusing of identity, visibility and security it would, in all likelihood, be “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear”
The mask then, becomes the weapon against the encroachment of the society of total visibility, the true panopticon. Police and state power concern with the denial by citizens of this identification should be reassuring. It is, entirely conceivable that the reason the authorities are so concerned with the prevalence of “V” style masks is that they have actually read or seen the source text and harbor deep concerns that the tactics therein could be brought to bear in the service of their own demise. Given the role of hollywood screenwriters after 9/11 employed by the US government to “think up worst case scenarios” relating to future terrorist attacks, stranger things have had cause to form policy.
To finish with the example of the comic/film then, a victory would be achieved (as with all civil disobedience), when the number of individual mask-wearers outstripped the capacity of power to enforce its identificatory fiat.
In solidarity with all the occupiers,
the un-represented and ignored,
the discriminated against,
those who suffer violence of any kind.
citizens of the world
We. Are. The 99%.