Swarming Youths

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Swarming Youths is a technique to focus the power of a group, especially young people/students, to obtain propaganda and, eventually, political impact. 'Swarming' refers to notion in Complexity theory that has been applied to military and propaganda tactics/strategy. Complexity theory indicates that a large number of agents operating with simple rules and reactions can yield highly complex/effective behavior. Researchers of mass psychology and this field of mathematics have studied how to implement simple rules and communication devices to enable a relative small group to obtain a concentrated impact. There is a body of research in this area in the military arena, but recently most of the research has focused on organizing civic groups to obtain a concentrated propaganda and political impact.

Several U.S. agencies have implemented such strategies in ex-Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Belarus, and some of the other ex-Soviet Republics. The Serbian experience with Otpor is perhaps best known. In this case the Otpor leadership received extensive training outside of Serbia, and the activists returned to implement a program of black propaganda (rumours about corruption, repression, censorship; distributing nefarious leaflets, propaganda graffitti, tearing down the political advertising of the adversaries), political disruption (shouting politicians down at public meetings, harassing politicians), and intimidation. Many of the organizers received simple mobile phones through which massed or swarm actions could be coordinated. The result was the merging of many activists towards a single point to convey the impression that there was a mass popular action opposed to the incumbent political regime.

When the shoe is on the other foot

In 2005, some activists ("Critical Mass") in New York operated on the same principle (wittingly or not) to obtain mass actions to push for more rights for bicycle riders. Organizers directed bicyclists via mobile phones to congregate at key points with colorful t-shirts or banners. The reaction of the NY police was violent, arresting many, and threatening to prosecute bike riders on the basis of their mobile phone records under anti-terror legislation. If this is the reacion to swarming action in the United States, then fomenting such swarming actions elsewhere demonstrates a clear intention of undermining certain governments.

Application of the "Swarming Youth" concept

These techniques have applied by the CIA/NED and its affiliated organizations in the following cases:

  • Otpor – youth group in Serbia, instrumental in overthrowing Milosevic
  • Zubr in Belarus (2000 onward; active in the 2001 election)
  • Kmara in Republic of Georgia (active in the April 2003 elections)
  • Pora in Ukraine (active in June 2004 election).
  • Mjaft in Albania
  • Shebab in Lebanon (although they seem to have changed their name; shebab means youngsters in Arabic).
  • Demonstrations in the lead up to the coup in Venezuela also applied swarming techniques.
  • The students protesting in Tiananmen square (1989)
  • Solidarnosc in Poland (although techniques were applied to unions and disenfranchized groups; CIA affliated organizations were involved through Churches).

External Resource