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Old 12-15-2011, 04:52 PM   #1
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Towards a consumerist-friendly anarchist aesthetic

Walking into a small room in a communal house in north London, I'm confronted by a poster depicting an Egyptian protester hurling himself into a line of riot shields, with a message in huge capitals: "WE WILL FIGHT, WE WILL KISS/LONDON CAIRO ROME TUNIS". Elsewhere books on radical philosophy are stacked alongside photocopied "FIGHT FOR YOUR EMA" flyers and other design scraps. I'm here to meet – on condition of anonymity – two members of the shadowy Deterritorial Support Group (DSG), who use the names Pablo and Nick, and, via Skype from somewhere outside the M25, a third whom we'll call Jamie. "I'd make you dinner, but I'm skint," apologises Pablo, as they set up the laptop. "I wasn't paid this week."

At various points DSG – named as an antithesis to the Territorial Support Group, the Met's public order riot police, and kettling specialists – will identify themselves as "Ikea anarchists", "autonomist Marxists", "humorous provocateurs", "cartoonish materialists" and an "ultra-left propaganda machine" (their official description). These tongue-in-cheek/silly labels might mark them as determined outsiders hectoring from the fringes, but they have cast a long shadow over politics in 2011, infiltrating mainstream debate via the virus-like spread of their internet memes. Since the student protests a year ago, they have become know for a stream of provocative political posters; for timely polemics about internet activists Anonymous, political policing and the Occupy movement; for sparking journalist Johann Hari's downfall; and for spreading across the global media an astonishing hoax about radical philosopher Slavoj Žižek offering his endorsement of Lady Gaga.
What separates us aesthetically," continues Pablo, "is that without the specific historical and economic conditions I live under, I don't feel would be involved in this sort of thing. These are times when you have to grab the opportunity." So what would they be doing, if they were born into another age? "Probably have a mortgage or something?" Nick says. "As cartoonish materialists, the material conditions own us." Indeed, they would never have started DSG were they not unemployed, poor, and fired up by the student protests of last winter – for them, the storming of Millbank represented a kind of "year zero". Indeed, Nick admits to voting Lib Dem in May 2010, and Pablo, with a chuckle, to being a former member.
Another striking thing, given their leftist politics, is their refusal to reject the trappings of consumer capitalism. "You can't be a communist in a capitalist world," says Pablo. They shop at Tesco, they happily admit. "That's what DSG is about aesthetically as well, which is being based in your everyday life. Most people like shopping at Tesco." Same with Ikea, says Nick, pointing to a description of DSG's aesthetics as "Ikea anarchism". "I'm happy with 'Ikea anarchism', because they give reasonably good design, on the cheap, to a lot of people, and it's very popular. It's better than the alternative, which is handmade anarchism."
Meet the 'Ikea anarchists' | World news | The Guardian
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