Anonymity in Social Movements

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Roxanne Bruner
Kacy Scott

Keeping the issue of social change the focus. Not allowing the individual demographics of those involved in social change to be used by the opposition to marginalize or detract from the issue.

Maintaining the idea(s) above any events or individuals involved.


By refusing to put a face on those in a group or movement, the cause becomes the focus and not the individuals promoting it. (By insisting "we are you" the masks worn by Zapatistas are promoted to be mirrors that reflect the face of onlookers, (not the wearers) the emphasis is allowed to remain on the(ir) issue.)


Groups who want to create social change without the entanglements of personalities can use this generic pattern.

Appealing to humanity on a global scale requires common identifiers. Resistance by marginalized and repressed groups against governing forces is a universally recognized struggle. (By maintaining anonymity the Zapatistas are able to evade being minimalized as cultural or indigenous resistors.) Anonymity permits transcendent identification with their core message, which is to defend safe places of democracy for those who desire them.

For example, the Indigenous people of Chiapas Mexico have been forced from their anonymous lifestyle into the global sphere to protect their culture and create a safe democratic space in order to continue their lifestyle in freedom. In the process, they have assumed an anonymous identity that represents all marginalized and discriminated citizens of the world. The Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico have awakened conscientious members of society who join them in solidarity. The phrase “we are you” refers to the anonymous mask worn by Zapatistas which is purported to be a mirror reflecting the identity of all those who fight for freedom from tyranny.


Anonymity is a tool that affords groups to bring focus to their agenda rather than the participants of the movement.

Anonymity is a successful strategy to prevent a movement from being marginalized into a cultural issue rather than one resisting control and insisting on peace, democracy and freedom for the oppressed (etc).

This form of communicating information is more effective at promoting conviviality in the human sphere as it promotes identification with any timeless struggle we face.

The use of anonymity as a perennial solution of a recurring problem (control) within a social change context brings life to the Zapatista movement and translates what began as a grass roots resistance for survival into the fight for peace and democracy for the marginalized populations of the world.

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