Top Memes 2011

2011 also gave us a glimpse of what is possible when we act together as a movement, united by a powerful meme: the 99%. And that’s why we are smartMeme—a strategy and training center dedicated to supporting social change from the grassroots with the power of narrative... a strategy center supported by people like you.

For nearly a decade smartMeme has explored how powerful memes become powerful movements. We are the only organization that provides grassroots leaders with an integrated framework for merging the power of memes and narrative with classical movement building strategies. Our training, tools and direct support cultivate winning strategies for integrated organizing and communications.In 2011, smartMeme kept busier than ever, keeping up with it all.  Here's our tops picks for Memes of the Year...Drum Roll Please.....

ARAB SPRING

As popular protest spread from Tunisia to Egypt and beyond, the world watched in awe and inspiration as the people flooded the streets and toppled dictators.

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WISCONSIN WAVE

When Tea Party governor Scott Walker tried to slash and burn the budget and bust unions by revoking public sector workers' right to organize, an uprising and occupation of the state capitol in Madison took center stage.

FUKUSHIMA 3/11

When the monumental earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant devastated the entire region with global implications. As the truth about the scope of the meltdowns emerged from the embattled nuke corporation Tepco, this changed to "the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl."

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UNDOCUMENTED, UNAFRAID

Young people are leading the way with inspired and courageous action to defend their rights as immigrants and stand up for undocumented people everywhere. This meme is more than a slogan - it represents the next phase of the movement for the human rights of migrants.

LOS INDIGNADOS

Los Indignados are "The Indignant" of Spain, a movement of the unemployed, disaffected and revolutionary that has inspired uprisings from Athens to Occupy Wall Street.

CLASS WARFARE

Class warfare became part of the popular discourse, mostly due to its use as a Republican attack meme on any notion of raising taxes on the wealthy or discussing economic inequality. The Occupy Wall Street movement breathed new life into this old school meme with lasting implications for our political climate.

TAX DODGERS

Tax Dodgers were the target of the direct action movement UK Uncut that started shutting down banks and major corporations that don't pay their fair share in taxes, helping to pave the way for #Occupy. In the US, there was a return to the use of the 1930's term Banksters to describe the gangsterish thuggery of banks and financial institutions.

I STAND WITH SCOTT OLSEN

When Occupy Oakland protester and anti-war Marine Scott Olsen was critically wounded by police, smartMeme worked with Iraq Veterans Against the War, the OWS PR team and other allies to create this meme to support Scott and raise the profile of young veterans in the occupy movement. These efforts earned IVAW "MVP: Rapid Response" in the year'sNation Magazine Progressive Honor Roll

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PEPPER SPRAYING COP

Pepper-spraying Cop was one of our absolute favorite memes of all time. Its incredible viral success was a signifier of the widespread support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and its civil resistance tactics. This sort of public mocking of the brutality of this particular cop reminded us of the Serbian nonviolence movement Otpor! and their strategy to mock oppressive officers and use humor to maintain morale.

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IF I WERE A POOR BLACK KID

After the absurd column with this title in Forbes Magazine by a white, wealthy middle aged guy. Check out excellent coverage by Colorlines.com!

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FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

First World Problems is a huge internet meme that sheds light on the over-privileged lifestyle of the US and uses humor to critique consumer-bourgeois culture.

THE 1% AND THE 99%

One of the most successful social change memes of the year - perhaps the century so far -framing economic inequality in the mainstream discourse and galvanizing the occupy movement. Then there's Occupy Wall Street: one of the most successful social movement memes ever. Need we say more?

Oh yes…one more, that captures the principle of foreshadowing:
 

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EXPECT US

the calling card of the transnational hacker network Anonymous.
 
If you’re a corporate bankster, cheating polluter, right wing pollster or PR team for the 1%: Expect smartMeme in 2012.

With your help, smartMeme will continue to be the only national story-based strategy center, working arm and arm with grassroots groups on the ground—organizing, strategizing and spreading narratives of justice and change.