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Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Tiews

In his foreword to a 1987 publication on The Crowd in Contemporary Britain, the
eminent judge Lord Scarman declared that it is high time that a properly re-
searched and scientic study should be published of the crowd in contemporary
Though his lordships statement reects his own recent role as leader of
a government inquiry into the 1981 Brixton riots, it also unconsciously echoes the
urgent sense of timeliness underlying Gustave Le Bons justication for his 1895
best-seller on crowd psychology: Organized crowds have always played an impor-
tant part in the life of peoples, but this part has never been of such moment as at
Crowds, it appears, are an idea whose time has not infrequently come,
particularly during the past two and one-half centuries of world history. That this
should be the case is perhaps unsurprising: as Lord Scarman also points out, The
crowd is nothing new in human society.
Indeed, accounts of collective behavior
span Western history from Platos worries about mob rule in The Republic to the
Gospel descriptions of the crowd that cried for Christs death, from concerned re-
ports of peasant revolts in the early modern era to newspaper headlines about the
riots of the postWorld War II era, Watts to Brixton to Seattle and Genoa.
Yet Le
Bon struck a powerful and enduring chord with his ominous pronouncement that
the age we are about to enter will in truth be the ERA OF CROWDS (C, xv).
Le Bon isnt known for understatement, and the popular success of his Psychologie
des foules is attributable more to his way with aphorism than to rigorous socio-
logical analysis. Rigorous or not, Le Bons formulations caught on because of their
ability to sum up a conviction that had been in the air since the American and
French revolutions. It was shared with nineteenth-century predecessors such as
Gabriel Tarde, Hippolyte Taine, Enrico Ferri, and Scipio Sighele,
and with twenti-
eth-century successors such as Sigmund Freud, Robert Park, Jos Ortega y Gasset,
and Elias Canetti, not to mention with the leading artists, writers, commentators,
historians, and politicians of both centuries.
The conviction in question held that,
even if the crowd is nothing new in human history, a quantitative and qualita-
tive difference distinguishes modern crowds from their premodern counterparts. In
some deep and essential sense, crowds are modernity. Modern times are crowded
times. Modern man is the man of the crowd.
By providing a readable and provocative synthesis, Le Bons treatise both inaugu-
rated and popularized the subdiscipline of collective psychology. It has been con-
tinuously in print since its rst publication, translated into every major language
and many minor onesa Latvian version appeared in 1929and going through
innumerable editions. While all our ancient beliefs are tottering and disappear-
ing, while the old pillars of society are giving way one by one, the work goes on
to argue in a prefatory passage alluded to in several essays in the present volume,
the power of the crowd is the only force that nothing menaces, and of which the
prestige is continually on the increase (C, xivxv). Despite their purported ties to
a primal scene associated with premodern and even prehistoric predecessors,
modern crowds are not reducible to updated tribes or clans. Heterogeneous and
unstable, they arise as the result of the promiscuous intermingling and physical
massing of social classes, age groups, races, nationalities, and genders along the
boulevards of the industrial metropolis. They can no longer be conceived of as the
passive subjects of history: as unruly hordesor, better, herdstamed and disci-
plined by some higher order of beings, be they priests, nobles, monarchs or phi-
losophers. Rather, the tumultuous events of 1776 and 1789 have recast the once
reviled multitudes in the role of historys protagonists. The res publica or public
thing is now rmly in their hands: the state, economic production, communica-
tions, culture, the law. Theirs is the power to make and unmake all forms of gov-
ernment. Theirs is the new language of political action based upon electoral cam-
paigns, popular assemblies, and symbolic protest marches performed in city streets
and squares. Theirs are the new media of mass persuasion from broadsheets to
newspapers to posters to radio and television. In the era of crowds, the cornerstone
of the state is popular sovereignty, not the inherited privilege of monarchs.
i Lord Scarman, Foreword to The Crowd in Contemporary Britain, ed. George Gaskell and Robert Benewick (London: Sage
Publications, 1987), ix.
ii Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind, 2d ed. (1895; Atlanta, Georgia: Cherokee Publishing Company, 1982),
v; hereafter abbreviated as C.
iii Lord Scarman, Foreword, ix.
iv For a historical overview of the role of the crowd in Western political theory, see J. S. McClelland, The Crowd and the Mob:
From Plato to Canetti (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989).
v See, for instance, Gabriel Tarde, The Laws of Imitation, trans. Elsie Clews Parsons (1890; New York: Holt, 1903); Hippolyte
Taine, Les Origines de la France contemporaine (Paris: Hachette, 18751893), selections translated as The Origins of Contem-
porary France: The Ancient Regime, the Revolution, the Modern Regime: Selected Chapters, trans. Edward T. Gargan (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1974); Enrico Ferri, Criminal Sociology (1892; London: Fisher Unwin, 1895); Scipio Sighele, La Folla
delinquente. Studio di psicologia collettiva. (Turin: Fratelli Bocca, 1891; revised 2d ed. 1895). For more on these and other
founders of crowd psychology, see
vi See Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, trans. James Strachey (1921; New York: Norton, 1959);
Robert E. Park, The Crowd and the Public and Other Essays, ed. Henry Elsner, Jr., trans. Charlotte Elsner (1904; Chicago: Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, 1972); Jos Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses, trans Anthony Kerrigan (1929; Notre Dame, Ind.:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1985); Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power, trans. Carol Stewart (1960; New York: Viking, 1962).
For the proceedings of a recent conference devoted to Canettis book, see Die Massen und die Geschichte. Internationales
Symposium Russe, Oktober 1995, ed. Penka Angelova (St. Ingbert, Germany: Rhrig Universittsverlag, 1998).
Jeffrey T. Schnapp Director, Stanford Humanities Lab
The Rivista Illustrata del Popolo dItalia was the lavish mass distribution monthly
to which readers of Italian Fascisms ofcial daily could turn for photographs and
articles on current events much like Americans could turn to Life magazine, Rus-
sians to Ogonek, and the Chinese to China Reconstructs. Starting in the mid-1920s,
the Rivista underwent a graphic makeover; among the changes introduced was
the inclusion of large format foldouts: panoramic photographs, typically two to six
times wider than the standard page size. Foldouts were not uncommon in period
magazines and, as with 1960s foldouts of Playboy bunnies, they were understood
as graphic highlights detachable for purposes of display in the home or in the
workplace. What rst drew my attention to the Rivistas foldouts, however, was
the object of desire draped across the picture plane: teeming, seemingly innite
multitudes rallying around a visible or invisible leader, tightly packed into architec-
tural settings representative of the great historical cities of the Italian peninsula.
The political rally as source of vicarious photo- or porno-graphic thrill: such was
the graphic principle that would inform the next fteen years of the Rivista Illustra-
tas practice. Years during which wave upon wave of innovative artists and graphic
designers laid out its pages: among them Bruno Munari, Mario Sironi, Fortunato
Depero, Gi Ponti, and Xanti Schawinsky. The graphic environment shifted with
each successive wave. But not the foldouts. Mass rally after mass rally unfolded
in every number, right up to the collapse of the Fascist regime.
The obvious explanation for this persistence was the foldouts propaganda value.
The sea has a voice, which is
very changeable and almost
always audible. It is a voice
which sounds like a thousand
voices, and much has been
attributed to it: patience,
pain, and anger. But what is
most impressive about it is
its persistence. The sea never
sleeps; by day and by night it
makes itself heard, throughout
the years and decades and
centuries. In its impetus and
its rage it brings to mind the
one entity which shares these
attributes in the same degree:
that is, the crowd.
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power

C H A P T E R 1
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 MOB PORN 1
The Rivista was more than an Italian Life magazine. It was a semiofcial party
organ, a material conduit between the legions of citizens wedged into squares
and Italian public opinion, whose aim was to promote the image of Fascist Italy
as a perpetually mobilized modern nation under the rule of a perpetually mobile
modern leader. Yet the notion of propaganda raises more questions than it an-
swers (propaganda being the label assigned to forms of mass persuasion to
which one is averse). It tells one next to nothing about the nature of the images
placed in circulation or about the contours of the sociopolitical imaginary which
they hoped to tap into and to shape. Nor does it address the larger question of
where and how photographic panoramas of the masses t into the broader stream
of crowd images that arises in European culture in the wake of the American and
French revolutions, a topic rst broached by interwar culture critics such as Sieg-
fried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin, and by postwar art historians such as Wolf-
gang Kemp, but still acutely in need of the sort of in-depth analysis provided by
the present volume and by its companion exhibition and catalog, Revolutionary
Last but not least, the invocation of a propagandistic function doesnt help
one to understand how and why panoramic representations of political multitudes
became intertwined with experimental typography and the art of photomontage
and, with slight though signicant variations, circulated not only in interwar Italy,
Germany, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and the Soviet Union, but also in the
postwar period from the Chinese Cultural Revolution to the protest movements of
the 1960s through the 1990s.
So the topic of this essay (as well as of Revolutionary Tides) is that literal specter
of the Enlightenment known as the revolutionary crowd, hovering between reason
and hallucination, between the emancipatory dreams of 1789 and the terror of
1792. It addresses the question of how revolutionary crowds were translated into
graphic elements in a media landscape transformed by the spread of inexpensive
industrial photolithography, the electronic transmission of photographic images to
press agencies, the rise of live media such as radio, and the emergence of visual-
verbal hybrids such as photojournalism and newsreels. The process of transla-
tion is not reducible to a single story line. Viewed from the standpoint of artistic
technique, it is the tale of an evolving repertory of illustrational, painterly, photo-
graphic, and photojournalistic practices that gradually reshaped the once text- and
print-based public sphere. Viewed from an art-historical standpoint, it is the story
of a complex of differentiated but overlapping iconographies of the crowd and of
their place within the history of panoramic modes of representation. Viewed from
an intellectual-historical standpoint, it is the story of how these practices and ico-
nographies were inuenced by millennium-long habits of metaphorizing, gender-
ing, and abstracting human crowds, central to political philosophy at least as early
as Aristotle and as late as Elias Canetti. Viewed from a sociopolitical standpoint,
the story is that of the rise of a politics founded upon principles of popular sov-
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 MOB PORN 2
Turba is one of the Latin words for a crowd.
It comes from the Sanskrit verb turami
meaning to hasten, and the Ancient Greek
words turbazv (a verb meaning to trouble,
stir up,) and turbh (the corresponding
noun meaning disorder, confusion, or
tumult). These origins reveal the negative
connotations of the Roman conceptualization
of a crowd as being the cause, or the scene,
of commotion and turmoil. In fact, it is
precisely these two words (commotion and
turmoil) that are the primary meanings of
turba. In addition, turba referred to civil
disorder and the confusion that resulted from
uncertainties in government and rule, and
hence came to denote the disorderly mass of
people, i.e. the crowd, that gathered at times
of protest and change.
Turba also represented natural disorder,
and through the link to violent natural forces
(an association that has come down to us
in the word turbulence) the word evoked
a state of movement. A crowd, as dened
by turba, was not a static entity, but a
driving force, that needed to be channeled
and controlled. Rome had a huge population,
and mass gatherings at public events such
as the Triumphs that were held for victorious
generals and the games put on by Emperors
occurred frequently. In addition, in times of
instability, people would gather at the forum
as a form of protest. A large crowd of men
was viewed as such an unpredictable and
potentially hostile force that the Roman army
was forbidden from marching into the city, and
to do so would be an act of war against Rome.
The association of the word turba with
movement, and subsequently disorder,
ereignty and of the consequent need for new images and mythologies of the col-
lectivity as well as models of political action and agency based upon the physical
massing of bodies in public spaces or the performance of symbolic marches and
mobilizations in real space and time.iii A multilayered tale, in short, as difcult to
contain within the bounds of a single essay as are the oceanic masses enframed
within the foldouts of the Rivista Illustrata, here woven together into four narrative
units bearing the subtitles Tides, Types, Tiles, and Spillways. Tides concerns the
oceanic metaphor as applied to crowds. Types sketches out the history of what will
be referred to as emblematic crowd images. Tiles describes the development
of oceanic human panoramas with respect to the prior emblematic tradition.
Spillways deals with the transformation of oceanic fragments back into geometrical
emblems in the context of modernist photomontage. The essay concludes with some
reections on the contemporary roles assumed by multitudes: their enduring function
as sources of experiences of ecstasy and thrill in the domains of leisure and entertain-
ment, on the one hand; their increasing eclipse by virtual counterparts in the politic
conicts of postindustrial societies, on the other.
i Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power, trans. Carol Stewart (New York: Continuum, 1981), 801.
ii See Siegfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament (Weimar Essays), ed. Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1995); Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1999) and Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. H. Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1976); and Wolfgang
Kemp, Das Bild der Menge (17801830), Stdel-Jahrbuch 4 (1973): 24970 and the catalogue Der Einzelne und die Masse.
Kunstwerke des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen (Recklinghausen: Stdtische Kunsthalle, 1975). On
the iconography of popular sovereignty see also the catalogue Emblmes de la Libert. LImage de la rpublique dans lart du
XVIe au XXe sicle, ed. Dario Gamboni and George Germann, Muse dhistoire de Berne, (Bern: Staempi, 1991). As indicated
in the introduction to this volume, the publication of Crowds is coupled with the exhibition Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the
Political Poster 19141989, held at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Arts, Sept. 14 through Dec. 31, 2005, and at The
Wolfsonian-FIU, Feb. 24 through June 25, 2006; the exhibition catalogue is published by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center
for the Arts and Skira in Milan (2005).
iii I have briey sketched out the overall contours of this argument with a contemporary focus in Ascenso e queda da multi-
do, VeredasA Revista do Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil 6, no. 61 (January 2001): 26-31.
made it distinct from other Latin words for
crowd such as multitude (which had
a numerical connotation), and vulgus
(which was a denition based on class).
Interestingly, these words were frequently
used in conjunction with each other to esh
out crowd descriptions and draw attention to
different aspects of the social make-up of the
crowd and the characteristics of its behavior.
For example: hac fugientium multitudine
ac turba portae castrorum occupantur (the
gates of the camp are beset by this throng and
turmoil of fugitives.) [1] Caesar, known for his
clear and simple style, uses both multitude
and turba, both of which can simply mean
crowd, to describe the large number of
fugitives and their active panic.
in quo admiratio magna vulgi atque
turbae(and on that day the mob and the
crowd were greatly impressed.) Here, Cicero
uses vulgus and turba to indicate that
there were crowds of both high class and low
class people watching a public spectacle, and
thus to remark on the diversity of the audience
and the improbability of both groups enjoying
the same event.
Turbas negative connotations are also
exemplied by its common use in conjunction
with rixa, a Latin word meaning altercation
or brawl. For example: Ecce autem nova
turba atque rixa (At once there was fresh
trouble and disputation)
Justinian, a Roman Emperor in the 6th
century AD, uses the word turba to signify a
tumult in his legal denition of the difference
between a tumult and a brawl which occurs in
his Digest of Roman Law. Multitudo is used
in this case in a purely numerical capacity in
apposition to duorum meaning two.
namque turbam multitudinis hominum esse
turbationem et coetum, rixam etiam duorum.
( for a tumult is of a crowd of men who
gather and make a commotion, but a brawl is
between two.) [2]
Justinians denition highlights how the type
of crowd described by turba was not only a
large number of people gathered together, but
also an entity with its own motive energy as a
result of this gathering.
For the Roman elite (whose writings survive
to us and are thus our major source of
information despite their self-assigned
position outside of the crowd), a crowd was
never orderly or passive. Instead it was an
active and unstable force that needed to
be controlled through law or distracted by
entertainment. The presence of a crowd was
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 MOB PORN 3
Love in the Multitude
Michael Hardt Literature, Duke
Have you ever noticed that at the great political demonstrations love is in the air?
I dont mean the erotic charge of seeing so many beautiful people out together in
the streetsalthough that is also a component of the experience. I mean primarily
a properly political feeling of love. We recognize together what we can share in
common, what power we have together, what we can do with each other.
This is the feeling Ive had, for example, at the two sessions of the World Social
Forum I attended in 2002 and 2003. They were not really demonstrations, I sup-
pose, but rather encounters among people who spend their lives at demonstra-
tions. Activists and intellectuals from all over the world came to Porto Alegre,
Brazil, to confront the problems and promises of the contemporary forms of global-
ization. There were discussions, debates, and ofcial pronouncements, of course,
but the experience was primarily dened simply by being together with the nearly
one hundred thousand people who had come. We could see in each other the pos-
sibilities of a new and better world. We could see in each other a new power. This
is exactly Spinozas denition of love.
One shouldnt forget also the feeling of love that arises perversely at many dem-
onstrations from conict and adversity. The rst time you smell tear gas or come
into physical conict with the police or nd yourself arrested at a demonstration
can be a transformative experience. For me come to mind the experiences at the
World Bank-IMF protests in Washington in April 2001 and the antiwar protests in
New York in February 2003. In both cases the police seemed bent on posing ob-
stacles and creating conict at every turn. Such experiences do inspire hatred and
rage, of course, but they also create an intense solidarity and desire among those
demonstrating together. I dont mean to suggest we should seek out confrontation
with police and create conict at demonstrations. On the contrary, I argue against
such tactics every chance I get at political planning meetings before demonstra-
tions. But sometimes that conict comes whether we want it or not. And there is
no denying the power of the experience of being so many together like that and
suffering the assault of the police. That too is a kind of love, I suppose, a love born
of adversity.
I should point out that when I describe this experience of love arising from seeing
our common power in each other I am not suggesting that we are recognizing some
common faculty or characteristic or quality that preexists in all of us, some notion
rarely a positive occurrence, since it implied
a disturbance in the natural balance of the
state. In fact, certain Roman intellectuals
viewed crowds as dangerous, both because
of their overwhelming physical presence, and
because they thought that being in a crowd
made one more susceptible to vice. Thus
Seneca writes a letter On Crowds in which
he states: Quid tibi vitandum praecipue
existimes, quaeris? Turbam. Nondum illi tuto
committeris. (Do you ask me what you should
regard as especially to be avoided? I say
crowds; for as yet you cannot trust yourself
to them with safety.) [3] The leaders of Rome,
both during the Republic and throughout the
Empire, knew that a crowd could possess
great power, especially under the canny
leadership of a demagogue, and thus were
forced to cater to the demands of the people
or divert their attention elsewhere through
the games and circuses that would become
famous example of crowd manipulation. The
word turba captured the unpredictable and
tumultus nature of the crowd in Roman times,
when a commotion was created simply by
people gathering together in the few open
spaces of the densely populated city of Rome.
[1] Edwards, Caesar, The Gallic War.
[2] Mommsen, The Digest of Justinian,
[3] Gummere, Seneca, Moral Essays, VII.1
Edwards, Caesar, The Gallic War.
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press,
Glare, P.G.W., Oxford Latin Dictionary.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
Gummere, Seneca, Moral Essays Volume I.
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press,
Mommsen, The Digest of Justinian.
Philadelphia: University of Pennslyvania
Press, 1985.
Entry by Alexandra Katherina T. Sofroniew
like our common humanity. That would be a notion of recognition something
along the lines of classic German idealism, posing this recognition as a revelation
of our common authentic selves against alienation. No, I have in mind something
closer to Walt Whitmans love for a stranger. What Whitman recognizes is really
the possibility of camaraderienot some common quality that we have always
shared but a common experience and a common power that we can create. One
important distinction between the two notions lies in the temporality of the com-
mon. The notion of the common that interests me is not pregiven but points toward
the future, as a possibility. That means that the preexisting notion of the common
(our common humanity, for instance) is fundamentally passive, whereas the other
is active and creative: the common we share is something we create. More im-
portantly, the preexisting notion tends to set aside or even ignore the differences
among us by highlighting the common in greater relief. When we create the com-
mon, in contrast, we remain singularities, our differences remain different and yet
we can work together and create a common power.
This is one reason why Toni Negri and I prefer the concept of multitude to the
notions of the crowd, the masses, and the mob. On one hand this has to do with
the nature of the multiplicity involved. One might say that all these concepts des-
ignate social multiplicities, but really the apparent differences in the crowd and
the masses easily fade to indifference. Too often the apparent multiplicity turns
out to be merely an indifferent unity. The concept of the multitude, in contrast, is
meant to name a set of singularities, that is, differences that remain different. On
the other hand, this distinction of the multitude has to do with the passivity of the
crowd, masses, and mob, which is closely related to their indifference. The mob,
of course, along with the crowd and the masses, can do things, sometimes horrible
things, but it is nonetheless fundamentally passive in the sense that it needs to
be led and cannot act of its own accord, autonomously. That is why manipulation
is such an important theme with regard to mobs and crowds. They cannot lead
themselves; they must be led. In fact, all the classic discussions of manipulation,
panic, and imitation from Le Bon and Tarde to Canetti and Kracauer rest on these
twin characteristics of indifference and passivity. The multitude, in contrast, must
be an active subject, capable of acting autonomous: a multiplicity of singularities
that are able to act in common.
This multitude has been emerging in the political demonstrations of the network
movements or the movement of movements that rst appeared perhaps in Se-
attle in 1999 or in Chiapas in 1994. The distributed network is good image for
an initial understanding of the functioning of this multitude because each of the
nodes remains separate but potentially connects to all the others through an un-
limited variety of relations. And such a network is open in the sense that new
nodes can always be added with new relations to the existing network. Maybe we
should think of the love in the air at the great political demonstrations these days
as a kind of network lovethe love that results when a multiplicity of singularities
act in common and feel their power.
Im reminded of the opening of a poem in prose by Charles Baudelaire: Not every-
one can bathe in the multitudes (Crowds, Paris Spleen). Such an immersion in
the multitude is a beautiful image and an adequate one as long as we understand
that in the process of immersion the bather does not remain a separate individual
but becomes the batha becoming-multitude. But really this experience is not
such an exclusive privilege as Baudelaire imagines. (That is the open nature of the
network.) We all have an open invitation to take a bath in the multitude.
The Crowd in French Culture from
the Revolution to the Commune
Stefan Jonsson Researcher and Journalist, Stockholm, Sweden
They are many. The gures in Jacques-Louis Davids The Tennis Court Oath (Le
Serment du Jeu de Paume) are spread out, lined up, piled on top of each other,
cramped together, their bodies suggesting sheer quantity (g. 2.1). The ones who
wave and peek through the large windows high on the walls extend the assembly
beyond the depicted hall. It is impossible to tell where this human aggregation
begins or ends. The national assembly of France spills over the frame and ows
out across the entire eld of vision.
The additive force that expands the aggregation outward is countered by vectors
pointing in the opposite direction, symbolized by the innumerable arms stretching
toward the center. The central gure, the scientist Jean-Sylvain Bailly, slightly
elevated above the others as he stands on a table in the middle, solemnly swears
that those gathered will not separate until they have agreed upon a new constitu-
tion. After Bailly, all the others will pronounce the same oath in unison.
It is an event both dignied and rebellious; it is history in the making. The oath
sworn by the National Assembly on June 20, 1789, marks the beginning of the
C H A P T E R 2
French Revolution. David recognized the gravity of the moment and the enthusiasm
it released. Faces and bodies are frozen in an instant of emotional intensity. The
persons are possessed by a common mission, which consists precisely in preserv-
ing their newly won unity.
The Tennis Court Oath is at once expansion and contraction, innite numbers and
complete accord. Language is at a loss, it appears, when trying to capture Davids
visualization of unity in quantity. Yet is it not this peculiar synthesis of number and
union that is invoked each time the masses are summoned to give history a push
forward? I will return to that question and to Davids unnished painting of the
This essay will sketch the French beginnings of the discourse on the masses. The
invention of the mass as a sociological category is inseparably linked to the emer-
gence of democracy, particularly to the conicts about how the new democratic
sovereign, the people, ought to be representednot only politically, but also, and
above all, ideologically and culturally. I will try to demonstrate how the discursive
object in questionthe massgradually congeals through a process of ter-
minological clarication and ideological consolidation that contains four stages,
each of which adds a new layer of meaning to the term. In the first phase, the
mass appears as numbers. In the second phase, the masses are what Victor Hugo
called les Misrables. In a third stage, the masses refer to the organized workers
movements. Finally, the mass will come to express a certain political sickness,
mass insanity, which is diagnosed in such a way that it envelops the majority of
the population. In this fourth phase, the masses are literally the mad.
The word mass can be thought of as
describing a potential. Simultaneous to the
codication of mass in physics to indicate a
measure of matter or substance in an object
(1704) [1], mass was also being applied to
human groups. In 1711 Swift wrote The mass
of the people have opened their eyes, [2] as
the adaptation of the word mass to describe
mankind occurs late in its history, coinciding
with the application of scientic theories to
human populations in the 19th century. The
idea of mass being connected to the idea
of potential is revealed in an etymological
study, but the degree of potentiality shifts with
The notion of potentiality in mass exists to
differing degrees. In its amorphous form,
the word mass means a large quantity,
amount, or number (either of material or
immaterial things). [3] The correlation
between mass and amount is present in all
uses of the word, and even in its generality,
a potential is present in the demarcation of
a physical quantity. Mass is never a thing
in itself but rather a gathering of something.
In 1604 Shaks notes I remember a masse
of things, but nothing distinctly. [4] Mass
serves to direct the audience in a specic
direction, for the physical presence of a
mass embodied in the reference to size
presupposes a determinant location. The
word is not used to quantify so much as to
establish a presence, which is achieved
by this voluminous dimension. The idea
of a concrete assemblage as opposed
to a concept is further supported by the
construction mass of which is present in
most usages. Mass cannot exist without a

referent. This reinforces the word as a marker,
or the beginnings of a distillation process.
Other denitions of mass further develop
the notion of a potential. While the denition
a dense aggregate of objects apparently
forming a continuous body [5] only adds
the idea of component consistency to the
referent, it nonetheless brings us closer
to a usability value of the named object.
For example, F. Brook writes in 1660 The
Mosca or Temple is a masse of stones built
around, [6] where the collection of stones
are performing an obvious function, and
it is this commonality which is captured
in the designation mass. Even though
in this denition mass is not restricted
to a particular type of object, potential is
expressed by specifying a homogeneity
of objects that together can be used for a
The notion of potential associated with
mass is different from that meaning
existing in possibility. [7] To understand
the form of potential contained in mass,
one can look at the denition connected
with the oldest usage in the Oxford English
Dictionary. It reads, a coherent body of
plastic or fusible matter that is not yet molded
or fashioned into denite shape. [8] The
referents potential has not yet been realized,
but there is no uncertainty of whether it can
be. This is further underwritten by the fact
that the nature of the referent is contained
in the denition: plastic of fusible matter.
If we think of mass as the ingredients of a
formula, by dening the referent we know the
ingredients and what they can produce. The
outcome is certain, but as of yet unrealized.
Other variations of mass explicitly
contain referents that range from chemical
compounds [9] to animal uids [10] to the
created universe [11]. The trend is to assign
materials involved in scientic processes
as referents, and as such the word mass
most often occurred in scientic writings, as
when, for example, C. Lucas writes in 1756
The best method is to wash the whole mass
carefully. [12]
Understanding mass as a potential is
consistent with the words Latin and Greek
roots. The French masse from the 11th
century A.D. was adapted from the Latin
massa which was in turn adopted from
the Greek maxa meaning barley-cake.
Furthermore, the OED suggests that this
may be cognate with the Greek massein
meaning to knead. [13] This may seem
obscure until placed within a historical
context: bread (maxa) was the staple
Miches Serres Member of the Acadmie Francaise; French and Italian, Stanford
It had been a long time since I had been present at a ceremony. Now that burials
are not followed by funeral processions, now that we try to escape the boredom
of ofcial receptions, who enjoys such occasions? But yesterday, the French Acad-
emy gave a last homage to Lopold Sdar Senghor, who died in Normandy and
was interred in Dakar; since my election to the Academy, I had known him, we
had conversed, I had liked him. Beneath the nave of Saint-Germain-des-Prs, the
cardinal ofciated before the President and the Prime Minister of France, accom-
panied by their wives, all four seated at the balustrade of the chancel. I had been
unable to convince myself to put on, like my colleagues, the green costume of the
As a Christian, a graduate of the cole Normale Suprieure, and a Latinist, the
deceased had asked for a Gregorian mass; as a Senegalese, he had a right to be
remembered with Wolof chants and the tam-tam of his village; as a member of
the Academy, a poet, and a statesman, he was treated to the obligatory morsels
of literary and political elegance, probably heard by his departed soul. The church
being full, the sidewalks were overrun with rubberneckers.
Catholic pageantry often carries on rituals which come from ancient Rome. Thus
yesterday, the Euro-African space rebuilt in music was hollowed out by a tempo-
ral pocket that Senghor himself had sewn by claimingwas he right?that plain-
chant came from the recitative chant of Ngritude. But neither white Rome nor the
Christianity of black Africa can pride itself on having invented the idea or the word
ceremony. Of Etruscan invention and thus stolen by the Latin armies that assas-
sinated this peoplea people whose genius taught the Mediterranean the deli-
cacy of art, an original approach to death, and the color of a piety which the people
of neighboring cultures inheritedceremony was taken up everywhere without
anyones really remembering what it had signied for those who rst practiced it.
What lost sense does this atemporal music express, from what somber unspeci-
ed grave does it spring? Do those who know understand as little as the ignorant,
and those who believe, as little as the impious?
food of the Greeks. In terms of a potential,
massein meant to mix the ingredients in
order to make the bread. That bread was
very important to the Greeks is seen in
Jesuss claim to divinity I am the bread
of life [14] and emphasis on the spiritual
Man does not live by bread alone, but by
every word that proceeds from God. [15] In
referring to bread as the essential element of
survival, the word massein invariably had
very positive connotations, for it describes
the process by which man could sustain
himself. The Greek root seems to have begun
with the transformative process; modern
adoptions have shifted the emphasis to the
ingredients, or object-potential. The positivity
associated with the potentiality of the Greek
root furthermore perhaps explains the early
appropriation of the word mass to material
objects of technical value.
When, beginning in the 1700s, mass is
applied to a group of humans, the goal is
that of classication, or the application of
scientic studies to human groups. Mankind
has been substituted as the referent in the
earlier denition a dense aggregate of
objects apparently forming a continuous
body [16] by way of the variant a multitude
of persons mentally viewed as forming an
aggregate in which individuality is lost. [17]
The idea of classication is consistent with
the usage structure; in 1874 Green records
The unconquered Britons had sunk into a
mass of savage herdsman. [18] The structure
mass of requires a referent; mass
carries with it size and physical proximity.
While the loss of individuality may seem to
indicate a loss of potentiality on the part of
the group, it is not so. In losing their individual
identities, the people as a mass acquire new
potentialsthe potential for revolution, for the
reversal of power, for exploitation, as labor,
and as voting power. This transformation is
subsequently captured in the adoption of
mass to mean the greater part or majority
of [19] as applied to humans. Manipulating
potential is equated with controlling the
majority, or the mass.
The expression in mass implies the
realization of a groups potential. In other
words, using in mass to describe an action
presupposes that the mass is beginning to
actively work, or realize some of its potential.
For example, S. Rogers writes in 1820 We
condemn millions in the mass as vindictive.
[20] Vindictiveness arises while people
form a mass. Anna Sewind offers a clearer
illustration in 22 years prior when she writes
Our nation has almost risen in mass.
Those present gather in memory of the deceased. There, all confront a ghost. Do
they kneel before the God in whom Senghor believed, in order to pray to Him?
All, here, in His presence? Does this single or double absence unite this crowd?
On the contrary, does it divide into two parts, so that the majority can ogle the
masters? The passers-by peep atah!the President and the Prime Minister,
the chasubles and the green robes. Or is it split into three parts, so that those in
the middle, decorated or noted writers, can be admired by the low who see them
exhibited in the company of the high?
In the rst hypothesis, transcendence assures the cohesion of the assembled col-
lective. Sociology shows, in the second, what ceremonies serve for: coherence
results from exchanged gazes. More dynamic, the third hypothesis describes pre-
ferment: the anonymous are assured that such a democracy opens passages by
which they could, possibly, make a name for themselves.
In the three cases considered above, someone or several someones, absent or
present, unique, rare, or numerous, turn to face the crowd. We are accustomed to
these about-faces. The ofciant prays, his face toward us. The reader leaves the
assembly, ascends to the podium, and reads the Gospel, which we hear leave his
lips. The perpetual Secretary, and then the President, evoke, before the people,
the memory of the deceased. We know these heads; we often give them a name.
Except that transcendence, unnamable, does not show its face. We live together
by confronting these bodies, turned toward these entreaties. Collective equals
face to face.
But we have changed all that, which dates back to the beginnings of human cul-
tures and which ethno- and anthropologists can attest to at all latitudes. For from
now on, in the sanctuary, braving archaic interdictions, a handful of operators,
whose faces no one notices although they too turn toward us, sport television
cameras and headsets, hi-delity microphones, booms with dazzling lights, on
their shoulders, in their hands, or on their heads, dragging cables in whose loops,
knots, and twists ofcials, like everyone else, entangle their feet. Tomorrow, on
the screens of the region, the nation, or the world, depending on the importance of
the ceremony, tens of thousands or millions of spectators will watch the same rite,
retransmitted. From that moment, not only do those in the middle have less inter-
est in being seen by the anonymous, whose numbers are unimpressive although
they are crammed all along the street; but even the high try to show themselves to
the lens of these machines which, facing everyone, make it so that everyone, high,
middle, and low, will no longer exist together except in front of them.
[21] The action generates from a directed
movement of the people, and this massive
movement is specically encoded in the
accompanying denition bodily, all at once.
[22] The collective movement of the people is
the sign of a transformation taking place.
The extreme of a productively active mass
is the disordered mass of people, which,
not yet distilled to a usable medium, has been
loosely termed the masses. Mass in this
sense designates the generality of mankind,
but has more frequently been used to
describe the populace or lower orders.[23]
In either case, the emphasis is on their
undifferentiability, and as such their lack of
utility. Whitney writes in 1875 The language
of the mass goes on unchecked [24] and W.
Phillips in 1803 The masses are governed
more by impulse than conviction. [25] The
unchecked and impulsive natures of the
masses oppose assemblage for a productive
purpose. Potentiality is at a minimum; it exists
in the amount of people, not in their separation
as a group for a specic use. Hence, they
are the masses in general as opposed to
a mass of voters or other categorization.
The minimum of potentiality and the tendency
for disorder connected with this usage have
given the word a negative connotation. This
drastic shift from the positive associations
ascribed to the Greek massein may reect
mans cynicism with his inability to knead
humanity into something useful.
The etymology does not end here. In the
twentieth century mass has piggy-backed
other words to indicate the participation of a
massive amount of people [26]. Agnes Clarke
writes in 1903 The universality of an apparent
mass-attraction was a great fact. [27] This
usage expresses the consumptive capability
of an enormous audience. People are not a
potential so much as for what they can do
but rather as a collective buying or otherwise
consumptive power. Potentiality has been co-
opted by the economy.
[1] [E] Mass, def. 8 b. Unless otherwise noted,
all denitions (etymologies) taken from
The Oxford English Dictionary. Volume
VI, L-M. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978, pp.
[2] Mass, def. 6. All historical citations taken
from The Oxford English Dictionary.
Volume VI, L-M. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1978, pp. 206-7.
[3] [E] Mass, def. 4 a.
[4] Mass, def. 4.
Roman, Christian or from Africa, Etruscan, forgotten, archaic, and for that very
reason effective . . . ceremony now ends before it begins, having lost its function
and utility: for what good is the eloquence of great organs and mysterious choirs,
if those who manipulate the images will certainly suppress the plain-chant, Cou-
perin, the tam-tam and the Wolof recitatives, the voices (too long), the sublime
(too profound), the vaults and the pillars (too wide and high), to show only, for one
minute, the hesitant steps of old men coming out of the church, cruelly elbow-
ing each other to show offno longer to the curious amassed below the porch,
whose importance is thereby diminished; but to the hole which, this evening or
tomorrow, will unite the grand mass, virtual and invisible, the only social reality?
Unnamable and absent, does transcendence turn back to rejoin the collective im-
manence? Who, then, to call great, if not the one who will shortly cut the feet or
the neck of former high personages, so that their image passes muster?
Farewell Etruria; ceremony unfolds today only before these machines. And this is
why I have been missing occasions for so long. In the sanctuary, the true ofciants
sport neither chasuble nor green robes, but the light boom at the end of their arm.
These machines make the real ceremony virtual. The at image replaces, they say,
corporeal presence. But, as far as I know, ceremony itself has always produced
the virtual: the Etruscans probably invented it for this purpose. The exchange of
gazes is already a passing of images. Certain pedants sometimes prefer the word
symbolic, and for good reason, since the symbol originally reunited two pieces of
baked earth previously severed by two mutual visitors, in order to remind them of
their reciprocal debt of hospitality: yes, the collective was split in order to be better
unied, the low enjoying contemplating the highbefore killing them sometimes
and the high enjoying showing themselves to the low in their ephemeral glory.
This exchange of images confers glory on the parts of the symbol. If the partici-
pants dispute it or share it, they remain in the immanent glue of the social; if, on
the contrary, it is given to God alone, transcendence unites the pious. Informa-
tional, negentropic, virtual, or symbolic, this vanity-glue can be transubstantiated
one day into forces on the entropic scale, devastating, destroying lives and villages
in passing, but it appears for a long time potential, anodyne, and inoffensive. But
above all: we did not know who withholds, who gives, who will receiveGod, our
masters, you, me . . . ?this illustriousness, this renown, this celebrity, this fame
. . . blind in any event, to how long this light will remain virtual and to when it will
be transubstantiated into a terrifying cyclone.
We have changed all that. We have constructed tools out of real glass and plastic
materials, made for fashioning that virtual: society-making machines which with-
[5] [E] Mass, def. 3.
[6] Mass, def. 3.
[7] Websters Ninth New Collegiate
Dictionary. Massachusetts: Merriam-
Webster, 1984, p.921.
[8] [E] Mass, def. 1. My emphasis.
[9] [E] Mass, def. 1 c.
[10] [E] Mass, def. 2 c.
[11] [E] Mass, def. 2 b.
[12] Mass, def. 1 c.
[13] The Greek, Latin, and French etymologies
appear under the general etymology of
the word mass on page 206 of the OED.
[14] John 6:48, NIV.
[15] Matthew 4:4, NIV.
[16] [E] Mass, def. 3.
[17] [E] Mass, def. 5.
[18] Mass, def. 5.
[19] [E] Mass, def. 6.
[20] Mass, def. 7 b.
[21] Mass, def. 7 a.
[22] [E] Mass, def. 7 a.
[23] [E] Mass, def. 6 b, c.
[24] Mass, def. 6 b.
[25] Mass, def. 6 c.
[26] [E] Mass, def. 10 b.
[27] Mass, def. 10 b.
Entry by Michelle Ruvolo
hold, draw in, and distributeimages, certainly, but also, by their intermediary,
glory. Glory dazzles us with the light that the operators lit yesterday, at their whim,
facing us in the chancel. Their machines transubstantiate a virtual social of three
hundred people into another of thirty million; they have the power, immense and
new, of changing scale and thus of transforming virtual symbols into gargantuan
energies. If a man, already powerful, speaks in them, with them, and through
them, he ignites the world.
There is now only one ceremony: the one produced by these machines, showing
everywhere, replaces all the others. There is now only a single ofciant in the
chancel: the hole that we call the lens (lobjectif), probably by antiphrasis, since
it has only subjective and collective functions. This is why, once again, we were
lacking other occasions: we are now only watching one ceremony, but this one
every day.
At the mass yesterday in memory of Lopold Sdar Senghor and his faith, believ-
ers gathered together in front of the mystery of the Eucharist. In the sanctuary
stood the priests, facing us and leaning, eyes closed, over that transcendental
transubstantiation. In the same sanctuary, cameras produced a series of those
immanent transubstantiations, dazzling us with lights.
Are we changing religions? There is only one, television: universal, it kills all the
others. It has a monopoly on ceremonies. At noon and in the evening, we turn on
the set to make our prayer to the presenter, whose face is turned toward us as
we are virtually assembled. Catholic pageantry was succeeded by the Protestant
service, where the pastor allows some of those present to speak, one by one;
this rite serves as a model for all the talk shows. It is certainly a question of
ceremonyand of a religious one: the cardinal and the ofciants bear witness,
here, at Saint-Germain-des-Prs, to the absence of God; the television operators
bear witness to the absence of all. Each one of them, present, represents the
absence of the two all-powerful. Are these two priests in the same chancel op-
posed to each other? Should we choose between the absent transcendence to
which all glory is given: Gloria in excelsis Deo and the groaning of the world
given over to violence to make that glory, acquire it, and keep it? We bow either
before the merciful impotence of the former or before our own omnipotence
without forgiveness.
Even better: because the two pastors are corporally distinguishable, before our
eyes, in the sanctuary and by the objects that they manipulate, we can no longer
mistake social religion for belief in God. Finally, here is a great day: because no
one is deceiving us, we can no longer deceive ourselves. Yesterday, we celebrated
together, once more, the great separation of the Church and politics, of divine
mysticism and collective rites: the end of the sociologies of religions.
Beginning in the era of the Enlightenment, experimental science progressively but
completely removed from religion all the geneses of the stars, the earth, and living
beings. Celestial mechanics, astrophysics, geology, chemistry, natural history and
biology . . . these all took over the explanation of the world from religion. What is
more, there were machines attached to these sciences whose effectiveness was
an improvement on the recipes or rare miracles alleged in these traditions. This
decisive critique, which almost killed them, resulted however in a reprieve: faith
no longer has any relation to the predictions and causes described in its great
narratives. Interpreters still attached to the letter of these texts are losing their
time, their credit, and the match: the others pray to God without worrying about
scientic rationality; sometimes they even practice it.
The second critique came from the human sciences, which cheerfully reduced the
religious and its rites to collective functions: the gods unite the city, their myths
form the human soul. More devastating than the rst critique, this even succeeded
in converting many pastors to the point that they became psychologists or sociolo-
gists at the risk of their faith.
But had I ever really noted the existence and the function of these new, informational
machines that maintain the same relation with the social sciences as the tools
functioning on the entropic scale have with the hard sciences? Do we understand
that certain technologies function as society-making machines? A winch at work
supports weight; the energy of a motor can carry men beyond the horizon; the tools
of communication fashion the collective, its numbers and its own energies.
Thus television, as I have said, sucks in all ceremonies. The virtual union of ev-
eryone is accomplished facing the presenter, who is not present. Everything that
proceeded or resulted from the social, that represented it, actualized it, heated it,
transformed it, even studied it: religion, sport, theater, cinema, books, teaching,
judicial trials, political assemblies, meetings of all sorts . . . now passes through
television, no longer exists except by television, is recycled through television . . .
which transubstantiates everything from someones into everyone. It appropriates
everything that concerns everyone and, rst of all, existence in the presence of
everyone which, for many, comes down to the same as existence itself, as well
as the very existence of everyone. Socially speaking nothing exists without it,
not even, nally, society itself. It does not reect the opinions of society so much
as create them: it does not mirror society so much as model it. It becomes society.
As the latter has most often only virtual existence, even at the risk of actualizing it
from time to time, by violence, warlike or other, these virtuality machines fashion
it on all sides.
Whence the implacable hatred that they arouse in intellectuals educated in the
social sciences: the machines take their area of specialization, multiplying it to a
grandiose aura. They become an indenitely resounding sociology in action. They
give a portion of it to everyone.
Thus if someone or some thing remains, independent of these new machines, and
can exist without them, then that thing or that person clearly takes on a func-
tion other than social. They truly leave society. Solitary meditation and detailed
comprehension of a difcult question; the hard and rare work of language; the
secret passing of the cultural torch; a private gesture where justice and humanity
overabound; the climbing of a wall by a party of friends . . . Can we, for a moment,
suppose that television would show the hours of research of a mathematician
concentrating for a long time; the silent day, spent in prayer, of a Trappist monk;
the interminable promenade along the Loire of lovers alone in the world?
Everything that applies to ceremony in general is shown on television. We can no
longer be mistaken: the rest cannot pass for ceremony.
Whence the second reprieve: these machines thus lter the religious from the col-
lective and make a nonsocializable residue appear. Consequently a transcendence
appears which from now on no one can suspect of having a decisive role in groups
and their unanimity. Next to the booms bathing the spectators with light, the priest
ofciates. For whom? The headsets and cameras ofciate for everyone. And the
priest for whom, other than everyone? For those most rare people who, outside of
this union of solid interest, suffer from the absence of the Other and pray to him.
Thanks to their critique, the hard sciences relieve religions of their responsibility
to explain the world; the new virtual symbol machines relieve them of the social
weight with which the human sciences overwhelm them in order to critique them.
These two lters purify religion.
What does it show? A direct experience that no mystic has described as irrational.
Translated from the French by Matthew Tiews

The Myth of the Populus Romanus
Joy Connolly Classics, New York University
An iconic moment in the history of lm representations of the Roman crowd
provides a useful visual analogue for my exploration of representations of crowd
politics in ancient Rome. Picture the following cinematic scene, based on the
popular novel published in 1880 by the Union General Lew Wallace. Among a
turbulent mass of horses and men, Charlton Heston stands in a chariot drawn
by four white horses: he wears a metallic Star of David in his brown leather
tunic, complemented by an over-the-shoulder swath of fabric the color of the
blue on the Israeli ag. Heston plays the Jewish noble Judah Ben-Hur, whose
rival Stephen Boyd (Messala), along with his ebony team, is draped in Roman
purple and gold. The two men exchange burning glances, and on cue, we see
the masses cheering for Heston. Frank Thring, an urbane, world-weary Pontius
Pilate, drops his handkerchief to start the race; the horses leap from the gate;
and the camera pans the shouting, jostling, sweaty, robed, bearded and veiled
crowd gone wild.
The classic chariot-race that is the climax of William Wylers 1959 Ben Hura
piece of glorious trash, as its cowriter Gore Vidal justly calls itis a crowd
scene. As such it is typical of major twentieth century American lms with a
Roman theme: among the best known, D.W. Grifthss silent Intolerance (1916),
Henry Kosters The Robe (1953), Stanley Kubricks Spartacus (1960), Rouben
C H A P T E R 3
Mamoulians Cleopatra (1963), Anthony Manns The Fall of the Roman Empire
(1964), and Ridley Scotts Gladiator (2000). Roman crowds in American movies
are especially apt surrogates of the modern lm audience. Mirroring the viewers
sitting in the cinema, they gape at the games, parades, and other spectacles
that signify the pagan decadence or imperial majesty of the Roman Empire
and by extension, of course, the consumerist decadence and capitalist majesty
of American spectatorial culture.
The surge in the production of Roman themed lms in the late 1950s and early
1960s can be attributed to a number of factors. Among them are Technicolor and
other advances in lm technology; the quest for grand narratives that would en-
act the epic conict of the Cold War; Hollywoods appeal to Christian religiosity,
in an effort to rub out its long-standing prejudicial associations with Judaism
and Communism; and the crumbling of legal and social constraints on the baring
of erotically appealing bodies in lm.
Add to this the tendency throughout the
twentieth century for works of social theory and their popular counterparts in
the press to compare the rise of American mass culture in the welfare state with
Romes fall into mob politics and moral decay: a theme ripe for cultural imagin-
ings of crowds, in all their heterogeneous, chaotic poverty.

Movies like Ben Hur speak the language of Bernard of Clairvauxs Apologia,
which condemns the beautiful statues and rich ornaments in Catholic churches
in language that titillates the imagination as much as it frightens the soul. Their
Roman crowds embody the appeal of the forbiddenmiscegenation, heterodox
religious practices, sexual freedom, and outrageous levels of material consump-
tion. But if these things are forbidden, they are also dynamic forces at the
heart of stories of American exceptionalism and success: its minimal class struc-
ture, its politics of race and gender reform, its capitalist energy. By virtue of their
otherness in time, space, and culture, the Roman crowds of Hollywood exorcise
American viewers fearful glimpses of the consequences of democracy, from
mob rule to the contagions of multiculturalism, while enabling them simultane-
ously to exult in identication with a triumphant imperial populism.

Politically speaking, the cinematic Roman crowd serves a second, and more in-
sidious, function. Since its founding, the United States has named itself part
of the legacy of Rome, and particularly Roman republican political thought and
practice. Hollywoods Roman crowd is a symptom of the American fantasy of
popular republican willa fantasy in which obedience to the law is enacted in
the muddled spontaneity and unpredictability of the mass experience. Visibly
foreign in many waysberobed, bearded, swarthy, and culturally heteroge-
neousthe crowd is an ideally universalized, sensuous, embodied mass; but
it is a mass inscribed and contained within a subtly oppressive order. Through
People derives from the Latin populus
meaning generally a human community,
a nation, the people as transcending the
individuals composing it, or the state, and
the general public, populace, multitude.
The standard of the Roman republic, SPQR
(Senatus Populusque Romanus) demon-
strates that populus was associated with
Roman identity and citizenship. Unlike Latin
gens, meaning a race, nation, crowds or
horde or the nations of the world, or the
rest of the world apart from Romans or Ital-
ians, populus lacks the same attachment
to blood relations, class or race of persons,
although like gens it often carried political
connotations. A family of English words
derives from populus, such as populace,
the common people, popular, popularity,
populate, populism (the beliefs of members
of a political party that claims to represent
ordinary people) and populous (having a large
During the Middle Ages, Chaucer (1343?
1400) uses peple to denote a historical
agent: in Troilus and Criseyde (4:18396)
he examines the role of popular discourse
through the loaded image of the noyse
of peple. Beyond peple as masses or
persons collected in a particular place, here
he is concerned with the need to examine
the noyse of commonality through poetic
This connection to language and standards
(SPQR) distinguishes people from crowd
or multitude, in that the word gains
powerful implications as a speech act. Like
those words people may serve as both
an abstract and a physical concept, but it
is the voice of the people, the vox populi,
that has the potential to signify either civil
enfranchisement or the subversiveness of the
rabble. This tension between these two poles
is clear if we compare numerous contractual
uses of people with the invocation of the
vox populi.
Contractual language using people emerg-
es during the establishment of the United
States in the eighteenth century, particularly
in the rst lines of the constitution We the
People of the United States, in Order to form a
more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure
domestic Tranquility . . . (1787). The same
usage obtains in the words of U.S. states-
man and lawyer Daniel Webster in a speech
made in 1830 before the U.S. Senate: The
peoples government, made for the people,
made by the people, and answerable to the
people The contract of the nation is between
the people and its representative govern-
ment, as Thomas Jefferson makes clear in
1820: I know of no safe depository of the
ultimate powers of the society but the people
themselves. Today in the U.S. legal context
this contract is also apparent in the language
of State prosecution formalized in the early
nineteenth century: The PEOPLE versus . . .
From its earliest usage, the vox populi rep-
resents a potential danger that needs to be
controlled. Alcuin writes in a letter to Emperor
Charlemagne in ad 800 that he should not lis-
ten to those who say The voice of the people
is the voice of God (Vox populi, vox Dei),
for the turbulence of the mob is always close
to insanity (cum tumultuositas vulgi semper
inasaniae proxima sit). From the fteenth
century onward the phrase vox populi, vox
Dei is often cited in English, sometimes in
an ironic sense, such as when General W. T.
Sherman writes in an 1863 letter to his wife:
Vox populi, vox humbug. In this case vox
populi means general opinion, common talk
or rumor. In the twentieth century, the col-
loquial use of this term, abbreviated to vox
pop, usually has derogatory connotations of
uninformed opinion. In the 1950s and 1960s in
particular, there was British broadcasting of
vox popsstreet interviews with passers-
by presenting views on issues of the day
which, with luck, were amusingly expressed
andfor reasons of balancecancelled
each other out (Nigel Rees, Dictionary of
Phrase and Allusion [1991], 331).
In the twentieth century, the word appears
in political rhetoric to describe the proletar-
devices of plot and camera work, the multiplicity and diversity that character-
izes the crowd at rst glance yields to an impression of unity, manifested in
costuming and the extras close attention to the Romans charismatic authority.
The camera dwells on their mass expression of emotion: cries and sighs are
emitted together. The crush of earth and jewel-toned robes, tunics, beards, and
veils resemble uniforms; everyone appears to speak the same language; and
most importantly, and very prominently in several scenes in Ben Hur, the crowd
swiftly obeys the smallest gesture of authority from governor or emperor.
of Messala the Roman and the Jewish prince of Hur bow together under the
supercilious gaze of the Roman governor.
Part of this is cinematic self-advertisement: the crowds of extras are signs of
the massive and successful organization of the lm industry. Until the advent of
computer-generated backgrounds, part of the notoriety of the Roman lm was
the statistics it generated, the cast of thousands. Working in tandem is a
political script that writes the crowd as a unity, responsive to, even eager for
rule, whether because of the compulsive appeal of Christianity (as attested by
the awed crowds in Ben Hur, Quo Vadis?, The Robe and others), by majestic
displays of wealth and power (Ben Hur, Cleopatra), by the pseudorepublican
oligarchic authority of Maximus in Gladiator, or some mixture of the three. In its
visible readiness to be ruled, the crowd enacts Ciceros claim in his late dialogue
On Law, that the well-lived life is one in which one learns to obey the law sua
sponte, of ones own will. Its uniformity is enthusiastic and spontaneous: its
obedience is absolute.
I described Ben Hur as a useful analogue to the representation of crowds in Ro-
man texts, and I should admit from the start that my contribution to a book on
the crowd phenomenon is rather anomalous. For the most part, I will explore the
ways Roman crowds are represented in Roman texts as not-crowds: as homo-
geneous, unied, and obedient to their leaders; and when they are violent, this
too serves elite interests. But this too is part of the history of crowds in western
culture: and it is a crucial part, I think, of the availability of the notion of the
People for theorists of popular sovereignty who seek inspiration in the Roman
i Maria Wyke insightful analyzes the sword and sandal lm in Projecting the Past (New York: Routledge 1997); see also the
general discussions in Imperial Projections: Ancient Rome in Modern Popular Culture, edited by S. Joshel, M. Malamud, and
D. McGuire, Jr. (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
ii See Patrick Brantlinger, Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture as Social Decay (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press,
iii This identication also serves the interests of popular satire, which operates within the same representational framework of
cultural critique. An article in The Onion titled Congress Approves 4 Billion for Bread, Circuses uses lmic motifs to confuse
Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. with the Capitoline, one of the seven hills of Rome. Its parody of the Roman triumph links
politics with entertainment, and the consumerist excess of the heartland with Americas ignorant application of (virtually)
ian masses (and proletarian dictatorship)
as a peoples democracy: The people and
the people alone, are the motive force in
the making of world history (Mao Zedong,
[18931976], On Coalition Government).
There are enormous numbers of people . . .
discontented people who desire to protest,
who are ready to render all the assistance
they can in the ght against absolutism, the
intolerableness of which is not yet recog-
nized by all, but is nevertheless more and
more acutely sensed by increasing masses
of the people (Lenin, What is to be Done?
190102). In the U.S. civil rights movements of
the 1960s, people is often invoked in politi-
cal slogans, such as the Black panther slo-
gan, Power to the People, accompanied by
raised clenched st and publicized by leader
Bobby Seale. The presence of people in
such political protests demonstrates the ver-
satility of this word in a diversity of modern
mass movements.
Entry by Mary-Louise Kragh
imperial military force. President Clinton announced news of the bills passage to awaiting throngs from his purple-draped
balcony at the White House . . . [A] procession, attended by thousands of onlookers, featured a display of Exocet missiles;
several Stealth bombers ying in formation; a phalanx of prominent military leaders, senators and bureaucrats; dancers,
re-eaters and contortionists . . . At the back of the procession were four dozen captured criminals and Serbian prisoners of
war, who were repeatedly beaten by a prison guard as they slowly trudged under the weight of their chains and manacles.
Following the massive parade, a state-sponsored feast was held on the Capitol Mall, and great quantities of such beloved
American delicacies as hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, potato salad, Lite beer, orange pop and sheet cake were served free
of charge to vast and ecstatic crowds, who gorged themselves to excess (The Onion, 19 August 1999). The phrase bread and
circuses is originally the rst century CE satirist Juvenals: the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions
and everything else, now contains itself and worriedly hopes for only two things: bread and circuses (nam qui dabat olim
imperium fasces legiones omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses, Sat. 10.77-80).
iv The chariot scene provides a number of examples: also note the cycle of roar and hush in a massive crowd responding to barely
visible gestures from Tiberius at a Roman triumph.
Different Crowds
Susan Buck-Morss Political Philosophy and Social Theory, Cornell
My rst experience of the crowd was in a sports stadium in New York City. It was a
game of American football that the home team won, unleashing a euphoria among
the spectators that I did not share psychically but was forced to share physically,
as the tide of fans streamed down to the eld and stormed the goalposts to un-
hinge them and carry them off.
Mine was not the abstract, metaphysical fear of submersion of the individual or
loss of autonomy. It was a simple, visceral awareness: Run with the crowd or
be trampled. This apparently innocuous event, culturally coded as entertainment,
frightened me beyond any comparable experience. The ocean waves that in the
childs eye rise menacingly before crashing on the seashore harbor a secret calm.
You have only to dive under the threatening curl of their crest to enter their sanctu-
ary, as the foam churns past overhead.
Not nature in its sublimity, but mechanical inexorability is the analogy for my ex-
perience of the crowd: the tight and uniform event that is set in motion by human
intention, but runs out of human control. The crowd can be used as an instru-
ment of terror because its unpredictability is precisely predictable. Walter Benja-
min compared this compact mass with the relaxed (locker) crowd form of the
revolutionary class, an observation that Theodor W. Adorno described in a letter
to Benjamin as the most insightful words he had read on the subject since Lenins
State and Revolution. Benjamin wrote:
The class-conscious proletariat forms a compact mass only from the outside, in the
minds of its oppressors. At the moment when it takes up its struggle for liberation,
this apparently compact mass has actually already begun to loosen. It ceases to
be governed by mere reactions; it makes the transition to action. The loosening of
the proletarian masses is the work of solidarity. In the solidarity of the proletarian
class struggle, the dead, undialectical opposition between individual and mass
is abolished; for the comrade, it does not exist. The mass as an impenetrable,
compact entity, which le Bon and others have made the subject of their mass
psychology, is that of the petty bourgeoisie. The petty bourgeoisie is not a class;
it is in fact only a mass Demonstrations by the compact mass thus always have
a panicked qualitywhether they give vent to war fever, hatred of Jews, or the
instinct of self-preservation.

The difference between the reactionary crowd and the progressive one can be
physically sensed: The feeling of panic is replaced by the feeling of solidarity. I
learned this during the anti-war demonstrations in Washington D.C. in the late
1960s and early 1970s, when the crowd of hundreds of thousands, even millions
was present with a common purpose, a collective ratio, as Benjamin describes it.
Strangers share food and protection. Even as the marching crowd presses forward,
its center remains calm, as safe as a seabed. Leaders merge with the crowd rather
than manipulating them. Interaction takes the place of reaction. The experience of
solidarity outlasts such events, giving condence to future actions of individuals in
the name of the society to come, a society in which neither the objective nor the
subjective conditions for the formation of masses will exist any longer.

Demonstrations that are productive of solidarity remain a part of our time. The
millions of Spanish citizens who came out on March 14, 1004, in the wake of the
Madrid bombings and on the eve of the national elections were a relaxed crowd,
as were the million women who marched for womens rights in Washington D.C.
later that spring. The astounding global demonstration for peace on February 15,
1003 to protest against George W. Bushs immanent invasion of Iraq, preserved in
photographic record at, is a harbinger of the
tremendous possibilities of political solidarity in this new century.
Positioned against these progressive crowds we again see the compact masses,
this time as riot policeparamilitary special forces wearing black armor and
pressed tightly together, their faces immobile or masked to hide an inner panic,
ready to react with a violence motivated at best by the instinct of self-preserva-
tion. The terms proletarian and petty bourgeois are not in use today. With
regard to the crowd, however, the social reality that they describe has not disap-
i Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol. 3, 193538, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings, trans. Edmund Jephcott et
al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1002), 149.
ii Ibid., 14930.
or How the Audience became
a Crowd
William Egginton Romance Languages, SUNY Buffalo
If we are to grant credibility to the notion, advanced by Le Bon and other crowd
psychology theorists of the turn of the twentieth century, that the notion crowd
is profoundly historical, and that its historicity must be located in the period of
high modernity,
then it becomes germane to ask of this concept the question of
its origins: if an assembly of individuals did not always have the characteristics
of a crowd in the modern sense, what sorts of cultural practices might have led
to the emergence of this specic mode of mass phenomenon? The thesis I would
like to present here is that a powerful crucible for the transformation of generic
assemblies into modern crowds is to be found in the audiences of early modern
European playhouses. This is not to say that an equivalence is to be established
between the terms audience and crowd. Indeed, I am in full agreement with
Gabriel Tarde that an audience is not a crowd,
that, to be more specic, essen-
tial characteristics of crowds as dened by the crowd psychology theorists are
denitively absent from early modern theater audiences. Rather, what must be
underscored is how the theatrical establishments of early modern Europe, in re-
sponding to distinct social and political anxieties provoked by the assemblage of
large numbers of people in limited spaces, worked to bring about the very sort of
C H A P T E R 4
social formation that would spark contrary anxieties among political theorists in
high Modernity. To put it in straightforward terms, if the early modern state, its
functionaries, and its theoreticians were concerned with the chaotic potentials
of individuals when they came together as masses, the primary concern of nine-
teenth- and twentieth-century political theorists is with the possibility of crowds
acting non-chaotically, as a unied force. The danger implicit in the democratic
diffusion of political power was, according to these theorists, precisely that the
people would lose their ability to reason individually and act en masse. Need-
less to say, the very same fear emerged as a desideratum of political movements
on both the left and the right who saw in that very people the source of their
revolutionary strength. The irony is trenchant: fearing the horizontal and verti-
cal mobility of a newly formed urban society, the early modern state co-opted
its theatrical institutions to the end of guiding the theater going masses to-
ward a more unied form of behavior via homogenized models of identication;

by the late nineteenth century, the societies whose theoretical fabric is woven
of the same homogenized models of identication are haunted by the specter of
that very unied behavior the theater had sought to instill.
I begin the paper by sketching out what the assemblies of spectators at late me-
dieval dramatic events might have been, if they were neither, as I will argue, audi-
ences nor crowds in the modern sense. From there I go on to describe the emer-
gence of early modern theatrical institutions and their apparatuses for the control
and guidance of audiences, whose primary threat was that of being disorderly
and of imposing through shear number and volume cultural forms deriving from
their own patent lack of taste. Underlying this concern with public disorder there
emerges at the conceptual level a distillation of experientiae whose extremes can
be located along the axis spanning the concepts of anonymity and intimacy. Pre-
cisely, in other words, as the rabble (vulgo) coalesce and are relegated to a certain
negative collectivity, a distance is espoused between the realm of that collectivity
(publicity) and an interiority whose depths are theorized as being both construct-
ible and potentially innite.
If seventeenth-century texts evince an anxiety mixed
with disdain for the disorderly nature of the crowd, and advance the theater as the
ultimate institution for crowd control, eighteenth-century texts, and in the case of
Spain most spectacularly the writings on public spectacle of Gaspar Melchor de
Jovellanos, seem split between demonstrating an intensication of this anxiety
and holding out the image of an ideal public as shaped by appropriate theater
policy. The crowd as a unity of individuals, conformable to models of decorum and
enlightened behavior, is deemed the ultimate goal of public administration. This
progression can be seen as achieving its apogee in Mesonero Romanoss descrip-
tions of theater audiences in 1840s Madrid, assemblies operating as crowds in
the strictest sense of a group of individuals responding harmoniously to shared
affective situations, the same crowds, so congenial to bourgeois commerce,
According to the OED, the word crowd
seems to have rst gained its meaning as a
large number of persons gathered closely
together as to press upon or impede each
other; a throng, a dense multitude during the
late 16th century. The revival of classicism
during the English Renaissance may have
offered the impetus for the emergence of
the word in the English language within a
particular social discourse. As an everyday
concept in Roman society, in his Odes
Horace often refers to a large gathering of
people in public spaces in a derogatory sense.
With Sir Thomas Drants 1567 translation of
Horaces epistle to Numitus, Who will, and
dare retch for the his hande, And man the
throughe the croude appeared an English
word for a multitude of people objectively
seen, rather than an action upon something,
as implied in the 13th c. verbal word press
or the verb crowd used since the 10th c.
Drants translation of Horace is a translation of
a particular view of the relationship between
public and state, the derogatory view of the
vulgus. While still retaining its physical
connotations of crowding, the classical
context of the noun crowd perhaps created a
springboard for reecting on the individuals
place in society during a historical transition
period in England.
The literature of the period reects the
changing contours of crowd. The use of
crowd in Shakespeares Henry VIII (1613)
illuminates a fear of losing oneself amongst
an uncontrollable multitude. In Henry VIII
we see an engendering of the word; crowd
becomes synonymous with sexual anarchy.
The word embodies the anxiety caught up in
the transformation of Roman Catholic England
to the new Reformation England. In one
scene, a man recounts the popular energy
at a royal occasion, as he was Among the
crowd I th Abbey, where a nger/Could not
be wedged in more. (IV.i. 57) Queen Anne is
the embodiment of new Reformation England,
and the image of the crowd is at once one of
procreation (a nger/Could not be wedged
in more and the great bellied women) as
well as sexual sublimation. Men cannot
distinguish their wives in the crowd, as all
were woven/So strangely in one piece.
This representation of multitude reects
Englands state of transformation and the
emergence of the crowd as a phenomenon
vacillating between two poles: energizing
and fascinating as a physical union of a large
group of people, a creative force, and on the
other end a dangerous mass inciting anarchy
and embodying instability.
Just as Horace saw vulgus and greges
as threats to Roman state stability, describing
Cleopatra girt with her foul emasculate
throng (contaminato cum grege turpium)
(Ode, I. 37), this classical notion of crowd as
emasculating is appropriated into the English
language at a time when Elizabeth I had to
distinguish herself from classical gures
such as Dido and Cleopatra - crowd women
who embody the anxieties of a patriarchal
state. Elizabeth would reconcile the threat of
the crowd by associating her head with the
state, and not her womanly body as she says
to her people: I know I have the body but
of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the
heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of
England too... (Elizabeths Speech at Tilbury,
1588). Thus Elizabeth views her need to assert
herself as a sovereign who balances the
public and state in a new way, allowing the
right kind of crowd without being subsumed
by it. Her solution is to represent herself as
a Virgin Queen that could man the crowd
by degendering the crowd phenomenon as
an androgynous state. Thus in early Modern
England one can see a kind of rhetoric of
the crowd in the making, a rhetoric still in
use today and whose purpose it to convince
people how to view the crowd over ones own
experience of it.
Entry by Marisa Galvez
will haunt the manifestos, barricades, and theater halls of the late nineteenth
century. The key, it will be shown, to understanding the power of the crowd lies in
this historical analysis of intimacy and anonymity: for in the modernity that opens
at the crux of the opposition between these concepts, the crowd is that entity that
precipitates in the zone of their very indistinction.
i Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Dunwoody, Ga.: N.S. Berg, 1968). See also Robert A. Nye, The
Origins of Crowd Psychology: Gustave Le Bon and the Crisis of Mass Democracy in the Third Republic (London: SAGE Publica-
tions, 1973). As Walter Benjamin writes, The crowdno subject was more entitled to the attention of nineteenth century
writers. On Some Motifs in Baudelaire, in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 166.
ii Gabriel Tarde, The Laws of Imitation, trans. Elsie Clews Parson (New York: H. Holt, 1903).
iii The terminology and theses are those of Jos-Antonio Maravall. See in particular From the Renaissance to the Baroque: The
Diphasic Schema of a Social Crisis, trans. Terry Cochran, in Literature Among Discourses, ed. Wlad Godzich and Nicholas
Spadaccini (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 341; and The Culture of the Baroque: Analysis of a Historical
Structure, trans. Terry Cochran (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).
iv See the analysis of Baltasar Gracins work below.
v I am grateful to Rebecca Haidt for this insight. Unpublished lecture, University at Buffalo, February 2003.
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 4 CROWDS 4
T. J. Clark History of Art, UC Berkeley
It may be true that when a mass of people is put in a dangerous situation, or just
senses the power that comes from numbers, the gathering can take on an iden-
tity of its own, and that the caution, or inhibition, or even decency of some of its
individual members may be overtaken by the dynamic of a body on the move. But
my memories of crowds in the late 1960swhich is the only time in my life when
some form of radical disobedience by the many seemed on the agendamake
me doubtful about how far such dissolution goes. Even in a moment of pervasive
social uncertainty (it does not matter, in my view, if we end up calling the mo-
ment in question revolutionary, since the decades of misrepresentation that
have followed are testimony enough to the moments unacceptable, inescapable
force) crowds are class-divided, and the motor of ressentiment that may partly
drive them is impeded, all the time, at every point of potential conict or freeing of
energies, by the brake of anxiety, unpreparedness, and ordinary (profound) bour-
geois awkwardness with the body in action.
I remember the poet Edward Dorn saying to me in 1968, at the height of an oc-
cupation of the university I was teaching in at the time (he said it kindly, and I did
not take the advice, then or later, as condescending, even though I knew that the
they he referred to included myself) that I ought not to hope for too much from
what was happening all round me, or from the panoply of 68 worldwide. Never
forget these are middle-class children. They will not be able to do what they dream
of. A friend said to me after the clashes in Grosvenor Square later the same year
that he had glimpsed me only once in the mle, running backward from a line of
policemen but still facing themand laughing maniacally. I was in two minds,
two bodies. I was laughing at the cops, at the dumb choreography of the demon-
stration, and most of all at my own inability to strike.
Of course what I am reminiscing about is a conict that lackedor had too rarely
and ambivalentlythe nothing to lose support of a proletariat. This was Dorns
archaizing point. And how much, at the time, middle-class children appeared to
fear that nothing to lose, as if sensing that the mere shadow of it in the space
they occupied would mean the game was up. How endless the hours of gloomy
anticipation of provocateurs before each march began, and how insistently public
(and private) discussion of what to do in advance turned on the question of the
violent fringe. Almost to the exclusion of any other kind of tactical thinking, it
seems to me in retrospect. As if there could have been, or should have been, a way
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 4 CROWDS 5
of dissociating ourselves from those to whom society had done most harm! As if
there were not more urgent things to discussways to make use of the space-
time opened by the action of the crowdwhich actually lay, for a moment, within
the purview of the middle-class possible.
Crowds in the 1960s were class-divided, and also politically at odds with them-
selves. This last was a hopeful thing. Naturally they had their quota of armbands
and megaphones and Nuremberg chanting of Ho Chi Min. But I remember also
the insubordination of the mass: the counterchant of Ho Ho Ho Chi Min which
modulated into a Disney dwarf staccato of Ho ho, Ho ho, ho ho ho ho . . .; the
great banner in Oxford Street proposing that we Storm the Reality Studios rather
than the American Embassy; the grafti replying to Trotskyist pieties with frag-
ments from Donne and MacDiarmid and Randolph Bourne; the gales of laughter
each time Vanessa Redgrave or Tariq Ali rose to speak. Crowds are insolent and
unserious. They give license to the disrespectful. If we accept, as I think we must,
that when crowds next ll the streets of the late-capitalist world with insurgency
in mind, they are even less likely than thirty years ago to be powered by proletarian
revenge or exultation, then perhaps we would do well to look again at the distinc-
tive feature of politics in the 1960sits controlled unseriousness, the constant
cackle within it of laughter in retreatsomewhat more closely, more hopefully.
Our world is still a manifold of murders, suppressions, hungers, terror raining from
thirty thousand feet. But it is also, necessarily, a texture of images put in place of
that real. Its citizens are more and more expected to sign on to fully to internal-
ize and act upona pathetic virtual life. That dim visuality is the states Achilles
heel. Middle-class children may not be able to do what they dream of. But what
they deride and disbelieve in (if they manage to go on improvising adequate forms
for the depth of their derision) may someday lose its willits brutal, expansive, so
far unstoppable determinationto cover the world with lies.
Allen Guttmann American Studies, Amherst
Sports spectatorship is a complex phenomenon that varies, within certain bound-
aries, from time to time and from place to place. It can be the solitary mediated
experience of a single person quietly watching his or her television screen. It
can also be the immediate collective experience of a hundred thousand shout-
ing, screaming men and womena sports crowdpacked into a domed stadium.
Sports crowds sometimes gather on the spur of the moment, as they did when an
American professor and his German students played a game of Sunday softball
in a park in Tbingen, but sports crowds are more typically found in set places
at set times, according to a schedule published well in advance of the event. In
this sense, in situ sports spectators resemble people who subscribe to a series
of monthly concerts or theatrical performances. A major difference is that in situ
sports spectators are usually sports fans. They see themselves as active partici-
pants, inspiring the home team with their cheers, demoralizing the visiting team
with their taunts. Sports crowds are partisan and almost always have been, which
is why they are frequently disorderly and sometimes violent. Ancient moralists
said that sports fans were intoxicated or insane; modern Italian slang calls them
tifosi, that is, those who are stricken with typhoid fever.
An exception to this dour generalization about partisanship comes immediately
to mind. Well-behaved Victorian and Edwardian sports spectators schooled them-
selves to express a nonpartisan admiration for athletic prowess. When Etons
cricketers took to the eld against a team from Harrow or Winchester, a good play
C H A P T E R 5
by ones opponents deserved as much hearty applause as a good play by ones
own team. Historically, however, this code of behavior was an anomaly. Sociologi-
cally, it was class-specic. The internalization of the ethos of nonpartisan good
sportsmanship was never as complete among working-class sports fans as among
spectators from the middle and upper classes. Gender also made a difference.
In Victorian and Edwardian sports crowds, female spectatorswho have almost
always in every era been outnumbered by male spectatorswere usually less
partisan (and much less prone to verbal or physical violence). Many contemporary
observers who commented with disdain on the unruly behavior of working-class
fans noted with admiration the exemplary behavior of the ladies at Wimbledon or
at Lords. Some observers remarked on a less obvious phenomenon. Spectators
who play the game they watch behave differently from those who have never
tried their hand (or foot) at it. The niceties of strategy appeal to the acionado
while sensational action attracts those who dont know the difference between
the third-strike dropped-ball rule and the leg-before-wicket rule.
The nonpartisan Victorian code of good sportsmanship has more or less vanished
(along with the class-bound amateur ethos with which it was closely related) and
in situ spectators tend to behave today as they have through most of recorded
history. As the anthropologist Christian Bromberger noted in his exemplary study
of French and Italian soccer fans, A passion for football cannot be nourished by
the pleasure of pure contemplation.
Sports crowds identify emotionally with
athletes whom they feel to be their representatives. And they let the world know
it. There are many other things that now need to be said about sports crowds,
but this chordpartisanship and disorderwill be the loudest.
i Christian Bromberger, Le Match de Football (Paris: ditions de la Maison de lHomme, 1995), 110.
Although the word multitude has shifted
in its history to refer more frequently to
people (particularly in reference to the
body politic), its denition has nonetheless
remained fairly intact since its introduction
into Middle English from Old French, which
in turn derived from the Latin multitudo, a
derivation of the Latin root multus, meaning
much, or many. Since its early history, the
emphasis contained within the word refers
more to quantity than quality or character. It
therefore lacks some of the implied pejorative
meanings of similar words such as crowd,
masses, or mob. In Middle English,
multitude, generally followed by the
preposition of, meant: (a) a large number
of persons or things . . . (b) a large amount,
abundance, greatness; mass (c) a crowd,
host, army, mob, ock; a great progeny; (d)
a sum, size, total number (not necessarily
large); plurality, multiplicity (Middle English
The Oxford English Dictionary currently
denes the word as:
1. The character, quality, condition of being
many; numerousness; great number. Also,
number whether great or small. 2. A great
number, a host, a crowd (of persons or
things) . . . 3. A large gathering of people;
a mass of people collected in one place; a
throng. 4. With the: The many, the populace,
the common people.
The American Heritage Dictionary more
concisely denes the word as:
1. the condition of being numerous 2. a very
great number 3. The masses, the populace.
These three sources work more to quantify
multitude than characterize it.
In Middle and Renaissance English,
multitude was frequently used to refer
to abstract or uncountable objects or
feelings. Some attempts seem to have been
made to add a level of precision to the
term. John Lydgates Serpent of Division
(1422) somewhat confusingly measures the
multitude of a cohort: To declare e number
and e multitude of a Cohorte . . . er be
two maner Cohortes, e more and e lasse,
& e more . . . conteynyth fyve hunderid;
and judging by Lambardes note in Eiren
(1581) on Three or more in one companie
(which the law properly calleth a multitude),
the word may have played a part in legal
vocabulary. In general, however, multitude
seems most applicable to the abstract. The
phrase multitude of synnes originates in
the Bible and appears throughout (primarily
theological) writing of the Middle Ages. 1
Peter 4:8 of the Wyclifte Bible (Early version
c. 1384) reads Charite couerith the multitude
of synnes. This phrase is repeated in Book
to a Mother, (1400) In charite, at hele,
as Seynt Ieme sey, multitude of synnes,
and still enjoyed currency a century later,
as seen in this passage from Alain Chartiers
Le Quadrilogue Invectif (1500): But and
ther be enythinge at puttith you vndir them
it is nothinge ellis but the multude of your
synnys. Multitude also measured emotion
or abstract quality. The Bible acts as the
source for the employment of multitude
to refer to sorrow, a usage that repeats
throughout the Middle Ages. The Wyclifte
Bible reads, Of e multitude of sorewe &
of my moornynge, I hafe spokyn. (1 Kings
1:16). The Twelve Prots of Tribulation (1500)
echoes the Bible: After the multitude of the
sorrowes in myn herte, thi comfortis hane
gladdid my soule. In contrast to its use in
conjunction with sin and sorrow, multitude
is also used to measure positive abstract
nouns. The Wyclifte Bible refers to both e
multitude of i mercy (Psalms 5:8) and e
multitude of e gretnesse of hym. This type
of use is also found, amongst other writings
which discuss peace, in The Imitation of
Christs (1500) reference to multitude of pes.
Throughout its history, the term multitude
has referred to crowds of various characters.
Middle English Bibles uses the word to
describe heavenly or religious crowds (those
holding pees), as well as menacing crowds
(such as e multitude of oure enymes in
the Prose version of the New Testament, c.
1400, and the stone-wielding multitude of the
Wyclifte translation of Ezekial 16:40). Outside
early religious literature, the term retains this
semantic elasticity. The frequency with which
Rolling Stones Play Free Concert
at Altamont Speedway, 6 December 1969
Greil Marcus writer, Berkeley
I had seen the naked woman perhaps a dozen times during the day. Again and
again she would run toward a man and rub her body against his. The man would
offer some version of Lets fuck and the woman would begin to scream and run
blindly back into the crowd. After a few minutes she would start all over again.
But now, in the dark, behind the stage, with only a little yellow light ltering
through to where I was standing, waiting for the Rolling Stones to begin their
rst song, the woman looked different. As she passed by, her head on her chest,
I realized her body was covered with dried blood. Her face was almost black
with it. Someone had given her a blanket; she held it as if shed simply forgotten
to throw it away, and it dragged behind her as she walked.
Then I saw the fat man. Hours beforeit seemed like dayshe had leaped
to his feet to dance naked to Santana, the rst band of the day. Those sitting
near the stage, as I was, noticed that he used the excuse of the music to stomp
and trample the people around him. A squad of Hells Angels, whom the Rolling
Stones had hired for crowd control, came off the stage swinging weighted pool
cues and beat the fat man to the ground. People pushed back against each other
to get out of the way, then stopped and made peace signs. The fat man didnt
understand what was happening. Again and again he got up and was beaten
down. Finally the Angels dragged him behind the stage.
The fat man too was now dark with blood. His teeth had been knocked out, and
his mouth still bled. He wandered around the enclosure, waiting, like me, for
the music.
As the Rolling Stones began to play, the mood tensed and the half-light took on
a lurid cast. The stage was jammed with technicians, bikers, writers, hangers-
on. Teenagers began to climb the enormous sound trucks that ringed the back of
the stage, and men threw them off. Some fell fteen feet to the ground; others
landed on smaller trucks. I climbed to the top of a VW bus, where I had a slight
view of the band. Several other people clambered up with me, waving tape-re-
corder mikes. Every few minutes, it seemed, the music was broken up by waves
of terried screams: wild ululations that went on for thirty, forty seconds at a
the word was used in religious literature
lent it an appropriate ring of spirituality in
similar contexts. For example, Christopher
Wordsworths hymn Hark the sound of holy
voices (1862) includes the line, Multitude,
which none can number, Like the stars, in
glory stands. Negative meanings often
associated with crowds also proliferate
in the use of the word, as in Shaftesburys
command in Character (1708) To affect a
superiority over the Vulgar, and to despise
the Multitude, and Cowpers observation,
Books are . . . spells, By which the magic
art of shrewder wits Holds an unthinking
multitude enthralld. (1784) At other times,
the term remains strictly neutral; Oliver
Goldsmith writes in Natural History (1776),
Our horses would scarcely, in this manner
. . . continue their speed, without a rider,
through the midst of a multitude.
The most signicant change in the words
development is the usage of the multitude
to refer not to a specic crowd of people
located in a dened physical space, but
the crowd of people (a more dispersed or
gurative body) that compose the state.
The use of multitude in reference to the
physical body could help to explain the shift
in meaning rst, from the generic many to
many people and then more specically
to the body politic. In Guy de Chauliacs
Grand Chirurgie (~1425), multitude acquires
a technical sense (in direct opposition to
the use of the term to measure abstract
quanitities); Chauliac names in his surgery
manual multitude of veines, multitude
of teres, and multitude of spirites. The
employment of multitude as a technical
word to describe the innerworkings of the
body does not seem to be particular to
Chauliac; the Medical Works in Glasgow
(~1425) also cites a multitude of teres as a
medical symptom. Lanfrancs Complete Art
of Surgery (1396) as well as Chauliac refer to
multitude of blood, a term that is also found
in Henry Lovelichs The History of the Holy
Grail (1410).
From the 16th century onwards, multitude
or more specically the multitude appears
in the English language as a reference to the
body politic. In this usage, the connotations
of the word align with the speaker or authors
conception of the people. In Henry
VI (1593), Shakespeare includes the line,
Thou are not King: Not t to gouerne and
rule multitudes, an early example of the
use of the word to identify the people of a
state. Hobbes also refers to a multitude of
men in the Leviathan (1651). Elsewhere,
time. We couldnt see the people screaming, but with every outburst of sound
the packed mass on the stage would cringe backwards, shoving the last line of
people off the stage and into the dirt. As people climbed back up, others would
push them back down.
It was impossible to know what the screams meant. That a young black man
from Berkeley, Meredith Hunter, would be killed in front of the stage by the
Hells Angels as the Rolling Stones played Under My Thumbattacked, then
chased into the crowd, where he pulled a gun and was stabbed, then beaten
to deathwould be the fact; from the sound the crowd made such an incident
could have been happening every time the band began another song.
All day long people had speculated on who the Angels would kill. It was a gray
day, and the Northern California hills were bare, cold and dead. A sense of fatal-
ism had settled over the event. From the start the crowd had been inexplicably
hateful, blindly resentful, selsh, snarling. People held their space. Someone
had thrown a full beer bottle into the crowd, hitting a woman on the head, nearly
killing her, and even then people guarded the ground they sat on. As periodically
the Angels attacked people in the crowd or musicians who dared to challenge
them, and people tried to get away from the beatings, the rest of the crowd
made no room for them.
From behind the stage I could hear Keith Richard of the Rolling Stones cut off
the music and demand that the Angels stop attacking the crowd. I heard an An-
gel seize the mike from Richard. The screams were almost constant. Two more
people climbed onto the VW bus, and the roof caved in. Some of those who fell
off proceeded to punch in the windows with their bare hands.
With all this, the music picked up force. I turned my back to the stage and be-
gan to walk the half-mile or so to my car. Heading up the hill in the darkness, I
tripped and fell head-rst into the dirt. I lay there, listening to the sound of feet
passing me on either side and to the sound the band was making. The Rolling
Stones were playing Gimmie Shelter. I tried to remember when Id heard any-
thing so powerful.
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 5 5
Shakespeare uses the multitude as a
derogratory term, referring to the rude
multitude in Loves Labours Lost (1588).
Ben Jonson echoes this designation with
the beast, the multitude. (1640) Milton
further injects pejorative connotations into
the phrase the multitude in these lines
from Samson Agonistes (1671): The unjust
tribunals, under change of times,/ And
condemnation of the ingrateful Multitude.
This pejorative sense does not seem to be
present in this excerpt from the Junius
Letters (1769): The multitude, in all
countries, are patient to a certain point. As
perceptions of the people shift following
the revolutions of the late 18th and 19th
centuries, the term the multitude assumes,
at times, a more positive sense. For example,
Ruskin states in Question of Air (1869), The
strength of the nation is in its multitude, not in
its territory, and purports a more egalitarian
theory of art in Modern Painters, The
multitude is the only proper judge of those
arts whose end is to move the multitude. It
is perhaps the elasticity of this word which
has kept its meanings relatively stable, but
also which dictates its less frequent usage in
comparison to crowd, masses, or mob.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton
Mifin, 2000.
Middle English Dictionary, from Middle
English Compendium. http://ets.umdl.umich.
Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. NY: OUP, 1989.
Entry by Susan Schuyler
Pilgrims and Martyrs
Susanna Elm History/Religious Studies, UC Berkeley
Religions are by denition intricately interwoven with masses, crowds, occasion-
ally mobs or leveling crowds, by the simple fact that most of them perform, to a
greater or lesser degree, a continuing and delicate dance between individual and
community, visions of selfhood and collective that may or may not be at odds with
the secular world. That religion or religious motivation draws enormous crowds
is evidentaccording to CNN 8 million people participated in the Kumbh-Mela
ceremony in Allahabad in 2001, Saudi authorities restrict the number of annual
pilgrims to Mecca to 2 million, in 2001 over 6 million faithful traveled to Lourdes,
from August 11 to 15, 2000 an estimated 2.5 million youths gathered in Rome for
the World Youth Rally, and many more gures could be cited.
Yet such religiously
motivated crowds are only a part, though often a constitutive one, of religion and
even as temporarily gathered crowds they exhibit some distinct characteristics:
though conforming to most crowd criteria, by gathering for example temporar-
ily like-minded persons densely packed in delineated spaces, religious crowds
differ markedly already through their cachet, i.e. their very religiosity, which sits
uneasily with the frequently negative value judgment of crowds.
Most crowd
psychologists or scientists of mass behavior accord religiously motivated crowd
phenomena a position slightly apart, more often than not by proffering an uneasy
truce between their assessment of the mass and that of religion, which for many
of them is in essence synonymous with Catholicism. Thus, the religiously moti-
C H A P T E R 6
On narrive comprendre
un peu la philosophie de
lhistoire quaprs avoire bien
pntr ce point fundamental
de la psychologie des foules:
il faut tre dieu pour elles
ou ne rien tre.
Gustave Le Bon, Psychologie des foules

Ea natura multitudines est:
aut servit humiliter aut
superbe dominatur
Titus Livius. Ab urbe condita 24.25.8
vated crowd phenomenon of central interest for most crowd psychologists is,
not surprisingly, pilgrimage, sparked by the rst mass armed pilgrimage, the
Crusades. Pilgrimage stands paradigmatically for the relation between religion
and the masses, since it perfectly represents the tension between the crowds
ephemeral nature and the religions archaism and longue dure, between the mo-
dernity of mass mobilization and the ancient lure of the miraculous.
its relation to mass-mobilization, and its individual focal points or crystals,
to use Elias Canettis terminology, will thus form the back-bone of the following.
By tracing these phenomena back to their roots in Greco-Roman antiquityI will
concentrate my remarks on their Western, Christian formsit will become evi-
dent that pilgrimage en masse is in many ways an entirely modern phenomenon.
Indeed, it emerged precisely during the period that was so formative for the new
science of mass behavior as represented by Gustave Le Bon and others: late-
nineteenth-century France. Christian pilgrimage began as an individual pursuit,
and this remained the case even after the sole exception, the Crusades.
Conversely, the individual crystals or catalysts that attracted pilgrimage
throughout, especially the form of pilgrimage that was not focused on great ur-
ban centers like Rome or Jerusalem but on the individuals called saints and their
guardians and epigones, the ascetics and monastics, originated in the context
of the one religious mass phenomenon of the ancient world that we can grasp
historically: the religious games, which included gladiatorial games, and mar-
tyrdom. Interestingly, however, precisely the mass-mobilization of pilgrims to-
day attracting millions every year to Lourdes, Guadalupe in Mexico, Portuguese
Fatima, Aparecida in Brazil, or the tomb of Francis Xavier in Goa, represents
in one specic sense a return to the very origins. Whereas until very recently,
the hardship of the journey itself was a transformative moment of pilgrimage,
modern means of mass tourism, planes, buses, cars and their relative comforts,
nowand once againplace the crowd, the intense, dense community at
the destination, center-stage and thus grant it the transformative moment. What
unites, however, despite their manifold transformations, religious crowds, both
ancient and modern, are two things: the manner in which the individuals experi-
ence in and that of a religiously motivated crowd are represented, namely as
shaped by the most advanced media of the time; and each participants enduring
human need to communicate with the otherworldly in the hope to obtain, as
individual supported by a collective, healing, salvation and grace.
i Gustave Le Bon, Psychologie des foules (1895; Paris: Presses Universitaires de France / Quadrige, 1983), 41.; hereafter ab-
breviated as PF.
ii On average 20 million adherents of various religions annually participate in some form of pilgrimage, which may occasionally
also be tourism plain and simple. For difculties in estimating gures and the relationship between tourism and pilgrimage
more below, see also Luigi Tomasi, introduction to William H. Swatos, Jr., and Luigi Tomasi, eds., From Medieval Pilgrimage
to Religious Tourism. The Social and Cultural Economics of Piety. (London: Praeger, 2002), 1-24. The gures for the Kumbh-
In contemporary Hebrew, the word hamon
can be used as a noun and as a modier
meaning many or a lot; thus, hamon
tapuzim means a lot of oranges. The noun,
however, unambiguously refers to a large
group of people. An adjective, hamonithe
sufx -i is similar to the English sufx -some,
as in troublesome is derived from the noun,
meaning of the crowds or vulgar. Another
meaning of the word, namely noise, continues
to be cited in contemporary dictionaries, but it is
actually an archaism that contemporary users
of the language are barely aware of; (modern
Hebrew does retain words based upon the
same root, such as hemia [murmur or sound]
and hama, which is a verb that describes
the action of producing such a sound). At
the beginning of the 20th century, however,
revivers of the Hebrew language often used
hamoni in the archaic sense.
In discussing the history of Hebrew words,
one is dealing with roughly four major
periods: Biblical, Talmudic, Medieval and
Modern. The semantic range of the word
hamon mapped out above appears stable
from the Bible onwards. Perhaps this
consistency in the semantics of the word
is related to the fact that every subsequent
period was intensively engaged with earlier
texts, whether in the form of commentary
or in the pursuit of authoritative sources
for modern materials. One might, however,
speculate about changes in the semantics of
the word. I suggest that there may have been
two shifts in the emphasis in the preferred
use of the word. The rst coincides with the
transition to Talmudic and medieval Bible
commentary; the second with the transition
from this essentially religious tradition to the
building of a national movement.
Hamon appears 81 times in the Bible.
Interestingly, it was the author of Ezekiel who
employed it most frequently. Gods promise to
Abraham is: Thou shalt be a father of many
nations [hamon goyim] for a father of
many nations have I made thee (Genesis
17:4-5). There are several other cases in
which the word appears before a noun, such
as: And he desired many wives [hamon
nashim] of a Judean king in Chronicles II
11:23; or the multitude of their cattle [hamon
mikneihem] in Jeremiah 49:32.
In the cases in which hamon is used to
refer to sound, there are instances when
this is a sound made by people: And I
will cause the noise of thy songs [hamon
shiraich] to cease; and the sound of thy
harps shall be no more heard (Ezekiel 26:13)
or by their instruments: the rumbling of
his wheels [hamon galgilav] (Jeremiah
47:3). In other cases, hamon refers to natural
sounds: there is a sound of abundance of
rain [hamon geshema] (Kings I 18:41),
The sea has come up upon Babylon; she
is covered with the multitude of the waves
thereof [hamon galav] (Jeremiah 51:42).
The King James is a bit interpretive in the
translation of the last two cases (as are the
other English translations that I have had a
chance to consult). Both Even-Shoshan in his
concordance of the Bible and Ben-Yehuda
cite these as examples of the use of hamon
to describe a noise. But this interpretation
may not be unfounded, since the authors of
these passages may have been using the
double connotation of the word creatively
to describe a great sound or a lot of sound.
The sounds described by hamon are not
always very loud. An interesting case is Thy
zeal and Thy strength, the sounding of Thy
heart [hamon meecha] (Isaiah, 63:15). The
literal translation is the noise of thy bowels
which has traditionally been interpreted as a
reference to Gods mercy.
Finally, there are several interesting things
to note about the references to hamon
as a multitude of people. First, these often
appear in conjunction with a reference to a
city: He scorneth the multitude of the city
[hamon kirya] (Job 39:7), the multitude
of the city [hamon ir] shall be left (Isaiah
32:15). In Ezekiel the word appears repeatedly
in reference to Egypt and to Pharaoh:
speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his
multitude [el hamono] (Ezekiel 31:2). Many
of the references to a crowd of people seem
to be playing with the ambiguity of the word,
referring to the sound that the crowd makes
(with words other than hamon, such as
kol): a voice of a multitude [kol hamon]
Mela ceremony are from the Sddeutsche Zeitung, 15 January 2001, and CNN 25 January 2001; for Lourdes from Sanctuaires
Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Services Comunication (2001), 19. Irmengard Jehle, Der Mensch unterwegs zu Gott. Die Walfahrt als
religises Bedrfnis des Menschenaufgezeigt and der Marienwallfahrt nach Lourdes (Wrzburg, Echter, 2002), 178.
iii A modern handbook of psychology denes a crowd as a great number of persons who are mostly unknown to each other,
gather at the same place at the same time, crowded together in a limited space, without clear internal structure, but guided
towards a common goal, whereby they orient themselves at the same values, and hence can be empirically measured for a
specic time. A crowd is thus not a cross section of society. Gnter Laser, Populo et Scaenae Serviendum Est: Die Bedeutung
der stdtischen Masse in der spten rmischen Republik (Trier: Wiss. Verlag Trier, 1997), 17.
iv Kaspar Elm, Umbilicus Mundi. Beitrge zur Geschichte Jerusalems, der Kreuzzge, des Kapitels vom Hlg. Grab in Jerusalem
und der Ritterorden (Brugge: Sint-Trudo Abdij, 1998), 258; hereafter abbreviated as UM.
being at ease was with her (Ezekiel 23:42),
with the voice of joy and praise, with a
multitude that kept holiday (Psalm 42:5).
The association of crowds with sound seems
consistent with the Bibles preoccupation
with sound in descriptions of the deity,
often perceived as a voice, and with its
commandment not to create visual images
of God. Furthermore, biblical myth negotiates
the relation between nature and culture
through the word hamon. On the one hand,
it associates multitudes of people with the
sounds made by the sea and by rain, and, on
the other, multitudes in nature with human
If the above disregards the complex issue
of dating the cited scriptural passages, in
what follows I will be sketchier still, treating
texts that belong to great spans of time-from
late antiquity to the late Middle Ages-and
of space (from Babylonia and Palestine to
Spain and France) as a single literary corpus.
My hypothesis is that the tradition of Biblical
commentary after the advent of Diaspora
understood hamon as a sound. Even
when hamon is used to describe a crowd,
it is the sound of this crowd that plays the
predominant role. Thus, Jewish commentators
of the Bible follow the dictum to suppress
visual images by embodying the notion of a
Jewish nation or congregation exclusively by
means of sound.
A Talmudic source quoted by Ben-Yehuda
says: Three voices reach from the end of the
world to its end. And they are: the sound of the
wheel of the sun, and the sound of the noise of
the city [hamona shel hair], and the sound of
the soul as it leaves the body (my translation).
A commentary on the Book of Lamentation
composed in Palestine in Late Antiquity
explains: Oh the sound/multitude of many
peoples [hamon amim rabim] they sound
like the murmur of the seas [kehamot yamim
yehamiun] and the noise [shaon] of many
nations is like the noise of great waters (my
translation). Rashi (ca. 1040-1105) addresses
the word hamon in several linguistic
discussions. In all of these cases, either the
relation between the crowd and water or the
sound that the crowd makes is invoked to
explain the inection of the word. Radak (ca.
1160-1235) nds interest in the conjunction of
masses of a foreign nation with the sounds
that they make in a commentary on Isaiah 13:4.
The awakening of a Jewish national
movement in the 19th century brought
with it a project of revival of the Hebrew
language. This project had two prominent
features: the mining of earlier sources
Beyond the blindfold
Luiz Costa-Lima Social and Cultural History,
Pontifcia Universidade Catlica do Rio de Janeiro
My interest in politics developed late when, at age twenty-seven, having com-
pleted my undergraduate work, I went to study in Spain. Until then, my familys
social class and the fact of being a single child with a precocious commitment to
the life of the mind had led to mostly sporadic contacts with the multitudes. These
assumed the form of attending festivities such as soccer games and carnaval.
As an aspiring intellectual, my formative experiences were shaped by atomized
individuals and by books. It was Francos Spain that, in 1960 and 1961, taught
me to abhor right-wing regimes and to tilt towards a Left that sought to address
the needs of the masses. Admittedly, certain right-wing movements also claim to
represent the masses interests (Franquist fascism was well aware of this). But,
although I was still ignorant enough to be unaware of the difference between Le
Bons and Tardes concepts of the masses, I had already developed my own intuitive
understanding. Either the masses could be envisaged as a crowd, which is to say,
as an anonymous assemblage in which the feelings and ideas of every individual
are oriented towards a single end (Le Bon), arising thanks to contagion and to
the presence of a charismatic leader. Or the masses could be conceived of as a
public that arises thanks to suggestion, understood as the expression of certain
beliefs or desires (Tarde). A further insight, formulated by De Tocqueville, would
later impose itself: Equality gives rise to two tendencies: one spurs the individual
towards new thoughts; the other spurs him to abandon thought altogether. In the
end, Franquism led me to opt for Tardes equation of mass and public.
Though still ignorant in the domain of political theory, I returned to Brazil at the
start of 1962 and began a phase of involvement in leftist movements. My interac-
tions with the masses were either anonymous, the result of participation in politi-
cal rallies, or they were the result of my work in the literacy campaign imagined
and put into action by the educator Paolo Freire. From the latter I learned that
rhetoric, contrary to the negative valences the word has retained to this day, could
serve as an instrument in the service of the logic of desire (precisely as Tarde
would have it).
The experience didnt last long. In April 1964, a coup dtat took place and brought
about a dictatorship that, as would later be the case in Pinochets Chile, carried out
a modernization of traditional structures in the name of combating the Red Peril
and rming up Brazils ties to the West. I was arrested several months later, red
for vocabulary that could be used in a
modern language (accompanied by heated
discussions concerning the relative value
of different sources) and the production of
a great number of neologisms. Considering
the ideological context in which this
project unfolded, one might expect that the
masses would now become re-embodied
and understood through their corporeal
presence rather than through their sound.
In point of fact what occurs is an apparent
separation between the two meanings that
had become increasingly associated in the
commentaries on the Bible: namely, sound
and multitude. The use of hamon to refer
to sounds, based on biblical usage, continues
for some time. Accordingly, in Bialik (1874-
1934) the voices of nature as described as
the voice of the sound of the woods [kol
hamon hayaar] or in Uri Zvi Greenberg
(1894-1981) as the voice of the sound of
dark waters [kol hamon mayim afelim]. At
the same time, hamon begins to be used
to describe the crowd in the modern, urban
sense of the word. Interestingly, most of the
references from the early wave of hebraistic
literature are clearly derogatory: the grace
of the crowd [hamon] is a dead/dried up
spring (Haskala writer Y. L. Gordon). This
tendency was strengthened by the creation
of neologisms such as himun a verb
describing vulgarization (used by such
writers as Halkin and Shtaineman) and
hamonai-which used by Shlonsky (1900-
1973) both as a noun describing simple and
vulgar people and as an adjective describing
mass production (which he associates with
America). Neither of these neologisms was
incorporated into contemporary Hebrew
Bahat, Shoshana, and Mordechai Mishor,
Dictionary of Contemporary Hebrew, (Tel
Aviv: Maariv Book Guild, 1995)
Bar Ilan University, Responsa TIRS Project
[CDROM Database OF Biblical And Rabbinic
Ben-Yehuda, Eliezer, A Complete Dictionary
of Ancient and Modern Hebrew, (New York:
Thomas Yoseloff, 1960)
Even-Shoshan, Avraham, The New
Dictionary, (Jerusalem: Kiryat-Sefer, 1993)
Even-Shoshan, Avraham, A New
Concordance of the Bible, (Jerusalem:
Kiryat-Sefer, 1982)
Knaani, Yakov, A Treasury of the Hebrew
Language in its Different Periods, (Tel Aviv:
Masada, 1962)
Entry by Marisa Galvez
from a university position that I had barely begun to occupy, and forced to start
a new life in another state. Until that point I had resided in Recife, the capital of
Pernambuco; now I moved to Rio de Janeiro.
The mass = public equation became obligatory under the dictatorship, for ones
writings had to rely upon code words and secret small group assemblies were the
rule. My face-to-face contact with the multitudes was limited to street demonstra-
tions which ended in head-bashing on the part of the police and in clouds of tear
gas, though there was also the occasional public protest tolerated by the regime
because it was under international pressure. My passport had been revoked, so I
couldnt even dream of going abroad. And though my political activities had been
modest, I found myself arrested once again in 1972, only weeks before I was to
defend my doctoral thesis.
Progress had been made in the domain of repressive measures. In 1964, my tortur-
ers were mere hobbyists. In 1972, they were professionals. I was placed in a white
isolation chamber. The room was sound-proofed, though sometimes one could
hear the cries of torture victims, perhaps real, perhaps recorded. Temperature and
light varied continuously, to the point that I lost all track of day and night. To go
to the bathroom, I would have to pound on the door and be led out blindfolded.
There was also a large and empty interrogation room where, since I was always
blindfolded, my interrogators retained their anonymity. The only furniture was a
table, bathed in shade and therefore congenial to sleep. On one occasion, I dared
to try to read the inscriptions atop a series of wall sockets written in English. Some
were clear, such as the word shock. Others were either illegible or I no longer
remember them.
The day came when, blindfolded as always, I was thrust in a car by my captors,
who forced me to keep my head down. The vehicle advanced for several minutes,
after which the blindfold was ripped off and I found myself tossed out into the
street. Dressed in a t-shirt and underpants, I viewed the urban masses anew. And
what I saw was neither a public nor a crowd: just a busy agglomeration of
Translated from the Portuguese by Jeffrey T. Schnapp
Anton Kaes German, UC Berkeley
On 15 July 1927, an angry mob of workers stormed the Palace of Justice in Vienna
and set it on rean unprecedented event that sent shock waves through Europe
for years to come. It began as a spontaneous demonstration against an offensively
unjust acquittal of three members of a right-wing organization accused of mur-
dering a striking worker, but turned into a rapidly growing mass rally in front of
Austrias highest court. The Social Democratic leadership, completely unprepared,
feared unrest and decided against an organized protest march, trying instead to
calm the incensed masses with speeches. But it was too late. Elias Canetti, then
a student in Vienna, recalls:
From all districts of the city, the workers marched in tight formation to the
Palace of Justice, whose sheer name embodied the unjust verdict for them.
It was a totally spontaneous reaction: I could tell how spontaneous it was
just by my own conduct. I quickly biked into the center of town and joined
one of the processions.
The workers, usually well disciplined, trusting their Social Democratic lead-
ers, and satised that Vienna was administered by these leaders in an exem-
plary manner, were acting without their leaders on this day. When they set
re to the Palace of Justice, Mayor Seitz mounted a re engine and raised
his right hand high, trying to block their way. His gesture had no effect: the
Palace of Justice was burning.
C H A P T E R 7
Once the large and amorphous mass of demonstrators had become an uncontrollable
mob, Viennas police chief gave the order to shoot into the crowdan action that
brought a quick and bloody end to the protest. Eighty-nine people were killed and hun-
dreds critically injured. As Heimito von Doderer writes at the end of his novel The De-
mons, one could hear constant shooting coming closer from a nearby street, a volley
of shots actually. Moving in closed ranks, the police became armed troops, advanc-
ing in step, ring and driving everything before them.
The crowd quickly disbanded,
realizing that the battle against the heavily armed police was hopeless. The brutal
shooting brought back memories of the war, but now civilians were the enemies. It
was an unequal match; they had no chance against the polices heavy weaponry. The
uprising yielded little except the realization of the masses absolute powerlessness
when faced with armed opposition. The aftershocks of this event were momentous:
there were no more spontaneous rebellions by the urban masses against injustice and
misuse of power. Their fear and resignation beneted the subsequent fascist govern-
ments across Europe for the next two decades.
In 1932, ve years after this debacle, Ernst Jnger claimed in Der Arbeiter (The worker)
that the old massesthose storming the Bastille, those involved in street uprisings
and political gatherings, and those still cheering the outbreak of the war in August
1914were a thing of the past. The actions of the masses, he declared as if refer-
ring to the events in Vienna, have lost their magic wherever they meet resolute resis-
tance, just as two or three old warriors behind an intact machine gun have no reason
to be worried even when told that a whole battalion was approaching. Today, the
masses are no longer able to attack, they can no longer even defend themselves.
In Vienna it was, ironically, the leaders of the Social Democratic Workers Party who im-
mediately denounced the behavior of the revolutionary masses as reckless, imprudent,
and irrational, using a terminology that dates back to Gustave Le Bons well-known
treatise of 1895, Psychologie des foules.
When the Social Democrats convened for
a party congress in October 1927, three months after the event, they reiterated their
critique of the undisciplined and lawless masses and emphasized the importance of
transcending class differences for the sake of social harmony. Henry Ford, the car
manufacturer, had indeed replaced Karl Marx; consumer capitalism had superseded
communism; and practical solutions had triumphed over ideology.

i Elias Canetti, The Torch in My Ear, trans. Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1982), 245. The incident
triggered Canettis book-length meditation on the power of the masses. See Canetti, Crowds and Power, trans. Carol Stewart
(New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1984).
ii Heimito von Doderer, The Demons, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Knopf 1961), 1261.
iii Ernst Jnger, Der Arbeiter (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1932), 115. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine.
iv Le Bons book was translated into German as Psychologie der Massen (Leipzig:Krner) in 1919. The rst English translation,
The Psychology of Peoples (New York: The Macmillan Co.) appeared in 1898. On Le Bon and his context, see Susanna Barrows,
Distorting Mirrors: Visions of the Crowd in Late Nineteenth-Century France (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1981).
See also Serge Moscovici, The Age of the Crowd: A Historical Treatise on Mass Psychology (New York: Cambrige University
The word samuuha in Sanskrit signies a
crowd, multitude or assemblage. Crowds play
a signicant role in the moral and narrative
content of several of the spiritual and epic
writings of the Vedic and Classical periods
in South Asian history which are the main
repositories of the Sanskrit language. While
samuuha has survived into our own time
through prakrit (vernacular) languages
such as Hindi which grew out of Sanskrit, its
modern usage differs quite markedly to that
found in the ancient texts.
According to Vaman Aptes authoritative
dictionary, the immediate equivalent for
the English word crowd is the Sanskrit
samuuha. While Apte supplements this
explication with multitude, assemblage,
collectivity, aggregate, number, ock
and troop, other noted Sanskrit-English
dictionaries provide additional elaborations
which, when combined with Aptes, give us
a better idea of the broader semantic eld in
which samuuha exists. The dictionaries of
Theodor Benfey and Monier Monier-Williams,
both products of the orientalist philology of
the nineteenth century, also relate samuuha
directly to crowd but also to kinsmen
and heap, association, corporation,
community, sum, totality, essence and
sweeping together, respectively. It is useful
to draw on these specic and associative
meanings when considering the signicance
of samuuha in key Sanskrit writings and its
legacy in the modern world.
Many of the major sacred texts and epics
written in Sanskrit were composed during the
Vedic period, prior to the birth of Christ in the
Western calendar. As non-vernacular texts
written in the esteemed language of purity
and perfection that Sanskrit was regarded to
be, these texts either issue moral injunctions
or didactic messages through narratives
involving the interplay of relationships often
involving war and conquest between gods,
kings and mortal humans. It is within this
thematic structure that the gure of the crowd
or multitude is often invoked in order to reect
the singular might and greatness of the higher
being to which crowds are juxtaposed.
In the hymns of Rigveda, reputed as being
the earliest and most signicant of the
Vedas, and composed between 1500 and
1200 BC, the gure of the crowd plays just
such a role:
Agni, the God resplendent, giver of great joy,
has on his lovely vehicle encompassed the
lands with might./Let us with pure laudations
in his house approach the high laws of this
nourisher of multitudes. (3, Hymn 3, Ln. 9)
Indra has conquered the mighty in his wars./
Men strive in multitudes to win his friendship.
(10, Hymn 24, Ln. 8)
He who has a store of herbs at hand is like a
king amidst a crowd of men,/Physician is that
sages name, end-slayer, chaser of disease.
(10, Hymn 97, Ln. 9)
In the legendary historical-spiritual epic
Vyasas Mahabharath (circa 1400 BC)
a mythological tale of a feud between
two families in which thousands are killed
crowds feature even more signicantly
and are often spectators at battles and
competitions and bear public witness to
expressions of triumph and defeat:
The citizens consisting of thousands []
came out and gathered to behold the ght.
The crowd became so great that it was
one solid mass of humanity with no space
between body and body. (Bk. 23)
When the Parthas entered the city, thousands
upon thousands of the citizens came out to
behold the sight. The adorned squares and
streets, with the crowds swelling with each
moment, looked beautiful like the ocean
swelling at moonrise. (Bk. 34)
Elsewhere in the Mahabharath, crowds are
described as a pressure of bodies (Bk. 173),
a vast concourse and an agitated ocean
(BK. 236), and the epic quality of the events
it narrates is in no small way a result of the
vast numbers of people who gather to witness
Another key Vedic text, the Laws of Manu
(circa 1280 BC), contains spiritual injunctions
for the living of everyday life. Here crowds
Press, 1985); Helmut Knig, Zivilisation und Leidenschaften: Die Masse im brgerlichen Zeitalter (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1992). It
may not be a coincidence that in the same year, 1895, that Le Bon published his psychology of the masses, the rst lms were
shown in Paris and Berlin.
v See Jakob Walcher, Freud oder Marx? Die praktische Lsung der sozialen Lage. Berlin: Neuer deutscher Verlag, 1925.
are invoked as markers of the public domain
of social life and can be seen to represent
the divide between the public and the private,
the sacred and the profane. For example, the
Laws of Manu state that the Vedas must
not be recited under certain conditions, one of
which is a gathering of a crowd of men (Bk.
04, Ln. 108). In its legal prescriptions, the Laws
of Manu declare that a crowd [of villagers]
must be present during trials in addition to
litigants and witnesses (Bk. 8, Ln. 254).
The couplets of Valmikis Ramayan (circa
250 BC) also feature crowds in much the
same way as other Sanskrit spiritual texts, as
undifferentiated masses marked in contrast
to the character(s) at the center of attention.
As an example, Rams victorious entry into
Ayodhya is worth citing at some length:
Such were the townsmens words/Heard
by the gathering countryfolk,/Who from the
south, north, east, and west,/Stirred by the
joyful tidings gathered./And led by their eager
longing/To Rams consecration sped./Villagers
from every side/Filled the city of Ayodhya./This
way and that way the crowd strayed,/And
made a murmur long and loud./Like when the
full moon oods the skies,/And the oceans
waves rise with thunder. (Bk2., Canto 2)
Although Vedic Sanskrit had ceded
considerable ground to its Classical form by
the time Valmiki composed the Ramayan
indeed, as early as the grammarian Paninis
Ashtahayai about 500 BC, Vedic Sanskrit
had become somewhat anachronistic
samuuha continued to be used in
reference to crowds and can be found in
some of the later writings of the Classical
period. For example, it features in Kalidasas
plays and poems as well as in the writings
of the poets Somadeva and Jayadeva in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after which
Sanskrit had been largely supplanted by a
number of prakrit languages such as Hindi
and Pali, the spiritual language of Buddhism.
Nevertheless, Sanskrit continues to be
extremely highly regarded as a spiritual and
scholarly language and many attempts have
been made to sanskritize certain prakrits in
order to rene them.
The word samuuha, however, remains in
use today, albeit in a slightly different way
to its deployment in the Sanskrit texts cited
above. In modern Hindi and Nepali, among
the closest prakrits to Sanskrit, samuuha
refers to a collectivity or organization
produced in the spirit of community and
service, banded together, for example, by a
common humanitarian goal and often with a
Dolores Park, Dyke March, June, 2
Tirza True Latimer writer, San Francisco
Dolores. Imagine naming a baby for pain. Imagine spending your life responding
to that name. A womans name. Dolores Park. Today, there are only women here.
Or, if you think that the word women only makes sense within a patriarchal,
heterosexual syntax, there are no women here.
Dolores Park is the staging ground for San Franciscos annual Dyke March. Speak-
ers and performers, vying for the attention of those assembled, tax an over-amped
sound system to its limits from a black stage erected where the grass ends and
the concrete begins. But the dykes, sitting on the lawn in clusters, dressed to the
nines, undressed, underdressed, standing with their arms around each other in the
thick of the action, standing with their hands in their pockets at the margins of
the gathering, shifting from foot to foot, are not easily distracted from their own
pursuits; they scope out the comings and goings, the rows of kick-standed motor-
cycles framing the green; they converse, they embrace, they comb the steadily
growing crowd of lesbians, greeting passers-by, known and unknown, avoiding
or soliciting the gaze of ex-lovers, future lovers. We are all lovers today or we
wouldnt be here.
By the time the gathering swells into a crowd and takes to its feet to become a
demonstration, a march, the park can no longer contain its dyke population. Ten
thousand? Fifteen thousand? Twenty? Whos counting?
Standing on the steps of the Mission Dolores Basilica, my lover and I watch the
marchers go byten or twenty abreastfor an hour. We are struck, uplifted, by
the variety of marchers reclaiming these streets with their bodies in the name of
dykesall colors, sizes, shapes, ages, and styles jostling each other, cuddling,
sparring, signaling in a range of languages and body languages that frustrate any
impulse to generalize.
How long have I been grinning? The muscles around my mouth ache. I am sur-
rounded by people whom I do not know but whom I do not perceive as potentially
hostile. A novel experience. Thrilling.
My lover and I join in at the tail end of the parade. Leaning out the windows of the
Victorian houses that line the parade route, Castro-dwellers whistle and cheer. Our
brothers. They give their streets over to us gladly. In a few hours, this ad hoc legion
basis in shared experiences. Thus, samuuha
in modern India and Nepal can be found in
the titles of various community organizations
and social movements and, in this sense,
corresponds more closely with some of the
renderings in Monier-Williams dictionary.
Conversely, quite another word for crowd
exists in modern Hindi: bheedh. Rather
than invoking an image of throngs gathering
to bear witness to the epic feats of gods
and kings, this word refers more accurately
to a crowded market or bus-stop; in short,
to congestion more than a gathering of
spectators or a reverent mass. This ostensible
splitting of samuuha and the crowd from
Sanskrit to the present time is, perhaps, a
product of the phenomenon of the modern
crowd itself, an example of the ways in which
language changes to express new social and
cultural realities in new contexts.
The word samudra, meaning the ocean in
Sanskrit and Hindi, and remarkably close in its
phonemic structure and associative meaning
to samuuha, is still used to refer to the
Apte, Vidyadhar Vaman, The Students
Sanskrit-English Dictionary, (Delhi : Motilal
Banarsidass, 1970)
Apte, Vidyadhar Vaman, A Concise Sanskrit-
English Dictionary : Containing an Appendix
on Sanskrit Prosody and Another on the
Names of Noted Mythological Persons
and a Map of Ancient India, (Delhi : Gian
Publishing House, 1986)
Pradhan, Babulall, English-Nepali
Dictionary, (Varanasi : Trimurti Prakashan,
Benfey, Theodore, A Sanskrit-English
dictionary, with References to the Best
Editions of Sanskrit Authors and Etymologies
and Comparisons of Cognate Words Chiey
in Greek, Latin, Gothic, and Anglo-Saxon,
(London : Longmans, Green, and Co., 1866)
Bimali, O.N. and Chandra, Ishvar (Eds.),
Mahabharata : Translated into English
with Original Sanskrit Text, (Delhi : Parimal
Publications, 2000)
Joshi, S.D. and Roodbergen, J. (Eds.),
Ashtadhyayi of Panini, (New Delhi : Sahitya
Akademi, 2003)
Monier-Williams, Monier, A Sanskrit-English
Dictionary : Etymologically and Philologically
Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate
Indo-European Languages, (Oxford :
Clarendon Press, 1899)
Monier Williams, Monier, A Dictionary
of English and Sanskrit, (Delhi, Motilal
Banarsidass, 1964)
of dykes will disperse, melting into the population at large. Tomorrow the world,
these streets, will bear little trace of this moment.
What will these few hours of taking to (and taking over) the streetsof loving
each other in publicmean to us in a week? A month? How long will the power
of these sympathetic bodies bolster us?
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 7 6
Jayadeva, Gitagovinda, Trans. Barbara
Stoler Miller, (New York : Columbia University
Press, 1997)
Kashyap, R.L. and Sadagopan, S., (Eds.),
Rigveda, (Bangalore : Sri Aurobindo Kapali
Shastry Institute of Vedic Culture, 1998)
Kalidasa, Complete works of Kalidasa,
Trans. Sudhanshu Chaturvedi, (Thrissur :
Geetha Pvt. Ltd., 2000)
Manu, The laws of Manu, (Oxford :
Clarendon Press, 1886)
McGregor, R.S. (Ed.), The Oxford Hindi-
English Dictionary, (Oxford : Oxford
University Press, 1993)
Prakash Arya, Ravi (Ed.), Ramayana of
Valmiki : Sanskrit Text and English Translation
According to M.N. Dutt, (Delhi : Parimal
Publications, 1998)
Rhys Davids, T. and Stede, William (Eds.),
Pali-English Dictionary, (New Delhi :
Munshiram Manoharlal Pub., 2001)
Somadeva, Kathasaritsagara, Trans. C. H.
Tawney, (Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal, 1968)
Entry by Peter Samuels
Art in the Age of the Crowd
Christine Poggi Art History, University of Pennsylvania
Among those who took notice of the powerful presence of the masses on the
political and cultural stage of his time, Charles Baudelaire was nearly alone in
extolling the experience of the urban crowd. His prose poem Crowds describes
the phenomenon as a dialectic of multitude, solitude, in which these terms prove
to be interchangeable, even identical. For Baudelaire, enjoying the crowd is an art
that depends upon the love of masks and masquerading, the hate of home, and
the passion for roaming. Like the fully self-possessed dandy, who spends his days
strolling the urban street and attending to its spectacular effects and chance en-
counters, the poet can easily abandon his identity to assume another. Such a man
does not automatically surrender his reason and conscious will upon immersion
in the crowd, as most crowd theorists assumed, but intentionally selects whose
personality to inhabit: The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able
to be himself or some one else, as he chooses. Like those wandering souls who
go looking for a body, he enters as he likes into each mans personality. For him
alone everything is vacant; and if certain places seem closed to him, it is only be-
cause in his eyes they are not worth visiting. Baudelaire describes the rare ability
to transcend the connes of the ego as the precondition for experiencing fever-
ish delights, moments of a singular intoxication in this universal communion.
Paradoxically, however, such communion is given only to the few, for whom the
multitude presents an open site for colonization. Indeed Baudelaire imagines that
C H A P T E R 8
the founders of colonies, shepherds of peoples, missionary priests exiled to the
ends of the earth, doubtlessly know something of this mysterious drunkenness.
The Parisian crowd, newly on display in the era of Haussmannization, provides
Baudelaire with an opportunity for an exhilarating encounter with an unknown, but
still particularized other. The thrill of imaginatively entering the stranger as he
passes recalls Baudelaires peculiarly modern denition of beauty (exemplied by
the dandy), which must offer the frisson of the unexpected and strange, the eeting
and the eternal.
The threatening homogenization that characterized crowds was
palliated in part through a pose of aristocratic distinction, which allowed the dandy
to remain master of the gaze, while remaining unseen.
Yet elsewhere in the prose
poem Baudelaire writes of being submerged in the multitude, of relish[ing] a de-
bauch of vitality at the expense of the human species.
If the poet/dandy is only
at home on the boulevards of the modern city, it is because he is also its quintes-
sential product, the counterimage of the bustling crowd. His exaggerated individu-
ality, elegant fashions and cool demeanor constitute a protective mask, a defense
against urban shocks and the threat of a leveling anonymity so acutely analyzed by
Georg Simmel.
As Baudelaire put it in his essay The Painter of Modern Life, the
artist/dandy is like a self-conscious mirror reecting the kaleidoscopic patterns of
life, an ego athirst for the non-ego, and reecting it at every moment in energies
more vivid than life itself, always inconstant and eeting.
Cosmopolitan in his
tastes, rootless but at home in a world of electrifying spectacles, the artist/dandy
seeks to amplify his identity by becoming a reective surface shimmering with the
transient and alluring effects of modern, commodity culture.
i Charles Baudelaire, Crowds, in Paris Spleen (1869), trans. Louise Varse (New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation,
1970), 201. My reading of this poem is indebted to that of Jeffrey T. Schnapp, in Staging Fascism: 18 BL and the Theater of
Masses for Masses (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996), 1003.
ii In The Universal Exhibition of 1855, Baudelaire offers this denition: Beauty always has an element of strangeness. In
Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Artists trans. P. E. Charvet (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1972), 119. In The Salon of
1846, Baudelaire wrote: All forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, have within them something eternal and some-
thing transitory--an absolute and a particular element. In Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Artists, 104; hereafter
abbreviated as 1846.
iii For Baudelaire, the artist/dandy nds his natural habitat in the crowd where he can be at once at its center, and yet invisible:
The crowd is his domain, just as the air is the birds, and water that of the sh. His passion and his profession is to merge
with the crowd. . . . To be away from home and yet to feel at home anywhere; to see the world, to be at the very centre of the
world, and yet to be unseen of the world, such are some of the minor pleasures of those independent, intense and impartial
spirits . . . The observer is a prince enjoying his incognito wherever he goes. Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life, in
Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Artists, 399400.
iv Baudelaire, Crowds, 70.
v For a discussion of the dandy as a creature who is all masks and impenetrable surfaces because he needs to shock in order
to shield himself from the shocks administered by the modern metropolis, see Schnapp, Staging Fascism, 103. For Simmels
analysis of the effects of urban shock, and of the leveling of difference due to the money economy, see: The Metropolis
and Mental Life, in On Individuality and Social Forms (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1971), 330; this passage is also
discussed in Schnapp, Staging Fascism, 101.
vi The Painter of Modern Life, in Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Artists, 400.
Tracing the semantic history of a word as rich
and varied in its linguistic genealogy as the
term mob obliges one to start somewhat
in the middle, go backwards, and then again
go forward in time. Mob is a shortened
version of mobile, belonging to the epithet,
mobile vulgus, which literally translates
as excitable, ckle crowd. Using mobile
vulgus as a starting point to uncover mobs
Latin roots, we will chart its ensuing evolution
into the modern form of mob.
Mobile vulgus derives from Latin
philological ancestors such as moveo,
mobilis, and vulgo. Moveo contains a
plethora of meanings, including: 1) To impart
motion (a cause), to enter into or be in motion
(a person or object), to be liable or move or
be loose; 2) To shake, agitate, or disturb; 3)
To move purposefully, to exercise (the voice,
tongue), to control; 4) To shift or change the
location of; 5) To disturb or interfere with the
functioning of; 6) To stir or rouse someone
from rest or inactivity; 7) To cause a change of
attitude, opinion; to move to tender feelings,
soften, touch; to occasion, excite, provoke.
Mobilis, an adjective resulting from the
combination of moveo and the sufx -bilis,
shares many of the same connotations: 1)
Quick in movement, nimble, active; 2) Capable
of being moved; 3) Varying, changeable,
shifting; capable of being modied, mutable; 4)
Inconstant, ckle, easily swayed.
Vulgo, the main root of vulgus, means:
1) To make available to the mass of the
population, to make common to all; to make
of general application; to prostitute ones
body; 2) To scatter abroad, to spread out; 3)
To make widely known, to spread a report, to
make public, to expose. Vulgus, drawing on
the ideas of mass dissemination and general
application, comes to signify the common
people or the general public, the multitude of
undifferentiated or ordinary people, a ock
(of animals) and the members as a whole of a
particular class or category.
In English, vulgus rst assumes the
form of vulgar, which in the 15th century
was employed as a noun and adjective
characterizing the common or ordinary
class in society, especially the ignorant and
uneducated. In naming the Latin version of the
Bible the Vulgate, scholars distinguished St.
Jeromes translation as the one supposedly
in common use in 16th century England.
By the 16th century, vulgar also signied
vernacular or common speech. It is only in
1687 that the Latin form vulgus replaces
vulgar to refer to the common people.
Moveo and mobilis both nd their trace
in the English word move, used in the 14th
and 15th century as meaning to change
or shift position, to lodge and displace
someone or something. In the 16th century,
move could also signify the application or
administration of a remedy and the promotion
or advancement for an ofce. All of these
signications contain the same thread of
movement and motion. Movable, the
adjectival form of move, is the primary
predecessor of mobile. Movable signies
a readiness or aptitude for motion but also
comes to mean ckle, inconstant, and
changeable, recalling the connotations of
With the appearance of mobile as an
English word, we rst approach the modern
sense of mob. Mobile originally derives
its sense from phrases like Primum Mobile,
or the First Moving Thing, in the 16th and
17th century. Primum Mobile refers to the
outermost sphere added in the Middle Ages
to the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, and
was supposed to revolve round the earth from
east to west in twenty-four hours, carrying
with it the (eight or nine) contained spheres.
Mobile grows to signify the capacity for
movement or for being free and unattached.
Christopher Marlowe, in his play Doctor
Faustus (1604), deploys mobile and
Primum Mobile with reference to the nature
of Faustus after he makes a pact with Lucifer.
Faustuss servant, in describing his master,
says, For is he not Corpus naturale, and is not
that mobile? (I.ii), implying that Fausts ability
to move around freely is an attribute of the
human condition. Faustus becomes so mobile
that he can even reach the Primum Mobile,
which the second Chorus testies to:
Crowd Writings
Armando Petrucci Paleography, Scuola Normale di Pisa
In September of 1966, the Italian historian Delio Cantimori pointed out a particular
task of historical research, that of investigating sets of deeds and of conscious
and unusual actions or phenomena of long duration that were nonetheless con-
crete and possible to document.
The phenomenon that I intend to study here, evoking a series of diverse situations
in which it has manifested itself in the past and continues to manifest itself today,
is the use of written texts that are publicly exhibited by human masses, or crowds,
present and active within urban realities.
In societies that are more or less partially literate, there exist, and have always
existed, situations in which organized masses, more or less numerous, of men and
women, participate in or attend a public event, bringing with them, individually or
in groups, objects (panels, signs, pieces of fabric, banners and so forth) covered with
written texts that are legible from a distance and that are used in various ways.
Thus far, scholars attention has been concentrated on the immobile, so-called
exhibited writings, afxed or inscribed in a stable way in some public place,
on walls or monuments; thus it has been until now and thus it will continue to
be for all those writings of a communicative, political or advertising nature that
have populated and populate the spaces of cities, from Pompei to New York. But it
seems to me that, so far, a completely different phenomenon has not been exam-
ined: the phenomenon of autonomous displayed writings, produced spontaneously
and exhibited ostentatiously by human masses in movement, crossing an inhab-
ited place or standing in an open place like a square or a stadium, or even in closed
places, such as sufciently large rooms.
I will state, right away, in order to clarify for my readers the scenarios that I intend
to dwell upon, that I am thinking about public events such as processions, parades
and demonstrations on the one hand and sports events or ceremonial and political
meetings on the other. The protagonists of these events are, to turn to the inter-
pretative categories delineated in his time by Elias Canetti, still masses, such
as those concentrated in closed squares, in stadiums, in rooms and so forth, and
masses in motion, slow or rapid. In the rst case, the still masses, though re-
maining such, can move the exhibited writings more or less rhythmically, and in the
second case, the mobile masses can transform their motion, their march charged
Learned Faustus, to nd the secrets of
Astronomy,/Graven in the book of Joves
high rmament,/Did mount him up to scale
Olympus top./Where, sitting in a Chariot
burning bright/Drawn by the strength of yoked
Dragons necks,/He views the clouds, the
Planets, and the Stars,/The Tropics, Zones
and quarters of the sky,/From the bright circle
of the horned Moon/Even to the height of
Primum Mobile. (IV.i)
In the 17th century, Primum Mobile was also
a gurative term for the source or mainspring
of an activity or motion, an erudite synonym
of cause. Early in the 17th century, mobile
is rst used as a term denoting the common
people or populace.
Alongside the development of mobile in the
17th century, mob, stemming from mab
(meaning a woman of loose character in the
16th century), begins to signify a promiscuous
woman or a piece of neglige attire. In
Jane Austens Manseld Park (1814), Tom
Bertram urges Fanny Price to play the role
of the Cottagers Wife in their play by saying,
You must get a brown gown, and a white
apron, and a mob cap, and we must make you
a few wrinkles, and a little of the crowsfoot
at the corner of your eyes, and you will be a
very proper, little old woman. A mob-cap is
an indoor cap that a woman wears in the 18th
and 19th centuries, preserving the connotation
that it is an article of clothing worn in private.
These senses of mob are demonstrated
in its subsequent usage as a verb, meaning
to dress untidily, to go in disguise so as
to escape recognition or to frequent low
company. This connotation of mob, the
association with loose or disorderly character
and conduct, combines with vulgus in the
late 17th century to forge the meaning of an
excitable common people. In On Liberty
(1859), John Stuart Mill refers to an excited
mob assembled before the house of a corn-
dealer, utilizing the term in its Latin origins.
Mobile vulgus is rst shortened to mob in
Burnets History in the early 18th century,
leading to censure and reproach from Swift in
Addisons Spectator No. 135 in 1711. Mob
now signies the common mass of people,
particularly the uncultured or illiterate class.
Thomas Paine uses mob in this context in
The Rights of Man (1791), writing, How
then is it that such vast classes of mankind
as are distinguished by the appellation of
the vulgar, or the ignorant, mob, are so
numerous in all old countries? As the 18th
century progresses, mob acquires a variety
of meanings, including an assemblage of the
with aggression, actually using the supports for the exhibited writings themselves
(sticks, poles, bars, clubs) as blunt arms against opposing formations (political or
sporting opposition, the police) that seek to impede them or to stop them.
If we primarily consider the contemporary period, from the nineteenth century to
today, it seems to me that we can proceed to another distinction, and that is to
a distinction between celebrating crowds and demonstrating crowds, in that
the attitude of the protagonists, very different in the two cases, radically modies
the use and the nature of the writings exhibited. A celebrating crowd, present at a
religious procession or at an ofcial procession (for example, in the past, the en-
trance of a king, a pope, an ambassador and so forth, into a city), displays
writings, composed and prepared, even materially, by others. These writings are
provided to them or imposed upon them by the true rulers of the ritual situation:
imagine, for instance, public processions under dictatorial regimes, entirely ritual-
ized and militarized, in which not only the development of the action is organized
and controlled from the beginning to the end with a precise choreography, but
also, or perhaps above all, the symbols that are exhibited, gural or written, are
rigidly designed according to an unchangeable plan.
It seems to me that, from this point of view, the nature of writings exhibited by
demonstrating crowds is completely different, if not entirely opposite, to that of
the writings exhibited by a celebrating crowd. The demonstrating crowd displays
its own written products, usually put together by the participants themselves for
the occasion, in an explicitly aggressive and strongly individualized fashion, cor-
responding to the participating groups as distinct from each other in different seg-
ments of the procession. In the rst case, therefore, we can say that we encounter
the exhibition of writings put together for the crowd; in the second, quite the op-
posite, writings put together by the crowd.
One nal aspect that I would like to examine is that of the impact of these writings,
the texts of which are usually obsessively repeated out loud by the participants,
on the public space (streets or squares of a city) that they cross. In general, these
are the most aristocratic, important and ancient areas of a single inhabited center,
those in which one nds the buildings of power, the most important historical
and religious monuments, traditionally reserved for the public rites of institutions
and the dominating class, from afternoon strolls to attendance at shows to shop-
ping. Doubtless, the impact is of a hostile nature, psychologically intent on fright-
ening the hypothetical adversary and on communicating a terrorizing impression
of overwhelming force by means of a physical action of armed crossing, that
symbolically congures itself like an act of explicit violence: not so much, thus,
a crossing as much as a penetration, in which the exhibited, brandished writings
constitute the symbolic and declarative meaning.
rabble or a tumultuous crowd, an aggregation
of persons regarded as not individually
important, or a heterogeneous collection.
Austen probably has the latter connotation
in mind in Manseld Park, where Edmund
Bertram declares, A clergyman cannot be
high in state or fashion. He must not head
mobs, or set the ton in dress.
Since Swifts criticism, Samuel Johnson
sealed the modern meaning of mob in his A
Dictionary of the English Language (1755),
dening it as, The crowd; a tumultuous rout.
Concurrent with Johnsons denition, mob
circulates as a verb in 18th century English.
It now comes to denote attacks carried out
by disorderly crowds; crowding around and
molesting or annoying; pressing unduly upon;
thronging; and congregating in a mob or
disorderly crowd. Edmund Burke employs
mob in this sense in his Reections on the
Revolution in France (1790), writing, The
Assembly, their organ, acts before them the
farce of deliberation with as little decency as
liberty. They act like the comedians of a fair
before a riotous audience; they act amidst the
tumultuous cries of a mixed mob of ferocious
men . . . Paine, in another portion of The
Rights of Man deploys mob with the
same connotation: There is in all European
countries, a large class of people of that
description which in England is called the
mob. Of this class were those who committed
the burnings and devastations in London in
1780, and of this class were those who carried
the heads upon spikes in Paris.
In the 19th century, mob becomes slang for
a company or gang of thieves or pickpockets
working in collusion. This connotation
eventually nds its way to the 20th century
meaning of mob, signifying a more of less
permanent association of violent criminals,
also known as the maa.
All Latin denitions are taken from The
Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P.G.W. Glare,
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997
All English denitions taken from Oxford
English Dictionary. Ed. J. A.Simpson and E.
S. C. Weiner. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press.
Entry by Maria Su
Another, very contemporary phenomenon must, from this point of view, be considered
apart from the previous discussion: that is the writings exhibited by crowds made up
of organized sports fans, generally located within places designated for such events
(stadiums, gyms, elds). This phenomenon must be considered separately because of
the formal contiguity of these writings with the spontaneous written productions of a
political nature and because the protagonists are almost all young.
In these highly ritualized situations, the writings, exhibited on rigid cards or on large or
even enormous banners of cloth, constitute real and authentic works of art by anony-
mous artists, or, better, by groups, the language of which is strongly expressive and
aggressive, tinged with jargony self-representation, sex and violence. Since the pro-
tagonist public is constrained in the place where the sports event takes place, that
event at which the public is spectator and participant, the writings are the entities
that move, that, accompanied by slogans, sung or screamed in chorus, are lifted up,
are lowered, are rolled up and unrolled, conguring a show within the show in the
form of a actual warrior dance which is often followed by, in the moment of the nal
paroxysm, a serious physical clash that concludes the presentation.
In conclusion, I would like to afrm that it is exactly this most recent kind of situation,
in its explicit mixture of sport and of violence, through the rhythmic movement of mil-
lions of bodies and hundreds of writings, that constitutes a new and original use of the
exhibition of the writings of urban crowds.

Translated from the Italian by Heather Webb
i The rst citation is from D. Cantimori, Galileo e la crisi della Controriforma, in Id., Storici e storia, Turin, Einaudi, 1971,
pp. 637 ss.; those from E. Canetti from Id., Masse e potere, Milan, Rizzoli, 1972, pp. 27-41. In general cf. A. Petrucci, La
scrittura. Ideologia e rappresentazione, Turin, Einaudi, 1986.; A. Pinelli, Feste e trion: continuit e metamorfosi di un tema,
in S. Settis (ed.), Memoria dellantico nellarte italiana. II. I generi e i temi ritrovati (with further bibl.). For Italian sports
writings cf. A. Ricci, Grafti. Scritte di scritti. Dalle epigra fasciste alla bomboletta spray, Manziana, Vecchiarelli, 1003.
or How Sociology Decided to Stop
Worrying and Love the Crowd
John Plotz English, Brandeis
On the lookout for melodrama in the most arid reaches of social science? You
couldnt do better than peruse sociological writing about crowds.
The pathos of
large numbers is already there in Gustave LeBons dire warning that the crowd is
the sphinx of our century, dying to consume us; it waxes in Sigmund Freuds worry
that groups exist in no other form than ego-abating worship of their ego-ideal
leader; and it still burns strong in Serge Moscovicis pseudo-scientic pronounce-
ment that political riots only prove the veneer of civilization is very thin. Even in
the twenty-rst century, you can still hear echoes of the oracular tone of Thomas
Carlyle or Joseph de Maistre, postFrench Revolution reactionaries who feared
that any mass action from below would set the social order ablaze.
In the United States, a country that was arguably born out of crowd-fueled, demo-
cratically arrayed civil unrest, the fear of crowds was a lot quieter in the nineteenth
century. It did however still reach a predictable apex in the McCarthy era. This gen-
eration can be rescued from crowd thinking, writes one 1950s hyperbolizer, only
when citizens discover that their own thoughts and their own lives are quite as
interesting as other peoples, that, indeed, they no more assuage their loneliness
in a crowd of peers than one can assuage ones thirst by drinking sea water.
C H A P T E R 9
Perhaps largely derived from a distrust of totalitarianism most ably articulated in
Hannah Arendts The Origins of Totalitarianism, the mass critique of the social
scientists of the mid-century extrapolated from the worst of Nazism and Stalinist
Communism a generally coercive force called the social, which seemed now
to be terrorizing not Germany and Russia but, in a different guise, America itself.
Small wonder that Hannah Pitkin called her account of Hannah Arendt, preemi-
nent theorist of the threat that society poses to an orderly political realm, The
Attack of the Blob. For Arendt, social lifewith its tendency to annihilate privacy
and collapse public arenas into overseen and government-managed cageshad
stopped being one aspect of human culture and become a dangerous underlying
assault upon human freedom.
To writers like Arendtthose in her train included
C. Wright Mills, Theodor Adorno, Elias Canetti, Richard Hofstadter, and arguably
even the young Jrgen Habermas
the enemy was all the more terrifying for be-
ing uncannyan aspect of our own familiar selves suddenly recognized as part of
an external assailant.
We may not be quick to recognize the central worry of such mass-critique writers
as panic about what crowds can do, because what they mostly described them-
selves as denouncing was instead society or the social. The legacy of Mill trains
us to see in their words mostly introspective unease about ones lack of control
over ones own actions, rather than crowd-control protocols. But to these writers,
worry about the unrestrained, licentious and determinedly egalitarian danger of
crowds was, in the nal analysis, the way that the social became visible (and
hence vulnerable).
Richard Pells describes what made the dominant intellectual liberalism of the
1950s distinct from preceding decades:
What the writers of 1930s called community the postwar intelligentsia
labeled conformity. Cooperation now became other-direction; social con-
sciousness had turned into groupism; solidarity with others implied an
invasion of privacy; collectivism ushered in a mass society; ideology trans-
lated into imagery; economic exploitation yielded to bureaucratic manipula-
tion; the radical activist was just another organization man.
In William H. Whytes 1956 The Organization Man, aggregation itself gets hy-
postatized into a collective noun with its own ideational motivations (Is the Or-
ganization to be the arbiter? The Organization will look to its own interests, but
it will look to the individuals only as The Organization interprets them).
And in
Riesman et. als 1950 The Lonely Crowd the underlying emphasis is on rescuing
democracy by protecting individual difference from the homogenizing barbarism of
the crowd: the idea that men are created free and equal is both true and mislead-
At the heart of this family of words is the idea
of pressure. Their parent, the Latin fullo,
fullonis, was a person who tread upon or
beat cloth in order to clean or thicken it. In
medieval England he was called a fuller and
worked in a fullery or fulling-mill. The
adjective and verb forms of this root outlived
their association with the industry of textiles,
and developed a range of other senses.
Full, the adjective, has a great many uses
(too many to describe here) but maintains
its original sense of pressure or packing, as
for instance, in the expressions to be full
after eating and drinking or a house full of
people. [1] In the late Middle Ages the verb
full seems to have been reinvigorated but
also darkened by association with its French
cognate fouler, and came to signify more
generally any action of beating or trampling,
now with an emphasis on destruction rather
than production. [Ill] fulle the under my
horse fete says someone in The Romance
of Duke Rowland (c. 1400). Similarly the noun
fullage, which earlier meant the money paid
for the fulling of cloth, became negative, now
naming what is trampled under foot, in other
words refuse or lth. Also in the late Middle
Ages appeared the English verb foil from the
same root as full. It meant to tread under
foot (and usually with violence), although it
soon came to be used guratively as in this
example from the Gesta Romanorum (c. 1400):
to foylithe the commandement of God. By
the time Milton uses it in the seventeenth
century, another of foils metaphorical senses
had already become standard. Beelzebub
addresses Satan as Leader of those Armies
bright, / Which but thOmnipotent none
could have foyld, that is, have overthrown,
In France it was rst cloth that was fulled
under foot, and only later by analogy grapes
and wheat. For a period of time the Old
French foule signied both the place where
one beat cloth and the season in which one
pressed autumns harvest. Foule, however,
developed a range of metaphorical uses much
sooner than its English counterpart. As early
as Chrtien de Troyes Perceval (c. 1190)
fouler could mean to oppress mentally, as
in the following example: Le rouge chevalier
qui ne se fouloit point/Faisoit tant darmes.
[The red knight who did not press himself
at all, made a great show of arms.] The Red
Knight is unpressured, and thus energetic,
indefatigableor so he thinks until Perceval
later defeats him. By the Renaissance, other
kinds of pressure associated with the foot
came to be expressed by the verb fouler.
The action of kicking open a door was
regularly expressed by fouler, but so was
sullying someones reputation. So Phillippe
de Commynes writes in 1490 that song may
be used both a la louenge des vainqueurs
et a la foulle du vaincu [in the praise of the
victors and the blame of the vainquished]. In
other words, to dishonor or discredit someone
was imagined as trampling their reputation.
Another form of pressure that fouler could
express was economic and political. In
Pasquiers royalist propaganda (c. 1555) he
writes that Nos roys sont arrivez a cette
grandeursans foule et oppression de leurs
subjects. [Our kings have arrived at such
grandeur without the foule and oppression
of their subjects.] Francois de la Noue takes
a different view of the monarch when about
thirty years later he writes that il semblera
peut estre que ceste foule soit petite; mais je
pense quelle se montepar an. [It would
seem perhaps that this foule is little, but I
think it is rising each year.] Hes referring, of
course, to new taxes.
It is around this same time at the end of the
16th C. that fouler regularly begins to refer
to the action of a mass of people as well as of
things. Montaigne writes in his Essais of the
common occurrence of people struggling to
be rst: les ames [que] seroient a se fouler a
qui prendroit place la premiere. [The souls
who would press to take rst place.] And at
the opening of Racines play Athalie Abner
describes a crowd of worshippers as le
peuple saint en foule inondait les portiques
(I, 1). [The devout people en foule inundate
ing; men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual
autonomy in seeking to become like each other (LC, 307).
Consider for a moment how greatly the suspicious 1950s divagated from the collectiv-
ist or at least crowd-cheering ethos of the 1930s. In King Vidors 1928 The Crowd for
instance, much of the lms visual delight comes from conglomeration shots: lines of
chatting women leaving an ofce building at quitting time, spinning through the re-
volving door or climbing together onto rides at Coney Island. In among these teeming
masses, the occasional deviation is generally for disasterthe one man struck down
in the street is distinct from the crowd that gathers round him. When a happy couple
is picked out, they are applauded in their moment of most perfect conformity with their
surroundings. That was a 1930s dream, of the average hero, but by the 1950s it reap-
pears in Whyte and Riesman as a nightmare of stagnation and immersion.
i I am grateful to Linda Schlossberg, Sean McCann, Alex Star, David Cunningham, Peter Knight, Jeffrey Schnapp, and Matthew
Tiews for conversations and insightful critiques of an earlier draft of this article.
ii David Riesman with Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney, The Lonely Crowd (1950; abridged and revised 1961; New Haven,
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989), 307; hereafter abbreviated as LC.
iii Hannah Pitkin, The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendts Concept of the Social (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
iv Habermass The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is far more indebted to Arendts work on the social and the
public than it acknowledges, and surprisingly ready to align itself with John Stuart Mills fear of the social as invidious
internal enemy.
v Richard H. Pells, The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1985, 1989), 247.
vi William H Whyte, The Organization Man (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), 397; italics in original; hereafter abbreviated
as OM.
the church porticos.] We note here two
opposing images of the multitude. It could
manifest either stagnation, as in the example
from Montaigne, or power, as in the example
taken from Racine; but although fouler
could mean to stamp ones feet without
movingthe same action used to stamp fresh
wool or grapesit never developed the sense
of forward motion, e.g. gushing or streaming.
Another set of images quite apart from those
of textiles or the harvest had to be added.
Italian has the words follare and folla
from the same Latin root, and they take a
similar course from the textile mill and the
winepress into the streets; however, the noun
forms in French and Italian have divergent
histories. In French foule was used to
refer to a multitude of people in one place as
early as the thirteenth century, though more
frequently it was used to mean the place
where the action of pressingwhether
literal or gurativeoccurred. Yet Italian
doesnt produce an equivalent in folla until
the seventeenth century. Modern dictionaries
always cite the example of the Jesuit orator,
Paolo Segneri, who in a work from 1673
writes, Non vedi tu ci che accade in unaltra
folla? Quanto entra in chiesa chi allor fa forza
ad entrarvi, tanto pur ventra chi lascia in
essa portarsi dallimpeto della calca, che gli
vien dietro. [Dont you see what happens
in another mass? However much one might
struggle to enter a church, so much easier it
is to relinquish ones movement to the force
of the crowd which comes behind.] Here
folla begins to describe not just a mass of
things under pressure but specically a mass
of people. Before Segneri, and indeed for
some time after, the transitional locution was
folla di gente or folla del popolo [mass of
When comparing the fates of folla and
foule it is worth noting the existence
in Italian of the noun calca, signifying
crowd, which Segneri also uses in the above
example. Calca had been in use since
at least the thirteenth century, and may be
both the reason why the sense of crowd
was so late in developing in folla and also
part of the reason why it appeared at all.
Calca and folla are very closely related,
not only because they share a concern
with footworkin calca from the Latin
calx, heel, it is literalizedbut because
both derive from verb forms, calcare and
follare, respectively; and most philologists
agree that folla, n., was probably modeled
on calca. Nevertheless, the existence of
calca, which was used most prestigiously
My Summer of Solitude
David Humphrey painter, New York City
New York in 1976 was much darker than it is now, especially downtown. Black
clothes seemed blacker then. The municipal government was broke and nights
in my neighborhood were lit by the regular torching of abandoned buildings and
stripped cars. I moved to the city that aggressively cold winter, dazzled by the
activities of people making new art in big cheap industrial spaces. I was twenty
and attracted by what I imagined was solitude en masse; it was my existential/ro-
mantic notion of the urban artist/loner. I remember entering the determined tides
of work-bound people each day to realize, months later, that I had never recognized
a single person I had passed previously.
Independence Day that year was the Bicentennial. New York hosted a proud and
very fancy Disney/Macyss celebration with reworks at the bottom of the island.
Purposeless curiosity and loneliness propelled me that day from my home in the
East Village down Broadway into the enveloping dusk. A slow trickle of people
thickened with each southward block to become a crawling density at the recently
completed World Trade Center. I dont think the street lights were workingI re-
member the space becoming less and less discernable, slightly disorienting, even
threatening. Thousands of us eventually impacted to a complete halt in the dim
canyons just below the towers. A collective sense of frustration nearly boiled over
as the rst booms of the reworks rolled over us. A slow surge forward squeezed
away personal space we thought had already been surrendered. There was no way
to get out and no way to see the show except in ickering reections on the upper
windows of the after-hours skyscrapers. The anticipated ecstatic fusion with the
national television audience and cheering crowds who limned the harbor never
happened. We missed the biggest pyrotechnical entertainment spasm in history.
Ten thousand pleasure boats had joined the massive eet of tall ships watching
from the water along with hundreds of thousands of people on shore. Marines,
Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers took orders from a command center
in the Trade Centers south tower. We, the blocked ones, could only hear the count-
less shells and mortar fusillades launched from barges and islands. The next days
newspaper informed us that we also missed patriotic music, celebrity readings
and a helicopter pulling a giant ag across the sky. That same paper also contained
news of an almost simultaneous raid by Israeli commandos to free hostages held
at Entebbe airport in Uganda.
by Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio in the
sense of crowd, may have been a hindrance
to the development of folla before it was
ever its inspiration. [2] That is, writers after
the Tre Corone already had a powerful way of
imagining as well as naming a mass of people
in the word calca.
While in Italian the idea of pressure contained
in the Latin fullo culminates in the idea
of a thick mass of people, in English, for
reasons I will not explore here, this sense
never develops, neither in full nor foil.
In French, on the other hand, we discover
yet another conceptual wrinkle in the life of
the Latin root. At the end of the eighteenth
century the idea of pressure was internalized
in the pair, refoulement and defoulement,
the notions of repression and release
respectively. When, at the beginning of
the twentieth century, Freuds works were
translated into French, these words became
ofcial psychoanalytic vocabulary.
[1] As an adjective full evolved in
coordination with the Germanic family of
words foll (OHG), foll (OFris.), fullr
(ON), fulls (Goth.), and cognate with the
Greek polus and Latin plenus.
[2] A famous example by Dante is from
Purgatorio 6.9 a cui porge la man, pi
non fa pressa; / e cos da la calca si
Entry by John B. Hill
Thousands of us had been cut off. We were failed witnesses, clotted and stagnant,
blinded by the buildings meant as a backdrop for the television audience relaxed
safely at home. It was an indignity for us to be smeared against the very cause of
our frustration. We were an inconvenience to each other and to the crowd-control
authorities. I navely hated those people. They were the others, the ones art was
happy to offend or confuse. They were the undifferentiated ones we artists needed
to frame our absurd singularity. My conception of this art-world we, however,
was a fantasy, as I had yet to obtain even the tiniest milieu. I was as cut off as that
Independence Day crowd. My goal was to build a studio in my head and treat the
world as a hallucination. I was proud to imagine myself as socially unintegrated.
The crowd and I were an unhappily fused horde of grumbling consumershungry
sheep unconsciously obeying nebulous orders. We wanted a big show, but our
frustration had made us stale and viscous, not volatile like the black-out rioters of
the next summer, the antiwar demonstrators of 1002 or the rock audiences I had
joyously merged with as a teenager. We eventually dispersed into an ebb tide of
aversion and disappointment. On the long walk home, however, the throng atom-
ized into fellow New Yorkers: attractive, eccentric and driven people, neighbors,
proto-friends, colleagues and lovers.
The Medicalization of Reaction
and the New Spain
Joan Ramon Resina Romance Studies, Cornell
In his entry on Mass society in the International Encyclopedia of the Social and
Behavioral Sciences, Salvador Giner calls Jos Ortega y Gassets The Revolt of
the Masses (1929) the rst fully-edged interpretation of such phenomenon.

While Ortegas priority in the denition of mass society is open to debate,
importance as a theorist of the phenomenon masses is undeniable. Little in the
book is original, yet by combining strands of nineteenth-century crowd psychology
with his aristocratic view of history, he left an inuential if ambiguous legacy to
Spanish and Latin American politics.
The ambiguity begins with Ortegas description of the phenomenon, which he
sees, at rst, under its quantitative aspect. His notion of the mass appears at the
intersection between the prepolitical concept of the multitude (or the crowd) and
the spatial one of agglomeration. But he moves immediately toward a qualitative
denition, drawing a sharp distinction between the multitude and the civilization it
uses without feeling responsible for it. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the multitude
has sprung up, fed by the dislocation of people and groups who used to occupy
C H A P T E R 1 0
We plead for an ethnically
improved and spiritually
perfect Hispanic supercaste.
Antonio Vallejo Ngera,
Higiene de la Raza
each its own place. Topsy-turvy and turbulent, the crowd has become visible by
taking up social space, and not just any space but the best places, those formerly
reserved for the privileged few. It is this being-out-of-place that Ortega calls the
revolt of the masses, whereby he stresses not the quantitative and visual aspect
of the mass but its social and moral side.
If the masses now occupy the best plac-
es, then it follows that they have acceded to social power, that they are, in effect,
the new paradigm setters. While admitting as much (RM, 11), Ortega disputes the
masses legitimacy, nay, their ability to create a new principle of coexistence.
i Antonio Vallejo Ngera, Higiene de la raza: La asexuacin de los psicpatas (Madrid: Ediciones Medicina, 1934), 5; hereaf-
ter abbreviated as HR. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are mine.
ii Salvador Giner, Mass Society: History of the Concept, International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, ed.
Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001) 14:9370.
iii Paul Reiwald, for instance, calls Theodor Geigers book, Die Masse und ihre Aktion (1926) der erste durchgefhrte Versuch
einer Soziologie der Masse. Vom Geist der Massen. Handbuch der Massenpsychologie (Zrich: Pan-Verlag Zrich, 1946),
iv Jos Ortega y Gasset, La rebelin de las masas, in Obras completas (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1957), 4:141310. Trans-
lated anonymously as The Revolt of the Masses (New York: W. W. Norton, 1932), 13; hereafter abbreviated as RM.
The word gente is dened as a group
or plurality of people by the dictionary of
the Real Academia Espaola. In contrast to
other Spanish words that depict a crowd as a
political agent, such as pueblo or masa,
the contemporary usage of gente conveys
an informal and relatively neutral description
of a crowd. In certain colloquial expressions,
such as gente baja or lowly crowd,
a connotation of racial or socioeconomic
difference suggests that gente may have
been used differently in the past.
Gente derives from the archaic yente, in
turn derived from the Latin gens, generally
dened as race, nation or family. In the Spanish
peninsula, the plural use of yente (las
yentes) is found frequently in texts from the 8th
to the 12th such as Reyes Magos, Cronicn
Villarense and El Cid. Gente already
appears in some of these texts, as a rare,
alternate spelling of yente or yentes, which
only becomes generalized in the XIVth and
XVth century as indicated by the text of Conde
Lucanor (1335), and Nebrijas Gramtica. At
this time, the singular gente also becomes
predominant over the plural yentes which
is relegated to religious discourse.
Archaic colloquial expressions such as gente
fosca (brown-skinned folk) and gente non
sancta, suggest the distance of an observer
that characterizes a group from the outside, yet
gente also serves to describe a community
to which the observer or narrator belongs.
A verse from the medieval poem Cantar de
mo Cid, for example, speaks of a group that
mourns the fate of its hero, condemned to exile
by the king: Great sorrow the Christian people
(gentes) felt (Grande duelo avien las yentas
cristianas). However, as Barcia and Corominas
suggest, in religious writing of the XVth and
XVIth century gente as a descriptor of a
Christian crowd appears rarely, perhaps
due of its semantic and phonic connection
with the terms gentil and gentildad. The
derivative adjective gentil attached to
specic subjects, often considered pagans or
idolaters, as shown by a phrase in the opening
scene of El Abencerraje: And looking more
attentively they saw, in the distance, a gentile
moor riding a gray horse (Y mirando con ms
atencin, vieron venir por dnde ellos iban
un gentil moro en un caballo ruano) or in the
pejorative gentecilla used in the Glosas
Silenses. A verse from Quevedo exemplies
this ambivalent use of gente as both an
inclusive and exclusionary term: left-handed
peopleare people (gente) that were made
backwards, but they are people, without
a doubt (los zurdos son gente hecha al
reves y que sin duda son gentes). A similar
usage appears in the Tesoro by Sebastin
de Covarrubias: although we are black, we
are people (gente) also (aunque negros,
gentes somos).
Connotations of racial and religious difference
can also be seen in the rst chronicles of
Indies. Christopher Columbus uses gente
repeatedly when describing the indigenous
communities of the Caribbean in his travel
journals. The entry corresponding to the
11-12th of October, 1492, as transcribed by
Bartolom de las Casas, states: At two
hours after midnight the land appeared (...)
soon they saw naked people (gente), and
the Admiral went ashore (a los dos oras
despues de media noche apareci la tierra
(...) luego vieron gente desnuda y el almirante
sali a tierra). Crowds of cyclops and
cannibals as the gente of the islands also
gure in the diary: Columbus notes that it will
be difcult to travel to scout for copper in the
island of Carib, for example, because [the]
people (gente) [there] eat human esh
(puesto que sera dicultoso en carib por q
aqll gente diz que come Carne humana).
In the texts of the rst chroniclers, gentealso
refers to the indigenous troops that served
within the Spanish armies. This is in fact a
term for troop commonly used in Spain during
the XVth to the XVIIth century, but as it is
transferred to America, and as the process of
conquest and colonization advances, hueste
replaces the term gentein America, during
the rst decades of the XVIth century. As
opposed to the more loosely organized
troops known as gente, hueste entails
a hierarchical military structure, echoing
the organization of the battalions that fought
during the wars of Reconquista.
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 0 TAKE IT 3
Take It
Ann Weinstone Comparative Literature and Communications, Northwestern
At thirteen, Roger and I married under a tree in the front yard of his parents three-
bedroom bungalow. Quakers can marry people, Roger had told me. He was a
Quaker, so naturally we decided to do it.
One of us must have boasted about the blessed event. My parents, Rogers par-
ents, and some school functionary ordered the newlyweds to attend an emergency
meeting. What exactly does this marriage entail? my father asked Roger. Roger
was an innocent. I understood exactly what my father wanted to know. The whole
procedure disgusted me. My parents relationship hadnt indoctrinated me into the
concept of legal matrimony as serious business. Werent we allowed to play, too?
Later that year, Roger and I attended a rock concert. Marriage rst. Rock concert
later. We had committed ourselves to reversing the natural order of things.
I wore a white Mexican wedding dress sans bra or underwear. Patches of teen-
pink esh showed through the lacey cotton. And I had shortened the dress. A lot.
We moved along with the throng of long-haired and peasant-topped ticket holders
toward one of the concert arenas arched entryways. I squinched my eyes so that
the streaming panorama before me tipped and I saw it as a two-dimensional can-
vasan enormous Brueghel painting come alive. Then I stepped into the scene.
This was my way of intensifying the immediacy of experience: put everything on a
single plane and have it all at once.
This crowd intensication technology, however, played only a supporting role. The real
drama emerged from my own interior narration of the Story of Ann and the Crowd.
Ann glides through an ocean of bodies, sound, and color. She is sensitive, able
to detect and precisely narrate the shifting patterns of human expression. At a
glance, she can discern secret alliances, undeveloped potentials, and future ca-
lamities. Employing sophisticated bioperceptual terrorist weapons, Ann can meta-
morphose you into a hallucinatory, Jackson Pollock blob; a visiting alien secretly
trolling the planet for genetic material; or, perversely, the boring nine-to-ve adult
you are actually destined to become.
Similar changes take place on the religious
front. The naked folk or gente desnuda
that Columbus had considered as ideal
targets of conversion become a Christian
pueblo (from the Latin populus, a group
of citizens) in accounts by missionaries in the
XVIth century. Here, in a manner comparable
to the organization of the huestes, the
emergence of the term pueblo seems to
reect the refashioning of a social collective
into an institutionally regulated and stratied
structure. Three centuries later, in his Carta
de Jamaica, Simon Bolivar would praise the
Dutch jurist Grotius for developing a doctrine
law which establishes that equal principles of
law must apply to all gentes, even to indels
and barbarians, yet the term gente is entirely
absent from Bolivars vocabulary, where the
concept of pueblo, instead, predominates.
A point of comparison between the
dissimilar projects of evangelization, military
organization and national independence,
with regards to the word gente, is the
desire to crystallize the energy of a crowd
into manageable units, both in terms of actual
organization and symbolic power. Terms such
as pueblo, hueste or masa become
prevalent then, and genteseems to acquire
the informal, at times mildly pejorative, sense
that it carries today, as various colloquial
expressions and greetings demonstrate.
Anonymous, El Abencerraje, Madrid:
Ctedra, 2002.
Anonymous, Cantar del Mo Cid, Barcelona:
Crtica, 2000.
Barcia, Roque Primer diccionario general
etimolgico de la lengua espaola,
Barcelona: Seix, 1902.
Alonso Baquer, Miguel, Generacin de la
conquista, Madrid: MAPFRE, 1992.
Bolvar, Simn, Fundamental, Caracas:
Monte Avila Editores, 1993.
Corominas, Joan, Diccionario etimolgico
de la lengua castellana, Madrid: Editorial
Gredos, 2000.
Covarrubias Horozco, Sebastin de, Tesoro
de la lengua espaola, Madrid: Turner, 1979.
Columbus, Christopher, The Diario of
Christopher Columbuss First Voyage to
America, Oliver Dunn and James E. Kelly,
Jr., Eds., Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma
Press, 1989.
Diccionario de la lengua (Real Academia
Espanola), Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2000.
Entry by Jeronimo Ernesto
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 0 TAKE IT 4
My bohemian parents hadnt taught me much about the sanctity of marriage, but
they had taught me how to inhabit the position of the neur.
I remember the moment I stepped into the concert halls steeply banked and dark-
ened interior. The people who, outside, had presented the young neur with op-
portunities for enacting individualized extreme makeovers, now formed a single,
undulating mass: a shape-shifting labyrinth of human form from which single faces
appeared and then winked out as they passed through columns of light issuing
from spots hanging high overhead.
Roger and I plunged in. We had seat assignments on one of the higher levels. The
Real Mission, of course, was to reach the starred and jeweled stage pulsing at one
end of the oval concert oor far below.
The warm-up band pounded out a massively loud rockabilly beat. Like mute, pro-
grammed corpuscles, we pressed on through the concert bodys ever-constricting
arteries. The band acted as a pumping system, sending rushes of vibratory sound
to speed us toward our One True Goal.
A guard stopped our progress at a waist-high corrugated wall that divided the ris-
ers from the concert oor. He asked to see our tickets. A discussion ensued.
During this exchange, the rockabilly band exited. The lights came up as the stage
crew prepared for the next performer. Now we could hear the conversational hum of
the crowd and see the littered concrete oor. It all seemed so ordinary. I registered
my own disappointment as an arena-wide drop in energy. Roger and I slunk off, fol-
lowing the divider toward what we hoped would be some less well-guarded spot.
The lights dimmed again. The music kicked in. Roger and I held our position. I want
to be able to tell you something about that set. I want to remember the songs or
special moments. We loved Joe Cocker, but now, all I can recall is a single, frozen-
in-time long shot of Cockers spastic body jerking in the spotlight.
We were only thirteen. Perhaps that explains it. We thought the concert was n-
ished when Cocker played his encore and left the stage. But shortly, after wed
noticed that no one else was leaving, another rockabilly, bluesy beat hit the house
in its midsection. This time, I barely looked up. My only concern was to get to the
stage. Just to get there. This was, after all, The Story of Ann Gets To The Stage.
I tugged Rogers arm and straddled the wall. A guard stuck his hand up my dress
and caught a stful of esh. This didnt slow me down. Not at all. I landed on the
concert oor and kept going, pushing through the dark, vibrating labyrinth.
A woman had been singing.
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 0 TAKE IT 5
Nah na na na na na na.
My head stayed down in battle formation. As we got closer to the stage, thou-
sands of bodies pressed forward. My robust adolescent self-absorption was short-
circuited by the psychokinetic frenzy beginning to build up around me. Only two or
three people separated us from the front stage bulwark. I could no longer move.
Now nuh now nuh now nuh now.
I lost all awareness of Roger. Instead of looking up at the stage, I turned to face the
crowd. Shoulders strained against shoulders, faces against facesa wall of faces
angling for position in all directions. I ashed on one of my favorite photos from a
book in my parents library: Weegees edge-to-edge image of a crush of girls at a
Sinatra concert in New York in the 1940s. Most of the faces here were male, and
they were saturated with desire.
Id seen male desire and registered it as a fascinating-frightening state of in-
ebriation. This was different. This was desire-amazement. Or desire-innocence.
Or desire-trauma. I couldnt describe it. I was overcome by surprise. The neur
disarmed, all interpretive weapons deactivated.
I looked up at the screaming woman on stage.
Hear me when I cruh-ai-ai-ai!
She was sweating hard. As she belted out the song, her face crumbled like my
childhood friend Katie OBriens face crumbled when her dad got drunk and yelled.
Her hair hung wild and long over her face. She doubled over the mike, her st bur-
ied in the crease of her thigh. She was ugly, or so I thought. And she was scream-
ing. Real screaming. Real pain.
Each time I tell myself that I cant stand the pain, you hold me in your arms, and
Im singing once again!
I asked a guy next to me who the singer was. He told me a name I didnt recognize.
So wont you just come on . . . come on . . .
I looked at her. I looked at the crowd. I didnt get it. A wild woman screaming. The
faces of desire. But I felt it. Its what I remember most about that concert. The true
pain and joy of that sound and the crazy, open intensity on the faces of boys.
Come on! Come on!
Now, take it!
Haun Saussy Comparative Literature, Yale
The intellectual problem of the crowd falls under the heading of mereologythe
subdivision of ontology that deals with parts, wholes, and their relations.
crowds exist, or does the expression crowd merely transmit a value-judgment
(as in twos company, but threes a crowd)? What is the mode of existence of a
crowd? Is a crowd adequately accounted for as (and thus, merely) the sum of the
individuals composing it? Or is it a collective subject acting in ways that transcend
the intentions of any of its participants? Is it a collection of defective subjects,
individuals whose power of choice has been hypnotized away, and thus the vast
plaything of the one presumably whole individual who manipulates it? Is it a col-
lection of individuals, each doing and seeing what the individual might do in any
case, but whose total power is somehow more than the sum of its parts, a case of
emergent behavior?
Determining what a crowd is has some of the complexity
of another battleeld of reductionism, the denitional dispute surrounding reports
of thought and reports of brain activity.

Much of the high ground in these disputes is pre-theoretical. Language allows us
to take sides without being aware of so doing. A great deal can hang on an article,
a capital letter, a comma. The difculty can be captured in a sentence from Geof-
frey Hartmans rst book, Andr Malraux. In it he describes Malrauxs last novel,
Les Noyers de lAltenburg (The Walnut Trees of Altenburg), as the surviving part
C H A P T E R 1 1
Gloomy grammarians in
golden gowns
Wallace Stevens,
Of the Manner of Addressing Clouds
of a larger work destroyed by Nazis.
Not destroyed by the Nazis, as a more
conventional wording would have itthe the serving to singularize the twelve-
year experience of National Socialist terror and war, to give Nazism the quali-
ties of a proper noun (deniteness, public notoriety, collective personality). Rather,
whether intentionally or by an inspired typographical error, Hartmans dropping
the the reduced those Nazis to the condition of an anonymous swarm, a periodic
chance event like locusts, dry rot or ood. As if to say: Destroyed by Nazisone
of those things that happens. Sheltered from explicit discussion, an article, a bit
of punctuation, a pairing of verb and subject mark a collectivity (such as a crowd)
as having this or that type of duration, consistency, agency, purpose.
These classic problems of crowd theoryochlology?fall in line with some of the
classic positions in the study of Asia, for if Asia is home to a majority of the human
race, the populousness of Asia has long been described as a mere plurality with-
out individuality, a passive reservoir of labor-power awaiting orders from an imperial
thronein short, a crowd of the defective kind, observed by individuals who see
themselves as members of a purposive historical movement (Christianity, progress,
the dialectics of freedom, etc.).
Montesquieus, Herders and Hegels understandings
of Asia as the preindividual soup from which (and in contradistinction to which) Euro-
pean individuality arose, resolve into a psychological application of mereology and an
anticipation of later crowd studies.
i For some recent mereological tractates, see Barry Smith, Les objets sociaux, Philosophiques 26 (1999): 31547; Roberto
Casati and Achille C. Varzi, Parts and Places: The Structures of Spatial Representation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999).
ii For a survey, see Steven Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software (New York: Touch-
stone Books, 2001).
iii See for example Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained (Boston: Little-Brown, 1991).
iv Geoffrey Hartman, Andr Malraux (London: Bowes & Bowes, 1960), 95.
v See Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, LEsprit des Lois, in his uvres compltes (Paris: Seuil, 1964); Johann
Gottfried Herder, Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (Wiesbaden: Fourier, 1966); Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Hegel, Philosophie der Geschichte, in Werke (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1980), vol. 12; Karl Marx, The British Rule in
India (1854), in Marx and Friedrich Engels, On Colonialism (New York: International Publishers, 1972), 3541.
Whether as a part of many other compounds
(heti zi) designating crowd or as a
monosyllabic simple word (duti zi), the
Chinese word zhong illuminates two
abysses of meaning in the Chinese language
in terms of both syntax and semantics.
Compounds designate words consisting of two
or more parts, each of which can itself be an
independent word. The rst abyss of meaning
lies in the gaps and clashes of meanings
among the two or more parts of a compound.
As a part of the compound words designating
crowd, zhong juxtaposes other words to
form two-syllable compounds like qunzhong,
dazhong, zhongren etc. Being able to
be both noun and adjective, like many other
Chinese words which can be more than one
part of speech, zhongs meanings are:
as noun: multitude, everyone, everything, all
ofcial, soldier, army, slave, monk number;
as adjective: many, various, general, common
(A New Dictionary of Modern Chinese
Language, 1992: 2167).
The abyss of meaning (or the clashes)
between the two monosyllabic words in, e.g.
qunzhong is thus:
qun (as noun: crowd, group, common
people; as quantier: herd, group, ock; as
verb: to join; as adjective: in crowds, in ocks,
in groups) (A New Dictionary of Modern
Chinese Language, 1992: 1359-1360) and
As a simple monosyllabic word, zhong
also has its own dissectible abysses the
second abyss. From its ancient form to its
modern simplied form used in Mainland
China, zhong is basically formed by
combining three ren words each of them is
a pictograph visualizing apparently a person,
and symbolically human being in general.
Xu Shen (A.D. 30-124) categorizes the word as
huiyicombination of different meaning-
elements to make a new meaning. In the case
of the word zhong comprised of three ren
words, which are pictographic, one could
argue that seeing three persons together
symbolically is in effect a pictographic
representation of a crowd. It is the gaps and
clashes among, as well as combinations
of these three persons that form zhongs
pictographic and semantic dimensions.
But why three? The Discourses of the
States (Guoyu) explicates that three
persons make the crowd (A Concordance
of the Guoyu, 1999: 2). But why not two
or four, or even more? In some Buddhist
classics, zhong is dened as more than
four, up to hundreds, thousands and innity
(Tiantai guan jing shu), more than four
up to twelve thousand (Fa hua yi shu),
as well as simply more than three (Fa hua
xuan zan). But the number three does have
special implications in Chinese culture, as
in many other cultures as well. In Lao zi,
three is the path to everything. Shuowen
jiezi explicates that Three, the way of
the sky, the ground, and the human (Xu,
1981: 15). One can further speculate on
the meanings of yu and dao in
line with their constituent character ren.
But their lack of direct relevance to the
pictographic quality of the word ren is
indeed a very meaningful frustration for
people who merely comprehend Chinese
characters as pictographic. The pictographic
category contains only less than 10% of
Chinese characters from the Han dynasty
(B.C.206-A.D.220) to the present.
In pre-Qin (pre-221 B.C.) historical, literary,
ritual and philosophical works, for example,
The Book of Songs, The Analects, The
Book of Rites etc., zhong, meaning
plenty and many, appears in connection with
people already.
Apart from its connection with people,
zhong can also be used in relation to
animals and things. In The Sorting Which
Evens Things Out (Qi wu lun) in Zhuangzi,
zhong can also be an adjective for the
monkeys (if they are not simply regarded as
ancestors of human being) (Zhuangzi, 1981:
54). Regarding things, zhong designates
just many things, as in The Book of Rites
Zhongni yanju in which social order and
Crowd Control
David Theo Goldberg Director, University of California Humanities Research
Institute at UC Irvine; Philosophy, UC Irvine
Crowds promote a sense of identication and belonging, prompting possibilities
of action individual inhibition might prohibit. But they might equally give rise to
fear and loathing, avoidance and ight. The surge of a crowd can exhilarate; but
it can also threaten. The crowd at a large sporting event or political rally suggests
support for a team or cause, energizing action; but it can also spiral out of hand, fu-
elling violence, calling forth surveillance and indeed crowd control. A group in fu-
sion, to use the Sartrean formulation, can grow quickly into a crowd, an internally
coherent collective with at least a nite and more or less well-dened purpose; but
it can also be established from without, its boundaries imposed for the purposes of
oversight and order. The former logic is well known by anyone who has witnessed
fan-fare at a sporting event or concert, or suffered through a convention; a recent
experience while traveling will serve to exemplify the latter more clearly.
Israel seems to have perfected the security apparatus of almost absolute surveil-
lance predicated on what we might usefully call controlling the chaos of, or in, a
crowd. The point is to promote panic among a population or crowd of people, at
once observinggaining insight intothe reactions of members of the multitude.
Random attacks in public places, invasions, unannounced searches, bombs ap-
parently missing targets, purposeful collateral damage in public places: all this
always visited on those assumed to be ethnoracially distinct, as already possi-
bly suspect, exhibiting habits, behavioral dispositions, and cultural expressions
deemed peculiar. The point of creating controlled chaos in crowded places is to
force those present to resort to natural instinct, to ush out those trying for what
is considered terrorizing purposes to blend in by making manifest their cultural
habits, their hidden difference, uncovering their hidden agenda. Crowd control be-
comes a matter of checking out reactions to the randomization of reaction in the
face of dramatically unpredictable possibilities.
On a recent visit to Israel we had an impossibly early morning ight that required a
3:00 a.m. airport check-in. If driving across darkened highways, the twinkling lights
of Tel Aviv off to the side, conjured the alienation of Godards Alphaville, arriving
at the airport was more like City of Lost Children. Expecting relative sleepiness
at the airport, we were shocked to nd ourselves in a terminal busier than any air-
port worldwide at the height of rush hour. Pressed between seven or eight layers
of formal security passage from the entrance to the airport until one boarded the
disorder are connected to the motions of
all things [zhong] (A Concordance of the
Li ji, 1992: 137) (my translation). In the Tang
poet Du Fus (A.D.712-770) poem Staring at
the Mountains (Wang yue), zhong also
describes specic things like mountains.
Later in Chinese Buddhist terms, zhong
is about both Buddhist believer and human
beings in general. In Chapters of the
Mahayana Doctrines (Dacheng yi zhang),
the zhong, meaning many or everyone,
becomes a constituent in the term he he
zhong, a term designating Buddhist monk.
Ci yuan considers that the term dazhong
derives from this use (Ci yuan, 1979: 2215).
Zhong lingers between ordinary people
in general and certain (kinds of) people in
In his critiques of the Chinese national
character, the modern writer Lu Xun (A.D.
1881-1936) twists zhongs reference to
people in general in a national context when
China was encountering Western challenges,
modernity and modernization. In his short
story title Shizhong (Lu Xun, 1990, 291-
296), the word zhong corresponds to the
English word crowd, meaning a mass of
spectators, an audience, and a collection
of actors playing the part of a crowd (Oxford
English Dictionary). Alluding to a Chinese
crowd apathetically standing around a man
accused by the Japanese of spying for the
Russians during the Russo-Japanese War, the
story focuses upon the spectators, sketching
out the way passers-by rudely and curiously
look for better positions to view the spectacle,
of which they know little. The title of the
story Shizhong is twofold: it denotes both
showing things to the crowd (like in the
saying zhan shou shi zhong [cutting the
head off and showing it to the public/crowd])
and revealing the crowd as spectacle (zhan
shi qun zhong [showing the crowd]). The
former is obviously about showing spectacle,
and the latter creating spectacle. Lu Xun saw
the incident in a slide show when he was a
student in Japan. And his short story writing is
in effect a kind of media transference in which
the crowd is turned into a spectacle and this
spectacle is re-turned to the reading public.
Such an afnity between revelation and the
crowd in the compound shizhong is telling.
Like the crowd seeing things revealed and the
crowd being revealed, the mentioned abysses
of meaning also reveal, and get revealed.
ight were irregular lines of people pushing and pulling, stress-making uncertain-
ties about what line one was in or what the line was for, where one was headed
or how long it would take. Sleepiness and solitude quickly gave way to a sense of
sleep-deprivation and acute anxiety. Panic displaced the condence of seasoned
travelers. The ticking of time passing grew louder as the looming possibility of
missed ights approached.
Watching over all of this seemingly random chaos were further layers of all-see-
ing eyes, some mingling easily in the crowd, others overhead, picking out panic,
distinguishing difference amidst sleep-deprived activity: a too-quick movement,
furtive looks, sweat on the brow, foam at the corners of the mouth, too obvious
attempts to blend in, a mixed couple traveling under different names, on differ-
ent national passports signaling different places of origin. The civic equivalent,
one might say, of carpet-bombing Baghdad. Insecurity manifest through unnerving
norms. Security predicated on acute insecurity, the heat of a familiar crowd edging
to the margins the heat of one made unfamiliar, unheimlich, uncanny. Belonging,
longing to bein this case part of somethingis always predicated on a distin-
guishing absence, on the constitutive outside(r).
Street savviness takes over, the product of intuitions minted on the anvil of years
of air travel but also of anti-apartheid street protests wending their way between
Casspirs Full of Love, as William Kentridge so aptly characterizes apartheids ar-
mored vehicles, and Central Park summer pop concerts featuring the likes of Diana
Ross. Surging crowds constituted through exploding tear gas canisters and ying
dum dums, snatched jewelry and jockeying for prime position across the span of
decades. The political surge of 1970s crowds, the pop of 1980s public culture, the
privatizing docility of 1990s libertarianism give way to born-again paranoias of
strangers at the gate, of conjured crowds breaking down the boundaries of Baby-
lon, their members careening into buildings exploding dreams along with bodies.
That fraternal crowd, the one of supposed support across otherwise anonymous
and fragmented folksthe Harley rally, the hundred or so scooters on an Amster-
dam Sunday street outside my window, their collective fumes and furious motor-
ized humdrum invading my thoughts as I write this, the parade of this or that group
for this or that cause, or for sheer entertainment or whiling away an otherwise
lonesome weekendharboring, even occasionally cultivating the seeds of some-
thing more insidious, more threatening because less thoughtful, unselfconscious,
A sense of safety gives way to the defensive society, to states of security. The
surge of the protesting crowd is considered now an internal threat, an unpatriotic
act akin to, if not in cahoots with, the foreign terrorist. Crowd control secures not
just behavior but beliefs too.
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 1 5
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D.C.Lau and Chen Fong Ching (ed.) Hong
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Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lu Xun. (1990) A Warning to the People.
In Dairy of a Madman and Other Stories.
Trans. William A. Lyell. Honolulu: University of
Hawaii Press.
Oxford English Dictionary.
Xu Shen. (1981) Shuowen jiezi zhu.
Annotated by Duan Yucai. Shanghai:
Shanghai guji chubanshe.
Zhongwen da cidian (The Encyclopedic
Dictionary of the Chinese Language). (1962)
Taipei: The Institute for Advanced Chinese
Entry by Ka-Fai Yau
Fig. 1 The various scripts of the word zhong
(Hanyu dazidian, 1986: 3051-3052)
Fig.2 The various scripts of the word ren
(Zhongwen da cidian, 1962: 737)
Urs Stheli Department of Sociology, University of Berne, Switzerland
In 1967, the popular nancial journalist and former portfolio manager George
Goodman (alias Adam Smith) asked: Is the market really a crowd? And without
hesitation he suggested a crowd psychology of nancial markets: The market is
a crowd, and if youve read Gustave Le Bons The Crowd (1895) you know a crowd
is a composite personality.
In his bestseller The Money Game Goodman refers to
crowd psychology as the primary tool for grasping the marketmoreover, he does
not simply aim at a polemical description of the market, but he also suggests a
practical guide for succeeding in the market. Adam Smith is no exception, with
his suggestion that nancial markets may best be described and analyzed with the
tools of crowd psychology. Excerpts from Le Bons Crowd Psychology are often re-
printed in anthologies of investment theory;
recently, Robert Menschel, Senior Di-
rector of Goldman & Sachs, published a whole reader on the crowd and the market
with the title Markets, Mobs and Mayhem, also including reprints of Le Bon and
other crowd theorists.
Additionally, a whole subdiscipline within economics has
emerged that calls itself behavioral economics
and that also refers to Le Bon
as one of its founding fathers. While Le Bon has been expelled from other social
sciences, such as sociology or political science, we can observe a resurrection of
crowd psychology within investment theory and nance guidebooks.
This is even more amazing since nancial markets are often also seen as one of
the most rational and efcient features of modern society. In 1931, Richard Whit-
ney, the former director of the New York Stock Exchange, who was later impris-
C H A P T E R 1 2
The crowd is usually wrong.
Neill Humphrey
The bigger the crowd,
the better the performance.
Instinet, an online brokerage
oned for nancial fraud, praised the stock exchange as an efcient institution.
is the stock exchange where the great economic ction of the homo oeconomicus
nds its ideal stage: the stock market promises nearly complete price information
and a minimum of transaction costs. Thus, the preconditions for establishing an
autonomous and rational economic individuality seem to be met perfectly. How,
then, does this paradigmatic realm of economic individuality turn into the night-
mare of the crowd market? What makes the semantics of the crowd so attractive
for describing nancial markets?
At rst sight, discourses on the crowd and those on nancial markets seem to
be quite distinctive, bearing not many parallels or points of connection. At the
turn of the century, crowd psychology tried to come to grips with the dark under-
side of modernityexemplied by lynch mobs, mass crimes, masses deluded by
demagogic political leaders and the irrationality of crowd behavior. It was in this
context that crowd psychology tried to account for that which was related to, but
not in accordance with, the optimistic ideals of modern Western societies: rational
individuals turn into blind and passionate elements of a crowd, democracy is not
ruled by enlightened citizens, but dominated by the cruel demon of the demos.

In short, the diagnosis seems to be clear: rationality is superseded by irrationality,
endangering the project of modernity.
Crowd semantics was introduced as a discursive means for diagnosing and deal-
ing with this crisis of modernity. Le Bon exclaimed that with the advent of the
twentieth century, the era of crowd has begun.
The crowd becomes a typically
modern phenomenon, not only because it emerges at places and institutions that
are representative for modernity, such as the city. It also suggests a critique of
modernity by showing what happens when the ideals of modern societyuniver-
sality and equalityare radicalized and, from the perspective of the crowd psy-
chologist, unduly overstretched. Now modern universalism, best exemplied with
common suffrage, turns into a tyranny of the crowd, and the ideal of equality starts
to resemble a viral contagion. However, crowd semantics not only formulates a
conservative critique of modernity, but it also prepares the discursive terrain for
thinking about social groupings that are no longer based upon stratied identities
such as class and gender. This modernity of crowd semantics is often overlooked,
but is crucial to understanding its success. In what follows, I rst discuss Charles
Mackays Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (rst pub-
lished in 1852), which also deals with speculative market crowds prior to the ad-
vent of crowd psychology.
My reading of Mackay tries to show why the semantics
of the crowd proves to be so attractive for describing nancial speculation. While
Mackay establishes crucial elements for understanding the crowd as a modern
phenomenon, he does not address the question of how to deal with the crowd.
In the second part of the paper, I want to show how the investment philosophy of
The Greek language possesses a rich and
varied terminology for the concept of crowds.
This is hardly surprising, in light of the
relentless preoccupation with the political
realm that swept the city-states of Greece
at the end of the so-called Dark Ages (up
to the eighth century B.C.E.). In the turmoil
of the Greek Renaissance that followed,
with the advent of the polis, innovations in
interregional trade and commerce, and the
rise of a heavily-armed middle-class infantry,
the Greeks developed a complex political
vocabulary to conceptualize the people
as the totality of a city-states citizen body,
directly in opposition to a tyrannical leader
and an elitist oligarchy.
The standard denition of the Greek term
ochlos is a crowd, throng. In this it closely
parallels the term homilos (assembled
crowd, throng of people) and ochlagogeo
(crowd, mob, literally a led crowd), as
opposed to similar terms with broader political
implications, such as laos (people, folk)
and demos (country, land, citizenry). In
its standard sense, ochlos is often used in
relation to armies and soldiers and their camp
followers. It is also a fairly unmarked way to
refer to a group or crowd.
The term ochlos also carries an important
political connotation, as populace, mob.
This is apparent in its usage by the two
great political thinkers of classical Athens,
Plato and Aristotle. For Plato, ochlos can
refer to a popular assembly, and for the
oligarchic philosopher the term certainly
carried a negative implication. In the dialogue
Gorgias, for example, Socrates states that
the rhetoricians business is not to instruct
a law court or a public meeting (ochlos) in

matters of right and wrong, but only to make
them believe; since, I take it, he could not in
a short while instruct such a mass of people
(ochlos) in matters so important (455a).
For Platos pupil Aristotle the term can be
similarly marked, but gains a broader import
as a political force. In The Politics, for
example, he refers to oligarchs playing the
role of demagogues and currying to the
mob in their bid for power (1305b). In this,
he is directly indebted to the great Athenian
lawmaker Solon, who in his elegiac poetry
harangues the citizens of Athens for their
mindless support of the tyrant Pisistratus,
crystallizing the oft-repeated notion of the
crowd as a mindless entity swept away by
charismatic oratory and unable to see or
realize its best interests.
The term ochlos possesses great import in
Greek political thought, both in its unmarked
sense as a crowd and in its marked sense
as a mob. This can be surmised both from its
usage and from its frequency in the Greek
main corpus, where it occurs 641 times, from
the tragic and comic poets, through the great
philosophers Plato and Aristotle, and on to the
New Testament. The term survived into the
Middle French ochlocratie (a government
by the populace) and modern Italian
oclocrazia (mob rule, rule of the plebs)
from the Hellenistic coinage ochlokratia
(mob rule, literally the strength of the mob).
It was soon to enter the English language as
ochlocracy (rule of the populace, mob), and
used intermittently from the late sixteenth
century and on to 1991, when The Observer
quoted the Russian newspaper Pravda
as claiming that Boris Yeltsins run for the
presidency was backed by an ochlocracy.
Entry by Sebastian De Vivo
the Contrarians beneted from crowd psychology. It is here that crowd psychology
becomes a tool for constructing the ideal speculator.
i Adam Smith (pseud.), The Money Game (New York: Random House, 1967), 23; hereafter abbreviated as MG.
ii Charles D. Ellis and James R. Vertin, The Investors Anthology: Original Ideas from the Industrys Greatest Minds (New York:
Chichester, 1997).
iii Robert Menschel, ed., Markets, Mobs, and Mayhem: A Modern Look at the Madness of Crowds (New York: John Wiley,
iv Robert Shiller, Irrational Exuberance (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000) and Richard Thaler, The Winners Curse:
Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life (New York: Free Press, 1992).
v See for example James Dines, How Investors Can Make Money Using Mass Psychology (Belvedere, Calif.: The James Dines
Company, 1996); Laurence A. Conors and Blake E. Hayward, Investment Secrets of Hedge Fund Managers: Exploiting the Herd
Mentality of the Financial Markets (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995); Charles D. Ellis, Winning the Losers Game (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 2002).
vi Whitney cited in John Steele Gordon, The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power, 16532000 (New
York: Scribner, 1999), 238.
vii Gregor Sidis, The Psychology of Suggestion (New York: Appleton and Company, 1898).
viii Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895; New York: Macmillan, 1896), xv. Cf. Don Delillo, whose novel
Mao II understands the crowd as a gure of the future: The future belongs to crowds. Mao II (London: Jonathan Cape, 1991), 16.
ix Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions, and the Madness of Crowds (1841, rev. 1852; New York: Three Rivers Press,
1980); hereafter abbreviated as EPD.
Barneys New York: The Warehouse
Jessica Burstein English, University of Washington
You arrive early, and walk into a room after having surrendered your backpack, and
possibly a kidney. Walk is a euphemism; you stand in line, hopping from one foot
to the other impatiently, and then once you are past the metal detector, you break
into a low-key sprint; you do not want to get winded early. Travel light, because
this is serious. If you are smart, you have worn shoes that slip on and off easily, no
bra in case you nd a sleeveless or backless number, and nothing that buttons: zip-
pers are optimum. The smart and the brave wear swimsuits, thus avoiding wasting
time by periodically re-dressing. While not necessary, it is recommended that you
spend the prior week dieting, because this will make you feel worthy and cruel.
The latter characteristic will be especially helpful.
There are four versions of Barneys New York, and they all come crowd-equipped:
1. The stores; 2. The outlets, the best of which is in California: Camarillo, about
thirty minutes outside of LA, which is about as close to LA as its worth getting; 3.
The Barneys Warehouse Sales Event, held semi-annually; and 4. Having lunch with
Simon Doonan. Here I shall focus on the Warehouse Sale.
There is nothing like entering a large room lled only with racks of designer cloth-
ing, between which are hordes of women ripping off their clothes, standing naked
or nearly so in the aisles (if you sleep with women, the effect of this can be dizzy-
ing, but the race goes to the dedicated: Keep your mind on your work), squirming
into or out of a Viktor and Rolfe. How does this snap? Is this Velcro? Is this meant
to wrap around the waist or is it a little oaty thing? What was Rei Kawabuko
thinking? You dont have time to snap, button, or even toggle, and forget about
hemlines: you get into it, and if it ts, you grab it and move on. This is Malthus,
baby. Get outta my way. You may or may not choose to note the swizzle stick with
the screaming infant locked into the $800 Bugaboo like a tiny little Hannibal Lector
from the Upper East Side. If you are there for tourism, you can waste time wonder-
ing whether she or her cell phone has more body fat, but if youre there for real rea-
sons, you step over the caterwauling kid and grab the Helmut Lang, ignoring the
fact that the swizzle stick is now yelling at you that she was going to try that on.
The Botox makes her face strangely expressionless as she screams, a fact which
you will later nd amusing over a martini; at the moment, though, this is simply
noisy wallpaper. Shes slow; shes soft; shes been doing Pilates for Christs sake.
Well, a hundred double leg kicks arent going to get mommy any closer to this little
All that glitters is gold.
Smash Mouth
Three truisms:
Shop alone;
friends are for bars.
You dont make art out of
good intentions. (Flaubert)
No amount of irony can
redeem teal.
felt number, sister, so just play past it. Not having wasted time with children, you
are accordingly empathy-free.
The anger that Simmel identied as lurking beneath the blas surface of met-
ropolitan encounters is laid bare at the Warehouse Sale. Other peoples bodies
seem constructed solely as impediments to ones own negotiation of space. There
are hundreds of would-be models, which on the street makes for nice scenery but
right now means that ones sight is frequently obstructed. You see racks, and skin
wandering around between them. Dont look at prices right now; you can hunker
down and do triage later. Right now, you live a life without latent content.
If someone has grabbed something away from you, there are questions to be asked
before actually assaulting them.
1. Was it in your hands? If so, you can and should grab it back.
2. If it was not actually in your hands, but on the rack next to the really interesting
corset-like evening jacket that turned out to have some unfortunate rouching in
the back, and you realize youve ended up with the aftermath of a Shirley Temple
suicide bombing, etiquette dictates that you wait your turn. Waiting your turn
consists of brief intervals of staring at the woman who somehow got the current
object of desire before you did. Rummage onward, but with an eye toward the mo-
ment in which she discovers that she is not now and has never been a size 0.
3. Is it by Olivier Theyskens? If so, all bets are off: go for the throat. Say that it is
not her color. Claim you have already paid for it. Ask her what her childs name is,
tell her that you recruit for Brearley and are struck by such obvious infant beauty
and intelligence; when she reaches for her BlackBerry so that you may give her
your ofce phone number, grab the Theyskens and run away.
You will often encounter men assisting their girlfriends, wives, friends, or clients.
These men are the equivalent of shrubbery. Do not be shy about undressing in
front of them. They are holograms, albeit holograms who seem to be enjoying
themselves. Under no conditions make eye contact, unless you see that they are
guarding that amazing Rochas double breasted oyster-grey silk coat with the high
waist and super skinny three-quarter-length sleeves made to overlay the watery
pink silk dress that looks like a cross between the lifestyles of F. Scott Fitzger-
ald and Jan Svenkmajer. In that case, deep and meaningful eye contact is called
for. Otherwise, not. However, if they offer an opinion as to your own vestmental
choices, you are free to do with them what you will, but remember: every moment
spent executing a cutting comment is a moment not spent in the presence of a
Dries van Noten.
While it is in your interest to be ruthless, it is not unusual to encounter strange
acts of reciprocal humanity or even politeness: an appreciative murmur once you
have veried it isnt your style, but will probably look good on the person who is
holding it; a shared eye roll at the third party who is waving what looks like an
Oscar de la Renta suit jacket at a guard and asking if this comes in her size; or the
unholy joy of that amazing black chick coming up to as you peel out of the Gucci,
and when you sadly hand the thing over to herimpossibly longshe says, Cool
thong. Yeah, you say, La Perla. Simple pleasures for simple people.
As incredible as it is, shoplifting still exists. This is a stupid pastime, even for
kleptomaniacs. Despite your terrible upbringing, do not partake. Everything you do
is watched, recorded, wired; your pulse rate is a known factor, and there is less in-
timacy in an intravaginal probe. Nonetheless, you will occasionally stumble onto a
Winona Ryder wannabe who is busy trying to stuff a cocktail gown into her socks.
Feminism means you keep on walking.
The crowd ebbs and ows. There will be what seem like hours spent wriggling into
a plastic Prada dress with black sight lines la Etienne-Jules Marey, an achieve-
ment executed between twenty-three other women who are so tightly wedged
together that for several seconds running you cant gure out whose left arm it
is that you have inadvertently inserted into the dress sleeve, because it does not
seem to be yours. Any smaller, said Robert Benchley about the ofce he shared
with Dorothy Parker, and it would have been adultery. Crowd etiquette entails tak-
ing nothing personally: not looking up, removing the stray limb, and using your hips
to make a small lacuna in the esh so you can shimmy out. By now the racks are in
disarray, skidded off center, with clothing, iPods, wallets, cell phonesand is that
a diaphragm?on the oor, lost children wailing, beautiful women on their hands
and knees, crawling around in an orgy of Helmut Newton outtakes. The Chanel
dress with the faux-prim plaid pleats now has a large footprint on it. Many have
fallen, but the strongest survive. Pain is just weakness leaving your body. You will
suddenly nd yourself in small bubbles of empty space. Take this time to store up
oxygen, but do not waste time wondering is this is a reection of the quality of the
clothing at hand. The crowd has no reason; it just is. has done much to dissipate the frenzy attendant upon Barneys Warehouse
Sale, so this may be something of a historical exercise. Shopping online however
deprives you of the reason Barneys was invented: the negotiation of crowds, punc-
tuated by instant gratication, or in the parlance of the industry, retail therapy.
Then, too, there is the pleasure of knowing you got it right. Do you know what it
feels like to gure out later that that Yohji Yamamoto sleeveless blouse with that
strange zipper at the bottom hemline actually transforms into a little purse, so you
got two things for the price of one? Dar-ling, you have no idea.
Charles Tilly Columbia University
At Homer, Alaska, Cook Inlet meets the Gulf of Alaska. According to its Chamber
of Commerce, the town of four thousand people occupies a spectacular site on
Kachemak Bay in sight of the Kenai Mountains. Once a coal-mining town, Homer
now relies for its livelihood mainly on commercial sheriessalmon and halibut
in abundanceand tourists. With moose, bear, pufns, eagles, porpoises, and killer
whales close at hand, it seems like the antithesis of my own New York City, and
well worth the visit.
Residents of Homer might be surprised to learn that their weekly routines owe
something to the violent victories of a dissolute demagogue in London during the
1760s. But they do. The online Homer News posted an intriguing story in April 2003:
Monday has become the day for war supporters and peace activists to stage
simultaneous demonstrations on the corner of Pioneer Avenue and Lake
Street, prompting a barrage of honks and hollersand the occasional pro-
fanityfrom passing motorists. Saturday, meanwhile, has become the day
that Anchor Point stakes its claim as the hub of patriotic rallying.
Deanna Chesser said there were no peace activists present as roughly 90
people gathered to show their support for military action in Iraq and the
efforts of the men and women in the U.S. military. And we dont have any
Women in Black, said Chesser, referring to Homers contingent of the glob-
C H A P T E R 1 3
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 3 WUNC 1
al network that advocates peace and justice. The organizers of the Anchor
Point rally are planning a repeat performance for noon on Saturday, with
the addition of music and speakers. Chesser, whose son Davin recently was
deployed to Kuwait, said she expects an even bigger turnout.
While those showing their support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq have Anchor
Point all to themselves on Saturdays, they have only begun joining the peace
activists on the corner at Pioneer and Lake for the past several weeks. For
weeks prior to that, passers-by out around noon on a Monday would see a
subdued silent vigil taking place on the corner, which is also the site of Hom-
ers Veterans Memorial. The presence of protestors in front of the memorial
stirred up resentment among some residents, prompting a call to begin a
counter rally at the same time. We want to take the corner back, said one
ag-waving demonstrator. Why dont you pray for our troops instead of for
the Iraqis? yelled a passing motorist, responding to the Women in Black
assertion that their vigil is in observance of those lost in war.
But Sharon Whytal said she believed the choice to stand near the Veterans
Memorial symbolizes a concern for all those who are lost in military conict.
Its true that many of us are there because were grieving for the loss of
veterans, Whytal said, adding that having both groups share the site also
provides a powerful symbolfreedom in action.
While there had been reports of some unpleasant exchanges between the
two groups, there was little sign of it on Monday as close to 100 people
stood on the corner, split evenly. The group waving ags stood out front on
the sidewalk, lined up at the curb waving ags and cheering as passing mo-
torists honked and waved. Standing 15 yards behind them, a line of Women
in Black joined by a number of men, also dressed in black, remained silent
for the duration of their vigil. I dont feel offended that there are two groups
there expressing their minds, Whytal said, referring to a sign bearing a slo-
gan popular at many protests around the country: This is what democracy
looks like.

Anchor Point, site of the solo pro-war celebrations, lies sixteen miles west of
Homer on the Sterling Highway, which leads up Kachemak Bay to Anchorage. Hav-
ing only an elementary school at home, Anchor Points adolescents bus down the
Sterling Highway to Homer for their high school educations. Thus the two towns
often interact.
The same day that the Homer News reported Homers dual displays of antiwar and
prowar sentiment, it also ran a dispatch from Anchor Point describing the yellow
ribbons tied to trees throughout the smaller town, and inviting people out for a
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 3 WUNC 2
Also Np, Sokasg, Csd, Tmeg, Csdtmeg
The emergence of new
In contrast to the relatively large semantic
elds of the old Hungarian equivalents of
crowd, (sokasg (multitude, many-ness)
and np (people, folk)), the two new words
that are coined in the 19th century, tmeg
and csd, have more specic meanings.
Tmeg was derived from the verb tm
(to ll). Csd is a truncated version of the
verb csdl (to run together). Csd very
quickly lost its connections to crowd, and
only retained the more popular meaning
bankruptcy or simply failure.
According to A Magyar Nyelv Trtneti-
Etimolgiai Sztra (TESz), tmeg was
rst used in 1828, coined probably by the
Hungarian poet Vrsmarty, and it referred
to the multitude of gathered people. It would
quickly gather a lot of other meanings. By 1831
it could refer to the multitude (sokasg)
or large quantity of something. It could also
signify the majority of the people who form a
society (1833), a thick, strong object (1835),
or a lot (1846).
By the early 1840s, however, tmeg most
often referred to crowd. The expression
nptmeg (people-mass) is used by the
translator of Tocquevilles Democracy in
America and by Zsigmond Orms, too. Its
other uses were also popular. Tmeg
remained a physical concept, or the
equivalent of large amount. Heap and
vastness, and other vaguer concepts,
however, went out of fashion.
As the Pet-Sztr states, for Pet, one
of the most important poets of 19th-century
Hungary, tmeg could mean the amorph
mass of a large amount of material, the large
quantity of something, and most frequently,
the multitude of people gathered together:
a crowd. This is not really surprising,
considering Pets active role in the
revolution and the freedom ghts of 1848-1849.
The TESz informs us that csd originally had
the meaning of crowd. There is one example
for this usage from 1841. Nonetheless, the
word had other meanings right from the
beginning, which took over rather quickly.
The less frequent csdlet has retained
its connotations to crowd, however, possibly
due to the fact that it has not been lexicalized
separately from the word csdl, since it is
formed according to the rules of Hungarian
According to the HHC, the regular nominal
derivatives of csdl came to use around
1838-1840. Jzsef Osztrvszky used the
expression csdlet (participation,
nancial assistance) in the context of
insurance companies. The eminent Hungarian
poet Mihly Vrsmarty made use of the
expression csdls (coming together,
running together of people) several times
in his short story, A fredi szvhalszat, in
1840. Mihly Horvth, in his book of industrial
and trade history written in 1840, analysed
the policies of tradesmen who wanted to
prevent the oversupply of goods by prohibiting
the csdlet (proliferation) of merchants.
In 1844, Ignc Nagy wrote of csdleti
betegsg (urban disease), describing the
malecent effects of the putrid scent of the
dirt and water in the city of Pest.
The politician and economic policy-maker
nobleman Istvn Szchenyi used csd
(bankruptcy, insolvency) in his article Ad s
kt garas (Tax and two farthings) in 1840. The
expression csdleti zr (the suspension of
payment of legal debts) was rst used in 1841,
the year csd was also used as crowd.
Sndor Pet, the most successful poet of the
1840s (and of whole Hungarian literature) is
another example of the popularity of csd
both as a word and as urban practice in the
gy mlik jnk s napunk,/Nincs hja
semminek,/Mig vgre csdt nem kapunk,/Mi
boldog pestiek.
Thats how our days and nights pass by,/We
are not in want of anything,/Until we go
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 3 WUNC 3
new rally along the Sterling Highway. Participants, it said, should bring American
ags and pictures of family members serving in the Iraq war.
Inside Homer, the
corner of Pioneer and Lake, where the two bands of around fty people each stood
fteen yards apart, features not only the towns war memorial but also its police
and re departments. These activists stage their peaceful confrontations at one of
Homers central locations.
No one who stayed alert to national and international news during the spring of
2003 should have any difculty decoding Aprils events in Homer and Anchor Point.
Not just Americans, but people across the world, can easily recognize them as
street demonstrations, a standard means of broadcasting support or opposition
with regard to political issues. In this case, demonstration and counter-demonstra-
tion represented opposition to, and support for, American military intervention in
Iraq. On the same days when citizens of Anchor Point and Homer took to the street,
hundreds of street demonstrations were occurring elsewhere in the world. Some
of them concerned the Iraq War, but most of them took up other locally urgent
questions. In the early twenty-rst century, the street demonstration looks like an
all-purpose political toolperhaps less effective in the short run than buying a
legislator or mounting a military coup, but within democratic and semi-democratic
regimes a signicant alternative to elections, opinion polls, and letter-writing as a
way of voicing public positions.
Although the news from Homer and Anchor Point does not tell us so, the twenty-
rst-century demonstration actually has two major variants. In the rst variant,
Homer style, participants gather in a symbolically potent public location where
through speech and action they display their collective attachment to a well-de-
ned cause. In the second, they proceed through public thoroughfares offering
similar displays of attachment.
Often, of course, the two combine, as activists
march to a favored rallying place, or as multiple columns converge from different
places on a single symbolically powerful destination.
i War prompts street demonstrations,, 3 April 2003, accessed 8 July 2003, spacing and punctuation
ii Pro-troops demonstrators to rally again this week,, 3 April 2003, accessed 8 July 2003.
iii As it happens, French scholars have done by far the most extensive work on the demonstrations history. See especially Pierre
Favre, ed., La Manifestation (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1990); Olivier Fillieule, Strat-
gies de la rue. Les manifestations en France (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1997); Michel
Pigenet and Danielle Tartakowsky, eds., Les marches, Le mouvement social 202 (JanuaryMarch 2003), entire issue; Vincent
Robert, Les chemins de la manifestation, 18481914 (Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1996); and Danielle Tartakowsky,
Les Manifestations de rue en France, 19181968 (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1997).
bankrupt,/We, happy citizens of Pest. From
A Boldog Pestiek, 1844
By 1846, csd seems to have ceased
to have the connotations of mass,
amassing, running together; since the term
csdtmeg was coined in order to describe
the goods in possession of the insolvent
company. Istvn Pajor used this new word
in 1846 in his work on the Hungarian laws of
bills of exchange. This is a highly remarkable
case, since Pajor made use of the participle
sszecsdlt (have come together, have
amassed) in the same sentence as well. The
verb naturally retained its original meaning,
but csd was already lexicalized separately.
Beyond the Mid-Century
There is some evidence that suggests that
by the end of the 19th century, csd of the
two new coinages ceased to denote crowd;
and tmeg denoted a very clear concept of
crowd, although it also retained the scientic
meaning of weight.
Ballagis dictionary from 1873 does not
mention that csd would have anything to
do with crowds. In 1902, the second volume
of the linguistic journal, Magyar Nyelv,
already uses the past tense for the meanings
of csd that are different from bankruptcy.
The author of the article states that it used to
mean tender, and even gathered people.
As for tmeg, Ballagi writes of it as an
amount, multitude gathered together, lower
class of people, debtors in possession of the
goods of an insolvent person, thick esh,
and the volume of a geometrical body.
In contrast, by the beginning of the 1900s,
tmeg seems to have only predominantly
one meaning outside scientic contexts:
crowd. The Hungarian poet Endre Ady uses
the word only in this sense in his poetry. For
him, tmeg is not a positive concept, as the
following lines suggest:
Parfmt mg Nietzsche sem izzadt/S a
tmeg ma sem illatos.
Not even Nietzsche sweated perfume,/And
the masses are not fragrant nowadays,
either. From Henrik r lovagol
Rvai Nagylexikona in 1925 gives a very
accurate denition of tmeg, which seems
to still hold. It is the multitude (sokasg)
of men who have common feelings and
intentions. We often call a multitude of people
tmeg, if they are together in space, but it
is necessary that they show similar spiritual
characteristics. In modern democracies,
the concept of tmeg becomes more
Reections on Crowds
Then and Now
Tom Seligman Director, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford
Then in a youthful purple haze. Now trying to sort out memories from subsequent
reections, shared stories with friends and media accounts. The period from 1964
to 1969 was turbulent for me as a young San Franciscan, opposed to the war in
Vietnam and the draft; an activist for civil rights and social equity. The psychedelic
and drug scene was pervasive as were organizing antiwar and civil rights demonstra-
tions, some of which turned violent, happenings and love-ins in Golden Gate Park,
concerts at the Fillmore and Avalon and lots of Haight-Ashbury street action. How to
nd and reconstruct memories? The strongest are of an abundance of desire to alter
the world, stop wars, live in love and peace, radically change the way the American
establishment controlled social and economic activities at home and abroad. Indi-
viduals and crowds are signicant in these memories.
The single most powerful and probably most signicant mass action I was involved
with was the occupation of the Mall in Washington D.C. in the spring of 1968. My
ex-wife and I were living in New York and with friends were planning to build one of
the resurrection schools, a geodesic dome on the Mall to provide classroom space
to teach inner-city, mostly African American children during the summer. We drove in
our VW to Washington, arriving at dusk to a remarkable absence of any trafc, with
re engines and smoke all over the skyline. We had no radio in our car, no knowledge
that Martin Luther King had been assassinated, that D.C. was in a state of emer-
gency or that a curfew had been imposed. On the outskirts we stopped at a trafc
light and a pickup pulled alongside and a man in plain clothes pointed a shotgun at
us. He asked what we were doing driving about. After hearing our story he told us to
go directly to our friends in southeast D.C. without stopping. We arrived safely and
found our friends and others locked in their apartment. Throughout the night tanks
and National Guard troops rolled down the street to the Capitol area. After a sleep-
less night of intense discussion, we ventured forth to the Mall to try to see what
was going onto gure out what to dowhat was possible. After a day or two we
were on the Mall along with thousands of others, camping, making music, building
resurrection schools and conducting anti-war demonstrations. We protested the
presence of troops and tanks by placing owers in the barrel of ries held by men
my age or younger. For several days after the rioting quieted we built the school and
returned to New Yorkdrainedupsetconfusedfrightened.
and more important, because its political
importance grows, cf. tmegllektan. This
clearcut denition is then further elaborated
under the heading tmegllektan (mass
psychology, Massenpsychologie, in contrast
to npllektan, Vlkerpsychologie),
where the reader is referred to the works of
Le Bon and Tnniess Kritik der ffentlichen
Meinung. Similarly, another dictionary
from 1942, the j Idk Lexikona denes
tmegllektan as the branch of psychology
that researches not the individual, but the
common spiritual expressions of a group of
people come together at one place at one
time. Its main teaching is that due to the
shared feeling of responsibility and the lack of
necessary critique, the decisions and actions
of the tmeg are more hasty, more daring
and less controllable, and its feelings are
more perturbed than those feelings, actions
and decisions that the members of the group
would have on their own.
It seems probable that by the 1940s, tmeg
acquires a meaning that is more inuenced
by contemporary psychological theories than
by its etymological origins. It takes up such
connotations more easily than np, which
remains polysemous until today. Csd
does no longer have the meaning crowd, and
sokasg is less and less frequently used.
Ady Endre, sszes Kltemnye, www.mek.
Benk Lornd (ed.), A Magyar Nyelv
Trtneti-Etimolgiai Sztra, Budapest:
Akadmiai, 1967-78
Ballagi Mr, A Magyar Nyelv Teljes
Sztra, Pest: Heckenast Gusztv, 1873
Hungarian Historical Corpus, www.nytud.
Pet-Sztr, Budapest: Akadmiai, 1973-
Rvai Nagylexikona, Budapest: Rvai
Testvrek, 1925
j Idk Lexikona, Budapest: Singer s
Wolfner, 1942
Entry by Dniel Margcsy
Why were crowds essential? The sense of solidarity and belonging in such a clear
and visceral way was the most important reason and the most enduring sensation.
We were togetheroptimisticand we gained strength through our numbers
strength for a shared cause. The rain, the muddy Mall, the troops, the tanksthe
hardships brought us even closer together. We worked hard, believed passionately,
cared to extremes and, as a result, were comrades.
Another memory is fear. Fear of losing controlof the crowd out of control, of armed,
equally frightened young soldiers shooting us (as later happened at Kent State)of
riotof serious injuryto my friendsto me.
With memory dim, what is the legacy for me ltered through subsequent years?
I guess I learned that for social action to be successful it often requires mass ac-
tion. While mass action is powerful, crowds and social actions can be subverted
from their goals. Governments, tradition, and inertia are powerful forces resisting
changethus when change comes, it comes slowly. I also realize that what I per-
ceive as social gains that have been won (or legislated) can be later lost if those
who care are not constantly vigilantremaining activists. (I think of Roe v. Wade in
this context.)
Having had three male children I have also seen that because I am an activist does
not mean they will be. Those of us from the prebaby boom civil rights and anti-
Vietnam days often turn our children and their friends off by frequently recounting
the gloried experiences of the late 1960s. They see us as stuck in nostalgia. As they
have had no similar major issues directly affecting their own lives until 9/11/01, my
children and their generation nonetheless require their own space and time to effect
changewith or without mass action.
The Spatial Rhetoric of Mass
Andrew V. Uroskie Film and Media Studies, Georgia Tech
On February 21, 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle, Northern Californias largest
paper, led with a headline Photos show 65,000 at peak of S.F. rally. This giant
rally was representative of the large, vocal opposition to the Bush administration
and its foreign policy, not simply in California, but around the world. In London,
Berlin, Madrid, Rome and other major world capitals, millions of people marched
in opposition to American foreign policy as it was then being articulated (gs.
14.1 and 14.2). The specic number presented by the Chronicle was taken not as
an indication as to the size and strength of the protest, but rather of its paucity
and weakness. In fact, the specic numberand the story which would unfold
beneath itdid not concern themselves with the situation to which this mass of
people had gathered to respond, but only with the situation of the mass gathering

The original number of demonstrators, reported at two hundred thousand by both
organizers and police alike, had been disseminated to news agencies throughout
the world. So while this story was about the relative paucity of the crowd (at least
compared to the initial estimates), it was essentially about the more general prob-
C H A P T E R 14
Today the above is
more important than force
or kilotons.
Harun Farocki

lem of visually representing the crowdthat is, of representing a phenomenon
which was itself engaged in a particular act of representation. In so doing, the
Chronicle unconsciously placed itself in a long line of questioning, within the arts
and philosophy of the modern era, of this problem of mass representation. This
tradition concerns both the crowd as a specic problem of visual representation,
and the way in which this particular question of representing the masses comes to
stand in for a more general question of mass representation as such within twen-
tieth-century visual culture. This number reproduced in the headline65,000
was shocking at the time because both organizers and police had estimated a
much higher number. Throughout the 1990s, as various groups became adept at
organizing large-scale demonstrations in Washington, Americans were treated to
the million man march, the million mom march, the Promise Keepers rally,
and so forth. In a quintessentially American supersizing of the demonstration,
these increasingly regularized spectacles were greeted with progressively less
and less media attention. According to Todd Gitlin, the practice of splitting the
difference between often widely divergent estimates of the protesters and the
police agencies was nally abandoned in the 1990s in favor of simply reporting
both numbersthereby admitting a certain representational instability. The size
of the crowd, what has been called the mythical number, is by necessity what
Alex Jones of the Harvard Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy calls an
emotional issue, not a factual issue precisely in that, by seemingly adjudicating
the very signicance of the demonstration, it stands to conrm or deny the very
existence of the situation to which the demonstration was ostensibly responding.
tens of thousands, the desire to be seen, heard, and counted was much more
than an articulation of disagreement with state policy, it was in fact a primary
instance of subjecticationa rare moment of both community-formation and di-
sidentication from the world-as-presented through the often totalizing lens of the
mass media.
Yet the Chronicle, which commissioned this particular survey, organized a very
different kind of truth-claim based around a very different account of representa-
tion. Its representation of the demonstration was presented as the truth of the
detached, objective viewa truth ostensibly beyond emotion and politics,
gained through the resources of aerial photography and scientic procedure.
The world from above looks different than it does from street level here signi-
es, above the clamor of the street, above the intense emotions of the interested
parties, above all that would distort ones perception, there is a clear, objective
view to be founda detached and therefore truthful perspective (g. 14.3). In
the upper-level corner of the page, under the heading The Camera, we encounter
a torrent of seemingly superuous technical minutiae. We nd, for instance, that
the cameras aperture had been set to f4, its shutter speed was 1/300 of a second,
and that the lm used had been AFGA Pan 80. Rhetorically, this detail is essential
The Russian noun tolpa translates well
into English as crowd, its principal denition
suggesting a large, disorderly congregation
of people (Slovar sovremennogo russkogo
literaturnogo iazyka). Its usage in modern
Russian also shares with its equivalents in
many other languages a sense of chaos, loss
of individuality, and unpredictable movement.
D.N. Ushakov denes tolpa as a disorderly,
disorganized accumulation of people, a mob
(nestroinoe, neorganizovannoe skoplenie
liudei, sborishche.) Among its synonyms, with
varying degrees of correlation, are gurba,
vataga, orava, orda, and sonm.
Etymologically, the origins of tolpa reach
back at least as far as the postulated proto-
Slavic language (which existed without
leaving written traces) and perhaps further
into Indo-European. Its place in proto-Slavic
is guaranteed by the broad analogy of tolpa
in the varied modern Slavic languages that
must have branched from this common parent
such as the Belorussian tolpa, the Czech
tlupa and tlum, and the Polish tlum,
all of which carry the semantic meaning of
some gathered body of people. A similar root
is found in the neighboring Baltic languages,
but a semantic shift is already quite obvious,
as seen in the Lithuanian talp (capacity,
volume) or telp, tilpau, and tilpti (to
be located, to enter) and the Latvian talpa
(place, location) or tlpt, telpu, tilptsu,
tilpu (to be located, to enter, to reach). From
the Baltic languages, the leap backward to
the ancient Indian tlpas or talpa (bed,
seat) is easy enough to conceive, the idea of
location providing a common bond.
Though the semantic link in the Indo-Baltic-
Slavic comparison appears to be rather
tenuous, nevertheless it provides some
context in which to imagine the origin of
meaning for the notion of tolpa, and that it
was closely tied with the idea of space and
the occupation thereof. Another hypothesis,
even more imaginative, that the pl and pla
(lp and lpa by metathesis) of tolpa could be
connected to the pl or plo as found in the
ancient Latin populus is attractive because
of its semantic proximity. This hypothesis has
been dismissed, hoever, by Max Fasmer as
doubtful. (see Fasmer p. 74)
The earliest known written usage of tolpa
appears in an ecclesiastical manuscript of the
late eleventh century, the Service Menology
for November 1097 (Sluzhebnaia mineia za
noiabr 1097 g.), a text written in Old Church
Slavonic, the clerical tongue and early literary
language for much of the Slavic world.
Tolpa is used in this selection in reference
to the twelve apostlessuggesting that at
this point in time the term signies merely a
grouping of people, without the elements of
mass and chaos that it bears today.
However, by the time that the Laurentian
Chronicle of the Tale of Bygone Years
(Povest vremmenykh let) appears in the
12th century, tolpa seems to have already
developed its denotation of the large crowd,
the term being applied in one instance
to a large group of people thronging at
the gates (PVL 6582). Another interesting
early occurrence of tolpa comes in the
hagiography Pecherskii Paterikon (Paterik
pecherskii), in which a certain Isakii stood
and saw the crowd and their faces (I
stav Isakii, i vide tolpu i litse ikh). In this
same portion of the document, Isakii is able
to distinguish one face amongst the crowd
whose countenance is brighter than all the
rest. This moment provides an exact indicator
of the boundaries of the word tolpa: the
crowd exists as a collective body, with which
one may come face to face, yet if any member
of that collective differs strongly enough from
the whole of the body, this individual may be
independent of the crowd, though located
simultaneously within.
Other early uses of tolpa come in Slavonic
translations of the Old Testament and other
religious texts in which, apart from its typical
application to a crowd, the term may also
apply to a body of soldiers (see Sreznevskii, I.
I. p. 1046).
Another term that begins to appear in places
where one might expect to nd tolpa is
the noun chern. Chern might also be
translated as crowd, but brings with it the
to the overall message being conveyed, namely, This survey has been well-done.
It was scientic. Advanced equipment has been used by trained professionals. As
such, the data, however controversial, is objectively accurate and the message it
conveys can be trusted.
Far from the madding crowdand specically far above
that crowdsuch a perspective yearns to offer much more than an accurate
count. It would offer a truthful accounting of the event outside the normal give-
and-take of the various involved partiesoutside the concrete, lived perspec-
tives of the demonstrators, the police, and the bystanders. The neutrality and
objectivity of its method would proclaim not simply a particular perspective on
the event, but what we colloquially term the long viewthe descendent of the
gods eye view of the middle ages. Not just any perspective, it is the privileged
perspective that, in transforming the subjective image into an objective data-set,
would secure the social and political normalcy which the very existence of the
crowd was taken to challenge.

i Harun Farocki, Reality would have to begin, in Imprint: Writings (New York: Lukas and Sternberg, 2001).
ii Of course, at least the Chronicle covered the massive demonstrations. Many American news outlets simply refused to cover
the story at all. Any question of the future of the representation of the crowd necessarily involves representation under the
conditions of massive media consolidation and deregulation.
iii The number of people (in a crowd) is a mythical number, and now youre going to turn it into a fact, and that wont be wel-
comed Theres an old saying in journalism: people only see what they believe. This is an emotional issue, not a factual issue
as far as most people are concerned. Alex Jones, Director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public
Policy, Harvard University, quoted in the Chronicle, A6.
iv The Chronicles project, despite its predilicition for new solutions grounded in advanced technology, presents itself in the
garb of the old-fashioned and hence the trustworthy. While entirely computerized solutions could likely have been employed,
they opted rather for mid-century methods of human analysis. This human touch might seem to serve no purpose, since the
analysis was nothing more than the accurate counting of dots done more effectively by computer scanning. Yet its rhetorical
purpose was clearit fostered a sense of human subjectivity that served to mitigate the cold rationality of the machine.
v This fantasy of the long view is increasingly, in the new millennium, tied to economics and the perception of a healthy
national economy. As I am writing, some twenty-four hundred protestors are scheduled to go to trial in San Francisco for dis-
turbing the normal ow of trafcmany articles highlight the dramatically increased cost to the city for the police overtime
due to the demonstration, and imply that the demonstrators should remunerate the city, in this time of economic downturn,
for their actions. Abstracting from the cause of the demonstration, or even the rights of free association, the media coverage
has tended to use a massive dollar amount without any context, thus implying that public demonstrations are too costly for
America to sustain.
distinction of the crowd of common people,
more directly translated, the black masses.
The etymology of chern is tightly woven
with the adjective chernyi (black) which
historically had its application with the
common people (prostonarodie)e.g. the
lower levels of society in ancient Novgorod
were referred to as the chernyi narod (black
folk), chernaia sotnia (black hundred), or
chernye liudi (black people). The adjectives
nominal form, chern, thus refers to the low,
common, popular crowd.
The Hypatian Chronicle (15th century)
describes the riots in Kiev of 1113 following
the death of Prince Sviatopolk and before
the coronation of Vladimir Monomakh. The
citizens of Kiev, in a bout of mob violence, set
about the city vandalizing, burgling, and using
the lack of government as an opportunity
to attack the citys Jewish residents. The
Hypatian chronicler used neither tolpa
nor chern in his description of the mobs
movement, opting to use the more specic,
civic collective term Kiiani [Kyanie]
(Kievans), the same term which he applies to
the group of non-riotous Kievans who send
for Monomakh to return order to the city. In
the early nineteenth century, however, when
Nikolai Karamzin retells the same events in
his History of the Russian State (Istoriia
gosudarstva rossiiskogo), the representation
of the crowd has changed. He describes the
peaceful Kievans writing to Monomakh asking
him to save them from the savagery of the
mob (neistovstva cherni).
That the term chern would be more
appropriate to use in the 19th century than it
was in the 15th century might be due to the
development of a secondary denition for the
word, mainly used in the rhetorical sense.
This denition transfers the societal quality of
lowness to an abstract, dened by Ushakov
as the ignorant, uncultured milieu, crowd
(nevezhestvennaia, nekulturnaia sreda,
tolpa) and by the Slovar sovremennogo
russkogo iazyka as a reference to the
spiritually limited, dull-witted milieu, to the
crowd, foreign to elevated thinking and
motives (o dukhovno ogranichennoi,
nedalekoi srede, o tolpe, chuzhdoi vysokykh
pomyslov, pobuzhdenii). This same dictionary
gives a supplementary denition of tolpa
that demonstrates its connection to chern:
Ordinary, average people, folk, as opposed
to gifted, exceptional personages.
(Obyknovennye srednie liudi, narod, v otlichie
ot odariennykh, vydaiushchikhsia lichnostiei.)
By these denitions the activity of the Kievan
mob of the 12th century could be interpreted
Crowd Experiences
Hayden White History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz
Crowds. I tend to avoid them. The most memorable experiences? Political riots
in Rome in 1954, when Italians were protesting the British occupation of Trieste.
I blundered upon a crowd that was bent on nding and punishing British citizens
(or subjects), property, and institutions. I heard the swell of the mob as I walked
from Piazza Capranica towards Via del Corso. It was the noise that was most
unnerving, for it was like a swarm of bees or locusts, utterly without specic
direction or target. What did I do? Melted into a side street and proceeded to-
wards home. I never feel curiosity for what the mob will do. One can be sure it
will be up to no good.
Then in 1971, during the antiVietnam War resistance in Los Angeles, on the
campus of UCLA, a police riot. Police were called in to suppress a crowd that
had been demonstrating peaceably enough until someone (it turned out to be an
agent provocateur of the Los Angeles Police Department) threw somethinga
rock, a trash can, who knows?into a store window. This infuriated the police,
who immediately dispersed over the entire UCLA campus, beating up people
indiscriminately, invading the library where they seized people working at their
tables in the Reading Room, put them in police come-along grips, and escorted
them to the nearby vans for arraignment. Police helicopters overhead, tear gas
everywhere, panic on the part of the faculty (who immediately thought that the
rioters would come and destroy their precious research notes), a sense of high
drama and delight amongst the principal student activists engaged in the event.
I witnessed a crime committed by a police ofcer (he had been undercover, en-
rolled as a student one of my courses, and blown a couple of days before
when he gave testimony against the antiwar agitators: he had been assigned
to gather dossiers on faculty and students suspected of participating in antiwar
activities), and (foolishly) reported it to . . . the police! As a result, I found myself
charged with having attacked this ofcer, having torn his uniform from his back
(he was in civilian clothes), and so threatening him that he had had to ee for
his life. All this on Los Angeles television within a couple of hours. I was then
investigated by L.A. Police Internal Affairs, who had only to take a look at me to
realize that the idea of my attacking two police ofcers was ludicrous. Nothing
came of it.
as thoughtless and spiritually low, especially
in the eyes of a 19th century historian such as
This conception of the crowd is eloquently and
forcefully established in Pushkins 1828 poem,
The Poet and the Crowd (Poet i Tolpa),
in which tolpa and chern are used
interchangeably. The poet is confronted by a
cold and haughty group of unconsecrated
people (a khladnyi i nadmenyi / Krugom
narod neposviashchennyi) who listen to
him without understanding. The poem is
constructed partially in dramatic fomat with
the character Poet having a dialogue with
the character Chern, which, it should be
noted, speaks with one voice. The poet is
merciless in his upbraiding of this chern
and its inability to transcend their mundane
terrestrial lives and be sanctied by his lyre.
He calls them mindless slaves (rabov
bezumnykh) and creates a pun from the
word chern referring to the crowd as
cherv zemli (worm of the earth). This crowd
is interested in poetry (and by metonymy,
anything representing high culture) only as it
becomes practical for use in the humdrum of
daily lifefor Pushkin, this is the core of their
philistinism, their ignorance of the spiritual
value of poetry.
This juxtaposition of the lofty poet with the
debased crowd is quintessential Romantic
individualism, and it was conrmed in the
work of other 19th century writers such as
Lermontov (see Death of the Poet) and
Herzen (We are rarely better than the
crowd [chern], but we express ourselves
more softly, more deftly put off our egoism
and passions.) However, the modernist
poetry of the 20th century is also rife with
this conception of the crowd, especially
amongst the Symbolists and Futurists,
perhaps most notably in the work of Blok and
Mayakovsky. Dictionaries also support the
image of Pushkins image of the crowd as
mindless slaves. For example, Vladimir Dal
does just this with his denition of chern in
his Tolkovyi slovar zhivago velikoruskago
iazyka, wherein he provides an example
of word usage that reads, The crowd is
ragingfor what purpose it knows not!
(Chern bushuet o chem, ne znaet!). Even
more suggestive of the crowds lowness is
Dals disclosure that tolpa is sometimes
used in reference to livestock.
While chern is almost exclusively negative,
the connotation of tolpa is dependent on
usage, but varies mainly between neutral
and negative. The negative connotation
seems mainly due to the association with
Peace demonstrations and civil rights demonstrations in Washington in the fall of
1972: peaceful, pacic, ower-power mood, lots of good, decent people with their
kids, expressing their belief in the constitution and civil rights.
My experience of crowds: I stay away from them unless I am compelled by some
obligation to a friend or political ally to turn up for a demonstration.
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 4 6
mindlessness, imperviousness to higher
thought and feeling. This specicity for the
two terms is especially important as the
Marxist rhetoric of masses and proletariat
begins to hold sway in the 20th century. The
tolpa remains somewhat undesirable,
lacking direction, whereas the historically
motivated forward movement of the
proletariat massa gives the concept of the
crowd an entirely new reading which departs
wholly from the concepts previous lexical
incarnation in both tolpa and chern.
Dal, Vladimir. Tolkovyi slovar zhivago
velikorusskago iazyka. Sankt-Peterburg:
M.O. Volfa, 1882.
Fasmer, Maks. Etimologicheskii slovar
russkogo iazyka. Moskva: Progress, 1973.
Ipatevskaia letopis. Polnoe sobranie
russkikh letopisei. t. II. Moskva: Iazyki
Russkoi Kultury, 1998.
Karamzin, N.M. Istoriia gosudarstva
rossiiskogo. Moskva: Kniga, 1988.
Pushkin, A.S. Poet i tolpa. Sobranie
Sochinenii v piati tomakh. Sankt-Peterburg:
Bibliopolis, 1995.
Slovar iazyka Pushkina. Moskva:
Gosudarstvennoe Izdatelstvo Inostrannykh i
Natsionalnykh Slovarei, 1961.
Slovar sinonimov russkogo iazyka.
Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Nauka, 1971.
Slovar sovremennogo russkogo iazyka.
Moskva: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR,
Sreznevskii, I.I. Materialy dlia slovaria
drevne-russkago iazyka po pismennym
pamiatnikam. Sankt-Peterburg: Tipograia
Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, 1903.
Ushakov, D.N, ed. Tolkovyj slovar russkogo
jazyka in 4 volumes. Cambridge, MA: Slavica
Publshiers, 1974.
Entry by Dustin Condren
Individuation, Solitude, and
Society in the Western
Jobst Welge Institut fr Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
(AVL) der Freien Universitt Berlin
In the prologue on the theater in Goethes Faust I, the gure of the poet remarks:
O sprich mir nicht von jener bunten Menge,
Bei deren Anblick uns der Geist entieht.
Verhlle mir das wogende Gedrnge,
Das wider Willen uns zum Strudel zieht.
[Dont speak to me of crowds at whose mere sight
The spirit ees us! That you could conne
The surging rabble that draws us with might
To compromise our every great design.]
The passage is representative for an entire conception and epoch of modern lit-
erature: the poet in his ivory tower, aloof from, disdainful of, yet tempted by, the
crowd. Moreover, it also addresses the paradoxical relation between poetry and
theater (Die Masse knnt ihr nurch durch Masse zwingen / Ein jeder sucht sich
C H A P T E R 1 5
endlich selbst was aus [956]). (The mass is overwhelmed only by masses / Each
likes some part of what has been presented). We might apply to these lines, and,
by extension, to the character Faust, an observation by Georg Lukcs, who has
argued that the tragic hero is by denition a lonely gure who strives to elevate
himself above the merely human and the masses: Die Einsamkeit ist aber etwas
Paradox-Dramatisches: sie ist die eigentliche Essenz des Tragischen (Faust, 36).
(Solitude is something paradoxical-dramatic: it is the true essence of the tragic).
The present essay is concerned with the evolution of such anticrowd sentiments,
the public, literary performance of solitude, as well as the perception and repre-
sentation of crowds from an individualist perspective. In fact, what is absent
from most sociological accounts of the masses, as well as from Elias Canettis
anthropological approach in Crowds and Power, is an analysis of the relation be-
tween individuated observers and formations of the crowd. I will try to show that
there is a long tradition of Western literature, both modern and early modern,
which expresses this relationship between the individual and the crowd. In con-
trast to sociological investigation and philosophical reection, literary works do
not show the masses (and, in a wider sense, the public, society) from an objec-
tive, scientic perspective, but give us representative, historically conditioned
accounts of the interaction between individuals and their social surroundingsin
relation to which they see themselves as apart, or as distant observers. However,
I will occasionally also draw on the work of philosophical writers. The writings of
Nietzsche in particular are pertinent both for its formal links with early modern
writers and its strong inuence on turn-of-the-century writers.
More specically, the following account, necessarily highly selective, will privilege
texts by writers who reect upon their own literary authorship as conditioned by,
and as symptomatic of, the interaction between the individual and the collective.
This is to say that the literary author becomes necessarily a solitary individual
who shares his thoughts with a mostly anonymous public. In this sense, we are
concerned not only with the historical evolution of subject/crowd formations (obvi-
ously an integral part of every subjective formation), but also with a central aspect
of the mechanism of literary communication.
i J. W. Goethe, Faust, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Anchor Books, 1990), 71.
ii Georg Lukcs, Die Theorie des Romans. Ein geschichtsphilosophischer Versuch ber die Form der groen Epik (Frankfurt am
Main: Luchterhand, 1977).
Vulgus is one of the Latin words for a
crowd. Derived from the Sanskrit word
varga meaning a group, category, or
class, vulgus stood for the general public
or common people. It referred to a crowd
not necessarily in the sense of people
physically gathered together in the same
place, but in the sense of being part of the
same social order and sharing the same
ideas and opinions. In contrast with other
Latin words for crowd such as turba, which
implied a state of disorder within a crowd,
and multitudo, which denoted a crowd
purely in a numerical sense, vulgus made
a judgment on the social status of the people
making up the crowd. As the Roman elite saw
anything connected to the populace at large
as beneath them, vulgus came to stand
for the lower classes. It was implied that
the members of the vulgus were of lower
intelligence and had lower moral standards.
Thus Cicero, an orator and politician
writing at the end of the Republic, contrasts
vulgus with intellegentium when he
asks: Semperne in oratore probando aut
improbando vulgi iudicium cum intellegentium
iudicio congruit? (Is it always true that in
the approval or disapproval of an orator the
judgment of the crowd coincides with the
judgment of experts.) [1]
Vulgus was also used to describe the
crowds at circuses and public events such
as the Triumphs held in Rome for victorious
returning generals. Holding these mass public
festivities was a crucial way for the Emperors
to keep their people happy, or to momentarily
distract them from the state of the city or
the government, and the Roman calendar
contained many festivals and holidays. Public
events such as the circus were looked down
upon by the intellectual elite who felt that
there were more worthy ways of relaxing and
entertaining oneself, and felt that gathering
people together in large numbers encouraged
the spread of vice because it provided many
examples of bad behavior. Seneca (who
lived under two of Romes most notorious
Emperors, Caligula and Nero, both of whom
used games to distract the public) complains
about the terrible effect that attending the
games has on his moral character. ... I
come home more greedy, more ambitious,
more voluptuous, and even more cruel and
inhuman - because I have been among human
beings. [2] In the case of gladiatorial shows,
the vulgus had the power of life or death
over the competitors, condemning them with
a turn of the thumb. Seneca argues that this
teaches cruelty to those with compassionate
sensibilities as they cannot help but be
swayed if the majority desires death.
Vulgus also had an active meaning,
describing the spread of information to the
public as well as referring to the public itself.
The adverb derived from it, vulgo, meant
publicly, and the verb vulgare meant to
make widely known or to make common to
all. These notions of popular availability led to
the words being used to refer to promiscuity
and prostitution.
Rome was a densely populated city,
comprising a million inhabitants at its zenith
and unsurpassed in size until London during
the Industrial Revolution. The city contained a
large number of people - slaves, unemployed
and homeless, menial laborers and craftsmen
- who existed on a level far below that of the
literary Romans whose writings survive to us
today. They used the word vulgus to refer
to this shadowy mass of people who lled the
buildings and streets and kept Rome noisy
and bustling, but were largely unknown to
the upper classes. The elite understood the
potential power of this under-class due to its
huge size, but thought it mentally and morally
inferior and easily manipulated. The vulgus
was seen as easily susceptible to persuasion
by rhetorical skill or even by the rumors that
spread quickly through the packed city. Thus
Cicero says Sic est vulgus; ex veritate pauca,
ex opinone multa aestimat. (This is the way of
the crowd; its judgments are seldom founded
on truth, mostly on opinion.) [3]
The Roman attitude of condescension
towards the vulgus has survived to us in
our use of the word vulgar to describe
uneducated or ignorant people, or something
common or otherwise beneath us.
The March On Washington
Richard Rorty Comparative Literature, Stanford
In August of 1963 several hundred thousand people converged on the Mall in
Washington, at the behest of A. Phillip Randolph and Martin Luther King, in a rally
for jobs and freedom. Friends in Princeton (where I was then living) who were
involved in the civil rights movement suggested to me that I might wish to go down
to attend the rally on a bus that their group had chartered. My parents had once
worked for Randolph, so I was familiar with his strategy of using real or threatened
Marches on Washington to win concessions from the federal government. I liked
the idea of taking part of such a march. I was part of a contingent, perhaps half
black and half white, who sang songs (usually We shall overcome) during our three-
hour bus trip from Princeton.
When we arrived in Washington, it was apparent that what was taking place was a
rather loose gathering. At the end of the Mall nearest the Lincoln Memorial, where
the speakers were, stood a mass of people, too thick to penetrate. Loudspeakers
attempted to get the voices of the speakers to the rest of the gathering, which
gradually thinned out the nearer it got to the Washington Monument end of the
Reecting Pool. But the loudspeakers were not powerful enough to do the job. I
caught occasional lines of what Dr. King was saying (it was his I have a dream
speech), but they were too intermittent to hold my interest, so I just wandered
around. Eventually I happened upon an old girlfriend, with whom I spent the rest of
the afternoon, catching up on what we had been doing in recent years. We both had
given up on trying to gure out what the speakers were saying, and gured that we
were doing a duty just by being present in the general vicinity, identiably part of
the rally. When evening came, I went back to the bus, and dozed my way home.
That 1963 event was, as it turned out, historically important. But at the time there
was no particular crowd spirit in evidence, at least none that I can remember.
Everybody was glad to be there, since we all liked the sense of having contributed
to the sheer number of those who had answered Randolphs and Kings call. But
we were not caught up in a common enthusiasm. Perhaps some segments of the
crowd were, but not the part that I was in.
[1] Cicero, Brutus, 183
[2] Seneca, Moral Essays, VII.3
[3] Cicero, Pro Q. Rosico, 29
Freese, John Henry, Cicero, The Speeches.
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press,
Glare, P.G.W., Oxford Latin Dictionary.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
Gummere, Seneca, Moral Essays Volume I.
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press,
Hendrickson, G. L., Cicero, Brutus.
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press,
Entry by Alexandra Katherina T. Sofroniew
C R O W D S | C H A P T E R 1 5 4
An Alphabet
Jessica Burstein English, University of Washington
Agoraphobia is alternately dened as a fear of open spaces, fear of public places,
and a fear of crowds. The DSM IV denes it as Anxiety about being in places or
situations from which escape might be difcult (or embarrassing) or in which help
may not be available in the event of having an unexpected or situationally predis-
posed Panic Attack or panic-like symptoms. Agoraphobic fears typically involve
characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home alone; be-
ing in a crowd or standing in a line; being on a bridge; and travelling in a bus, train,
or automobile. Given the apparent conicthow might a fear of open places be
the same thing as a fear of places lled?the concept is as dizzying as the vertigo
that often accompanies the phenomenon, and indeed was its primary means of
denition in its earliest codication. In the spirit of the vertiginous, what follows
is an alphabet of agoraphobia, which has the benet of order, but one stripped of
resolutions banalities. Each letter of the alphabet has one or more entries, some
purely textual, and many involving images, each resonant with some aspect of the
fear of public places. With apologies to Gustave Flaubert, Ambrose Bierce, and
Edward Gorey.
C H A P T E R 1 6
Agora. The public meeting space in ancient Greece, located in the center of the
polis. An open-air gathering spot for assembly or markets. The etymological basis
of agoraphobia.
Allegory. Etymologically, wandering outside of narrative. Experientially, talk-
ing without being understood by ones fellow citizens. See Tenure.
Altamont. The worst rock concert ever. A projected audience of a hundred
thousand, with three hundred thousand showing up. In 1969, in a free concert out-
side of San Francisco, arranged with twenty-four-hour notice at the Altamont Mo-
tor Speedway, members of the Hells Angels, hired to provide security, murdered
an eighteen-year-old black man as the Rolling Stones performed onstage. Crowd
control gone very badnotable in that the crowd was not responsible, whereas
those hired to control it were.
APsaA. American Psychoanalytic Association. Founded 1911. A group of people
paid to sit inside and convince people to go outside. See
Atget, Eugne. Failed actor/Premier photographer of interiors and exteriors,
ignoring all that falls between.
Crowds as Tear-Jerking
Luigi Ballerini Italian, UCLA
Crowds at political rallies make me weep. For this to occur, however, two condi-
tions must be met. First I myself have to be in the crowd. Second, the speaker
cannot be an ordinary secessionist scumbag like Umberto Bossi, but must be a true
political hero who is concerned with real ways and real means to turn our terrible
world into a much better place to live. He must demand a fairer distribution of
wealth and the public ownership of the means of production (when the products
are of public interest). He does not have to go all out and ask for the abolition of
the military or maintain, in fact, that the whole idea of defense is for the birds (for
the cats, fat cats?). If he were to do that, he would not have much of an audience
(yes, I know, a crowd) to address. So I put up with that omission on account of its
structural relevance.
As a young man I was very fond of Pietro Nenni, the Secretary of the Italian Social-
ist Party which, in my days, was a Marxist party. The difference from the Commu-
nist Party was that the Socialists expected to implement socialism democratically,
through persuasion and parliamentary action. The Communists, on the other hand,
kept talking about the need to bring about change in a revolutionary fashion, al-
though they knew full well that they would not. In fact, in later years, under the
leadership of Enrico Berlinguer, whom I also came to admire, the Italian Commu-
nist Party shifted gear and introduced the idea of entrepreneurship (in the public
sphere). In the end, strange as it may seem, it became the rst Communist Party
to call itself Marxist and democratic. Which, in my view, is better and by far more
plausible, than revolutionary and institutional, an oxymoron that did not do much
for the welfare of Mexico, where it was conceived.
The ofcial avowal of the democratic process did not result in a merger with the
Socialists, as it perhaps should have, simply because in the meantime the Social-
ists had become downright capitalists and practiced with a vengeance what they
had not preached: namely, the somewhat controversial doctrine of private prot
and public losses. But to go back to Nenni: in terms of my weeping, he was bet-
ter than any child lost in the crowd as shown today on TV, even when the child is
Indian and his mother and father realize they lost him after days of bathing in the
holy waters of the Ganges River.
In fact Nenni was impeccable. He never failed me. He was not a handsome man
and spoke with a distinct vernacular accent. But he was erotic as Socrates was
erotic, according to Alcibiades. Or so I like to think of him in retrospect. He had
guts. Life dealt with him shabbily; he lost a daughter in a Nazi concentration camp,
spent years in exile, saw his own party, which he loved dearly, become a boister-
ous gang of proteers. His political passion never ickered, however, and he was
no cheat. Quite the opposite: a superbly honest man who viewed politics as a
noble art (like st-ghting, I suppose), or at least an honest craft: some know how
to make boats, some know how to make laws that are just.
He spoke of the necessity of nationalizing energy-related industriesand it was
good to hear him say so in front of thousands of people in Piazza del Duomo, the
same spot where, in 1932, Mussolini had promised every Italian family a house
made from good stone, only to deliver the entire city to the Nazis eleven years
later. It was then that my grandmother blurted out, after days (weeks in fact) of
silence, that even among the Nazis you could nd fellows who were not as bad as
we made them out to be, notwithstanding the number of her relatives and friends
they had been beaten to a pulp or sent on to greener pastures. Which goes to show
how powerful denials can be.
In view of the mnemonic traces left in me by such complications, it felt good to
hear Nenni, who must have been my grandmothers age, speak in one sweep of
nationalization and ethics. And the good feeling remained with me and many other
members of the crowd, even when it became clear that the transfer from private
to public hands would cost Italy a pretty penny. Actually, I never understood why
we could not just conscate the whole damn thing. Why was it necessary to buy
back what we had already paid for a thousand times over, every month, when the
gas bill came, and the electricity bill came, and the god-knows-what bill came . . .
and we paid. Well, we paid again. The only thing Nenni failed to tell us (or did he
tell us and we forgot?) was that, after all this, nationalized electricity was going to
cost more than before. But hey, what the heck, isnt a good weeping session worth
more than any rate increase? Increase is actually a good thing, according Shake-
speare anyway. It is exactly what he says he desires to receive from the fairest of
creatures . . . Eugenicist, that he was.
At any rate, the only way to avoid that increase could have come from the prac-
tice of honesty, which, in turn, is predicated on self-esteema very rare quality
anywhere, and sorely lacking, I mean invisible, in people affected by a syndrome
called public employment. It is much simpler to claim rights than to endorse duties.
The claiming of rights, however, is a thing a crowd does very well also. Anti-leftist
groups knew it and used to mock us with the following anecdote. Nenni (or any
other leftist leader, for that matter) would ask his audience (yes, I know, his crowd):
Do you care for bread? The crowd thunders back: Yes! Leader: Do you care
for wine? Crowd: Yes! Leader: Do you care for work? Crowd (chanting the
opening words of the Italian Communist Anthem): Avanti o popolo, alla riscossa .
. . (Go forward people, wake up, wake up) / Bandiera rossa, bandiera rossa (Red
ag, red ag), and so on. All this in the early 1960s, when an experimental poet
could bask in the idea of being a revolutionary of sorts.
Nenni died quietly on January 1, 1980. By then his party was securely in the hands
of Bettino Craxi (Nennis own dauphin believe it or not) who would make the
Socialist Party the necessary pivot of Italian politics, only to bury its glorious cen-
tury-long history in a grave of scandals and corruption. Years earlier I had moved
further to the left and lived in a state of velleity and confusion: a side effect of
being frequently surrounded by crowds. My political passion peaked in the mid-
1970s with a dastardly denunciation of literature as bourgeois art and the equa-
tion of poetry with silence (Nietzsche came to the rescue in the late 1970s and
early 1980s). In the meantime, however, I had wept a few times listening to Enrico
Berlinguer. Frail and unassuming as he was (communist mothers had a ball with
him), he had a sensational sense of rhythm and could quotealthough at times
he misquotedbig shot literary types, including Dante, who remains to date a
great crowd pleaser and the most protable of all Italian industries. I remember
in particular a speech he delivered in 1975, at the newly built (a true engineering
feat) Palazzo dello Sport (Sports Arena) the construction of which had been ercely
opposed by the Milanese section of the Communist Party (they changed their mind
when they realized that Comrade Berlinguer was going to talk there). I believe that
by then electricity had either been returned to private hands, or was going to be,
shortly. Virtually all that had been nationalized reverted back to private hands. But
the purchase this time was far less expensive. What was being bought, we were
told, were money-losing concerns. The problem, this time, was a scandal named
after the Lockheed Corporation. An ethical issue once again, but of a slightly dif-
ferent nature. Some prominent deputies from the Christian Democratic Party had
pocketed vast sums of money, hiking the price of airplane engines delivered to the
Italian government by the American company. Something like that. Some of the
same people were also involved in petroleum-related scandals. All in all, Berlingu-
er knew what he was talking about and successfully portrayed the Italian Com-
munist Party as the only ethically reliable political organization left in the country.
When he explained to the audiencea multitude of card-carrying, well behaved,
petit-bourgeois communists, and sympathizershow Italy could be saved from
the rapacious talons of those Christian Democratic vultures, whose thieving vo-
cation was beyond dispute and made nineteenth-century robber barons look like
archangels, the response was not just tears of happiness (on my part), but votes:
the PCI got 35 percent of the national ballots, more than any other partyand it
scared the hell of out of Uncle Sam. Upon exiting the Arena, sobbing with delight,
I was introduced to the secretary of a local Communist cell who, having learnt that
I lived mostly in America, promptly produced a handkerchief, unfolded and waved
it at me: clearly, he did not intend to dry my tears with it, but rather to dispel the
symbolic stench emanating from my compromised persona.
Things became complicated after that. Negotiations between Christian Democrats
and democratic Communists were severely boycotted and came to a halt with the
Moro affair. I stopped weeping, began to do some serious teaching and went back
to poetry. Nowadays to reach that emotional level, in which rage and feeling sorry
for myself mix again and ward off any fear of death, I go to rallies against the war
in Iraq, where crowds however are much thinner than those I seem to remember.
You see, I can only love causes once I know they are lost. Its my way of behaving
like a tragic hero. Italian style, naturally. As an Italian I do not have to sport a stiff
upper lip.
New York, December 2003
A Singular Month of May
Alain Schnapp Director-General of the Institut National dHistoire de lArt
As far back as I go in my memory, the events of May, which as far as the Latin
Quarter is concerned I prefer to call, with Edgar Morin, the student commune,
are not identied with the crowd, in the sense of the enormous, powerful, at times
formidable mass of people assembled at one protest; they remind me of something
more discreet and more quotidian: the feeling of a period of liberty and engage-
ment when the city was more fraternal, dreams more captivating, passers-by and
fellow travelers in the bus and the metro suddenly attentive to each other. Edgar
Morins formulation comprises a portion of the explanation: for several brief weeks
the student commune incarnated students desire to substitute for the current
state of things a sort of ideal and deliberative city, where discussion, vote, and
protest are a means of recovering the festal and poetic base of democratic inven-
tion. Certainly there have been other student movements in the world, but the Pa-
risian events have a specicity which has to do with the architectural frame of the
city, with its memory of revolutionary days, and with the place of intellectuals and
students in the city. The Algerian War, not so distant, had revealed the violence of
colonial warfare to draftees and had allowed students allied to intellectuals and to
a party of forces of the Left to weigh in on the issue of combat and of the future
of the Republic.
The spirit of May draws from the experience of the war in Algeria, the inuence of
Sartrean engagement, and the repertory of a social contestation combining anti-
colonial themes with a critique of the dominant classes. There are many meanings
of the word crowds (foules), and one could rst say that there were crowds of
students in Paris (il y avait foule dtudiants Paris). Not in the sense of masses:
students were not dominant in the population of Paris, but they were already much
more numerous than ten years earlier, more determined and, especially, hardened
in their critique of society. The situationists of Strasbourg and the students of
Nanterre organized parodic actions, disruptions, and strikes. The occupation of the
counsel hall of the University of Nanterre by 142 students unleashed a cycle of
provocation and repression that led to the convocation of eight leaders before
the counsel of the University of Paris, slated for May 6. When a re broke out on
May 2, 1968, on the premises of the Sorbonne student union, there was no doubt
that it was due to a handful of students on the extreme Right (the Occident
movement) getting at the Sorbonne students, with whom they had constant skir-
mishes. The Sorbonne students and a small group already famous at Nanterre
(the movement of March 22) called for a manifestation in the courtyard of the
Sorbonne on May 3 in response to this aggression.
We were hardly numerous that afternoon when everything began: maybe nine hun-
dred at the most. Suddenly the rumor spread that commandos of the Occident
were threatening to return. In the courtyard of the Sorbonne, some pieces of wood
cropped up, a few people broke a chair or two with an eye to meeting up with the
assailants: no big deal. But rumor of the presence of the Nanterre fanatics had
spread. The rector and his secretary general became anxious. They asked the police
to intervenean extremely rare act. The students were promised that they could
go free if they left the property. But in several dozen minutes the Sorbonne was
sealed off. We were prisoners in the courtyard. A police brigade advanced and we
negotiated, a bit stunned by what had happened. The police had never in students
memory (since the war!) entered into the Sorbonne to suppress a manifestation.
The commissar who accompanied the policemen and the representatives of the rec-
tor was calm: he proposed letting the girls go and guaranteed that there would be
no violence if we got into the police vehicles for an identity check. We accepted
and were made to enter the buses arranged in front of the Sorbonne. When my turn
came, quite quickly, I heard the driver say to the policeman charged with watching
over us in the rear compartment of the bus that the situation was tense and he
should be careful: the Quarter was in a state of joyful insurrection. Alerted by the
girls who had been released and the noria of police buses, students throughout the
Latin Quarter had spontaneously mobilized to the cry of Liberate our comrades.
During the ride that led us to the commissariat from the Place de lOpra we heard
cries and through the bars we saw hundreds of protesters attacked, sometimes
violently, by the overwhelmed policemen. One of my comrades suggested that I
neutralize the policeman accompanying us in the rear of the bus, open the doors,
and release the twenty or so students around us. Somewhat surprised, I replied that
we would see what happened; in fact we were received civilly at the commissariat
and released around ten oclock at night, with the exception of Daniel Cohn Bendit
who, accompanied by Xavier Langlade, a famous militant at Nanterre, had to wait
several hours longer. We talked late into the night and began to plan the action of
the following days. We had the feeling that something was beginning, a spirit of
insurrection that we had never encountered before. The symbolic intervention of
the police into the Sorbonne had occurred on a Friday (May 3); the appearance of
the accused Nanterre students before the disciplinary counsel was scheduled for
Monday May 6. The two weekend days were the occasion for feverish prepara-
tions. Without being entirely conscious of what was in the works, all the student
groups were busy mobilizing their comrades and composing tracts. The day of May
6 witnessed an intense agitation: Nanterre and the Sorbonne were closed, students
were protesting in the Latin Quarter. Another protest was organized at Denfert-Ro-
chereau on May 7: this time it brought together tens of thousands of people.
As soon as the action was launched, the revolt was no longer conned to the Latin
Quarter: it reached the lyces and part of the populace. In the west of France,
workers and peasants began to participate in the protests. The night of May 10 to
11, barricades were raised and then violently destroyed by the forces of order. It
was as if the city had renewed its tradition of revolutionary days but with a no-
table difference: the students and the portion of the populace who supported them
were protesting peaceably; the language was revolutionary, but the acts were in
the tradition of classic student and popular manifestations. The night of May 10
to 11, the student service order tried with all its force to minimize the confronta-
tion and to contain the physical violence. Despite the ineptness of power and the
ministers total incomprehension of the movementand without underestimating
the police violencethe sang-froid of the prefect of police and the interposition
of intellectuals and some union representatives contributed to avoiding confronta-
tions that could have been bloody. During the days of May, we never saw anything
comparable to the awful repression of the Algerians on October 17, 1961, or even
Charonne in 1962. On his return from Afghanistan on May 11, the Prime Minister,
Georges Pompidou, decided to yield to the demands, to release the imprisoned
students and to reopen the universities, including the Sorbonne, which was imme-
diately occupied. The most intense moment began May 16 and lasted until May 30,
the date of the grand Gaullist and anticommunist manifestation that marked the
resumption of power. It was the moment of the encounter between the students
revolutionary ideal and the reality of a country that relived in its depths the great
working-class dreams of the popular front. While the students thought they were
living episodes of the soviet of Petrograd, the unions rediscovered the paradigm
of the Matignon accords, which permitted a union-management agreement on
May 27 in rue de Grenelle.
Begun by a modest student manifestation on May 3, the revolt was transformed
into a giant social protest movement without the agents in the conictstudents,
unions, parties, governmentfully realizing what was happening. Since 1789,
Paris has been a city where revolutionary days follow each other, each one calling
forth the next, from July 14 to the Commune of Paris, passing by the fall of Charles
X and of Louis-Philippe. Trained in this type of historical tradition, social actors
always look backwards to nd in past crises a model for present crises. Students,
often impregnated with a summary Marxism, thought they were the actors in a
new October Revolution; unionists and men of the Left, dazed by the extent of
the strikes, imagined that they were seeing a new popular front that would rid
them of a fth republic and a man whom they identied with personal power.
The government and management lived in the confused fear of a plot bringing
leftists, communists, and socialists together in one deadly front. This is why the
history of the events of May is as much a historiographic adventure in which each
camp, even each group poses in the position that seems most advantageous in the
eyes of history, where everyone looks toward a past event to give his current at-
titude a certain style, incarnated as much in clothes as in postures. The rhetoric of
discourse, the forms of action, the slogans draw from the historical repertory and
from the traditions accompanying it. I dont believe therefore that 1968 was one of
the manifestations of the age of crowds in Serge Moscovicis sense. The student
revolt was the fruit of a protest against archaism, authoritarianism, and the anti-
quated methods of a university caught up in the cult of elites and strangled by the
poverty of its means. The workers demand came from another gap that pointed
to the contradiction between the modernization of institutions and the economy,
proclaimed since 1958, and the workers miserable condition. Preoccupied by the
place of France in the world, de Gaulle had neglected the social and economic
difculties of a working class still powerfully inuenced by the Communist Party,
a class which had not forgotten the promises of a better world after Liberation.
May 1968 was born of the encounter of these repressions, and it made possible,
beyond the political failure, a transformation of mores and an opening of the social
space. May 1968, in its exaggerations as in its successes, is one of the historical
events where crowds are never unanimous, where from behind the collective and
revolutionary phraseology peers out situationist humor: be realistic: demand the
Translated from the French by Matthew Tiews
N. Katherine Hayles
Like a lone straggler limping up the street after the crowd has come and gone, this
afterword looks up and wonders what could possibly remain to say after all the
reworks are over. Nothing, perhaps, other than to offer a small comment on the
shape of the multitude as it recedes into the distance. As the editors observe, by
design and intention this is a very crowded book. Although each essay has its
singular voice, the effect of reading from essay to essay is much like lingering over
faces in a crowd, each distinctive and yet in their cumulative effect composing a
mass. Set against this mass are the alphabetized crystals, sparkling gems of wit
that give a pleasurable jolt of surprise, like the few individuals who are given red
kerchiefs to make them stand out from the multitude. Embroidering the borders are
the semantic histories and personal reminiscences, positioned on the outskirts yet
with clear afnities to the center of the mass.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the projects form, to my mind, is its distrib-
uted existence as print artifact and electronic website. Spanning both media, the
project optimizes the advantages of each and implicitly makes the case for recog-
nizing the specicity of media. The print book, with its superior visual resolution,
hacker-proof sturdiness and easy portability, permits readers to continue long after
eyestrain and Repetitive Stress Syndrome would have taken a toll on even the
most dedicated website visitor. The website, with its capacious storage space,
multimedia capabilities, and sophisticated search functions, offers an ease of ac-
cess and a diversity of material that enable research to be undertaken that often
C R O W D S | A F T E R WO R D 1
could not could be done at all from print materials alone. Combined, the book and
website offer unparalleled breadth and depth of research on crowds that will be
likely to remain the gold standard on this topic for some time to come.
C R O W D S | A F T E R WO R D 2
Jean-Marie Apostolids
There is, at the origin of this essay, a double hypothesis: on one hand, the events
of May 68 in France constitute a symbolic revolution, allowing the crossing from a
patriarchal society to a fraternal society, in other words a society in which new
groupings which we call fratries (sibships) replace former associative modes
little by little ; on the other, the predominance of the fraternal, egalitarian, and hor-
izontal bond over the former paternal, hierarchical, and vertical bond is linked to
the experience of the crowd: to create a fratrie is to prolong the imaginary fantasy
relationship that predominates when a crowd gathers to contest the established
order. But, in order to understand the importance of the experience of the crowd in
68, we must remember the socio-cultural context that led to the revolt.
In relation to France immediately after the war, France of 68 found its materiality and
its values transformed. With the Marshall Plan and the economic and social politics of
the 4th Republic, the kick-off for the countrys modernization began;
but in the French
mentality, it was General De Gaulles return to power that was credited with this trans-
formation. With the founding of the 5th Republic and even more so with the end of the
Algerian War, the country seemed prey to incessant metamorphosis. Daily life was
no longer the same. The population in cities increased, the traditional middle classes
(small merchants, artisans, and small business owners, a fragmented peasantry
devoting themselves to polyculture) were eaten away, falling from 40% of the
active population in 1936 to 14% a half-century later, while the same transformation,
though less directly perceptible, affected the industrial bourgeoisie. Members of this
class, who, until the Second World War, left their capital as inheritance to their
children, found themselves more and more excluded at the end of the 60s: the crisis
of the traditional industries like textiles or shoe manufacturing, competition from
production in third-world countries, the decline of coal and steel. The great bour-
geoisie, which had emerged from the industrial revolution of the 19th century, found
itself replaced at the helm by a technocracy whose rules of co-optation developed by
means of professional qualication (the grandes coles system) rather than familial
heritage. Henceforth, 85% of the active population was salaried and also received
the systems of social protection that accompany a salary (insurance, social security,
retirement, etc.). The period called the Trente glorieusesto recall the expression of
Jean Fourasti raised the living standards of the French. Even if the working class
received fewer benets from these improvements than the rest of the population, the
numbers are telling: 57% of workers possessed a car in 68 as opposed to 24% in
1960, 67% of homes had a television (14% in 1960), 77% had the benet of a refrig-
erator (22% in 1960); nally, 56% used a washing machine (previously 27%).

In other words, France entered the society of consumption. Frances entrance was
preceded by that of the United States, which then seemed a model of material
success and an example to follow,
but the French, cramped in their tradition, were
confronted with problems whose only solution would emerge from a social and
political crisis without precedent in the 20th century. In 1968, the abundance of
commodities was accompanied with a new look at objects, attested by the under-
taking of the Nouveau Roman or George Perecs rst book, Les Choses, which won
the Renaudot Prize in 1965. In cinema, the work of Jacques Tati portrayed chang-
ing morals, new behavior regarding children, and the invasion of things into daily
life. Films like Mon oncle (1958), and moreover Playtime (1967) or Trac (1971),
showed how contact with commodities leads man to become an appendage of the
objects. During the same period, Jean Baudrillard in Le systme des objets and
situationist theory (Society of the Spectacle was rst published in 1967) analyzed
the characteristics of the new consumption society.
Beyond their differences, these works all conrm the loss of the absolute produced
by the domination of a general system of equivalence. In a universal system of
exchange, almost no value can remain sacred.
Since the beginning of the 60s, the French university had been overwhelmed by
the inux of new students, those from the baby boom generation. Whereas in
1960, the student population was 215,000, this number reached 508,000 in 1968.
Despite the opening of new campuses such as Nanterre in 1964, which absorbed
more than 15,000 students in 1967, the Parisian universities were packed. The
university was also ill-prepared in terms of programs, in spite of the creation of
the IUT (institut universitaire de technologie). Of course, sociology and psychology
were part of the program since 1958, but these new domains did not lead to any
clearly dened career. Humanities, which led mostly to professorship, did not sat-
isfy the concrete needs of the new society. Yet they kept their importance merely
for ideologiacal reasons.
If the students still had a social and political cause to defend during the Algerian
War, in 1968 they felt an emptiness that led to a withdrawal to individual prob-
lems. Membership in UNEF (Union nationale des tudiants de France), a student
union that dealt mainly with housing allocation, declined beginning in 1965. Cer-
tainly students were still aware of political and social issues, but due to lack of
more exalting combat, they went back to their studies.
All of these facts are well known, as is the crisis faced by the main student orga-
nizations such as the Communist UEC (Union des tudiants communistes) and the
Catholic JEC (Jeunesse tudiante catholique). Perhaps less evident is the global
situation that most of the students had to face during that period. In 68, the main
aspects of student life were indeed in transformation. Even if in Paris the Latin
Quarter remained the geographic and cultural center, the students, who were
housed in all of the capitals neighborhoods, were absorbed into the collective
population each night. The notion of the campus lamricaine was foreign to
French universities. Students no longer even formed a close-knit community as
was the case at the beginning of the 30s, with its rites, its passwords, and its
On one hand, being too numerous to know each other , they had the
impression of being drowned in anonymity; on the other hand, the complexity of
the programs of study and competition left little room for entertainment, even if
student life is to a cerain extent characterized by leisure. Whereas before World
War II, students in law or in medecine could easily pass their exams while dedi-
cating a large portion of their time to politics or art, after 1960, it was no longer
feasible. The disappearance of student folklore reinforced the feeling of alienation
and solitude, which was the fate for the majority of them. Participation in the mass
movements in 68 would be the remedy for disconnection from social reality, which
characterized student life in the mid-1960s.
If compared to their worker or salaried comrades, students in 1968 were certainly
privileged but only because of their future condition. Looking closely, the negative
aspects of their situation were numerous. Financial dependence on parents pro-
longed the adolescent period, along with the ambivalent attitudes that such depen-
dence develops. From the economic perspective, students were in a worse position
than their working comrades, even if they knew that this situation would soon be
reversed. Food offered was that from the restau u or university dining halls (that
says it all), and lodging, which most often had neither water nor toilets, was most
of the time the maids rooms under the roofs of bourgeois buildings. These living
conditions pushed the student to hide the mediocrity of his or her condition. Such
a situation would be denounced in 1966 by Situationist International in a scath-
ing attack that has remained famous.
This text by Mustapha Khayati stigmatized
bourgeois culture: it was described as an illusion in compensation for extremely
miserable student life. Moreover, the pamphlet analyzed the student as a new
genre of consumer, a consumer of culture whose habitus could scarcely be differ-
entiated from those of other groups of buyers in a society ruled by market logic.
Along with books, cinema constituted one of the havens of student imagination
during this period. Cinema was at once the place where one dove into a more
adventurous existence than real life, and the privileged vehicle of new values. In
that sense, lms from the New Wave modeled the sensitivity of the students from
the sixties more than political discourses of the elders, and prepared the advent
of the fraternal tradition by making the young into heroes. Let us remember that
the success of this cinematographic movement began with Franois Truffauts Four
hundred blows, a lm which tells the difcult life of a fourteen-year-old boy (the
story is partially autobiographical), the victim of a lack of affection from his par-
ents and the narrow-minded strictness of his teachers.
Culture provided students with an imaginary place where they could live their
social situation in disguise. One characteristic emerged from the research conducted
at the time, particularly that of Bourdieu and Passeron: student life took place in
a time and space separate from the real social universe. Even if they were not
excluded, the students at least found themselves marginalized, locked up in a
specialized space that prolonged their status as minors and individuals without
responsibility. Indeed, those who had to take jobs in order to obtain pocket money
were rare, and even when they did, they most often became high school assistants,
in other words without leaving the educational space. Like the student world, the
universe of culture was cut off from traditional social reference points; this is why
students were not only privileged consumers of culture, they were also its objects
and its incarnation. Their time was the reverse of work time; it was dened by
leisure, as time wasted, the only crucial dates being those of exams.

We have seen that the space itself besieged by students also engendered au-
tonomy and marginalization. In Paris, this space had its implicit boundaries and its
obligatory routes. Its center was the Latin Quarter and its privileged stops were
cafs, movie houses, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Sainte-Genevive or Sorbonne
Libraries, places that the lmmakers of the New Wave chose as dcor for their
rst short lms.
Insofar as they escaped the constraints of salaried life, students
equally favored economic practices that did not participate in market exchange:
bartering, the donation system, ostentatious spending, potlatch gift exchanges.
In short, they lived the fragility of their situation in the form of a stretched pres-
ent without tomorrow that ceaselessly renewed itself. While their condition was
dened by its transient character and the real objective of studies was to nish
them, in other words to make students do away with their status as students, the
interviews reported by Bourdieu and Passeron showed on the contrary that stu-
dents did not envision the future, less because they scarcely worried about it than
because they did not recognize its face. When they were questioned regarding the
concrete prospects after their studies or where they saw themselves in the next
three or four years, the majority could not respond, except for the medical students
for whom the future was more foreseeable.
In other terms, if the student perceived the mediocrity of his future existence,
rather than facing it, he took refuge in daydreams no longer rooted in the reality he
Thus one can say that the students condition established the internal
contradictions we previously mentioned. They were privileged but remained in a
state of absolute dependence. They were fascinated by new objects but could not
appropriate them. With the exception of the Situationists, they did not yet see that
the world of things did not stop with objects, that it constituted a general manner
of existence linked to both capitalism and the city. Even if they apparently rejected
the abundance of commodities, they also accepted it, especially when it came to
new intellectual products conceived as toys and offered for their appetites.
Because the baby boom generation was divided between a traditional heritage that
has become obsolete and dysfunctional and a new environment built from recent
technologies and the well-being that accompanied a constant call to hedonism, this
generation oscillated between a tragic conscience and a lyric conscience. This term,
originally encountered in the work of Milan Kundera, was borrowed by Franois Ri-
I shall adopt it in my turn because it unveils one of the fundamental attitudes
of the baby boom generation, that which comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Ricard proposed a certain number of behavioral traits dening the children born be-
tween approximately 1942 and 1948. What characterizes the rst-born of the baby
boomers is foremost an innocence, a frivolity, and absence of doubt that sometimes
borders on senselessness. This applies particularly to young North Americans (Can-
ada and the United States), on whom the guilt of World War II and the ambiguities
of the heroic heritage weighed less heavily than their European counterparts. As
Ricard wrote, neither they nor their parents had to blame themselves for the death
camps or for collaboration with the enemy.
However, many elements of the lyric
conscience were found in France on the eve of the events of 68. The rst of these
traits was a sort of faith, of condence in life, which was marked by all-out optimism.
Numerous individuals from that generation shared the same implicit belief that ev-
eryone was, if not fundamentally good, then at least perfectible. They believed in
the virtues of dialogue, negotiation, and example. It sufced to discover what wasnt
working in order for a problem to nd its solution. Bad people only committed evil
out of ignorance or because they were stricken with an illness that had not yet been
diagnosed, and it was necessary to care for them. Problems could only be solved by
the combined virtue of dialogue and respect for all opinions.
That generation also wanted to be loved for its virtue, its audacities, its taste for
adventure, its attraction to all things new and brilliant. They attempted to spread
these characteristics around them and even to spread them across the globe. It
was a generation that grew with the development of airlines; they took advantage
of the ease of available transportation in order to depart to conquer the world:
India, Mexico, or Canada. It was a generation that traveled heavily, brushing with
the exterior world, comparing its own situation to that of other countries. They
borrowed any ideas, any artistic forms that seemed desirable from other nations,
particularly the United States. To use the words of Ren Girard, mimetic desire
was a dominant trait of the baby boom generation.
On the psychological level, the lyric generation also possessed remarkable char-
acteristics. They stood rm on their rights, a rupture with the preceding genera-
tion, and were bearers of a new optimistic vision of the world that they wished
to spread everywhere. Because of this, they knew not only that they constituted
a group, a class, but that they dreamed of forming a community, an assembly of
beings who would share the same ideals and would live transparently one and all.
This led to the fact that they implicitly condemned all that separated individuals
knowledge, class divisions, the social division of labor, and sexual differences.
For this generation, ideal politics would lead to the elimination of barriers: it was
necessary to fraternize, to live in close union with thy neighbor, who is also ones
fellow creature, ones brother. This generation naively wished for the entire earth
to be devoted to pleasure, prosperity, and peace. These were the key words of the
ower generation in the United States, which many young French people adopted
after the burgeoning of May 68. Movements such as feminism, the gay move-
ment, or compassion for victims, which began after 68 and still lives today, found
their roots in the Christian sensitivity of the lyric generation.
In France and in the majority of European countries, the lyric conscience was tem-
pered by an opposite tendency, the tragic conscience, which found its origins in
heroic culture and, since World War II, in the incapacity to assume its legacy. The
baby boomers were at once fascinated by violence and the incapacity of utilizing
it for a cause directly linked to their daily preoccupations. The colonial wars were
over; the revolutionary ideal was abandoned in the East and in the USSR; showing
strength meant turning to other countries such as Vietnam, China, or Cuba, which
seemed to have taken up the torch of the revolution. Maos China, which broke with
the USSR in 1963, launched its cultural revolution in 1966. This fascinated Frances
youth enough to spur the development of a Maoist movement la franaise after
68 whose inuence would be felt until the middle of the following decade. As
for Fidel Castro, he remained an enduring revolutionary reference. Regarding the
Vietnam War, the baby boomers of the Left would be unanimously against it.
If on the one hand the lyric conscience facilitated the invention of a new fraternal
culture that was opposed to the patriarchal society, on the other hand the tragic
conscience allowed Leftist groups to gain inuence and success during the ten
years that followed the May 68 revolt. These contradictory elements coexisted
within the same generation, even sometimes within the same individual. They cre-
ated tension at the heart of ones being, the only outlet of which was destructive
action. The lyric conscience was deployed in the present and toward the future,
whereas the tragic conscience seized the negative legacy of the past. Hedonism
and joie de vivre constituted a fundamental dimension of the lyric conscience, as
did compassion for those who did not have access to happiness. This conscience
was also founded on the idea that the world could be improved, postulating that
with the help of compromise and negotiations, one would reach a consensus and
attain perfection. It was also characterized by a quite primitive pragmatism, in
other words in the belief that if something succeeded, it was because it was good
and, consequently, should be preserved. Inversely, if something failed, it was be-
cause it was bad and should be gotten rid of.
The tragic conscience diverged on many points. It began with an absolute pes-
simistic conrmation, the knowledge the world was radically bad. The individual
who embraced this tragic understanding took it as a point of reference and saw
the world through this pessimistic lense. Once positioned as the basic postulate,
the tragic sentiment is reinforced by the discrepancies between the inherited he-
roic imperative and the knowledge that the glorious years were nished, at least in
France. The veritable struggles took place elsewhere, in the third world, in South
America; the heroic times would reappear in Europe in a distant future, probably
following a catastrophe allowing human history to start over with a more stable
foundation. Caught between a past that was too heavy and too brilliant a future
in which the contradictions of the present would be abolished, the tragic mind
felt crushed and powerless. In this mind, melancholy and sometimes bitterness
developed, making it damn its own era in an absolute fashion. For the tragic con-
science, not only was the world bad, it could not be improved. Thus emerged the
necessity for a revolution that would correct evil and bring back good. The sense
of catastrophe accompanied the tragic conscience, which sought unhappiness to
at once punish men for their frivolity and to assure the return of true values, those
of the founding fathers.
In the French intellectual tradition, the tragic conscience possessed a long history,
from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Guy Debord and beyond. On the eve of 68 in
France, the temptation was to reject the society of consumption, i.e. pleasure, due
to the imperfections it brought and the injustices it generated. However, what we
can clearly identify today was imperceptible thirty years ago; each of the partici-
pants in that era was divided between the lyric sensitivity and the tragic one.
While the setting of the preceding generations sensitivity was patriarchal, rural,
and provincial, that of the baby boom generation was democratic, urban, and Pa-
risian. Parents had their eyes turned toward the past, children toward the future.
The city from then on was the place where everything happened. It was made of
rapidity and change, while rural life was characterized by slowness and perma-
One favored movement, the other stability. If the citys sonorous essence
is the confused noises of all modern devices (radios, cars, mechanical tools, etc.),
then the country is characterized by silence. Only the country allows one to listen
to the multiple voices of nature, those that come from the interior of the self or
from the animal world. The passionate ties of love or hate of rural life stood in
contrast against the neutral relationships of urban life. In the city, social status has
the upper hand over the individual. In the country, it is the opposite.
The two decades after the war were accompanied by a new reection on the city,
illustrated by the work of Paul Chombart de Lauwe, Henri Lefebvre or Franois
Choay. During the same period, the Situationists invented a new science psy-
chogeography which they abandoned in the mid-60s for a more traditional revo-
lutionary engagement. The project deserves mention. They proposed the following
denition of it: The study of the specic effects of the geographical environment
(whether consciously organized or not) on the emotions and behavior of individu-
For them, it was about not separating knowledge from its effects on man;
they wished to develop knowledge that would include and emphasize the subjec-
tive dimension in order to provoke changes. Psychogeography ultimately aimed for
a conscious transformation of space along with a modication of being.
we must retain for our purposes is that psychogeography is presented as an imagi-
nary science attempting to unify incompatible worlds. While social sciences imply
an objective gaze, psychogeography is founded on radical subjectivity. Psycho-
geography challenges the utilitarism of the social sciences with its unmotivated
nature: drifting nds its end in itself; it possesses the gratuitousness of a game.
Reading Guy Debords accounts of drifting published in 1956 in Les lvres nues

or the novel by Michle Bernstein La nuit, which is presented as a lengthy drifting
through Paris during which a young couple fuses their love in several ways,
it is
understood that the city is interpreted by the Situationists less as a rupture than
as a turning away from the country. The city became a forest or a labyrinth, an
unsettling and magical place where all encounters were possible. It was also a
place of absolute subjectivity; its heroes explained themselves to no one; devoted
to leisure, they wasted their time and refused the work that characterized the
urban milieu.
In 1968, the city was the setting for a large-scale psychogeographical experiment.
Paris became the location of a great game, the objective context time and
space was diverted from its aim, removed from the world of work and trans-
formed in the parameters of experimentation. Even if it was not yet the revolu-
tion for which some were hoping, the social movement allowed the exploration of
new behavior that would become permanent in the following decade.
The experience of 68 was rst associated with the crowd. During the days of May,
many public demonstrations were held on campuses or in the streets both in Paris
and the provinces. Only mentioning the most signicant ones, let us remember the
ghting in Nanterre on January 26, the public manifestations against the Vietnam
War in February, the numerous meetings in March in Nanterre which led to the
suspension of classes until April 1. On March 29, there was the gigantic sit-in
in Nanterre, on April 12 the anti-Springer demonstration in Paris, the march of
the CGT (Confdration gnrale du travail), the PC (Parti communiste), and the
PSU (Parti socialiste uni) on May 1 from Place de la Rpublique to Place de la
Bastille, the May 2 demonstrations in Nanterre in support of 8 expelled students,
the May 3 meeting in the courtyard of the Sorbonne stopped by the police, but
which continued with several demonstrations in the Latin Quarter. On Monday,
May 6, following the court appearance of several students from Nanterre (among
them Daniel Cohn-Bendit) before the disciplinary committee, new demonstrations
occurred in Paris and the rst barricades were erected. On that occasion, unrest in
the capital spread to the provincial universities. On Tuesday, May 7, a large dem-
onstration occurred from Place Denfert-Rochereau to Place de lEtoile; on Tuesday,
May 8, from the Halle-aux-Vins (Jussieu) to Place Edmond-Rostand; on Thursday,
May 9, a public meeting at the Sorbonne was followed by the occupation of the
university; on Friday, May 10, various gatherings in the Latin Quarter took place
and ended with the erection of new barricades; on Saturday, May 11, the occupa-
tion of Censier University occurred. After the truce on Sunday, May 12, demonstra-
tions began again, taken over by the unions. In the afternoon, two hundred thou-
sands people marched in Paris from the Gare de lEst to Place Denfert-Rochereau.
Students continued the march to the Champ de Mars. In the provinces, numerous
demonstrations took place in major cities. On Tuesday, May 14, an assembly in
Nanterre declared the university free and autonomous while many schools and
universities were occupied. On Wednesday, May 15, aside from the wild strike at
the Renault factory in Clon, the student occupation of the Odon Theater hap-
pened in Paris, changing the theatre into a daily gathering place. During the two
days that followed, the Renault factories (in Flins and then in Boulogne-Billan-
court) went on strike, which led to the formation of a march from the Latin Quarter
to Boulogne-Billancourt to show student support to the working class.
From that day on, daily gatherings, endless discussions, and support committees
for one cause or another occurred everywhere. With the government having issued
an order for the expulsion of Daniel Cohn-Bendit on Tuesday, May 21, many stu-
dent demonstrations occurred in the evening and during the night on Wednesday,
May 22. These demonstrations continued for two more days in Paris, with Friday,
May 24, a new night of barricades which lasted until six in the morning in the Latin
Quarter. On Monday, May 27, the great meeting in the Charlty Stadium took place
where Pierre Mends France refused to speak. On May 29, new demonstrations
of the CGT occurred from the Bastille to Saint-Lazare, which was answered on
Thursday, May 30, by the demonstration in support of General De Gaulle on the
Thus the events of 68 were closely tied to the experience of the crowd, so funda-
mental to the baby boomer sensitivity. This experience was the mold into which
the youngs poured their relationship to history and it would mark their entire lives.
In the crowd, the human being loses his individual bearings as his will melts into
that of the group. He is no longer himself but a cell in an immense collective body.
This strong impression of belonging to a community is accompanied by a feeling of
power. The frontiers of the self lowered, the individual is permeated to the core of
his being by the force of collectivity. The future seems to open up when thousands
of individuals march together, arm in arm, singing the same anthems, chanting the
same slogans, animated by an identical anger, forming only a single body. It is not
an illusion but a real impression that something is happening. The human being
feels what a bomb cannot feel at the moment of its explosion: that destruction
takes place, generating something new.
The experience of the crowd dissolves social coherence. In place of hierarchies be-
tween people, the need to identify with others becomes urgent. One instinctively
ghts for the cause of the oppressed, becomes their voice. Class identity ends by
melting into the crowd. If ordinary national identity has become obsolete, then a
new identity emerges from the collective encounter. Closeness is felt again toward
those individuals who seemed separate beforehand. From this discovery, something
brand new can emerge. The experience of the crowd translates into a predominance
of the present over the past, of the voice over writing, of emotion over rational anal-
ysis, contrary to the ordinary experience in which reasoned knowledge of events
transforms the past into History. In the experience of the crowd, History happens
concretely like an immediate experience. It is no longer knowledge from books but
action. The events are lived here and now. What counts is the movement that de-
stroys the securities, the references, and the barriers of the past.
The crowd experience is intoxicating; like the drug experience, it asks for renewal.
Following Grard Mendel, we shall call upon the Freudian concept of the oceanic
feeling: the feeling of omnipotence is exacerbated all the more as the Self merges
into vague totality. This experience is accompanied by a pleasure that might even
be compared without exaggeration to sexual pleasure, since both (by different
means) end with the fusion of the individual into the totality that surpasses it,
the amorous couple in the case of sexuality, the collective body in the experience
of the crowd. If the function of the amorous encounter is biological reproduction,
that of the crowd is social reproduction. It is society in its entirety that attempts to
escape death and seeks to renew itself in this violent and spontaneous expression.
The solitude that follows the demonstration is allied with depression. After shar-
ing such strong feelings with others, each nds himself alone, reduced to his own
strength. He feels abandoned; he is as deprived as the small child who, calling for
warmth, seeks fusion once again with the maternal body, with absolute love. How
can symbiosis with the crowd be experienced again?
Militancy, adherence to
dogmas, submission to the party or the group would all be behaviors aiming to
prolong the crowd experience in the daily life until the mid-70s. Then, creation of
the fratrie would take the place of the former political afliations.
Thus the crowd must be understood as the primordial experience of the baby boom-
ers and the lter through which their future practices owed. On the occasion of
these demonstrations, they understood that something new could arise, that they
could not only emerge from the rut of the past but also invent new social forms. For
them, this discovery was the equivalent to what had been the war experience for
their parents and especially their grandparents. Through the crowd, they formed a
new fraternal society.
The experience of the crowd takes place in a different time and space that enlarg-
es events and transforms them into historical moments. This experience embodies
the essence of revolution. It is the manifestation of a human explosion, which is
rst manifested at the level of the body before having an impact on things. Beings
that were separated before gather to join in a collective body and to transform
their habitus. Considered in a social framework that endows it with immediately
perceptible relief, an episode thus seems greater, more imposing than it would
outside this framework. No more than the French Revolution or the Commune did
the crisis of May 68 fail at this rule. If the Latin Quarter remained the center of
the whirlwind, then the processions spread its image throughout the capital and
the media expanded it to the country. In Paris, public spaces were besieged in
function of their symbolic value, which was utilized, recuperated, or diverted: the
occupation of Censier (May 11), the Sorbonne (May 13), the Odon (May 15), the
student march to the Renault factories in Boulogne-Billancourt (May 17), the re at
the Stock Exchange (May 27). Two universities dedicated to letters, a theater spe-
cializing in the avant-garde repertoire, a state-run factory, symbol of the working
class, and nally the Stock Exchange, temple of the merchant economy; the choice
of location for operations was made in function of its symbolic power. Grafti in
the entry hall of the Odon summarized the promotion of this theater as a place
of national representation: When the National Assembly becomes a bourgeois
theater, all bourgeois theaters become National Assemblies.
Social time was reversed: while daytime is generally dedicated to work, numerous
meetings took place during the night. With the rst strikes (that of Sud-aviation in
Nantes on May 14) and the rst factory occupations, leisure time took the place of
work time; there where previously one had produced, now one discussed, reect-
ed, fraternized. The hierarchical relationships decomposed; people who ignored
each other the day before discovered common interests in each other. They identi-
ed with one another. During the course of that month of agitation, an intense
voicing of opinion was witnessed,
which propelled people who were previously
unknown to the forefront while casting others to the shadows. Paris rediscovered
both the tradition of popular insurrections and that of festivals. Orchestras settled
at the Sorbonne, giving it the atmosphere of a childrens fair. Each of the partici-
pants was conscious of the fragile character of social conquestsbeginning with
free speechand of the temporary aspect of demonstrations. If there was indeed
a suspension of social roles, status, hierarchies, obligations, routine, and daily du-
ties, if the markers of identity disappeared, this did not last long. There was thus
the feeling of urgency: one had to carry out denitive actions, accomplish gestures
that would be changed into images, so that each could engrave the presence of
them in his/her memory. At the same time, an unconscious desire was manifested
to prolong this suspended time, to stretch it to its limit. As much among the par-
ticipants of the events as among those who dreaded the consequences, the feeling
was shared that something essential was happening, that one was in the process
of making History, of inventing it, in other words, of making it come to pass. In
other terms, the participants of May 68 were conscious of the necessity to place
their action in a more global framework in order to give it impact in the future. In
order for their action to become comprehensible, it had to be inscribed in an heroic
genealogy; it somehow had to put together a repetition of the past (particularly
the insurrectional past) and an inauguration. On this dual condition, their action
could become an element reinforcing the symbolic system and could change into
a foundational act.
Thus everything seemed to incline May 68 to become an important episode of
collective history, one of those memorable events heavy with consequences on the
symbolic level. Indeed, those few weeks took place in a particular time and space,
like those of traditional festivals, a sacred space in a sense. The suspended econ-
omy during that time (total stoppage beginning on May 17) left space for reversed
practices: where there had been abundance, there was now scarcity (gasoline, for
example, whose normal distribution in Paris did not begin again until the beginning
of June); on the other hand, where rarity had been beforehand, abundance ap-
peared: a multiplication of exchanges between individuals, the abolition of ancient
hierarchies to create new ones; the appearance of new behaviors, particularly
collective and festive ones; nally, the proliferation of cultural signs that would
survive for a long time afterwards. Where market exchange had dominated, gift
appeared, a practice based on heroic culture, the very foundation of the symbolic
system. For one month, France became a vast faculty of letters: the more or less
complete suspension of ordinary activities, imposed leisure activities, constant
general discussions, the refusal to envision the future.

Under the apparent unity of the May 68 events, numerous elements played on the
contrary, which prevented its transformation into an unanimously accepted myth.
In many domains, as Jean-Pierre Le Goff understood it, it had to do with an im-
possible inheritance because of its ambiguities and contradictory aspects. Caught
between the modernization of Frances archaic structures and the total rejection of
capitalism, the May movement does not have a clearly dened place. Thus, these
events never acquired the historical dimension for which they seemed destined.
This historic dimension could perhaps have been achieved if the promises of the
revolt had been kept, but such was not the case.
The contradiction between archaism and modernity nevertheless produced a tan-
gible result in the moment. With ordinary time and space turned upside down, for
one month Paris became a place of simulation where everything, and the opposite
of everything, could be expressed and experimented with. This universal ction
did not transform into History. That does not mean its absence of consequences,
far from it. Only there was no balance between the proposals made and the results
obtained. Everything remained within the permissive space, prisoner of the playful
character that ceaselessly accompanies the crowd.
For an event to acquire a symbolic dimension and to transform into a myth of
origin, it must be accompanied by a conscious and collective will to rupture with
the past and present itself as a foundational act, in other words as a revolution.
Caught inside a clearly dened social framework, it must escape its immediacy,
its sensitive dimension, to be accepted by public consciousness. In other words,
it must escape the realm of Memory to become History. This was the case at the
moment of the French Revolution, even if, as Tocqueville showed, the Revolution
put the nishing touches (in numerous respects) on the practices inaugurated un-
der the absolute monarchy.
In 68, the collective will was present, as well as the
desire to break with the past. By opening a permissive space, the revolt immedi-
ately quenched its thirst at the source of collective creativity. The spatio-temporal
framework of the event was itself clearly dened. And yet May 68 did not become
a revolution and did not change into History. The baby boomer generation did not
surge into History whose door was wide open before it. Having quite quickly im-
posed its values on the whole country, this generation then refused to assume the
symbolic weight of its victory, in other words its historic responsibility. It is in this
refusal itself that one must seek the reason why May 68 does not occupy a clearly
marked place in the collective imagination. The events are known down to the
details, dozens of volumes having been dedicated to that period; the facts can be
analyzed and understood with intelligence; and yet they can not be symbolized, in
other words, they cannot acquire a mythical place in the national imagination as
did the French Revolution, that of 1848, the Commune of 1871, or the Resistance.
The process of symbolization is still closely linked to patriarchy, while the revolt of
68 presented its abolition. Just as the task of mourning assigns to the deceased
person another place in a group, so does the task of symbolization moves an event
from Memory to History, transforming it into a major event. This task of symboliza-
tion, begun in the heart itself of the May events, was never nished by the social
participants. They loved the experience of the crowd too much to surpass it. Rather
than constructing from scratch from the original shock of the May events, on the
contrary they seized any old pretext to renew the intoxicating experience of being
together, in the original spontaneity and generosity. Aware of the contradiction
they facedbreaking with patriarchy on one hand, symbolizing their action on
the otherthey chose rupture rather than the heroic image. In other terms, they
obtained the power but without the markers traditionally associated with it.
The excesses of the 68 revolt quickly brought a backlash, namely a Chamber en-
tirely dominated by the right during the elections of June 68. Some then feared
that the Gaullist order would be back, but this electoral victory, far from signaling
the return of patriarchy, rather meant its decline. Incapable of resolving the old
problems, the previous generation abandoned the ideological terrain to the new
one, that of the baby boomers. It is as though they had secretly ratied this grafti:
O dear gentlemen of politics, behind your glassy gaze you shelter a world on the
path to destruction. Shout, shout, people will never know enough that you have
been castrated.

After General De Gaulles retirement in 1969, the culture of victimization, gloried
during the revolt, would gradually stretch to all echelons of society. The ideological
transition did not occur smoothly. The government of President Pompidou, haunted
by the specter of revolts, submitted to the most conservative part of its electorate.
During those years of interregnum, a president with a liberal education was seen
falling back nervously onto outmoded values for fear of new ideas desired by the
youth of his country.
However, under this surface opposition, a redeployment of
forces was achieved. The hostility of political power toward its youth, particularly
those with Leftist leanings, indifference and the contempt it represents, hid the
rapid integration of this same youth in the workings of society. They came in droves,
not as individuals but as a generation.
For those who desired it, the door not
only opened, it opened wide. With the help of economic expansion (it continued
until the oil crisis of 1973), they were quickly in control of public affairs. The former
rebels of 68 seized power particularly in the domains related to culture: the world
of arts, cinema, music, and theater; the world of editing, the daily or weekly press;
advertising and the ensemble of the media, and of course, teaching. When the law
on bank checks was modied, they were also seen in banks that created branches
everywhere that needed open-minded, competent executives: To speak frankly,
your money interests me, said one of these dynamic executives on advertising
billboards. In numerous posts related to culture and education, former members
of the anti-establishment appeared who, at the price of a few compromises and
renunciations that were less painful than they had assumed, discovered the secret
pleasures of management. And because they were intelligent, they possessed an
analytical capacity rened by several years of theoretical critique, they attained
directorial positions, which allowed them to exercise a certain inuence on the
countrys ideological future. Those among their comrades who remained in the
margin would not fail to reproach them for it.
Thus, while one part of the generation of 68 chose to remain on the side of the
dispossessed, to work in factories, or to opt for a marginal and grainy life in
another part seized command. The latter, who had become what Gramsci
called organic intellectuals of the State, adapted their anti-establishment ideals
to the new situation made for them, staging on themselves rst, then on the
spheres of activity they controlled the transition from the culture of heroism to
the culture of victimization.
When we speak of the 68 generations seizure of power, we do not limit it to
the issue of cultural elites. Behind the most widely mediatized intellectual gures
who would set the tone from then on Andr Glucksmann, Bernard-Henri Levy,
Philippe Sollers, Julia Kristeva, Hlne Cixous, Serge July, Patrice Chreau, Patrick
Modiano, to only name a few was an entire tribe, large in numbers and united
around the symbolic murder of the Father, who dened the political, economic, and
ideological future of the country. In 68, the entire class of baby boomers reached
the age of adulthood; it is thus as an age group, as a fratrie, that it began to count.
They represented an enormous potential market. It was thus to satisfy their tastes
and values that commodities would be created after 68.
From the beginning of the 70s, the inheritance of the revolt took on ever-increasing
importance in artistic, intellectual, or university circles. Thus, the vanquished of
68 were in reality the true victors. Dynamic, enterprising, enthusiastic, bearer of
a message of happiness, anxious after some moments of hesitation to put the
benets of consumption within everyones reach, they became purveyors of a new
democratic ideology which they applied anywhere they could spread the network
of their relations. Their arrival on the cultural market would give unprecedented
development to the 70s. Retrospectively, we have the impression of dynamism in
all of the domains of creation, from social sciences to art, and including cinema,
pop music, or philosophy. Human sciences, linguistics, and history also blossomed
anew. All aspects of social reality were explored, gauged, analyzed in their hidden
dimensions. There was no longer simple interpretation of events or language; the
hidden structures were analyzed, the ruse of reason denounced, the ideologi-
cal illusion stripped bare by her bachelors, even. All that carried the seal of the
new was welcomed with a mix of generosity and critical mind that testied to an
intense intellectual life. The position of the generation of 68 was ideal, since if
on one hand it held the real cultural power, then on the other it promoted a mode
of thinking and values that seemed to perpetuate the ght against the traditional
dominant order. In such a climate, the slightest discovery took on the appearance
of a great conquest. Readers had often the impression of exploring obscure con-
tinents under the banner of young audacious mentors who knew how to quit the
land of stale tradition. The visible intellectuals then reaped all of the benets,
those of youth, power, and protest.
The cultural program of the baby boom generation can be summarized in one word:
liberation. It is the equivalent of the word enlightenment for the XVIIIth Century
philosophers. It is a meaningful noun for those who cleared the air from the war of
40. The Liberation, the one in 1944-45, would not have succeeded without the
support of the allied forces who allowed them to chase away the occupiers. In that
context, the true French liberation was May 68; it was taken over by the young
generation; by this generation only, without foreign help, they put on the nishing
touches in the following decade. In 1970, it was no longer only about getting rid of
prejudices. It was necessary to liberate from their constraints all those who
seemed chained to the culture of heroism, from then on discredited in most of its
aspects. They wanted to liberate the working class, oppressed peoples, women,
homosexuals, the mentally ill, the handicapped, in other words any person who did
not enjoy free and total access to material well-being. Helped by Marx, Nietzsche,
and Freud, these young intellectuals exposed the alienations inherent in bourgeois
society. As words themselves imprison, some came to wish for the liberation of
the language caged by the police of good speech.
If liberation was the all-pur-
pose word, then equality was the supreme value. Sensitivity to injustices and hi-
erarchies was exacerbated; the relationships between men/women, bosses/em-
ployees, teachers/students, and parents/children were seen with a fresh eye. All
that carried the trademark of hierarchy became suspect. Authority was discredited
in all its forms. Equality and democracy spread in all milieux and were established
between all beings. Racism became the bte noire monitored in the slightest com-
ments. If no one outwardly declared themselves a racist, it is because there was a
unanimous consensus against this attitude. Racism became the new taboo. Daily
life was sifted through; under the inuence of feminism, macho behaviors were
ushed out; the traditional conception of love disappeared under criticism; not only
was the sexual division of domestic work singled out, so was the role of each par-
ent in the education of children. Few couples would survive a radical criticism that
spared no aspect of existence. Like in 68, they dreamed of a superior life acces-
sible to all, a life of masters without slaves. And this upsurge of positive feelings
seemed all the more generous because it came from people who felt profound
sympathy for the oppressed, who themselves lived like the oppressed. In short, they
hoped to nally achieve this utopian community that was the dream of the fratrie.
The victory of the 68 rebels led to a modication of human relationships, of which
the abolition of hierarchies and symbolic signs is the most visible marker. Given
the archaisms of traditional culture and the constraints that the dysfunctions of
old values pressed upon the majority of the population, the sudden crumbling of
the signs of hierarchy was unanimously felt as a liberation, even by the supporters
of authority. It was as though they suddenly found themselves rid of a lead shell
that oppressed them. In place of relations frozen in outdated formalism, a buddy
style was seen to emerge, inherited from the revolutionary tradition, that was
little by little assimilated to more progressive, Trans-Atlantic uses. It arose as the
condition of relaxed interpersonal relations in a context of tension and uncertainty.
Hierarchical differences belonged to the past, while new behaviors represented
the advent of liberty and equality among humans.
The democratization of human relations was signaled in the change of clothing
(the suit-and-tie ceased to be a daily obligation) and in the signs of recognition.
The use of the informal voice occurred more frequently; the use of the rst names
tended to replace the old forms of distinction , such as sir, madam, doctor,
professor, His Grace, or Father, which were still in use up until 68.
defamation of hierarchical markers leading to a greater proximity between people,
individual differences also dwindled to the advantage of an identity behavior. From
then on, the ideal consisted less in distinguishing oneself individually as becom-
ing integrated into a group. The individual no longer wished to remain outside
in a separate position, which implied individual responsibility and judgment. The
individual refused to be an individuality; he/she wanted to be like the others. In
the work context just as in private space, it meant agreeing together on choices,
making decisions in common, reaching a consensus.

The elimination of markers of status, which gave the impression to everyone that
they belonged to an immense middle class with undened outlines, criticism of au-
thority, and the advent of the buddy style only allowed for quantitative differences
between people. Symbolic differences gave way to differences of possession. To-
day, only purchasing power allows the distinction of one person from another,
endowing each with an indication of consumption.
The adoption of the buddy style dened adherence to the ideals of 68 and facili-
tated exchanges, which multiplied and accelerated in the decade that followed.

Even still today, it constitutes a sign of recognition among people who share an
identical culture. In place of symbols of hierarchy, signs of identity were estab-
lished, images that characterized new mediations between human beings. If its
effect was a democratization of knowledge, the buddy style at the same time in-
stituted a cultural monopoly to the baby boomers benet, who, once they had
come into power, would have the tendency to shut the door behind them, citing
one another and excluding the art forms or intellectual expressions that did not
emanate from their cultural circle. It is not a matter of decline of intellectual life,
for the culture market had never ourished so much: these practices being of the
same mode as monetary circulationthe same components, participants, books,
ideas, passed from hand to handthe more they quoted one another, the more
intense intellectual exchanges seemed, the more books were sold, and the more
the public ocked to theaters, movie houses, and museums. Thus, since the 70s,
culture moved to the quantitative order. If today we witness breathlessness in the
creative domain, it is because the buddy-buddy system instituted an underhanded
sort of censorship on which new ideas stumble.
and a conformity reinforced by
TV. shows. Media coverage of intellectual life confused visibility with originality
for the greatest prot to the culture dealers. The union between the intellectual
milieu and television generated production of the same: people only spoke about
what was already known; they repeated the same ideas, the same formulas, be-
cause, intellectual and artistic creations having the same status as commodities,
they were modeled after one another to become consumable. At the same time, by
making creation a media object, they practiced a ruthless selection of new talents;
doors only opened for a handful of chosen ones. If young people today have dif-
culty establishing themselves in the domain of ideas and artistic creation, it is
because in France and elsewhere culture has become a market controlled by the
beneciaries of the 68 revolt.
Since the end of World War II, France has found itself in a paradoxical situation.
Burdened with too heavy a pastheavy because prestigiousFrance had dif-
culty conrming its situation as a second-rate power, facing the United States
and the USSR. Even if France had a debta material and intellectual oneto-
ward America, many Frenchmenencouraged by the President himselfwere
not willing to honor it. Their anti-Americanism was all the more virulent because
its causes were misconstrued. Even if the Fourth Republic was a dynamic period
on the level of economic and material reconstruction, it was also a sluggish time
from the political and intellectual point of view. The return to power of General
de Gaulle in 58 offered a remedy to the situation, still without healing the sick
country. This was the origin of the revolt of youth tired of being treated as minors.
The youth revolted in 68, stirring the entire country in its rejection of patriarchy.
Even if the gesture of the rebels was ambiguous, its causes were profound, more
spiritual than material. Its causes must thus be sought more in the realm of psy-
chology than in the realm of politics or material economy. May 68 was rst and
foremost a revolt against waiting, against the absurd: Sartre, be clear, be brief .
The crisis generated the sidelining of existentialism, associated with the absurd:
the baby boomers no longer wanted a world without meaning. For them, the ex-
perience of the crowd was primary; it gave implicit meaning to all of their steps.
It was necessary to prolong it, to give it concrete expression in a new dynamism.
The acceptance of a society of consumption came from the fact that this society
was nally understood as a permanent expression of the crowd in the domain of
industrial production.
If the youth revolt did not have meaning, in other words direction, at least it made
impact on the whole of society. Faced with the degeneration of the social fabric,
the revolt reanimated collective dynamism. The May events brought efferves-
cence, a widespread manifestation of mania pulling France from the melancholy
that had seized it since 1945. Even if the discourse of the rebels bore the stamp of
utopia, or rather because of its utopian character, it allowed for social reform. In
that sense, it meant a return to social origins, thus religious ones, insofar as the
two form but one. We do not mean religious in the strict sense, since 68 contested
all paternal gures, including God. We should rather compare the effervescence
of French youth to that of traditional fair. It meant a return to the sacred, with
the transgression of forbidden acts, the disruption of the daily, and the messianic
character of youth behavior.
Their action, this mix of sentimental gregariousness,
of civil disobedience, and sexual debauchery, was allied with a sacred trance, the
transgressional sacred.
In that way, their action allowed for a return to origin,
to the source of the social bond. It allowed for the reinstatement of collective
discourse, to surpass the absurd to make sense of it again. The revolt instinctively
found the path of the sacred again. It indeed brought about the creation of a new
community body, the fratrie, and a revival of the social fabric, a rejuvenation of im-
ages. From then on , the French quit the cycle of melancholy. This new psychologi-
cal tone was in line with the economic dynamism, the social body got its second
wind at the very moment when the future promised material happiness to all. Seen
in this light, May 68 was an event of considerable impact.
1 Jacques Capdevieille and Ren Mouriaux had already insisted on this point in Mai 68. LEntre-deux de la modernit. Histoire
de trente ans. Paris: Presse de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1988, pp. 25-52.
2 These numbers were reported in the magazine M, No. 20, Mai 88, p. 11. Nevertheless, the Communist Party does not share
this view of things. For Waldeck Rochet, for example, if if national wealth had increased enormously since De Gaulles
coming to power in 1958, the workers condition, on the other hand, had not ceased to deteriorate: However, workers only
witnessed increasing difculties for them and their families. Les enseignement de mai-juin 68, Paris: Editions sociales,
1968, pp. 19-20.
3 Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, Le d amricain, Paris: Editions Denol, 1967.
4 Regarding the traditions that integrated, at least symbolically, the student milieu of the past, they crumbled and today
remain attached to marginal groups. [] Perhaps because they remained more bourgeois or because they led to more tradi-
tional professions, faculties like medicine or law today constitute the last refuge of professional rituals. Pierre Bourdieu et
Jean-Claude Passeron, Les hritiers. Les tudiants et la culture, Paris, Minuit, 1964, p. 53.
5 On the Poverty of Student Life, Considered in Its Economic, Political, Psychological, Sexual, and Especially Intellectual As-
pects, With a Modest Proposal for Doing Away With It (1966), translated by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets.
6 The real poverty of the students everyday life nds its immediate, fantastic compensation in the opium of cultural commodi-
ties. In the cultural spectacle the student nds his natural place as a respectful disciple. Although he is close to the produc-
tion point, access to the real Sanctuary of Culture is denied him; so he discovers modern culture as an admiring spectator.
In an era when art is dead he remains the most loyal patron of the theaters and lm clubs and the most avid consumer of the
packaged fragments of its preserved corpse displayed in the cultural supermarkets. Consuming unreservedly and uncritically,
he is in his element. If the Culture Centers didnt exist, the student would have invented them []Incapable of real pas-
sions, the student seeks titillation in the passionless polemics between the celebrities of Unintelligence On the Poverty of
Student Life, part I
7 The student condition allows the breaking of temporal frames of social life or the inversion of its order. The experience of a
student is rst and perhaps above all feeling free to go to the movies whenever and, consequently, never on Sunday like the
others; it is exercising ones wit to weaken or overturn the great oppositions that imperiously structure leisure as much as
the activity of adults; it is playing at ignoring the opposition between weekend and week, day and night, time consecrated
to work and free time. More generally, the student tends to dissolve all of the oppositions that organize life by subjugating it
to constraint, for example those oppositions that separate chatting from regulated and directed discussion, free culture from
imposed culture, scholarly exercise from personal work. Les hritiers, pp. 48-49.
8 H. Hamon, P. Rotman, Gnration, Paris: Ed. Du Seuil, 1987, t.l., pp. 165-171.
9 For the author of the pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life, their ight into an unreal world comes from the fact that they
cannot take account of their present situation and their forseeable future: The requirements of modern capitalism determine
that most students will become mere low-level functionaries, serving functions comparable to those of skilled workers in the
nineteenth century. Faced with the prospect of such a dismal and mediocre reward for his shameful corrent poverty, the
student prefers to take refuge in an unreally lived present, which he decorates with an illusory glamor. On the Poverty of
Student Life, translated by Ken Knabb.
10 Long ago, Herbert Marcuse saw in the hippy movement of the 60s a new form of alienation, which he called repressive
desublimation, encouraged by liberal capitalism. When young people devoted themselves to love, they no longer thought of
opposing the system.
11 Franois Ricard, La gnration lyrique. Essai sur la vie et luvre des premiers-ns du baby-boom, Montreal: Boral, 1992.
12 Ricard, Op. cit., p. 18.
13 Gaston Roupnel, Histoire de la campagne franaise (1932), reedition. Paris: Editions Plon, Collection Terre Humaine, 1981.
14 Internationale Situationniste, No. 1, reedition. Paris: Fayard, 1997, p. 13.
15 Ivan Chtcheglov best understood its implications and wrote these comments around 1963 regarding drifting, which he prac-
ticed more than all others: Drifting (through acts, with ones gestures, walking, encounters) was exactly to totality what
(the right) psychoanalysis is to language. Let yourself go through words, says the analyst. He listens until the moment when
he denounces or modies (one could say diverts) a word, an expression, or a denition. Drifting is certainly a technique and
almost a therapy. But, just as analysis with nothing else is almost always advised against, continual drifting is also a danger
in the sense that the individual who advances too far (not without a foundation, but) without protection is threatened by
rupture, dissolution, dissociation, disintegration. In Lettres de loin, I.S., No. 9, p. 38, ed. cit., p. 402.
16 Grard Berrby, Documents relatifs la fondation de lInternationale situationniste, Paris: Editions Allia, 1987. pp. 316-318.
17 Michle Bernstein, La nuit, Paris: Editions Buchet-Chastel, 1961, rd. Allia, 2006.
18 For the calendar of May events, I used the books of Laurent Joffrin, Mai 68, Histoire des vnements, Paris: Editions du Seuil,
1988 and Jean-Pierre Le Goff, Mai 68, lHeritage impossible, Paris: La Dcouverte, Poche Essais, 2002.
19 Grard Mendel writes: The oceanic feeling necessarily presents a dual aspect: as it is, certainly, and a source of jouissance;
but the other aspect represents an ensemble of affective positions that we propose to call the feeling of abandonment; no
longer the reunion with the Great Everything, but the memory of tearing and of everything painful that followed in moments
of archaism. A History of Authority, Paris: Editions de La Dcouverte, 2002, p. 74.
20 Les murs ont la parole, Paris: Editions Tchou, 1968, p. 107.
21 Michel de Certeau, La prise de parole, Paris: Descle de Brouwer, 1968.
22 The Louis Malle lm, Milou en Mai, is an excellent illustration of this.
23 Alexis de Toqueville, LAncien Rgime et la Rvolution.
24 Les murs ont la parole, p. 28.
25 The election of Valry Giscard dEstaing in 1974 would make up for lost time and, without changing anything fundamental
in the direction of affairs, would allow the advent of a social and intellectual liberalism that would then pass as the discreet
wind of liberty.
26 On the notion of generation, see Pierre Nora, La gnration, in Les lieux de mmoire, 2nd edition, Paris: Gallimard, Coll.
Quarto, 1997. Cf. pp. 2975-3015.
27 This seizing of power from below would be completed by a seizing of power from above at the moment of Franois
Mitterands to the Republics presidency in 1981.
28 Virginie Linhart, Volontaires pour lusine. Vies dtablis, 1967-1997, Paris: Seuil, 1994.
29 It is particularly Claude Dunetons work, Parler croquant (Paris: Stock, 1973) that launched this approach to language to the
public. For a critique of this ideology applied to the debate on language in Qubec, see Danielle Trudeau, Landre et son
pch, Montreal: Editions Hurtubise HMH, 1982.
30 This is true except in the daily relations with administration, which in France constitutes a permanent core of resistance to
change. The functionaries thus played a role equivalent to that of printers who traditionally oppose all spelling reforms. Tax
forms, for example, as well as certain survey questionnaires, still contain notions such as head of household, implicitly
masculine, which scarcely has sense in contemporary context when the woman often holds this title.
31 It must be noted that this democratization of morals resulted in its share of negativity. If on the one hand it was a libera-
tion from traditional, maladjusted, and inefcient bonds, then on the other it produced a crushing of individual positions for
the groups benet. Consensus was sought to the detriment of individual solutions, which would often be more audacious.
Conformity and mediocrity were imposed each time a difculty presented itself, and the tyranny of the group was as heavy
as the abuse of authority could be.
32 The development of computer communication (the web) would occur later along the same ideological lines of cost-free ac-
cess and universality of means of exchange, today both contested by market lobbying.
33 Today there is neither direct censorship nor a frontal attack of bothersome ideas or men outside of paradigms dened as
anti-victim racism, for example. The time of heroism is denitively over and decisionmakers in industry and culture would
never pose as censors, which would be counter to the 68 ideology. To kill a book or an author, it sufces not to report on it
in the media, in other words to prevent people from talking about it even if it is purchased in great quanitities.
34 Allusion to a short note left by Sartres microphone on February 10, 1969, before he spoke at the French mutual insurance
company, which he noticed just before speaking and which made him understand the change in his status after 68. Cf. Annie
Cohen-Solal, Sartre. 1905-1980, Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1985, p. 591.
35 Our interpretation opposes the analysis of the Situationists for whom May 68 was a proletarian revolution.
36 Roger Caillois, LHomme et le sacr (1950), Paris: Editions Gallimard, coll. Ides, 1972.