Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army

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CIRCA members at a demonstration in Frankfurt
CIRCA recruitment poster, with side by side comparison with U.S. Army incentives, standards, and values.

The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (or CIRCA) is a United Kingdom-based anti-authoritarian left-wing activist group that uses clowning and non-violent tactics to act against corporate globalisation, war, and on other issues.

CIRCA emerged from the direct action movement and has participated in protests against George W. Bush's visit to the UK in 2003 and demonstrations against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The group was particularly prominent in many of the actions organised around the 31st G8 summit held in Gleneagles during July 2005.

Those participating in CIRCA actions typically dress in military-style camouflage clothing supplemented with brightly coloured trimmings and political logos. The costumes both create a comical atmosphere and serve to maintain anonymity during protests. 'Armaments' are usually limited to feather dusters, although some carry water pistols. The complete ensemble of the costume and traditional clown make-up (usually consisting of a white face and red nose) creates a sense of ridiculousness which seeks to challenge preconceptions of radical activists.

CIRCA claims that there is more to the Army than simply dressing up and messing around. There is also a psychology which informs its actions: the clown persona can be used to defuse tense situations and engage with police in public order situations. In order to learn this 'recruits' must participate in a training workshop before deployment.

In an article about the G8 protests, the Edinburgh Evening News described CIRCA as "an anarchist splinter group," but a member of the organization denied this, saying that while some members would describe themselves as anarchists "...most would consider themselves 'horizontalists' where we engage people without the need for leaders."[1]

The Clown Army now has active groups in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, Germany, and Israel, and many other groups have appeared that have been inspired by the work of the original group.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rebel Clowns Army |

External links[edit]