The following countries currently have protesters in the streets: Kashmir (India), Hong Kong, Chile, Iraq, Spain, Argentina, and Lebanon. We assume there are others but you get the idea. The interesting thing is some of the places with the most violent riots (we are not discussing mere protest) are not places you would expect. Forgive our stereotyping but it seems something is always happening in the City of Light, but this list is dominated by names we normally don’t see. Is this different?
Why so many protesters at the same time?
Some people wonder what the heck is going on in the world. Protesters flooding Hong Kong, they rise up in France, Russia, even places like Chile. Some even go too far saying that the world’s order is out of control.
Keep calm and don’t panic. Nothing has changed under the sun. It’s like, ‘Raoul, I’ve been here before’…
Let’s check out the previous bus stations. Berlin 1953. Budapest 1956. Paris & Prague 1968: both events had its major consequences. Poland had it all the way through 70s and 80s with its wonderful ‘Solidarity’. I’m not even mentioning the change of regimes all over Eastern Europe in 1989. Plus the shake-up and the break- up of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991. Don’t forget China’s bloody event in June 1989 in Beijing.
We can go on and on to the most modern times, too.
I just don’t need it. Because I know the answer.
The protests have been around here for centuries. They will be: this is mix of bad governments and people’s desire to break down tyranny or simply to rectify matters in softer political environments.
So why one might think we now live in more turbulent times than ever before?
And the answer is…the internet!
In the past, we didn’t have a chance to know of many things because people couldn’t share it via Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. We now don’t even always need journalists to shed some light on what’s going on.
Thanks to the World Wide Web, we now can travel in time in space with a click of the mouse or simply tapping onto the smartphone’s screen. Click… and we see the ‘yellow jackets’ vandalizing the streets of Paris. Click… we see literally millions of people in Hong Kong protecting (successfully) not to be a part of mainland China (one of the scariest regimes in human history, to me). One more click… wow, we now know where the Chile is and why people are protesting there. Wow, they’re doing it not against Pinochet!
This is just technology bringing us closer to previously very distant or even unknown locations and events, not any kind of fundamental change of the world. The world will go on, business as usual. We will just know so much more about what is going on round the globe from now on.
Why so many street protestors at this time?
The world is an angry place. A very angry place. Many of the world’s people feel totally disenfranchised from those in power in their country. And they’re getting very, very fed up with it. It’s not just corrupt politicians either – we just get angry about anything and everything it seems.
Or is it, maybe, that we are no angrier than previous generations, but we have just lost the capability of dealing with that anger? Anger management courses are increasing exponentially, and there is never a shortage of new recruits.
We appear, as a race, to be becoming more narcissistic every day. Whatever the issue, it’s always the fault of someone else, and we always seem to think we are perfectly entitled to feel that way. Anger is also contagious, and spreads like wildfire.
Once we have exhausted social media to give vent to our feelings, the next step, when there’s enough of us around, is to take to the streets. And that’s happening right now, in many parts of the globe.
What do we do about it? Well, we all have to take responsibility for our anger and realise our own accountability for the problem. Except that won’t happen. It was Mark Twain who said: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Of course, street protests are not always started by sheer anger – they can be most effective if anger is not the motivation. The Berlin Wall came down because of people, most of them ordinary citizens, deciding that there was a better way to exist. And people power, eventually, overcame corrupt and inefficient government, with very little loss of blood.
But when behaviour is caused by being unable to control a basic human instinct, there’s only trouble ahead. Expect more and more demonstrations in the future – if they are fuelled by anger alone, it will get very messy indeed.
The End is Not Nigh
I’ve always wondered about people in the 1920s & 30s. Do you think they understood what was coming? The new Soviet Union was a direct response to excesses of what today we would call the one percent. A ruling class who controlled the various governments.
The same thing was happening in Germany. Yes, the source of the pain was different (forced to pay for WW1) but for the people on the street it was much the same thing. The powerful are making it difficult to live. Most of the rage today seems to be focused at governments and most of the rioters are young men.
With the exception of Hong Kong, today’s groups don’t give a damn about niceties like democracy. Most are concerned about just keeping it together.
During the 1920’s Great Depression, many Americans were focused on keeping the black man in his place. The US Government today is focused on keeping folks from Central America out. It’s much the same thing: many, formerly middle class citizens are now WalMart Greeters and have this unfocused rage. They know they’ve been screwed but how? Fox and Facebook tells them those brown bastards not only took their jobs, but also get huge benefits from the Government. “They get free healthcare & housing and I have to to pay for it. That ain’t fair! I work hard and I have nothing.”
During my first trip to Moscow, for some odd reason I was struck by rolls of toilet paper. They were sold in the single roll with no packaging whatsoever. Light brown recycled paper — think about that: who is buying this unpackaged, recycled paper at Перекресток Супермаркет? (Crossroads Supermarket-major chain)
You should also be told that Moscow has the most Billionaires per capita of any city in the world. How you think the poor with their recycled toilet paper in their recycled bag feel about these precious people?
There are actual riots in almost every region in the world: Asia, South America; name it and people are unhappy. I don’t think it will end until there is a major reset. The rich are unlikely to voluntarily release the levers of government. The end is not nigh.