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Some Datapoints on Global Political Risk

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By lambert strether of Corrente.

Here’s another quote dump of protests* by country; and yes, there are still rather a lot of them. I’ve got more blogs on my list now, but most of this material comes from official media, and I’m not making any representations as to accuracy of the report of the justification of the protest. There’s no method behind the selection, beyond crowd size, interesting tactics, concrete revealing detail, and thoughtfulness. As always, more sources and protests welcome in comments.

Bahrain

Shia leader’s death stirs Bahrain protest Gulf Times

A radical Shia group in Bahrain said yesterday its supporters blocked roads with burning tyres after police alleged one of its leaders died in an explosion while making a bomb. … Bahrain was shaken in February 2011 by a protest movement led by Shias. The security forces crushed the month of protests, but demonstrations still continue to take place regularly in Shia villages around the capital.

Brazil

Brazil unrest: Protesters ‘subvert’ advertising slogans BBC

During the wave of protests continuing to sweep Brazil, two slogans have stood out for having made their way from TV and social networking sites onto the streets. … “Vem pra rua” (Come to the streets) and “O gigante acordou” (The giant has awoken) were part of advertising campaigns by Fiat and Johnnie Walker respectively, but have been usurped by demonstrators all over the country.

Rousseff’s Rating Drops; Belo Horizonte’s City Hall Occupied Bloomberg

In Rio de Janiero, police are beefing up security outside the Maracana stadium for the final match tomorrow between Brazil and world champion Spain in the Confederations Cup, a dry run for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. A march that at least 18,000 people signed up to attend on Facebook will be joined by a group taking aim at billionaire Eike Batista, who holds a minority stake in a group that was awarded last month a 35-year contract to operate Rio de Janiero’s Maracana stadium. … Protests have taken place ahead of almost every match, sometimes turning violent.  …. 300 people demanding deeper cuts in public transportation tariffs today occupied the government building in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of Minas Gerais state with 2.4 million residents, according to images on Globo TV.  … Eight out of 10 Brazilians said they support the protests, according to the Datafolha survey of 4,717 people in 196 cities on June 27 and June 28. Brazilians who say Rousseff’s management of the economy is good fell to 27 percent, from 49 percent.

Carnival Mask Makers Churn Out ‘Anonymous’ Masks Ahead of Rio Protest NDTV

Carnival mask makers in Rio de Janeiro are scrambling to meet demand for the Guy Fawkes masks that have become so popular with protesters, in the wave of demonstrations that have swept Brazil in recent weeks. What is being called the ‘Anonymous’ mask, and Brazilian flags worn like capes, have been the ubiquitous emblems of the movement initially sparked by a small protest against higher public transportation fares in Sao Paulo.

FIFA responds to Brazilian protests with $100 million social fund NBC Sports

In what is absolutely the biggest win for protestors yet [!!] in Brazil, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has pledged to give at least $100 million in World Cup profits back to the host country as part of a social fund.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria, protest for the future, Open Democracy

Tens of thousands of people have been marching for eleven days now on the streets of the capital Sofia and in some of Bulgaria’s major cities. The mass protests were sparked by the decision of the Bulgarian parliament to make Delyan Peevski – a media mogul and politician – chief of the State Agency for National Security. After his resignation on the second day of the protest, its main demand became the resignation of the  [Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms]  government of Plamen Oresharsk. This is the second wave of demonstrations in Bulgaria in the first half of 2013. The mass protests in February against the electricity monopolies brought down the centre-right government of Boyko Borissov.

Bulgarian protesters pelt lawmakers with tomatoes, eggs Reuters

Bulgarian protesters pelted lawmakers with tomatoes and eggs and chanted “Mafia!” and “Resign!” on Wednesday in a sign of mounting frustration over the new Socialist-led government’s refusal to quit over a security scandal.

Chile

Profile of Chile’s school occupations: one night in ‘toma’ Santiago Times

While other schools have been under student occupation for weeks, petitioning education reform, students occupied Manuel de Salas for the first time this year Wednesday night. In this case, education reform —the theme of many “tomas”— was a secondary issue in comparison to concerns about the presidential primaries that will be held across the country this weekend. “Sunday, they have authorized primary elections and the high school is one of these (voting) places,” student Gabriela Zunida told The Santiago Times. “We do not support these elections.” At the school, 118 protesters were detained for disrupting the public order in a future polling location, All protesters were released the day they were detained, said Carabineros Director of Communications Jose Mora.

Egypt

Protesters around Cairo build up sit-ins for 30 June Al Ahram (official); explainer.

Protesters have put up 18 tents so far at the Ittihadeya presidential palace in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, in preparation for mass demonstrations planned for Sunday aimed at forcing President Mohamed Morsi to step down. They also set up a stage near the main entrance to Heliopolis Sporting Club, opposite Gate 4 of the palace. Meanwhile, the security presence in the area is increasing as five Central Security Forces (CSF) trucks and a fire-extinguishing vehicle stand at Ittihadeya. Similarly, the number of tents in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square has increased to 150 after thousands staged an anti-Morsi demonstration Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, Morsi’s supporters, mainly of Islamist groups, continue their sit-in at Rabaa El-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City district.

Egyptian Opposition Observe First Morsi Anniversary With Massive Protests Demanding his Resignation Al Jazeera

In Cairo, tens of thousands of Islamists flocked Friday to Rabaa al-Adawweya Square in Nasr City for a rally in support of the legitimacy of President Morsi. The rally was staged by over 30 Islamist parties ahead of the opposition’s planned anti-Morsi protests on Sunday, the first anniversary of the Islamist-oriented president’s rule. … Meantime, more than 10,000 liberal protesters headed by Tamarrud Campaign, which announced that it has collected more than 15 million anti-president signatures, as well as Popular Current, April 6 Movement and others, flocked to the Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, urging Morsi to leave office. Hundreds of protesters blocked the traffic near the iconic square while a number of protesters set up tents, saying they will start a sit-in until June 30.

Egypt’s Gas Shortage Fuels June 30 Protests Al Monitor

Long lines, high temperatures and edginess about what the next few days will bring are exacerbating Egyptians’ frustrations. Ahram Gate reported that a student waiting at a gas station in Cairo was killed by a stray bullet fired during a dispute between two drivers over whose turn it was at the pump. … The latest gas crisis falls prior to the highly anticipated June 30 protests called by the Tamarrud movement demanding that Morsi step down for his failure to achieve any of the revolution’s goals. The demonstrators plan to march to the presidential palace to present their demands to Morsi on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. … While some believe that the gas shortage may encourage more people to go into the streets, others fear that people will instead blame the shortage on the protests. According to [Amira Erfan, who works at an educational non-profit], the gas crisis is “effective in making people angry.”

Confrontation Builds Up in Cairo Independent European Daily Express

Earlier in the week, defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued similar calls for reconciliation, warning that Egypt’s armed forces would not allow the country to “fall into a dark tunnel of civil unrest and killing, sectarianism and the collapse of state institutions.” … “There is a president ruling the country democratically, through democratic elections,” [A presidential spokesman] said. “There is no political role for the army.” He added: “President Morsi represents the commander-in-chief of the military; anything that happens within the army is coordinated through him.” Since Tuesday (Jun. 25), military forces have been deploying nationwide in anticipation of the upcoming wave of demonstrations. Anti-Morsi protesters themselves appear divided on what role the military should play. On Wednesday, one group of anti-Morsi demonstrators in Tahrir Square waved banners bearing pro-army slogans while another chanted in unison, “No to military rule.”

Hong Kong

July 1 protest is Hong Kong’s taste of democracy South China Morning Post

Tomorrow is a significant day for Hongkongers – marking 16 years since the handover of sovereignty from Britain to China, and the protest march that’s been held every year since. … “The July 1 march has become an icon,” said transport and housing secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung yesterday in a radio interview. “It’s one day every year where every citizen can take to the streets to make a point about political or social issues,” he said.

Thailand

White-masked protestors bring V for Thailand to Pattaya Pattaya Mail

About 200 anti-government protesters – many wearing white masks – converged on Tesco-Lotus’ North Pattaya branch, mirroring a larger rally in Bangkok that opened a new chapter in the kingdom’s long-running saga of political unrest. The demonstration by the “V for Thailand” movement – an enigmatic protest group spawned over social media whose supporters wear the “Guy Fawkes” mask of comic book hero “V” – was the first in Pattaya and fourth this month in Bangkok.

Turkey

The Diary: Gideon Rachman FT

Erdogan’s plan for the park was to build a replica of an Ottoman barracks that once stood there, and that was the base for a rebellion by Islamist officers in 1909 – before being razed by the secular republic, established by Kemal Atatürk.

The fight for the square – Tahrir, Sol, Wall Street, Taksim Open Democracy. Interesting interview:

AB: You say we are still in Europe here. One of the striking aspects of both the Plaza del Sol in Madrid and Occupy Wall Street in New York’s Zuccotti Park was, if in different ways, a tremendous commitment to process. In Madrid there was a daily general assembly, it was very big. And millions were involved across Spain. Every day in the general assembly there was a team providing sign language with people on either side of the speaker translating what he said into sign language, a symbol of access – and there was a collective discussion about whether they should leave Plaza del Sol and when.

AG: The big difference is that here they have it for the groups and forums for non-affiliated people: it’s not completely or visibly centralized. I think this is good because if you have a general assembly with most people doing politics for the first time, they will not be able to come up and say their own opinion. If you have smaller groups that’s how you really have an interaction. The smaller groups report, so we all know what’s happening, we all send reports to each other, everybody can ask information from everybody.

More at Stake Than Gezi’s Sycamores Kamil Pasha

Carnegie Europe published an analysis of all the various environmental issues that have collectively caused the anxiety and outrage behind the Gezi protests. There are millions more trees involved than the sycamores in Gezi Park. [Projects are] being carried out in frenzied haste without oversight, without consultation, and without scientific impact assessments, most in Istanbul.

Stuffing the genie back into the bottle Jim Meyer’s Borderlands

And then came the standing man (duran adam),  the dude who stood on Taksim Square, staring at the Ataturk banner covering the Ataturk Cultural Center for several hours before being detained by police and setting off a new protesting trend in the process. … It became a feel-good story, with dozens of people joining him the first night and thousands more on subsequent days, standing silently in Taksim and elsewhere with their hands in their pockets. So yes, the standing protests have helped to reduce tensions considerably.  … But, I can’t help thinking: what a state to have fallen into, when standing silently with your hands in your pockets constitutes your only avenue for protest without fear of getting tear gas shot in your face. … After all, once protesters have accepted standing silently as their new form of protest, how are they supposed to go back to making noise?

 Generation Gap: Turkish Family Split Between Gezi and Old Way Der Spiegel

My uncle didn’t go to see the protesters’ camp in Gezi Park, even though it’s less than 15 kilometers (9 miles) from his apartment. But he did hear what Erdogan had to say about the tent city, and it was enough for him: that it stank of urine, that condoms were being kept there, and that the protesters were all terrorists. Sahmi believes that dark forces, from both Turkey and abroad, were behind the protests. … Is he talking about a different place? I spent a lot of time with the people in Gezi Park in recent weeks, talking to them for days on end. We were attacked, I inhaled tear gas, I fled from the police and I was almost arrested. And now my uncle is saying that these people are all terrorists?

NOTE * I know “protest” isn’t prefigurative, and is in any case not the right category for Occupations which, I would argue, are more about parallel sovereignty (non-violent tactic of protest and persuasion #198) than “marches,” but “protest” is the word that Google seems to understand, and so for the purpose of this post that’s what I’ll use.

NOTE When I first published the first of this series a couple of weeks ago, there didn’t seem to be an official view on worldwide protest.* Now a view seems to be congealing: 

The march of protest Economist (June 27)

This ready supply of broad, fair-weather activism may vanish as fast as it appeared. That was the fate of the Occupy protesters, who pitched camp in Western cities in 2011. …. This time, however, the protests are fed by deep discontent.

Takin’ It to the Streets Thomas Friedman, Times (June 30)

In America, the Tea Party began as a protest against Republicans for being soft on deficits, and Occupy Wall Street as a protest against Democrats for being soft on bankers.

Middle-class rage sparks protest movements in Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria and beyond, WaPo (June 30; photo essay).

Around the globe, this is the summer of middle-class discontent, particularly in the developing world. From Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro, from Bulgaria to Bosnia, the pent-up frustrations of an engaged citizenry are being triggered by a series of seemingly disparate events.

Well, I’m a little iffy on the power of “middle class” anything as an analytical too, but perhaps that’s just me.


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42 comments

  1. Ray Duray

    Re: ” FIFA president Sepp Blatter has pledged to give at least $100 million in World Cup profits back…”

    This is an insult to the Brazilian people. They will be forced to pay at least US$1 Billion to build the stadium infrastructure. FIFA will net over $4 Billion in revenue next year, with most of this pure profit.

    Blatter is offeringt the people the lint from his pocket.

    1. Stan Musical

      I knew that as soon as I read the figure, despite having no idea whatsoever how much profit FIFA would reap. It’s endemic behavior: the oligarchs always offer pocket lint because they despise the “small people” and need to a) make that point b) have it confirmed when “we” accept their shitty offers. The $100M will very likely be accepted.

      My criticism of first-worlders’ complacency and advocating such give up at least some of their material comforts was dismissed by one commenter here as religous; but here I make the point again, most of these protests are beyond what anyone in the US is doing. It won’t happen in the US until enough people are indeed living in third-world conditions where their very survival is threatened.

      How long will that take, I wonder?

      1. Nathanael

        Timing is impossible to predict, BUT…

        Empires collapse from the outside in. So the US will see its revolution after all of its satellite states have had theirs. When it gets to Canada and Mexico, you’ll know it’ll be in the US soon.

    1. gonzomarx

      not sure if this should go in the links but a bit of Zeitgeist watch

      Massive Attack meet Adam Curtis: the unlikely double act
      http://tinyurl.com/obfsshl

      Billed simply as Massive Attack v Adam Curtis, in the manner of an old school reggae or hip-hop sound system clash, the multimedia performance,
      “It concerns the rise of the modern ideology that we now live in, which is essentially managerial. We increasingly live in a world run by modern technocrats, whether government thinktanks or data analysts or terror experts or the big global internet companies that use algorithms to tell us what we want. They are all predicting the future through the data they collect on us, and which they then use as evidence to protect us from a future of risk. The whole idea, to quote a famous pop band, is to keep us safe from harm.”

      and

      “I am so bored with investigative journalism because it keeps telling me what I know is happening, and everyone knows it’s happening and everyone shrugs it off. It’s the same safe-from-harm ideology that the internet also shores up – it’s best to just accept this insubstantial, rather corrupted world where no one really believes in anything any longer except themselves and their friends.”

      http://tinyurl.com/bzdn9an

  2. Joe

    All this makes me wonder what it will take to rouse the great beast of the masses in the U.S. I guess you would have to take their alcohol and sports away.

    1. jake chase

      Take away country music, cigarettes, coffee, Viagra, hot dogs and the Fox network.

  3. from Mexico

    The interview of Annalena di Giovanni speaks to the chasm that is opening up between European Marxism and southern Marxism. Northern Marxists like Giovanni are what I believe the Egyptian Marxist Samir Amin has dubbed “imbeciles.”

    For instance, Giovanni notes, “I think what’s really international is the measures that people are fighting against, because it’s an international idea of the economy that people are fighting.”

    That’s great, as far as it goes.

    But when the interviewer intones, “Some would reply that the first struggle is the anti-imperialist struggle in Palestine,” Giovanni recoils:

    The anti-imperialist clown is always there. Even here you will hear anti-imperialism a lot. It’s 2013, come on, we have other problems. When you have a government who can just take your house because it is investing in renovating the neighbourhood, is imperialism your problem?

    Why such hostility to the mention of imperialism? The people of the global south, in places like Egypt and Latin America, people like Amin who have actually experienced living under the jackboot of US/Nato imperialism, are certainly not so dismissive of the notion of imperialism.

    In the following interview titled “The world as seen from the South,” which Amin filmed in Quito last year, he observes that today, as we already know, we have Democrats and Republicans in the United States, socialists in Hollande and the right in Sarkozy in France, but they are the same, or almost the same. What this means is that they all are allies in a consensus, and this consensus is the mandate of what Amin calls “generalized imperialist monopoly capitalism.” “Only having comprehended this,” he says, “can we understand the challenge that confronts the people of the south, in the emerging countries as well as the other countries of the south.”

    Amin’s interview can be seen here, spoken in French with Spanish bylines:

    http://www.fedaeps.org/alternativas/entrevista-a-samir-amin-el-mundo

    Back to the Giovanni interview, as the interviewer notes, we have seen the European Marxist imbeciles show their ugly face in Spain as well:

    …the young generation in the Plaza del Sol were the generation that won the election for the Socialist government after the Atocha attack in Madrid in 2004. Their mobilization voted in Zapatero, they felt he was their person. Their disgust with him forced him out.

    1. from Mexico

      The great fear of the Latin American left is that the protests in Brazil, motivated in large part by what Amin calls a desire for a more “audacious movement” or “audacious socialism,” will recoil to the right, just as the protests of the Indignados did in Spain in 2011. The outcome in Spain was not a more “audacious socialism,” but the return of power to the right with the election of the arch-neoliberal Mariano Rajoy Brey in the 2011 general election.

      1. Maju

        We cannot say that the indignados “recoiled to the right” with the electoral data in hand (http://forwhatwearetheywillbe.blogspot.com.ca/2011/11/election-review-for-southern-basque.html): the conservatives (PP) gained just 500,000 votes (added to the 10 million in the previous elections, when they lost), what happened is that the social-liberals (PSOE) were put in evidence so badly by their own sellout policies towards EU/IMF that they lost more than 4 million votes!

        Who won? United Left-The Greens and their Valencian ally Compromís gained more than 800,000 votes, maverick populist UPD gained 800,000 votes, minor parties and lists got at least a million votes divided in many minor choices, most of which did not make to parliament and abstention grew more than two points.

        Since then opinion polls show (http://forwhatwearetheywillbe.blogspot.com.ca/2013/05/spain-opinion-polls-show-collapse-of.html) consistent decline of or even collapse of both twin party options, leading almost unavoidably to a Samaras kind of government whenever new elections take place (surely in 2015). United Left and UPD are the main options growing (multplying their vote intention by more than three times!), although in places like Navarre (where corruption scandals are incredible!) we see also the growth of independentist options up to the point that for the first time in decades a Basque nationalist government, strongly leaning to the hard Left, is likely to be formed when voting takes place.

        In the case of Brazil, for all what I’ve read, the protesters and those who sympathize with them, who are many, are most likely to lean to options left of the PT, like the PSOL, PCO and PSTU). The conservative PSDB and the PT are more or less together in being oppossed to what the protesters demand, although the PT, notably President Rousseff, attempted to adapt to these demands but without challenging the undue profits of the transport companies, for example, just diverting the cost to other taxes.

        We are bound to see more and more importance of hardcore Left options everywhere, at least everywhere where they have any chances of getting elected at all (i.e. winner-takes-all systems are too rigid maybe for such a democratic evolution).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          FWIW, the electoral outcome isn’t the same as the social outcome. IIRC, the indignados melted into the neighborhoods to work on housing issues (much as a subset of our own Occupiers did). And they they vanished from “our” right…

        2. from Mexioc

          @ Maju

          I hope that you’re right, and what the future holds for both Spain and Brazil is a complete rout for neoliberalism.

          1. Maju

            I don’t know which is the future, “From Mexico”, but the data is there for us all to see.

            In contrast, in spite of all protests, Portuguese opinion polls seem to favor continuity of the twin party system, just switching “brand” but surely with the same actual flavor, you know. The hard Left is divided in two coalitions (both sit together in the European Parliament ironically) and AFAIK they have gained very little vote intention. In other parts of Europe, as we surely all know, things move very slowly, if at all (by the moment).

      2. Synopticist

        Yeah, I saw that one coming. “We are not a movement of the left or the right” they claimed, while making a series of left wing demands.

        That was dumb of them, and they got a hard right government as a result.

    2. Synopticist

      FM, from an old world, European perspective, as opposed to an new world, American view, a fair number of “Anti-Imperialist” narratives come down to muslim extremist
      grievance mongering, which have no relevance at all to the vast majority of continental Europeans.

  4. Maju

    And the mentioned socio-political conflicts are just the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday for example I read on how China deployed thousands of troops in Xinjiang-Uyghur’s capital after a crowd-with-knives attack against a police station that left 35 dead (ref. in Spanish: http://gara.naiz.info/paperezkoa/20130630/410957/es/Demostracion-fuerza-militar-China-capital-uigur-Xinjiang). But, if we look back a bit we see that all this has been happening all around in the last few years: the “Arab Spring”, the persistent Greek protests, the also quite persistent protests in Spain and Portugal, the highly symptomatic Occupy camps just a year and a half ago in the USA, Honduras, Haiti, South Africa, Kyrgizistan, India, Nepal, Palestine, West Sahara, Colombia (just days ago four farmers massacred by the Army in class protests), Peru, Mexico and a long etcetera.

    It’s quite obvious that things are not “just fine” at all and, critically, as one of the articles on Turkey mentions, the expectations and demands of the youngest generations are much above of what the regimes offer. This is crystalizing locally and globally in intense social and political conflicts that almost unavoidably will change our reality. However as of now it is not clear where do the lead us to: an agglutinating socio-political project is lacking in most cases, letting such marvellous energies dissipate in a myriad of weak options.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Turkey events are interesting to me for two reasons at least: (1) “the standing man”* seems new, and (2) the “forums”** being held throughout the city because of the state violence at Taksim Square.

      NOTE * This seems like a new tactic, a combination of Non-Violent Method #163 (stand in) with #52 (silence). It is interesting that reality, more cunning than any theory, is producing tactics that do not fit neatly into Sharp’s taxonomy. That shows great activity and creativity at street level.

      NOTE ** Perhaps this is #177 (speak-in).

    1. Maju

      LOL, “middle class”. It would seem from the WSJ article that any 21st century underdog is “middle class” just for having a mobile phone and knowing how to write messages in Twitter. Well, let you know that, according to the figures mentioned by TKP member Aytekin Kurtul Kaan (again Spanish language reference, sorry: http://periodicodigitalwebguerrillero.blogspot.com.ca/2013/06/diario-de-estambul-un-joven-turco.html), only 16% of Turkey’s citizens are above poverty level, while 14% are under hunger level.

      There’s no “economic miracle” in Turkey, just cheap labor and the reactionary government looting the public companies and even the water resources in favor of their cronies. In fact the issue of Gezi Park itself was one of building a commercial center in one of the few parks of Istanbul (one of the largest megapolis of West Eurasia, competing only with Moscow and Teheran) for the benefit of Erdogan’s relatives and in-laws: a clear case of nepotism and corruption like all others similar public property looting they have been doing in the last years with the pretext of paying the foreign debt.

      There’s a lot to see in Istanbul and I doubt we will be moving along any time soon.

      “Prime Minister Erdoğan remains popular outside of the country’s urban areas”…

      Istanbul alone holds 18% of the state’s population. Add Ankara, Izmir, Adana, etc. Only 22 millions were considered to be “rural population” in 2010 (less than 30%) and about half of them are rebellious Kurds, who hate any single Turkish nationalist ruler, be it Islamist or Kemalist.

      Instead the generational divide is probably more realistic, although many mothers of the rebels went out to support them, some even wearing the hijab.

      There is general outrage at corruption and the sellout of the public companies or services to private hands, almost invariably cronies. This is not particular of Turkey or Brazil: it is the sign of the times, up to the point that describing the current global disorder as a “capitalist mafia” undermining democracy and social conquests is very much accurate. That is what the people everywhere is arising against.

      They may not succeed because they lack (so far) of a project to go beyond Capitalism, and therefore systemic corruption.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Is the WSJ Frances Fukashima? He was as wrong as wrong could be about “the end of history,” so it’s telling that he’s being deployed to push this “middle class” meme.

        1. Maju

          Fukuyama. Yes, it seems it’s the same Francis Fukuyama, member of the Reagan, who, quite wrongly, proclaimed “the end of history”. He seems to have gone slightly more moderate since then but he still seems to be very wrong.

  5. mk

    bob dylan is a commercial artist, he sold out, can’t stand to listen to his music as good as it is, feels hypocritical, therefore spoils the experience for me,

    1. diptherio

      Bob Marley, not Dylan (assuming that’s what you’re referring to). And just because somebody does some things we might not agree with, that doesn’t mean we have to write-off everything they ever did, does it? I hope not, for my own sake…

  6. Susan the other

    How can there be any other answer to all these discontents except to achieve – quickly – self sufficient domestic economies that cannot be exploited by international trade pacts or international banksters and vigilantes. We need strong domestic democratic governments favoring small companies and corporations within a domestic economy. This is the verboten subject. It is always referred to as Nazi, or Fascist, or protectionist or some other nonsense in order to preclude a serious discussion.

  7. Myron

    Rosa Luxemburg in “Mass Strike” talks about similar phenomena in Russian Empire. She describes it as an underwater river that comes to the surface in different places. The “it” is the revolutionary impulse, a casting off of old bonds, new ways of thinking, delegitimization of existing authorities. What causes it to rise to the surface differs from place to place, time to time. In one place it may be a transit fare hike, in another the arrogance of a leader. Many seemingly unrelated events reflecting a common reality.
    The process of change is not what one sees; or as she puts it: it is not the mass strike which makes the revolution, but the revolution which makes the mass strike. (my paraphrase).

    1. Maju

      Interesting reference, thanks Myron. Online for example: http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1906/mass-strike/

      In the third chapter she really explains how the (failed) 1905 Revolution was not any isolate event but that it was the (first) culmination of a process which began in the relatively humble strike of 40,000 textile workers of St. Petersburg in 1896 and continued through the decade until the Revolution.

      And then we should also not forget how, if the 1905 Revolution was defeated, it still sowed the seeds for the 1917 Revolution. That’s some two decades of revolutionary process! We cannot ignore that when looking at what is happening in so many places around the World right now.

      I just hope this revolutionary process doesn’t take so long. From the viewpoint of the historian two decades is probably a very short period but from the viewpoint of those living through the drama of such periods, it is a big chunk of their lives.

      1. Nathanael

        If one studies also the conditions under which revolution does *not* happen, one begins to understand the process.

        There is some need of the people which is not being met. This rises to the surface in various forms of protest.

        Now, *if the government in power actually meets the people halfway*, as Earl Grey did in the UK in 1932 with the Great Reform Bill, the “under the surface” push for revolution will settle down and things will be calmer for a generation.

        Morocco appears to actually be doing this. So does the new government of Iceland. And I believe many South American governments are.

        By contrast, most European governments, and the US, and most Middle Eastern governments, seem incapable of actually addressing the needs and demands of the people. They are Neros and Caligulas, without the soft touch and competent administration of an Augustus.

        The thing I remember about Augustus is that he put up monuments bragging about how many people he was giving welfare to. *He* knew how to avoid revolution.

  8. Paul Tioxon

    US ‘helping spark political unrest’

    “AMERICA has been accused of training political activists to encourage unrest in Bahrain and across the Middle East.

    The US administration has poured millions of dollars into financing leading personalities who launched campaigns of destabilisation and mobilised protesters via social media, according to the New York Times.

    The newspaper said the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, and activists such as Yemeni Entisar Qadhi have all received training and financing under the guise of promoting grassroots democracy in Arab countries.

    It has reportedly come from groups such as the International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House, a non-profit human rights organisation based in Washington and other think tanks known for playing a dubious role in engineering the wave of unrest and destabilising regimes.

    These details were confirmed by interviews with leading personalities and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

    Sanaa authorities are said to have suspected Washington was seeking to partition Yemen and back the separatist Houthis, who happen to be funded and trained by the belligerent Tehran regime in order to fragment Yemen, destabilise Saudi Arabia and back dubious calls to sever the Eastern Province from Saudi Arabia and establish a so-called Greater Bahrain.

    Activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon and other Arab countries attended training sessions in the US and returned with the aim of passing on their knowledge at home.

    The leading US daily said this had been backed up by the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, who tours Arab countries, with a special focus on the Arabian Gulf.

    He said about these US-trained activists: “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.

    “That ripple effect of course, is the Arab Spring.”
    ___________________________________________________

    There is much more to read at this site:

    http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=354826

    WWIII in the Arab world, destablizes hundreds of millions of Muslims at the door step of Russia. Let Russia continue to protect their interests in Syria and they will bleed for the next decade while we recover our domestic tranquility. Our course, the War Party and The New American Century failed so miserably that the other faction of ruling corporate elites gets to pursue their agenda on their terms, which does not include doing the whole invade the shit out Iraq thing twice in a decade, to no useful policy gain other than $Trillions in military contracts in the pocket of the war industry and the NSA spying more than ever.

    1. Maju

      You are showing extreme naïvety (or ill-intent) here, Paul. Washington gave green light (as a matter of course) to Saudi military intervention in Bahrain and the subsequent bloody repression by the local Khalifa totalitarian monarchy. After all Bahrain hosts the main US military base in the area and the uprising there has Shia undertones which nearly everyone fears could play in the hands of Iran (??). Consistently Western Media ignores the struggle and suffering of Bahraini people and Western Capital even organized the F1 World Championship in that horrible state months ago (much like UEFA organized the Euro sub-21 football championship in Israel, another atrocious US-backed regime).

      What you so dutifuly copy-pasted is nothing but Saudi/Khalifa nonsense propaganda.

      “These details were confirmed by (…) American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks”.

      Can you reference such cables by number or link? I seriously doubt they amount to anything else than verbal expression of abstract “moral outrage”.

      FYI: “The Gulf Daily News is an English-language newspaper published in the Kingdom of Bahrain” (where every single media is controlled by the all-powerful Khalifa theocracy, which only bows to Riyadh and Washington).

      But you are parroting their propaganda as if it was some sort independent research journalism. Why?

    2. kievite

      Paul,
      WWIII in the Arab world, destablizes hundreds of millions of Muslims at the door step of Russia. Let Russia continue to protect their interests in Syria and they will bleed for the next decade while we recover our domestic tranquility.

      Antagonizing Russia, while extremely beneficial for military-industrial complex, has its own price. I doubt that it can benefit American people. And please remember that Russians still did not forget Clinton’s economic rape of their country. If you think that Russians can not play this Muslim joker game to US disadvantage, you are deeply mistaken.

  9. Jessica

    Someone correct me if I have this wrong (Please), but the white mask movement in Thailand seems to be a successor to the yellow shirts. The yellow shirts represented those parts of the urban population who side with the elite and want the elite to crack down harder on the lower classes. I assume the white mask movement is the same.
    I find this important because I am guessing that the same attitudes would be found in China if it were possible for people to talk a bit more freely. In other words, the better off, better educated, more westernized part of the urban population looks at their own rural population and countryside-to-city migrants in the way that 1st world populations sometimes look at 3rd world immigrants.

    1. Stan Musical

      @Jessica

      I wondered that too, if these white-masks aren’t somehow related to the yellow shirts. This urban-rural split is very strong in Thailand, but there’s also a north-south split (N. Thailand vs. the rest of Thailand esp. Bangkok). Thai politics are not simple!

      Notice from the photos in this article how the police are acting–no riot gear, just keeping the peace. This civilized behavior on the part of the police needs to be re-imported to the USA.

  10. p78

    The neoliberal govt. of the democrat-liberal party in this European country crumbled when a popular street movement, similar to the one today in Bulgaria, took to the streets in a continuous show of force for a few months in December 2011 – February 2012. There were street fights in the capital, broadcast live by the television stations.
    Anticipated parlamentary elections followed in June 2012, and as soon as the Social Democratic Party, in a coalition with the classical Liberal Party, won 70% seats in Parliament, the party’s boss (also new Prime Minister) declared that his idol is Tony Blair; changed his expressed opposition to fracking, by allowing Chevron to “explore, develop and exploit” the gas (while the country gets a pittance in owners’ rights); continued ad litteram the engaged program with the IMF and would also like a new one, while denouncng it during the electoral campaign. Guess the country.
    (Also, the former US ambassador to this country, a businessman, was newly appointed as director in a hedge-fund set up by this country govt. This fund, formerly stated owned but now US owned, was set up for the administration of former goods confiscated by the communist regime at the 1948 nationalisation, and which cannot be given back in nature. This gave an explanation to many observers as to why this ambassador, when in office, was so keen to advice this country’s govt. to wildy privatize its valuable state assetts to vulture hedge funds, in very bad trades for this country.)

    As Prof.Michael Hudson remarked once, all Social Democratic Parties in Europe are traitors to their own ideology, just masked neo-liberals playing the game until they win the elections.

    1. Nathanael

      That’s only two political parties. Britain has had to go through THREE parties, and Ireland has at least FOUR which are in the tank for the neoliberal insanity.

  11. Jessica

    “As Prof.Michael Hudson remarked once, all Social Democratic Parties in Europe are traitors to their own ideology, just masked neo-liberals playing the game until they win the elections.”

    But that was not always the case. Since the treason is Europe-wide, some deep factor must be at work, not the personalities running the individual Social Democratic Parties.

  12. steve from virginia

    Hmmm …

    You have left out ongoing protests in Philippines, Japan and China including ethnic violence in Xinjiang … protests in Greece, Cyprus, France, Sweden, UK, Portugal and Hungary.

    Don’t forget all-out war and Salafist militancy in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Chad, Uganda, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia, Republic of Congo, along the Gulf of Guinea and into Nigeria.

    A component is the shortage of petroleum or the desire on the part of the West to divert accessible petroleum- or freed-up consumption toward the West away from users within ‘targeted’ countries. What crude is not burned in Tunisia or Syria is available to be burned in the US … or China.

    Considering that Peak Oil occurred on a dollar-for-dollar basis in 1998, the unrest is unsurprising. An economic system that promotes endless increase of snouts at the pig trough is undermined by the trough that suddenly shrinks. Snouts must be excluded, pigman-deaths are certain to come.

    Not to worry, there are plenty who are more than eager to die for the chance at the fetishes of modernity: freeways, concrete office towers, flat screen TVs, appliances, tract houses, luxury jobs, granite countertops … This is Syria where the youths of the nation absorb machine gun bullets for the chance at a car.

    What have you done for YOUR car, lately?

  13. Nathanael

    “Well, I’m a little iffy on the power of “middle class” anything as an analytical too, but perhaps that’s just me.”

    The people who are neither proletariat nor power elite are the “middle classes” (I usually use the plural). Their self-identification is very important in determining the fate of a society. When they identify with the power elite, you get kleptocracy. When they identify as the loyal servants of the power elite, you get feudalism. When they identify by some goofy ethnic or nationalistic identifier, you get fascism. When they identify with the proletariat, you get populist revolutions.

    Right now, they are starting to identify with the proletariat, because *they are being shoved into the proletariat* by theievery, fraud, and legal manipulations commited by the 0.1%.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I like your take, but I don’t think “middle class” is the right way to name that, er, class of people. For one thing, it’s not dynamic. For another thing, it’s not functional, unlike (say) “political class” or “ruling class.” Middle of what? Forever? Why or why not? In fact, I’d argue that insofar as people identify as “middle class” [Hi, Elizabeth! [waves]] they’ve bought into a horribly distructive an immoral suck up/kick down mindset.

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