Thursday, October 06, 2011

Of spring and autumn - and past revolutions

This year, the four seasons seem to have brought with them more than just weather changes as they have traditionally done. It looks that the airs of spring and autumn this year have carried a strange scent that has grown in the youth of various countries around the world a sense of frustration against the current world order. It has brought forward a generation that feels that in the future, they will be unable to make a decent living the way we (or better said, up until the generation of the baby-boomers).

That way, this year we have experienced the Arab Spring and the American Autumn. In between, we have also witnessed demonstrations in other places - such as London, Madrid, Santiago and Tel Aviv. Some of them have had political interests - like overthrowing the governments in the pursuit of a new political system, as was the case in Tunisia and Egypt (and the NATO-backed civil war in Libya). Some others, looking to change the social system (like the case of Tel Aviv and Santiago), and some others, advocating for a different economic order (like the protests in New York). Youth protests are the trend of the year.

Despite the fact that every protest has been different, all of them seem to converge at the same point: There is a new, massive, and united generation of people who are discontent, and are not being afraid to show their unhappiness with their living conditions - past and future. Students are graduating from universities and are unable to find enough jobs. For those who do find jobs, the cost of living seems to be too overwhelming to sustain with their paycheques: Rents, mortgages, taxes, groceries, and so on, add up to create a cyclical economic burden that a lot of young people -regardless of their educational level- are barely able to cope with. To that, add the unhappiness of having a small percentage of the population controlling most of the wealth and power in societies. Income gaps are expanding.

Sounds familiar? It should. Historically, the mix of unhappy people - small rich and powerful elites - increasing income gap has led to revolution. Take the case of the French Revolution for instance, where King Louis XVI's absolute-monarchy style, a very select elite of powerful and reach people, and a great majority of unhappy French citizens led to the overthrow of the royalty of France - giving birth to the new French Republic that promised a more fair economic and social system under it's three pillars Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
The only difference between the French Revolution and the current awakenings around the world are the global aspect of the latter. The protests don't seem to demand a change in the system of a single country or region - but it has acquired a global sense that goes according to the current economic trend - globalization.

It is undoubtable that these protests are far from done, and that they definitely are a symptom of a great problem of our times. Perhaps, as the demonstrators believe, the current world order is not effective anymore and has already served its purpose for as long as it was effective, and deeper changes are required in order to foster further progress to our civilization. Perhaps something better lies ahead... a more equal and fair future for everybody. So we hope.

Photo: Reuters / Hurriyet Daily