Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Like 1848? 1968?

1848 Paris

"There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear..."
-- Buffalo Springfield, 1967

1968 Chicago

2011 Cairo

They say it's a class rebellion, a youth revolution, spreading through the Arab world, demanding an end to autocratic regimes, a clean up of corruption, democracy, social and economic justice, freedom of conscience, dignity, justice.

Europe was wracked with revolutions -- all of which were put down more or less brutally -- in 1848, driven by weariness at rotting autocracy, rising class consciousness, the ruinous results of nascent capitalism and the industrial revolution, starvation arising from crop failures, and many other factors. The Revolutions of 1848 were not a success for the most part, but they laid the groundwork for the revolutions and upheavals to come and gave rise, most notably, to "The Communist Manifesto," which was to become the central revolutionary organizing document for the 20th Century.

1968 saw youth rebellions all over the world as the halls of power shuddered, while in China, where the rebellious spirit was as strong as anywhere else, Mao channeled that energy to consolidate his own revolution through the "Cultural Revolution." The rest of the rebellions of 1968 were put down more or less harshly by the powers that be as well.

Now we're seeing uprisings and rebellions throughout most of the Arab world, but also across much of Europe -- including Britain. We don't hear so much about the rebellions against economic austerity sweeping Europe, but they are happening just the same.

Economic, social, legal and political injustice are the driving forces of these uprisings. They are motivated by the ruinous economic policies adopted by governments against the will of the People, and by the intrinsic injustice of governments that serve the interests of high and the mighty at the expense of workers, the elderly and the infirm.

Is consciousness rising in the United States? It would be nice to think so. Signs remain mixed at best.

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