Global revolution…!?

It is one of the ironies of life that my wife and I decided, after some thought, not to call our daughter, born on December 18th, Thawra (Arabic for ‘revolution’) after all. As it turns out, the name would have been more apt than we could have imagined, as she was born on the first day of the Tunisian uprising – only hours after Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in Sidi Bouzid and ignited what will probably turn out to be the end of global domination by the ‘west’. Caring for our first baby has kept me away from the blog since then, but as we are settling down into semi-organised family life, new posts will be appearing…

As the powers that be look on in shock and awe – and those most shocked and awed are the ones most blinded by their hubris, i.e. the US and Israel, as well as their puppet regimes in the Middle East who can see the end draw near – the dictatorship of Tunisia was brought down by people power, with the Mubarak regime now well on the way to follow, while in Lebanon a pro-US government was brought down democratically by parliament. Human beings the world over are now enjoying watching the arrogant and ruthless US and Israel – powerless to stop this democratic revolt against their trusted dictator stooges – reduced to scrambling to save whatever scraps of influence they can hold on to. As the dominoes fall and revolts spread to Yemen, Jordan and Lybia (not to mention Albania), the choices of the powers that be seem to be reduced to only two: committing genocide against an entire continent or admitting defeat. It is well to remember that Zbigniew Brzezinski predicted exactly this scenario not so long ago. Hubris leads those in power to ignore even the sincere warnings of their own trusted servants: Brzezinski is to US geopolitical power plays what George Soros is to global speculation: involved in it up to his neck, and to some degree responsible for creating and maintaining the entire structure, but also lucid and intellectually honest – not to mention vain and machiavelist – enough to realise it and admit it publicly. Brzezinski wrote in December 2008: ‘For the first time in human history, almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive… The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing… The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches…

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well… Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred…

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.’

And while we are all sitting glued to our screens, elated and fascinated, watching people power rise in the least expected of places, we should start thinking about its implications here in Europe. After all, Belgian citizens, for example,  for all the democratic veneer decorating our society and political system, are just as powerless to decide their own fate as the Lebanese, Egyptians and Tunisians are under their dictatorships.  Even when we manage to influence or force the hand of our local politicians, unelected European commissioners or the global shareholder class will still thwart or undermine whatever we achieve here. The revolution will only succeed if it is truly global.

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