Selected Analysis

Revolt of the Masses-2019

In 2019, a wave of various revolts swept over much of the modern world. They were seen in Chile and Ecuador, France and Barcelona, ​​Iran and Iraq, Hong Kong and India, and many other countries and cities. In some cases, the protests ended more or less quickly, while in other places they continue to this day. In some places they are more likely to smoulder, but retain the hidden potential to become larger conflagrations.

In fact, protests, demonstrations and strikes are completely normal; no one has yet invented the panacea for social, economic and political conflict. People should have every right to be dissatisfied with something and express themselves openly about it, to demonstrate their disagreement and annoyance with what is happening.

History, including recent events, is full of such examples. And so you can ask, what is special now? In Lebanon, the authorities decided to introduce a fee for WhatsApp? Well, a worthy occasion for a protest and the resignation of the government in the end. Did Chile’s government increase subway tariffs? Why is this not the reason for the riots and dozens of victims? There were protests before, and for various reasons. Until recently, we witnessed the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, which, incidentally, may not be over yet. And indeed, is human history a history of rebellion and revolt, mutual hatred and aggression?

Nevertheless, it still seems to me that the social elements at the beginning of the 21st century have their own distinctive features, which are some cause for alarm.

First, the revolts activity is now taking place in a new information and communication environment, in a situation where both information and communication are in incredible abundance. When the Internet appeared, the illusion came that the horizons of mankind will expand, that we are on the verge of an era of reason and enlightenment. Well, actually, there is more information; it has become much more accessible. But this did not lead to enlightenment. Rather, the opposite happened. Flammable, but “fake”, unreliable news not only circulate freely, but also had the most destructive effect, no matter what it had resulted from – malicious intent, ignorance, or just stupidity or annoyance.
It should be noted that people have always lied a lot, but never before has this lie been so unstable. As a result, a huge number of people, incapable of independent critical thinking, became hostages of their own incompetence and are forced to either blindly follow any leaders or popular opinions, or fall into confusion, not knowing which messages or information should be trusted. Incidentaly, the protests taking place in 2019 are very expressive in this regard.

Second, and this is a consequence of the new communication situation too, but not exclusively, the revolts almost universally lack a pronounced leadership and requirements system. It is clear that in each case there were causes and reasons. New laws – like in India and Hong Kong, dissatisfaction with the elections – like in Ecuador, higher fees for a service or the cost of any goods and services – like in Chile and Lebanon. But everywhere it turns out that the “casus belli” in no way came down to the real reason for the protests. Moreover, the satisfaction of primary demands does not always lead to the cessation of protests, or at least to a decrease in their scale. Even more curiously, there is no connection between the declared motives of protests in different countries. We see the left’s demands (most of them, anyway), the right demands, and in many places you cannot understand what kind of protests these types of consciousness generate. In general, they possess no clear agenda, and no clear leaders. But everywhere there is an extremely sharp rejection of the current elite and the very serious, often extremely radical role of youth.

Third, there is the blurring of the borders of revolts. Again, the new information and communication environment plays a role. But – again – the whole thing can’t be reduced to that alone. Without a clear agenda, protests nevertheless turn out to be an element of general dissatisfaction with what is happening. In a certain sense, the protests are somewhere in the middle, between the completely legitimate Brexit decision and the bloodthirsty criminality of ISIS (banned in Russia). The blurring of the borders of protests has another dimension – environmental activists, as well as fighters for various types of human rights and the like are closely adjacent to them.

For full report source: Valdai Discussion Club

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