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Saturday, February 19, 2011


In 1848, a revolution in France acted as a catalyst for a whole wave of uprisings and revolutions that erupted across Europe in its wake, with the year becoming known as the Springtime of the Peoples, the Spring of Nations and the Year of Revolutions depending on which country you happened to be in and how poetic the local historians were. Revolts against the old order spread from country to country via the 19th Century equivalent of Facebook and Twitter; word of mouth and newspapers. Revolutions and uprisings followed France's across Europe: in many of the states that would help form Italy and Germany, and in Schleswig, Denmark, the Hapsburg Empire, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, Greater Poland, Wallachia, Ireland and amazingly Belgium.

Most of these uprising were bloody, violent and put down quickly but they led to changes, to the eventual creation of Italy and Germany, to a widening of the electoral franchise and the slow devolution of power to classes below the ruling elites and so on. 1848 was ultimately a watershed moment for Europe and one whose legacy would be felt for decades following. Fast forward past the Russian revolution of 1917 and the Fascist and Nazi ideological revolutions of the 1920s and 1930s, to 2011 and revolution is in the air again. Spreading from country to country like wildfire, the flames fanned by the new sirens of revolt: Twitter, Facebook and 24 hour news channels and suddenly everyone is a protestor with one eye on CNN and the other on his Twitter update.

The Tunisian uprising took just about everyone by surprise and drew attention to a regime that most westerners only know about from holidays, if at all, and yet in a few days the sight of people bravely battling brutal police thugs and amazingly winning, inspired many and led to the toppling of the country's dictator-like President Ben Ali after 23 years in power. Then came uprisings in Egypt and the unthinkable ousting of President Mubarak after 30 years in power and suddenly as a result almost the whole of the Middle East is galvanized into rebellion. Now rulers across the region are quaking in their palaces, while Israel watches nervously from the sidelines and western powers, in particularly the United States, are shown to be treacherous fair weather friends and hopelessly lost and out-of-touch when it comes to this new and radical Middle East. A Middle East where old tribal allegiances and religious beliefs are morphing with 21st Century social networking sites and instant media access in ways unthinkable only months ago.

Yet this wave of protest, national angst and Facebook fury is gathering pace and spreading, its tentacles reaching into Africa, Western Europe and the US and threatening yet more violence and ever greater unrest. For the financial crisis hasn't gone away its just moving into the second phase as the implications and impact of a decade incautious lending, greed and toxic debt come home to roost. The printing of obscene amounts of money may have calmed the financial crisis in the short term but its causing inflation, particularly of food, oil and other important commodities, bankers, bailed out by tax payers only two years ago, are paying themselves massive bonuses and bigging it up again, and with our societies cutting back and making increasing numbers redundant, people are beginning to get scared and angry.

Scared of losing their job, their home, their income and their security people in the West are losing faith in their traditional leaders ability to put things right. Years of affluence, easy credit and government benevolence has weakened our societies collective will and now cutbacks are threatening to erode our national resolve still further. Now the threat of cuts is met with incredibility and hostility, as if the financial crisis were some vagary in our distant past that had no meaning on the present and that our governments largesse was infinite. Yet criticism of those who oppose attempts to rain in government spending is now hampered by comparisons with the profligacy of our banks, bailed out as they were by the same taxpayers whose jobs and livelihoods are now under threat. How can one champion the free market when the heart of capitalism went cap-in-hand to the State at the first sign of trouble? You can't, and in the words of the UK Uncut protesters attempting to occupy High Street branches of Barclays on the 19th February,  it's not the banks that our too big to fail, its society. The banks and our decision to save them in the manner we did have made arguing for radical change more difficult, but not impossible.

The truth is that Western societies are beginning to fail because our Governments failed us, they failed us through unchecked immigration, through multiculturalism and enforced societal changes driven by a radical adherence to political correctness that has empowered criminality and emasculated our police, subverted  excellence, indoctrinated our teachers and undermined our national psyche. They have failed us by creating welfare dependency and a massively overburdened health service whose budgets are unaffordable and untenable, and most of all they are failing to lead and to govern, preferring instead the sound bite and opinion poll driven policies. This is the government of the weak for the meek which is fine when the meek are performing to type, but having been spoiled for the last twenty or so years and with their wealth and security under threat, the cries of revolt from the meek are getting louder by the day. 

In the US the Democrats in Wisconsin have gone into hiding rather than participate in the voting through of cuts to public employees incomes and in doing so have brought in thousands of their fellow Americans for their protection and in doing so are whipping up a storm of protest and ludicrously evoking Egypt as they do so. That storm of protest is currently being directed at Republicans and members of the Tea Party and both groups are getting very angry... In the UK March 26th, the day of the TUC's anti cuts demonstration, is being seen as a massive chance for serious protest with leaflets and flyers depicting burning buildings and general anarchy under the new heading the 'Battle of Britain'. In fact across Europe discontent and disgust with mainstream governments is growing with groups and individuals on all sides of the political spectrum seeing events in the Middle East as the start of something big. How big, and whether they'll party like its 1848, remains to be seen

1 comment:

  1. Excellent analysis of the current revolutionary period in the world.

    Indeed, it is beginning to look like 1848 redux on a global scale.