August 15, 2013


The age of revolution: 1989-2013, and counting : From the Berlin Wall to Cairo, we live in an era of anti-authoritarian revolution that may transform the world (ANDREW O'HEHIR, 7/06/13, Salon)

[I]f you can separate the populist and/or military coup against Morsi's government from short-term political or ideological questions, it fits into a much larger historical pattern that is global in scale. We live in an age of revolution, and specifically of anti-elite, anti-authoritarian revolution. It's an age that began in earnest with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and shows no signs of slowing down. Edward Snowden, who on Friday was reportedly offered asylum by both Nicaragua and Venezuela, is in his own way a soldier in that revolution, one who has exposed the secrets of the world's greatest imperial power and made it look both foolish and vulnerable. That's the thread that connects this week's explosive news out of Egypt to the bizarre episode of the Bolivian president's airplane, which was forced to land in Vienna (almost certainly at the behest of someone in Washington), based on false rumors that Snowden might be on board. Screw national sovereignty - the most powerful nation on earth is hunting a computer nerd! In other words, both these things are driving powerful people crazy.

Indeed, historians of the future - assuming there are any - may well compare our era to the great wave of social and political revolutions that transformed Europe in the middle of the 19th century, and ultimately led to the sweeping away of the old aristocratic order. What the conclusion of our current revolutionary wave will look like, and whether it will sound the death knell for the dominant liberal-capitalist world order, I have no idea. But I feel certain that a lot of people in boardrooms, executive suites and presidential palaces are wondering the same thing.

On one level this seems obvious: Look not just at the unprecedented street revolution in Egypt, but the mass protests in Brazil and Turkey over the past few weeks, along with similar recent rumblings of revolutionary discord in Greece, Italy, Spain, France, almost every nation in the Arab world and other places I'm not remembering. But this revolutionary moment is difficult to grasp in conceptual terms, partly because it's not defined by any clear political consensus, the way the 19th-century revolutions were.

You have to have not been paying attention to or not understood the End of History--protestantism, democracy, capitalism--if you're mystified that the anti-elite/anti-authoritarian movement has been universalized.  

Posted by at August 15, 2013 5:30 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus