Popular uprising occurs at a time when the people want to be heard and not just told what to do. People want power over their own lives; even, it can be argued, if power merely comes in the form of a democratic process. People want to feel that they have a say over who governs them. The 20th century saw mass protests around the world in the name of Democracy–we saw some of the most gruesome of wars imaginable in the name of defending Democracy and Capitalism against the spread of Communism. The US fought wars in Europe, South America, and throughout Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Korea); all, by their logic, to stop the spread of Fascism and Communism. Millions fought and died so that one ideology (Democracy) could flourish.
The questions still remains whether Democracy is real or imagined; or whether it is even a good thing to let the majority decide–How much of a say do the people really have about the kinds of rulers they choose and the political ideologies that political parties espouse? Most contemporary world politicians are seemingly inextricably linked to Neoliberal and Neoconservative ideologies that stress the importance of free market capitalism and globalization; and this scenario appears more and more to play out in favor of the economic elite at the demise of the world’s majority. The question that the 2011 revolutions raise for me is whether the people have had enough of Neoliberalism/Neoconservativism; in which the majority suffers at the hands of the minority; or whether people merely want to say that they live in a Democracy where they feel that they actually have some say about who they have as their leader.
If, the people merely want democratically elected government, then these revolutions may only occur in nations where Democracy has not taken root. However, if these revolutions are occurring because there is a problem with the main political ideology in the world today (Neoliberalism/Neoconservativism) then these three revolutions may not be the only ones that the world experiences this year; or in the decade to come. If it is a question not of Democracy but of dominant political ideology, the consequences of these first dominoes falling could be much grander than these, relatively small, national revolutions crossing borders this past month.
Only time can tell…but how the story is told in the media can have a great impact on how the rest of the world’s people choose to react and respond. If the world is told that it is because the people desire Democracy, the resultant spill-over into other nations could be minimal; however, if rhetoric is turned toward ideology, the result could be world altering. My assumption, seeing that most forms of media are owned by those gaining from the current economic power structure in place, is that these revolutions will be framed around the attainment of Democracy as the desired form of good government. The power of discourse in this case is critical.
~Justin Allen Philcox