It is beginning to feel like protests have swept the world. Whether in Hong Kong or Spain, Lebanon or Chile, the young are demanding freedom and reform.
Just what this will lead to, is to be seen, with no apparent new utopian ideology, but plenty of potential incremental improvements, like a Citizens’ Assembly or in places like Hong Kong, just the right to vote.
This all started in France when the young rose due to what they saw as an electoral political system that by law discriminates against all in favor of the rich.
Since then it spread, first in much of Europe, where there have been demonstration from Bulgaria to Czechia, at times leading to new governments.
Now it seems to have reached as far as Hong Kong, Lebanon, and Chile on the other side, with the reasons generally different, but a thread appears to unite it all: the people want greater say in how they are governed.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal that showed just how easily elections can potentially be manipulated has led to small things, like a tax on Whatsapp or fuel, snowball into intense protests even in prosperous west.
A theory suggests if freedom is extended in the west, it naturally will in other places too as the pendulum globally swings, with a crucial moment in what some see as a transition of power between baby boomers and millennials being the calling of the Citizens’ Summit as has been promised:
“I want European citizens to play a leading and active part in building the future of our Union. I want them to have their say at a Conference on the Future of Europe, to start in 2020 and run for two years,” Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Union, said.
This can act as a blueprint in what can be a new understanding in the theory of governance where the young in particular find it necessary to at least experiment with adding a new house of parliament for great people’s representation for the first time since the enlightenment ushered in the modern era.
At the root of it we think are the investment prohibitions, a century old law from a time when women could barely vote, with it denying the right of any man or woman to invest in new innovations unless they are rich or unless the innovation is not so new anymore.
This black and white direct discrimination without reasonable justification has naturally led many to wonder what other sort of laws are there that close the door to the masses in favor of the rich.
Hence little things, like a tax on fuel or an increase in metro prices, becoming a lot bigger in a greater theme of insufficient representation for ordinary people in the law making process.
That then extends to other areas, to perhaps even explain why plenty of things that appear to have obvious solutions are nonetheless not addressed.
The protests thus so having many flavors, against sectarianism in Lebanon, for the climate emergency through the Extinction Rebellion in London, for the right to vote in Hong Kong, for the right to be independent in Catalonia, and far more quietly for the right to not wear a veil in Iran.
Yet the theme remains the same. The people across the world demand greater say for they now see the many problems caused by the lack of it.
A Global Awareness?
That this, potentially even movement, has spread so quickly and so widely suggests the rise of a new very global generation that shares many of the same problems, though with different flavors.
Social media in particular and the internet in general is leading to what was predicted, a global village.
Facebook and Twitter are the mainstream examples, but while our grandfathers had to go to Vienna to enjoy the coffee houses, the young today just turn on the camera and get to speak to ordinary people even from places no one even knew they were a country.
The effects of this are obvious. They all see that they are actually not that much different at all. Hence the increase of empathy and the turning of attention not on far away “enemies,” but on their own governance.
The outcome is perhaps predictable. As a new generation turns their attention to politics and sees just how much of it is not inclusive, is inaccessible, is stuffy and almost like a guild, they, you’d think, will modernize it so that it better responds to increased complexities by having greater representation.
The current system afterall was established at a time when the global population was barely 600 million and when most were farmers.
It is no wonder thus that it can’t keep up with the many movements in many fields where old laws are unresponsive or damaging, leading to frustration as elections can’t quite change them because the elected usually have no clue. So turning attention to politics itself and this idea of far greater involvement of ordinary people in governance.
The Financial Protests
It appears inevitably in many of these protests the financial angle gains importance. The French, for example, chose to set a bank on fire, not some luxurious shop.
In Hong Kong, they tried to break a peg between the Hong Kong Dollar and USD, seeing the peg presumably as a clear tool of control.
In Lebanon, the state just closed banks with a local paper stating “banks have shut their doors for six working days.”
In Chile, the situation appears to be even worse, with ATMs apparently running out of money.
All this presumably feeds into greater demand for bitcoin due to at least one of its use case: it doesn’t just close down.
That might be one reason for a jump in bitcoin’s price recently as it tries to overtake $10,000, although there are plenty of other reasons too.
Yet the fragility of money in some countries where a protest just closes banks, makes crypto an obvious backup plan.
In many of these countries, however, citizens are not being allowed to peacefully protest. Many are being shot by their own government.
That unfortunate reality makes it quite clear just how valuable is maintaining liberty and peacefully extending it in countries that are relatively free.
Thankfully, although not easily and not always, politicians do usually hear in places like Europe as Ursula may show by calling the Citizens Summit.
Yet what the outcome of these global protests will be remains to be seen as a new generation now starts painting the world in its own image.
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