Forget the Arab Spring: Call it the 'Human Spring'

Protesters (L) and anti-riot policemen clash after protesters tried to break police blockade leading to the house of representatives building in Manila on July 22, 2013. Thousands of protesters tried to march to the house of representatives for a protest ahead of Philippine President Benigno Aquino's annual State of the nation address (SONA), but were blocked by hundreds of anti-riot policemen.

Image of Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions
Author: Paul Mason
Publisher: Verso (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 244 pages

From Athens to Rio de Janeiro, from Cairo to Istanbul, tens of thousands of people have hit the streets shouting slogans, defying the police, getting tear gassed and then doing it all again the next day.

It's like the 1960s have gone international.

The BBC's Paul Mason wrote the book "Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions," more than a year ago. 

"Nearly always [there's] a broken economic model that doesn't serve the young," Mason says. "On top of that you've got the ability to organize using the Internet... and a new kind of person -- what I call the 'Jacobin with a laptop' --  that revolutionary-minded person that can't see why the world should be like it is."

In places like Greece, the protests continue even against pretty tough odds. But Mason doesn't see an end in sight.

"What I call it now is the 'Human Spring,'" adds Mason. "It is something going on in people's lack of preparedness to go on accepting not just the economic crisis part of it, but regimes that don't allow them to express their individuality and their choices."

Mason says, "My fear is that until we get some kind of an economic deal that can do that, even if the energy runs out from the protests, you're not going to have a new period of stability."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Image of Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions
Author: Paul Mason
Publisher: Verso (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 244 pages
Log in to post2 Comments

Dear Kai:
We are overlooking two fundamental rather basic realities. One, with technology we are needing less and less people to put out more work than prior to technology and two, at the same time the world population is increasing by leaps and bounds. And as this gap widens, there will be more turmoil not less. Additionally we are merely appeasing people and buying time by guiding them towards education which is now so fragmented that it is increasingly doling out bits and pieces of disjointed information which makes no sense to the students who need cohesive and logical information. People only wake up to its affects upon graduation finding the emptiness and sheer deception of those promises. After spending so many years of ones life being "schooled" not educated, and ending up with hefty student loans on top of it which, by the way are not forgivable even if you file for bankruptcy! Under such dire circumstances, what else you would expect them to do if not riot because they feel cheated.

One way out of this dilemma is to stop selling the American Dream and guide people to work to meet their needs not their wants because wants are analogous to chasing the end of the rainbow while when needs are met, people will tend to look into becoming enterprising and the passion and involvement in such activities will give them hope, even if at a distance, hope nonetheless. Such people will have no time for blaming and rioting but working on fulfilling their own hope and project.

The other side of the coin of technology allowing us to produce more with less labor is that the price should be falling accordingly. Ideally we would be able to provide the things we need to live by working less, thanks to the assistance of technology. But prices aren't falling except for things that are mostly technology like electronics since all this is taking place against a back drop of inflation. So in a way, the benefits of technilogy are being absorbed by organizitions closest to the money printers such as central banks, wall street banks and federal governments.

A lot of these failing countries are places where democracy has run amuck. Where politicians handed out favors in return for votes that were in their person short term interest but to the long term detriment of the country. Like Keynes said that these kinds of stimulus work in the short run, but when asked what about the long run he said we'd all be dead so who cares. Well the long run eventually shows up and then people are pissed off. The other kind of places are dictatorships where the little weath the country may have had is siphoned off by connected interests in the government.

With Generous Support From...