The world is facing a wave of uprisings, protests and revolutions: Arab dictators swept away, public spaces occupied, slum-dwellers in revolt, cyberspace buzzing with utopian dreams. Events we were told were consigned to history—democratic revolt and social revolution—are being lived by millions of people.
In this compelling new book, Paul Mason explores the causes and consequences of this great unrest. From Cairo to Athens, Wall Street and Westminster to Manila, Mason goes in search of the changes in society, technology and human behaviour that have propelled a generation onto the streets in search of social justice. In a narrative that blends historical insight with first-person reportage, Mason shines a light on these new forms of activism, from the vast, agile networks of cyberprotest to the culture wars and tent camps of the #occupy movement. The events, says Mason, reflect the expanding power of the individual and call for new political alternatives to elite rule and global poverty.
In under two weeks time, Greece will vote on who is to lead their country after the speedy resignation of Alexis Tsipras. Below is an interview with Greece's former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis and leading academics from around the UK. This interview was first published on The Conversation website under a Creative Commons licence.
Photo: Yves Herman/Reuters
It is very widely believed that the establishment of universal suffrage marks the final outcome ofthe democratic process: any backward step would be impossible. Yet viewed at a worldwide level, the conquest of the right to vote has been far from linear in its progress: having suffered frequent retreats, attempts to shape our collective destiny have required ever more vigorous popular mobilisations.
Democracy is in crisis. A recent illustration of this is the gap between the Thessaloniki programme – on which basis Syriza won January’s parliamentary elections in Greece – and the cascade of concessions that the European Union has forced upon the resulting government. ‘It’s the logic of 70-30’, the European Economics Commissioner Mr. Pierre Moscovici earnestly explains. ‘70% of the measures [that Brussels wants] are non-negotiable, whereas 30% can be changed’. In the hierarchy of the political values of our time, popular sovereignty cuts a very pale figure indeed.