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Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions

Incisive grassroots account of the new global revolutions by acclaimed BBC journalist and author of Meltdown

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.

Reviews

  • “The writing style of this reportage is compact, urgent, present-tense, declarative, and addictive.”
  • “He’s lively, funny and engaging, trading in the energy derived from the thrill and significance of what he’s witnessing.”
  • “Superb overview of the global protest movements of 2011.”
  • “This book not only reads as an in-depth consideration of global politics today, but offers a personal memoir from a man who has had a ringside seat. We are blessed that the BBC, for all the criticisms, still employs journalists whose logic and unfailing inquisitiveness brings us such analysis.”
  • “You will learn something new and challenging on every page of this book.”
  • “The mix of wide-ranging reportage and historical analysis is lively and insightful.”
  • “A cogent, accessible analysis of the ongoing forces of global upheaval….[a] lively collection of essays and reportage.”
  • “Testament to his instincts as a veteran journalist, Mason managed to be everywhere right as things were kicking off—traversing the globe from the Middle East to Europe to America to Asia. [T]he book combines a feel for the breathlessness of events as they unfold with a historian's eye for patterns and precedents...Mason's prose beautifully captures the almost surreal mood that often accompanies mass shifts in consciousness.”
  • “These reports are good journalism. One feels as if they are present at the rallies, occupations and riots that Mason describes. The anecdotal tales he provides should remind anyone who participated in any kind of popular resistance in the past decades of the energy and hope one finds and feels at such events. These are the stuff that makes one join such movements. Worthwhile and provocative.”

Blog

  • David Harvey: On Syriza and Podemos

    Marxist geographer David Harvey recently spoke with il manifesto about the contradictions inherent in capitalism, the possibilities for its undoing and where Syriza and Podemos fit within its opposition.

    At 79 years of age and fresh from publishing a new book (Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, Oxford University Press), David Harvey is still reading social change with one eye on Marx and another on the social movements.

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  • Wolfgang Streeck: ‘Out of the Euro!’

    The political economist and author of Buying Time argues that 'the unified capitalist economy is destroying European diversity' and that in order to save this ideal, 'the monster of monetary union must be unravelled'. 

     

    If everything goes well, then what has been happening before our eyes in the last few days is the beginning of the end of the European monetary union. ‘If the Euro collapses, then so does Europe,’ said Chancellor Merkel, when it was a question of selling to the electors one of the horrendous ‘rescue packages’ for the European banks. Now we have the very opposite. The Euro is in the process of destroying Europe. If the Euro collapses – and let it be soon! – it may be that Europe actually doesn’t collapse. The outcome is certainly not clear; the wounds that monetary union has inflicted are too deep. 

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  • A few questions to Costas Lapavitsas: What of the Social Movements?

    Last week Jacobin published an interview with Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas, by Verso senior editor Sebastian Budgen. In this comprehensive discussion of the situation in Greece, Yanis Varoufakis's self-proclaimed "erratic Marxism",  and the "Grexit", Lapavitsas reflected on the Greek social movements and the international Left's part to play.

    Sebastian Budgen: A question then about forced exit and its consequences: the Plan B that you describe in some detail with Flassbeck seems quite statist. Would it be enough to withstand the shock of devaluation and autarchy?

    If not, what are the Greek movements and Syriza doing to develop what we can call a Plan C — a plan of resilience, of commons, of solidarity, that would organize social reproduction where the state cannot satisfy people’s needs? What role would such strategies play in fending off the temptations of authoritarianism?

    Costas Lapavitsas: That is part of Plan B. That is very much part of Plan B. Plan B — the way we’re talking about it, the way I’ve talked about it and Flassbeck and so on — is obviously a plan that happens and should happen at the level of high politics in the first instance, because that’s where the crisis is. And we need intervention at the level of high politics and the level of state.

    Of course, any kind of strategy that is in the interests of working people — any kind of transitional strategy — must incorporate precisely what you called Plan C. And when we talk about the public and the state and so on, what I’ve got in mind is the collective and the public sector generally. The idea of the state taking everything over is an old-fashioned idea that died a death with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. That’s not really in the cards anymore.

    What we’re talking about is public and collective solutions. Yes indeed we need the commons. Yes indeed we need activity from below. Yes indeed we need contributions and actions by the communities. But first we’ve got to sort the macro questions out, sort the state questions out. Unfortunately communities cannot do it at that level.

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Other books by Paul Mason