THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2010
Three killed as Greek austerity protest turns violent
Egypt protests escalate in Cairo,
Suez and other cities
The Middle East in crisis: Tens of thousands
protest in Yemen
Chaotic scenes in London as
student protests return
30th Nov 2010
Since the greatest recession for generations, we've seen Irish PM Brian Cowen outline an "essential" deal with the IMF, whilst Spanish Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero (first elected 2004), Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, (in government since 1981) and Portugese Prime Minister Jose Socrates (First came to power in 2005) present grey, be-suited men to explain fiscal policy or austerity packages, tied with brown paper and string.
First Mubarak (came to power 1981) , now Gaddafi (came to power 1969) refused calls to go, clinging doggedly to the old order.
Berlusconi (first elected 1994) is still, well, Berlusconi - one could be forgiven for not realising there was any crisis at all other than the one constantly raging in his trousers.
On Tuesday, Mervin King admitted he was "surprised people weren't more angry" with the bankers who caused the recession.
Well Mr King, I think you just summed up the problem more astutely than you ever realised. People are angry. They're furious. Around the world, they are toppling leaders like nine pins. They are taking to their streets and refusing to go home. First Ben Ali in Tunisia, (came to power 1987) then Mubarak, now Cowen have fallen. Gadaffi looks likely to be next.
Online, people are organising protests that speak for millions upon millions of people who are being asked to pay for the greed and incompetence of their political and business leaders. The problem isn't the people, it's the total failure of those in charge to realise - and address - a new order.
Where are the heroes? Where are the charismatic new leaders with vision?
The world is at a crossroads. The people can see solutions. The people know that radical changes need to happen, that the world must come together and think about things differently, yet at a time when the world is desperate for leaders who will stand with them, these establishment men, these long-term leaders still entrenched in their "Golden Age" mentality haven't realised that the world has changed so profoundly, it no longer needs yesterdays men; 20th Century men.
To speak of revolution in the 90s seemed militant and unnecessary, yet in 2011, revolutions are taking place everywhere. Political leaders must shake off their fear of radical solutions because the world is leaving them behind. Opposition leaders no longer have the luxury of sticking to the centre ground like limpets, suggesting a penny less fiscal blah here and a year's more recovery blah there. The centre ground has gone, gobbled up by the credit crunch and the "squeezed middle" finds itself in exactly the same mess as the forgotten poor. The days of smug superiority, fostered by vote chasing politicians are no more.
There needs to be change and its no longer just agitators or troublemakers calling for that change, it transcends class or creed. Egypt's uprising was as intellectual as it was universal, with doctors and lawyers and professors taking to the streets with cleaners and shopkeepers and mothers. Christian and Muslim, rich and poor - protest today means something entirely different to protest before the credit crunch. It has a validity not seen for decades.
There is a simple, stark choice facing us all. Status Quo or Innovation? More corruption, more control, more of the same or real change? Unless our opposition leaders move into this new reality, this chaotic violence engulfing the world will only grow. Now is not the time to be timid.