Thursday, January 22, 2009

As I am writing this there is a continued series of protests in the country of Iceland, and they have been significant enough that the riot police have had to use tear gas for the first time since protests against joining NATO in 1949. Iceland, of course, is the country hit hardest by the recent financial crisis, and the discontent with the government has united a wide spectrum of its citizens. These events follow on the rebellion in Greece last month which seems to be still simmering. In many other countries the economic hard times are coalescing with a host of other grievances to produce a rebellious mood not seen in decades.
Not that "rebellion" is anything near "revolution". Far from it in fact, despite the illusions of far too many rebels. It is a simple fact that there is no revolutionary ideal in any aspect except the broadest and most abstract feelings- rather than goals- afoot in the world today that has captured the imagination of even a significant minority in any country in the developed world. Leninism has been discredited. In some Latin American countries there is a coherent left socialism that has achieved popularity. Its own virtues, possibilities and faults are best left for another discussion. In the developed world it is indeed possible that rebellions will carry left social democratic politicians to power, but the chances of this resulting in any fundamental change are virtually zero.
But rebellions there will almost certainly be. European governments are planning crisis management for this eventuality/certainty (See Molly's Blog for further discussion). Are the present events in Iceland "significant rebellion" ? That is a matter of opinion. They may indeed overthrow the government and lead to a leftist coalition in new elections. Other countries in southern Europe have a longer tradition of militant rebellion. Other countries in eastern Europe are in economic straights that come close to those of Iceland. In China more people are suffering more grievously than anywhere in Europe. It is also possible that government attempts to stimulate the economy worldwide will lay a gigantic egg. Or maybe they will succeed.
So what is your opinion. take the poll. leave any other comments you might have on the situation as a comment here.

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