"There is no means of avoiding a final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved."
- Ludwig von Mises

Friday, February 18, 2011

Global Unrest: A Year In Pictures of World Wide Riots and Protests

Time has a funny way of making us forget about recent events.  The 24 hour news cycle constantly barrages us with new events, all the while, we forget what had recently transpired, and how it all may tie together.  

But when we read about history - the story we are told, although it took place over a span of years or decades, becomes clear.  We see the relevance and relationship of various events, and how these events often coalesce into a defining moment, a watershed event in history.  We read how people's lives change, even though, those very same people we read about, were easily swept up by various events and didn't see what was coming.  Most did not see the big picture.

We live in such times right now.  But most of us are too busy with everyday chores to notice what is happening.  Or we look at one news item, and then the next one, and we never tie the two together. 

And so in this post, I want to convey something that I think is transpiring globally.  I won't write about it in detail, but instead, I will tell the story in pictures.  These images were taken over the past 12 months.  They are images of protests and riots, all related to the Global Financial Crisis.  The one common thread in all of these images is an awakening that life, as we know it, is changing.  Living standards for many will never be the same again.  Employment may never be as high, or Pensions not as adequate, if available at all.  For others already in poverty, living standards may rise as they can no longer drop anymore - they hit rock bottom, and so their grievance is not losing grip of a lifestyle, but shaking off a life of poverty that has recently been magnified by rising food costs.

Corruption too, is a common thread.  Say what you want about government workers, pensioners, and the unemployed.  But you know what?  How critical can we be of the little people when the greatest theft in history - accomplished by the bankers of the world with the collusion of Central Banks and Treasuries, has just recently occurred?  Banker bonuses are at record highs again.  Yet the cost of the crisis is increasingly put upon the weakest of society.  I used to be critical of government workers.  As a private sector employee, I envied their vacation days, their pensions.  I still am envious to a degree.  But after seeing what has happened with the bank bailouts.  I am numb to it. I guess it's every man for himself until the whole system melts down.

Before this crisis, I would have considered it a well deserved victory if public sector employees in the US made a similar salary to private sector workers - and had similar vacation days and retirement.  But I just can't enjoy such a victory today knowing that Wall Street got what it wanted.  How can we challenge the government worker's demands if we couldn't succeed against Wall Street's demands?  What does that tell us about the society we live in?

That said, here are the images - beginning in Europe, going to the Middle East, and then to the US.  The recent images of what is transpiring right now in Wisconsin inspired me to write this post.  The US, after all, looks not to be immune from European style protests. 

Wisconsin, I believe is just the beginning.  Similar events will be playing out in US Statehouses across the country.  Click on "Read More" to see the images.


EUROPE

Athens, Greece, December, 2010:





Ireland November, 2010

AP Photo/Peter Morrison

AP Photo/Peter Morrison


Portugal, May 2010

Main Image


Spain, September 2010

protest during the general strike held in Spain on September 29, 2010 in central Madrid


United Kingdom, December 2010

prince charles, uk protests, dec 2010



Belgium, September 2010

Demonstrators march down a main boulevard in Brussels on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. Labor unions organized the march of nearly 100,000 workers of the European Union institutions to protest the budget-slashing plans and austerity measures of governments seeking to control spiraling debt. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)


Germany,  November 2010



France, October 2010




Middle East

Tunisia, January 2011




Egypt, January-February 2011


Egypt protests.jpg


Yemen, February 2011

Yemen Protests


Jordan, January 2011



Libya, February 2011

Protests erupted in Libya, in the wake of similar anti-government protests in Egypt and Tunisia. (Photo Courtesy of Yahoo News).


Iran, February 2011

Iran Election Protests 2011

Iran Election Protests 2011


Americas

Canada's G20 Protests, June 2010


Wisconsin, USA February 2011

wisconsin protests

wisconsin protests




And for those that have not seen this video yet, here's an interview of Professor Jeffrey Sachs, describing the current fiscal state of affairs in the US, who wins, who loses, and what that means for our economy and society:

4 comments:

thedeadfauvi said...

What do you make of that, Misthos?
Wider American hegemony? Last hopes?
I just don't get the meaning of his occut talk!

Misthos said...

Fauvi,

We live in interesting times. I guess another way of looking at it is that the world is too big and complex for any one nation to influence. American hegemony may have peaked after the fall of the USSR.

During the cold war, the world was carved up between the US and USSR, and a poor forgotten third world. After the USSR fell, the US seemed to be untouchable.

Looks like it is too damn expensive to be an empire. On the way up, it's all profit. But once a limit of empire is reached, the costs of maintaining empire begin to outweigh the benefits.

I have been critical of US policy many times in the past. But what does a world look like when there is no clear power? The opposite of order is chaos. Could we be heading for something worse?

And that's just in the geopolitical arena. Domestically many countries, both rich and poor, have experienced a widening wealth gap the past few decades.

It seems to me that everything is getting unglued and reshuffled.

A new world is emerging, and no one knows what it is going to look like.

What is the view in the street in Germany about the future?

thedeadfauvi said...

The street is stupid and clueless. No opinion. The majority are not interested in real net reading. Ignorance just as in the US. We do have inflation: electricity +6.5, food (fruits and veg, +15%. And maybe more on things I don’t need.

There is no serious blogosphere, just the beginning of it. No in depth ananlysis.
But, and that is my hope, even if the newspapers online are self censored and controlled, there are many very negative comments. Therefore I think some nascent impulses are starting but the signals in everyday life are very scarce. Young people are very ignorant, the elder seem to understand a coming peril but they just can’t put the finger on it. Lies an corruption are parabolic. Have you heard about our “war minister” and his dr. title? Merkel and Schäuble are defending him!
We are on the verge of a big catastrophe! Sarko and merkel are the greatest enemy Europeans ever had! They are both brought to power and promoted from overseas. If you have doubts on that go to voltairenet and search on their road to power and how it took place…

I feel really depressed and hopeless. I wish I had no child and were eighty years old.

Misthos said...

Fauvi,

I understand your frustration and share in it. My opinion is that the most important wealth one could have is their community - their network of friends and family. That's what makes difficult times bearable.

I'm currently living on an island in Greece. I was told that a few years ago, there was a winter storm that knocked off the electricity for the entire island (population 35.000). This lasted well over a week. You know what people did? They shared food and generators. Cooked for each other, and kept each other company.

Don't underestimate the power of a community in difficult times.

I don't think much can be done about the current state of the world. It's a process that will work itself out, and we'll just have to adapt to it.

But it's also important that people know what is happening, so as things go really bad, we understand why, so we're not surprised by it, or blame the wrong people or use scapegoats, but we build a better future as a result.

Good luck Fauvi