2011 was the best year of my life. True, this year had more than its share of tragedies, most notably the terrible tsunamis in Japan and the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors (we will be living with the consequences of the latter for generations). What I’m referring to here is that this year we saw mass demonstrations against the ravages of capitalism, beginning in Tunisia and spreading to various parts of the globe, most recently in China and in Russia. I have never seen anything like this before. The “anti-capitalist” upsurge of 1999 to 2001 was paltry compared to this.
Not everything has gone smoothly, of course. The demonstrations in Bahrain have been defeated (so far). The struggle is still uncertain in Syria. There has been an Islamist backlash in Tunisia and in Egypt. The National Transitional Council in Libya is dominated by former Khadafyites. Yet the problems that led to the initial uprisings in these countries are not going away.
The 99% movement has changed the political landscape here in the U.S. The Tea Party hoax is dead. The mainstream media have been forced to talk about issues such as economic inequality. Six months ago, all they were talking about was the need to cut government spending. What was perhaps most striking about the movement was the way it continued to grow in the face of savage police repression. The sight of cops beating and pepper-spraying people only seemed to make people want to join the resistance. The tactic of occupying public spaces seems to have run its course. However, new methods of stuggle are starting to emerge, such as occupying foreclosed homes.
This December, U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq. This was, as I made clear in an earlier post, partly the result of the revelations provided by WikiLeaks, which also helped to fuel the uprisings in other parts of the world. We should support Private Bradley Manning as the government tries to railroad him. We owe a lot to this brave young man.
2012 should prove to be an interesting year.