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Governments Beware: People Are Rising Up All Over the World

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/08/governments-beware-people-are-rising-all-over-world

Rise Up And Let Your Voices Be Heard.

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The police actions in regard to Hong Kong are certainly in the wheelhouse for us if we decide to take on our owner/donor class. Our military/national Guard are all over seas fighting illegal wars to steal other countries resources; so our militarized cops in MRAP vehicles will be coming to a neighborhood near you.

BERNIE 2020

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The main driving force today is income inequality; it should be global warming.

I usually applaud Sonali’s work, but this article’s argument misses the mark when it comes to Hong Kong. Those protests do not target income equality, capitalist overlords, the wealthy’s rampant corruption, insane rents for HK’s closet-sized “apartments,” or extortionist prices. The younger Hong Kongers do not remember British colonial overlordship and some yearn for the good old pre-China days–signs earlier on called for Trump or the Queen to “save us.” In this semi-autonomous region, with its complicated relationship with China and (term-limited) set of different rules that have enabled BIG capitalism to flourish, benefiting China’s economy, “democracy” has become a v. different kind of rallying cry than in other places where the stakes are clear. Judging from news reports of protest leaders asking for help in Washington, it seems highly likely that this “democracy movement” is being manipulated by the West, hypocritically, in a semi-disguised effort to damage China rather than to fulfill a dream of democracy. Hong Kongers would do better to target their immediate oppressor, the obscenely rich capitalist HK class, which might be more effectively be taken on thru the (technically) neutral judicial system than through violence and destruction without direction or focus. Let’s not equate the confused HK protests with those in Chile, Lebanon, or Haiti.

In my mind they are tied together.

it’s funny that Sonali here claims that people are rising up all over the world to protest social inequality, yet the article I just read previously by Ralph Nader said that the problem is that not enough people are protesting.
I’m not at all convinced that protests lead to a better society. Recent coloured revolutions like that in Egypt, Syria and the Ukraine did not turn out well at all. In Egypts case the protests led to the end of Mubarak’s rule, but he was replaced by an even more ruthless dictator. In the Ukraine and Syria they have civil war. It hasn’t been turning out the way the masses had hoped.

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Inequality sparks the demonstrations.

Overcrowding lights the raging fires.

There are many uprisings and protests around the world. But in my opinion, Sonali Kohatkar’s article and analysis is deficient. One possible deficiency is ‘confirmation bias’, she wants to see economic-social protests, so she does see them.

Regarding Chile, one has to wonder what they are protesting. While Chile might have the highest inequality in the OECD, it has lower inequality than most of Latin America, and its inequality has been decreasing for the past several decades. Its poverty level has also fallen, from about 60% in 1990 to about 9% now. Mary Anastasia O’Grady had a more interesting article, at greater length, in her Americas column, 6 days ago Monday 11-4-2019.

My notes from reading that column:

  1. Wall Street Journal Monday 11-4-2019 page A7 ‘Chile’s Peaceful Protests Turn Violent at Night’ Excerpt "On Sunday, pollster Cadem said Mr. Pinera’s approval rating was 13%, the lowest for any president since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990.
    – Recall that a few years ago Pinera won re-election (separated terms, per the Chilean Constitution), beating the Socialist candidate endorsed by his predecessor Michelle Bachelet.
  2. Wall Street Journal Monday 11-4-2019 page A15 Americas ‘Don’t Slay the Chilean Puma’ Big text “A rewrite of the constitution would destroy opportunity for the poor.” Excerpt “As a politician the president naturally wants to address grievances. Yet Chile has elections and he has a responsibility to those not in the streets and a responsibility to uphold the law. To agree to a new constitution because of violence and intimidation would be an act of cowardice. Not all unmet expectations can be solved by the state. The loss of social cohesion tied to modernization takes a toll on society.” The article discusses the economic gains Chileans have made since 1989. Including gains in less income inequality than years ago.
  3. An article days earlier, Wall Street Journal Monday 10-28-2019 page A9 ‘Chile Protesters’ Grievances Grow, Rattling Government’ Excerpt "on top of what she called other indignities: shoddy schools and meager pensions, rising prices and a low minimum wage… “We’re all living in debt. We have to pay higher electricity bills, all the services. And we just don’t make enough.” Excerpt "Discontent against Latin American establishment and ruling elites has flared in recent weeks: Upheaval has hit Ecuador and Honduras, with protesters demanding the presidents in those countries resign./ On the surface, Chile looks like the last Latin American country that would be hit by mass unrest. Slow economic growth that resulted from the end of the commodity boom coupled with income inequality have brought into relief the precarious nature of middle-class life. / “These are protests about the aspirations of a middle class.”
  4. Wall Street Journal Monday 10-28-2019 page A15 Americas ‘Chilean Capitalism on Trial’ Big text “Market policies have been successful. So why are people taking to the streets?” Excerpt regarding Argentina “Primary results in August indicated that voters blame the incumbent for high inflation, the rising cost of public services and anemic economic growth. Yet a Fernandez/Kirchner win implies a return to the left-wing populism that has long undermined Argentine living standards. Mrs. Kirchner’s govt. (2007-15) was notoriously corrupt and used its power to deny due process to its political enemies. … No one expects Argentina’s center-right, if it loses, to go rampaging through streets, burning cars, stealing, blocking roads and destroying public transportation.” Excerpt "Chile is a nation that has seen the poverty rate fall below 9% from 68% in 1990. Income inequality has also been coming down. So why the protests and riots? It’s a double standard that deserves attention. The uprising began Oct. 7 when groups of students in Santiago jumped subway turnstiles to protest a fare increase… The central government already subsidizes nearly half the public transportation fare in Santiago. What’s more, student fares didn’t go up. The commission setting prices announced an increase of 3.75% for peak riders; off-peak fares were reduced. … The hard left has spent years planting socialism in the Chilean psyche via secondary schools, universities, the media and politics. Even as the country has grown richer by market practices, Chileans marinate in anti-capitalist propaganda. The Chilean right has largely abandoned its obligation to engage in the battle of ideas in the public square. Mr. Pinera isn’t an economic liberal and makes no attempt to defend the morality of the market. He hasn’t even reversed the antigrowth policies of his predecessor, Socialist Michelle Bachelet. And he is lacking in empathy… Chileans have one side of the story pounded into their heads. … The violence has another explanation. One official told “It takes a lot of money to move this number of people and to engage them in this level of violence. The devices they use are far more sophisticated than Molotov cocktails. Foreign subversives are suspected of playing a key role, with Cuba and Venezuela at the top of the list.”

As for Lebanon, there is more, and some is related to the entire concept of what Lebanon is: Wall Street Journal Friday 11-1-2019 page A13 ‘Lebanon’s Discontent Has Religious Roots’ Big text “The country was founded as a haven for Christians but has lost its purpose.” Excerpt Out of the National Pact of 1943, “Hence the fundamental source of Lebanon’s instability: Though built as a Christian state, Lebanon has become less Christian over time. The discrepancy between law and fact grows more glaring. In 1943 independence, Lebanon was little more than a Christian-Muslim power-sharing experiment. Since then, the growing Muslim majority has sought to cast off the control of a shrinking, frustrated and increasingly paranoid Christian minority. … bloody 15 year civil war, was the panicked response of a people determined to save a homeland they had never really possessed… Thirty years later, an Islamic civil war playing out across the region has made the Near East even more dangerous for Christians than it was a century ago… Given the region’s history of religious violence, Christian fears are likely to grow in proportion to their exclusion from Lebanese politics. … Lebanon can’t be a Christian state: That ship sailed in the 1940s. If Lebanon serves no purpose distinct from its neighbors, why should it exist? The failure to answer this question lies at the heart of the country’s instability, harming Christians and Muslims alike.”

Then Ms. Soltani only discussed three of the locations experiencing current uprisings, and those aren’t subject to statistical sample theory; the sample tells us not much about the population of all of the uprisings.