The National has an insightful review of ‘Why it’s Kicking off Everywhere‘ by Paul Mason. The book discusses the rise of ‘frustration’ movements (a term I just made up…add that to TwShiloh lexicon) that includes such diverse movements as the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, the London riots, and demonstrations in Greece and Russia.
Now I haven’t read the book and I’m a little leery of attempting to weave very recent events into a grand historical narrative (after all, I can imagine that the invention of the Number 2 pencil was heralded as a civilization changing event – at least by the inventor’s mom). In fact I’m not even sure we can say these events will be more than a footnote a decade from now. After all, it’s not like any of these movements has really achieved anything yet. They may get smothered by the power of the Westphalian nation state.
But Jamie Kenny’s review of Mason’s work does attempt to link all these disparate movements together and provide a framework for considering them.
Specifically, I’d like to draw your attention to this paragraph:
…where earlier generations of revolutionaries exemplified the enlightenment project of general emancipation, their successors have been trained to work in the info-capitalist context of zero loyalty, self-reliance and flexibility. They value skills over knowledge, fluidity over permanence, networks over hierarchy. Once, they were supposed to be the job-hopping consultants, freelancers and executives of the future. “The revolts of 2010-11,” writes Mason, “have shown, quite simply, what this workforce looks like when it becomes collectively disillusioned, when it realises that the whole offer of betterment has been withdrawn.”
And that is what connects the various movements we’ve seen over the past couple of years.