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Rising Up! The Growing People-Powered Movement Is Showing Power

A report shows that we are seeing the largest protests in world history, with a steady increase in the overall number of demonstrations annually.

TORONTO-JUNE 25: An angry woman protester chanting slogans with a microphone during the G20 Protest on June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.
Photo Credit: arindambanerjee/shutterstock


Last week was the one year anniversary of our project Popular Resistance. Daily news updates on the website report on what is occurring in the movement for social, economic and environmental justice in the United States and around the world. We see this movement growing, becoming more creative and people power succeeding on critical issues.

At the turn of the year we published two articles on where the movement is along the timeline of successful movements and what the tasks are now. The quick summary: we are in the phase of grass roots activity to build national consensus on the issues raised during the “take-off” of the movement (the occupy phase). The core issues are the unfair wealth divide in an economy designed to benefit the wealthiest; and the dysfunctional government corrupted by wealth.

In the last year there have been some significant victories. To those who rely on the corporate media for their news this statement may sound disconnected from reality because the corporate media’s role is primarily to distract Americans from knowing there is a movement for social, economic and environmental justice. Thousands of people are working on multiple issues, often joining together across issues as a movement of movements.

The #WorldwideWaveOfAction that began on April 4th and finishes on July 4th issued its first progress report this week. In the report they highlighted “An  extensive report by the Initiative for Policy Dialogue analyzing 843 protests in 87 countries from 2008 – 2013 [which] revealed that we are currently seeing the largest protests in world history, with a steady increase in the overall number of protests every year and a growing number of internationally coordinated actions. They also concluded that a ‘demand for real democracy’ was the primary driver of actions, with people from all age groups and walks of life participating.” They reported that in 2006 there were 59 protests and in mid-2013 there were 112 protests events in only half a year. The #WorldWideWave reports 150 actions happening since it began on April 4, 2014. The United States would certainly look different if the media covered people protesting government and corporate policies. It would look like America was in revolt.

Despite the lack of media coverage of this reality, people are noticing. For example, last month Citi Group published a report “ Vox Populi: Taking It To The Streets.” Citi was not advocating in favor of people power. In fact, the quotation at the beginning of the report shows their bias: “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is very close to madness. -- Alcuin to Charlemagne, 798 A.D.” This is the classic battle of who should rule, the people or the elites, and how.

Citi sees “political risk on the front pages every day: crowds of protesters gathering, a rally calling for independence, a military coup or scenes of civil conflict.” They see the Vox Populi as “shifting and more volatile public opinion that poses ongoing, fast-moving risks to the business and investment environment.” They report a 54% increase in the Vox Populi this decade compared to the last decade and report that now revolt is taking place in “high income developed markets and middle income developing markets, many of which have enjoyed a sustained period of growth and improvements in living standards — and are integrated into the global economy and financial system.”

Why would people protest when they live in economies that are wealthy or becoming wealthy, with improved living standards? To Citi it is the “perception” of disparities in wealth and income and “anxiety” about globalization.

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