5 Countries That Could See an Uprising Next
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What a difference a year makes. It's hard to believe that this time in 2011, the world was abuzz over the Arab Spring. Flying in the face of the "death of history" narrative, the Arab Spring shocked the world by overturning some of its most entrenched authoritarian governments. Soon after, Occupy Wall Street became the American protest movement, both inspired by actions in the Arab world, as well as urging young Arabs on to further action. It seems pretty safe to say that the 21st century will definitely be interesting times; the protest movements have little sign of letting up any time soon. Revolutions and uprisings spread like wildfire once they reach critical mass. Here are five places to look for social unrest, mass protests and perhaps even another Bastille Day.
China is often thought of as a place where politics don't play much of a role. The nation's political leaders are chosen by a tightly controlled process wholly owned by the Chinese Communist Party. However, cracks within the façade of order are difficult to completely ignore. Remember that this country was home to the Tiananmen Square uprising. Rather than being peacefully dispersed, many in the uprising gave their lives to fight Stalinist tyranny.
It's been over 20 years since those days, but the Chinese have not been quite so quiet as the Western media would have you believe. The Protests of Wukan, during which thousands of rural Chinese citizens responded to the Chinese Communist Party selling land to developers without compensating farmers, are only the most obvious example of Chinese taking to the streets and demanding real and lasting social change in their country. While Chinese workers de facto do not have the right to strike, this hasn't prevented them from engaging in militant labor action without government sanction. Remember just how high the stakes are for Chinese workers on strike. The Chinese remember. And they don't care. When it's time to fight, it's time to fight.
The PRC is a particularly unstable powder keg because of the power of shattered expectations. When you believe you live in a country where the workers own everything in common and the economy is planned for your benefit, it's easy to become disillusioned... especially when that's patently not the case. Further, as a cheap labor platform for international capitalism, China is a particularly volatile environment, politically speaking. This is a country where workers commit suicide rather than submitting to another 18-hour shift of making iPods. Add history of being unable to go 25 years without a massive uprising and you have a formula for social unrest.
2. PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain)
In the European Union, four countries deemed "PIGS" are often used as scapegoats for the economic woes of an entire continent: Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. Greece has, of course, been getting the most press. In Greece, we see a place with enormous amounts of social pressure coming from the working class, with no real outlet. Action against the government is tightly controlled by the official labor unions and leftist parties, acting more as a pressure valve than anything. This pressure can only build so much until it explodes. One wonders how many one-day strikes and job actions it will take before the labor movement unleashes itself from the control of PASOK and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
The 20th-century history of the country bears mentioning as well: Greece was home to one of the first hot conflicts during the Cold War, the Greek Civil War, which pitted partisans and supporters of the KKE against monarchists. The victory of the monarchists laid seeds for the Regime of the Colonels, a virulently anti-communist junta that ruled the country for the better part of the decade.