The last two weeks have seen unprecedented social unrest around the world – the democratization of everything is spreading but frankly it’s not a pretty sight. Just think back on the headlines:
- China and Japan facing off over disputed ownership of islands in the East China Sea – with demonstrations and violence against Japanese businesses in China as nationalist sentiment rises, compounded by the anniversary of a politically sensitive incident.
- Demonstrations, violence and deaths across the world from North Africa and the Middle East to Indonesia and Pakistan as Muslims protest over a cheap and nasty film ridiculing Islam, clearly produced by less than a handful of bigots to incite religious turmoil.
- Ongoing strikes and renewed violence as South African miners demand higher wages and clash with security forces, even as some returned to work.
- Massive demonstrations in Portugal and Spain against austerity measures as standards of living fall and unemployment soars – plus renewed demonstrations by Catalan separatists.
- In India, tens of thousands protest against government plans to open the retail trade to foreign investors, as well as rising fuel prices.
- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, re-elected this year, targeted by up to 50,000 demonstrators in Moscow, calling for an end to his rule.
- In Argentina, President Cristina Kirchner’s government facing the largest pot-banging protest ("cacerolazos") since taking office as people protested over corruption scandals, crime and management of the economy.
- Occupy Wall Street protesters back to mark the anniversary of the movement, although with fewer feet on the street and continued tensions with police.
- Continuing protests over natural resources in Peru, particularly directed at the mining sector, leaving one more person dead this week.
- Ongoing protests over the July election of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico, amid accusations of vote-rigging and media collusion, including a cyber-attack this week on government, political and media websites.
- The threat of renewed protests in the Chinese village of Wukan, as elections have not brought the desired changes in government control nor the return of land sold illegally.
The list could go on – frustration and anger is boiling in societies around the world over: their own government’s management of economy and society; perceived threats to livelihoods; inequality; religious insults and intolerance; crime and corruption; and natural resource ownership. It’s a potent cocktail of grievances. The cost to societies in terms of driving divisions and damaging livelihoods and economies is massive. What’s causing the unrest? And what can we do about it?...