We may be at one of those moments when the whole world changes. Like 1848, 2011 may turn out to be a historic year for world governments. David Ignatius writes in Friday's Washington Post that:
What’s intriguing about the eruption of Occupy Wall Street is that it’s so similar to other populist movements that are demanding change in nearly every major region of the world. You can’t help but wonder if we aren’t seeing, as a delayed reaction to the financial crisis of 2008, a kind of “global spring” of discontent.
Those who are in the streets are only unified by the rage they feel toward their countries' elites and by their ability to use social media to accomplish their ends:
The protesters do share some basics: rejection of traditional political elites; a belief that “globalization” benefits the rich more than the masses; anger about intertwined business and political corruption; and the connectedness and empowerment fostered by Facebook and other social media.
We could, indeed, be at a watershed moment. And, therefore, we face great opportunity and great danger. Ignatiuus warns that:
Much of the world’s neo-populist anger is justified, given the greed and folly of recent years. What worries me is the echo of the 1930s, a similar period of economic change and dislocation. When the traditional business and political leaders seemed to have failed during the downturn of the ’30s, populist indignation veered sharply right and left — toward dangerous movements that expressed national indignation at the point of a gun.
The United States had Franklin Roosevelt who could, Ignatiius writes, "rehabilitate the center." Germany had Adolf Hitler and Italy had Benito Mussolini. The leaders who emerge from the rage will make all the difference.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.