Most of my recent columns have been about change, from climate change to twitter. Well, this is a start-of-the-year post, and it seems appropriate to take on change in a big way as the year changes. Continue reading Out of Destruction, Transformation?
All that talk over the last few years about the ubiquity of instability? Starting to look a lot less like cynical doomsaying, ain’t it?
Put simply, global consumption patterns are now beginning to challenge the planet’s natural resource limits. Populations are still on the rise, and from Brazil to India, Turkey to China, new powers are rising as well. With them goes an urge for a more American-style life. Not surprisingly, the demand for basic commodities is significantly on the rise, even as supplies in many instances are shrinking. At the same time, climate change, itself a product of unbridled energy use, is adding to the pressure on supplies, and speculators are betting on a situation trending progressively worse. Add these together and the road ahead appears increasingly rocky.
Chickens coming home to roost… as the West’s privileged lifestyle begins its decline, the rest of the world finally starts demanding its cut of the cake. And this isn’t a religious backlash, or even a classic left-right political clash. It’s plebs versus politicos, the governed lashing back at the governers, and the intertubes are certainly playing their part… but they’re just the conduit, not the cause:
That protests so large in scale could be organized largely over the internet and independent of Egypt’s traditional opposition, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, should give Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak plenty of cause for concern, says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. It shows the extent to which regular Egyptians are fed up with authoritarian rule, and how quickly that frustration can spread—lending it shades of the uprising in Tunisia. “It’s not an Islamist-organized protest. This really is unprecedented. It’s just everyday Egyptians getting angry,” he says. “If I was a regime official, I’d be pacing in my room right now.”
John Robb is unsurprisingly enjoying a “told you so” moment, and suggesting routes forward for this new insurgency:
For an open source revolt to be successfully formed, it needs a plausible promise. A meta issue around which all of the different factions etc. can form (remember, most of the groups and individuals involved in an open source revolt can’t agree on anything but some basic concepts). A generic “day of revolt” doesn’t accomplish that. What could?
Using the multi-million scale No Mas FARC protests as an example and the critical ingredient in the Tunisian protests (extreme corruption that generated an endless wellspring of anger/frustration), a potential “plausible promise” for an Egyptian open source revolt is:
No More Corruption
Not only is a movement opposing corruption something the government will find hard to oppose, it is something every Egyptian deals with on a daily basis. It also has the added benefit of directly harming the entrenched ruling elite, who are likely to become poster children of the very thing the movement is against.
Hey, kids – can you think of any nation closer to home where citizens have to deal with corruption on a daily basis? Places where budgets are being slashed, where the quality of life is tanking, but where the folk at the top of the pyramid are doing better than ever?
Yeah, me too. Interesting times ahead.
It’s a recession. The housing market is tough, the job market is worse, and the country is so sharply divided we’ll be lucky if anything useful happens in Washington D.C. in the next two years. Whole economies are backpedaling into austerity programs. This does not feel like a ride up the steep right-hand curve of the emerging technological singularity. But I think that’s where we are – in that place of so much change we can barely keep up, and in a time when many people are falling so far behind that they will never catch up. Continue reading The Future is Now: the Recession and the Steep Upward Slope