The Pattern in Global Youth-Led Uprisings

The template for global uprisings of 2011 and beyond is dissatisfaction with inequality is triggered by young people calling for protest demonstrations on Facebook. Often people don’t know who initiated the first call for a specific date because unlike previous protests, they’re not led by labor unions or political parties. They brand or sell the protest with slogans like “Enough!” They’re surprised at the large turnout on the streets. Police react with violence, photos and videos of the brutality go viral on the Internet, which mobilizes more people to come to the streets. Intensity builds. A new tactic is building tent cities lasting months, doing prefigurative politics with free co-op services. Sometimes the protests succeed in regime change, but they don’t have a coordinated plan for filling the power vacuum. With anarchistic anti-state leanings, some youth activists are reluctant to make demands of politicians they consider corrupt. Well-established organizations take over, such as Islamic parties or the military. The main legacy of the uprisings is consciousness-raising, to use the feminist term, a new belief that the people have power over their governments if large numbers express their anger.

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