Economist Jeffrey Sachs traced the roots of the ongoing global uprisings to creation of a global marketplace around 1980 with workers competing with others internationally and growing inequality (only Scandinavia, Germany and South Korea have done the job of preparing youth for this global competition with good education and apprenticeships), increasingly literate and digitally connected populations, rising food prices, corrupt governments and collapse of public services. Income inequality explains why protests occurred in successful economies in the US, Chile, and Israel. Sachs explains that people rebel when political channels are blocked, as in Tunisia, Egypt and the US. He predicts that the New Progressive Movement began led by young people.
Economist Joseph Stiglitz suggests that the uprisings that began in 2011 started an era of international protest similar to the protests of 1848 and 1968. The Spanish indignados encapsulated the widespread anger about the 1% who controls more than 40% of the world’s wealth. With the high rate of youth unemployment, he was surprised that the rebellion didn’t break out earlier. The globalization of values around democracy, fairness, women’s rights provided the hope that another world was possible. Stiglitz believes the young protesters changed public awareness of equality issues.
Anya Schiffrin and Eamon Kircher-Allen. From Cairo to Wall Street: Voices From the Global Spring. The New Press, 2011, preface.