Neither god, nor Caesar, nor tribune," but Jokers by the millions: intelligent multitudes are storming the skies again.
The year gone by will have been one of new revolts, carrying immense hopes.
They – of all genders - do not brandish portraits of Lenin, Mao or Che, no black, red or green flags, but only national flags, their slogans are general and generous, and they do not claim any particular ideology. Since the beginning of the year, millions of people have taken to the streets in Ecuador, Chile, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, joining the millions already mobilised in Haiti, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Hong Kong, Colombia, Brazil, Catalonia and elsewhere
The images are interchangeable, as are the slogans. The same effects from the same causes? Yes and no
A Venezuelan-Chilean comrade told me that he didn't like the Chilean slogan "They've taken everything away from us, even fear" because, he explained, it was a slogan of the Venezuelan guarimbas, those counter-revolutionary riots encouraged by the masters of the world who failed to topple the Bolivarian regime. “That's too is globalization” I replied, “slogans circulate and change content and meaning”.
Global map of anti-government protests 2019, by Agnès Stienne
We have been taught in school to distinguish between root (or distant or background) causes and immediate (or conjunctural or trigger) causes. So let's look at the causes of these upheavals:
Haiti: the disappearance of hundreds of millions in the pockets of the president's men and the president himself
Ecuador: Removal of fuel subsidies
Lebanon: the introduction of a $6 per month tax on WhatsApp.
Chile: the increasing of the price of the metro ticket in Santiago.
Iraq: deadly oil pollution in Basra, then regime corruption.
Morocco: the death of a fish seller who was swallowed by a garbage truck.
Algeria: Bouteflika's desire for a fifth term in office, followed by the imposition of new elections by the "system".
Catalonia: 9 Catalan officials sentenced to 9 to 13 years in prison for organising the independence referendum on 1 October 2017
Hong Kong: the adoption of a law allowing the extradition of wanted persons to the People's Republic of China.
Colombia: a package of measures worsening the reproductive conditions of workers, students and pensioners
France: Triggered by the announcement of an increase in fuel prices, the Yellow Vest movement has become a movement to question an increasingly aggressive capitalist system. A VIth Republic looms on the horizon.
The differences in immediate causes between countries are immediately obvious. But a common thread runs through all the revolts; it is the same one that ran through the Arab revolts at the beginning of the decade, from Western Sahara to Yemen. It was summed up in two slogans: "Echchaab yourid isqaat annidham" ("The people want the fall of the regime") and "Khobz ou mé, ou Ben Ali lé! "("Bread and water, No to Ben Ali [and his kindred]"). For the moment, this new storm of the peoples has not brought down any regimes, simply provoking the departure of some dictators (Omar El Bashir in Sudan, Bouteflika in Algeria), a resignation (Hariri in Lebanon) and the "democratic" (electoral) replacement of a mafia president in Argentina (Macri). Piñera, Jovenel, Moreno, Bolsonaro and their ilk are clinging to their seats.
For 2020, only one wish: peoples, one more effort to go from revolt to revolution! Don't mourn, organize!