From Arab Springs to austerity measures. Global calls to occupy.....everywhere. The worldwide phenomenon of highly visible and vocal popular discontent has yet to reach its final apotheosis, a future that many of its supporters are incapable of articulating in a coherent and feasible manner. (If you don't believe this statement, kindly visit you local Occupy Movement protest site and attempt to illicit an answer, the disparity of opinions and goals is actually quite fascinating.)
Nevertheless, this is not an occasion to denigrate these popular movements, which often hold some core moral and social opinions with which I personally agree; in truth, the realization that I have arrived at is that even given the multiplicity of political, social, economic and cultural opinions across the spectrum of these various movements, it is the spectre of fear that is the common factor shared by all.
This fear is not merely localized to the protestors in the streets, but it haunts the halls of the powerful as well. The assurances of extreme wealth and societal institutions which normally buffer the elite from the clamoring of the hoi polloi have been exposed for all their insubstantiality and superfluity. The reckoning of the 2008 financial crisis has revealed that the masters of finance and industry, together with the brilliant minds who determine policy and regulation are equally beholden to the gods of chance, unsure of the very ground on which they stand, caught up in a disaster that has yet to be corrected, and in actuality, may never quite be made right again.
The recent elections within France and Greece are indicative that equal parts exasperation and anxiety will inevitably result in that familiar fragrance called desperate hope. The newly elected government under President Hollande promises an intriguing approach towards the crises of popular unrest and economic instability: Growth. Though from whence this vaunted growth will come and develop into a feasible framework is anyone's guess. Even better, as in in the case of the Hellenic Republic, perhaps returning to the drachma and a massive reintroduction of the bygone currency will ease conditions, but my rudimentary understanding of fiscal reponsibilty recalls an annoying concept called hyperinflation. Then again, I am not an economist, so an injection of worthless currency may indeed prove to be the cure for Greece's troubles.
The enthusiasm and hope garnered by the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring have delivered little of the much vaunted transformation so frequently mentioned during the revolutions of 2011. Egypt remains held together by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, mainly staffed and led by veterans of the Mubarak era. The Libyan National Transitional Council, which toppled the regime of Qaddafi, itself faces opposition from secessionists in the nation's southern and eastern regions. Admittedly, both nations are conducting demoractic elections in the upcoming summer and progressive refoms may be forthcoming, yet the reality remains that change is far less rapid and acute than previously assumed.
Throughout the European Union and the Middle East, amongst the youth and the establishment, uncertainty reigns.
Across the Atlantic, the symptoms are somewhat more muted, but the disease is identical.
Virulent and derisive opposition between Democratic and Republican parties have all but halted the process of governance within the United States. No piece of legislation appears to be immune from the vitriolic contention that plagues Washington, nonetheless both parties share the same condition. Both are afraid of the future; equally unsure of the role of the United States in a world in which its reach is gradually being curtailed and supplanted by increasingly competitive and decidedly more pragmatic powers. The person who can best assuage the fears of the populace will be the one who ultimately sits in the White House, this is not a pleasant assessment, but one which is becoming all too obvious as economic growth and American global influence continues to falter.
As 2012 reaches its midpoint, it is undeniable that this is a pivotal year. The political, economic and social futures of nations are reaching a point of convergence that will surely have implications for decades to come. A world of uncertainty and fear will benefit very few, if any at all; and as history has often shown, those who rise to power in such times may be the most noble of our kind or epitomize the very worst of our nature.
Fear may indeed permeate through our present, however let us not allow it to determine our future.