It is a natural inclination of the intellect, (at least mine) to try and find commanalities, links, or universality between disparite events happening in a certain historical moment. The present is no exception. Revolutions, revolts, and uprisings seem to be springing up globally ( focused right now on MiddleEast-North Africa) with certain common demands: more voice, more autonomy, more power over our lives and destiny. From Tunesia to Toledo, from London students to graying Ohio Tea Partiers, to teachers or janitors to IT engineers, people are sick of rule by what they concieve of as minorities; be they corporations, dictators or "elites". They want more than just a formal, hollow "democracy". They want the real thing!
But of course they also want real material things, and these upwellings can't be divorced from the context of the Great Global Economic Downturn. This crisis manifests as food shortages in some places, as a lack of opportunity in others and as a lack of justice in all. So how does more participation ( rights, representation) in the political-civic sphere intersect with this desire for a greater share in the economic sphere? How might these uprisings usher in a new era and satisfy these demands?
Unfortunately, they won't unless they take on a much more radical orientation. Those rebelling for more say will find that under global capitalism the levers of power do not reside in the State. All the legislation in the world will not bring about a higher standard of living unless, in the case of those throwing off dictators, they can either attract direct foreign investment of they are willing to nationalize resource industries (with all the risks, political and ecological, that entails). In the case of London students, French or Greek or Wisconsin workers; they will not find relief in legislation or political parties as long as they accept the logic of "austerity" or "budget woes" or downturns and think they have obligations to an economic-political system which has proven itself rotten to the core and unreformable. The only way fthat all of these revolts AGAINST can improve conditions ( politically or economically) is to become movements FOR something radically different.
Egyptians, Libyians, Bahrainians hoping to throw off vestiges of a colonial-imperialist yoke must confront the fact that capitalism, especially in this late speculative, financialist phase, will not provide the jobs they desire and certainly not the justice. Americans and Europeans who believe they live in "democracies" and who insist they are struggling agaist "neoliberalism" or "corporatism" must understand that collective bargaining rights or progressive leaders can do little to improve their plight. There is nothing left to bargain for, except rising debt. The paper wealth has proven ephemeral. Progressive leaders have nowhere to lead them to, not sustainability, not localism, not "green jobs".
What might the Arabs and the students and the Michael Moores all fight for, now that they have the worlds attention? For democratically planned, participatory economies rather than a market controlled, erratic, violence prone global profit system. We are all fighting dictators of one sort or the other, be they generals, ex-revolutionaries, markets or ruling classes.