Great Change of 2011

In a article published last week distinguished historian, writer and thinker Eric Hobsbawm made notable parallels between 1800’s Europe and the Arab Spring revolutions of today, also noting the wave of North American and European anti-rich or 1% protests that have been taking place since the autumn of 2011. The article brought to mind the book 1848: Year of Revolution written by Mike Rapport, which I’ve taken to reading for the second time, that outlines in vivid detail the rash of revolution seen in that year that spread across Europe altering countries like Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy and France.

Great change is often bloody and violent. Even Mohandas Gandhi’s peaceful protest for India’s independence resulted in his assassination in 1948, “I am a man of peace. I believe in peace. But I do not want peace at any price,” he said during a 1921 address to Ahmedabad Congress. And still more, former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela fought for years as the head of a Guerrilla-styled armed group, albeit from his prison cell, that was classified as a terrorist organization by the South African and United States governments, all the while thousands suffered at the hands of those that fought to maintain apartheid.

The need for the professed 99% to revolt is as inherent and passionate as the aptly coined 1%’s need to acquire — whether it is land (Britain’s continued involvement in South America’s oil-rich Falkland Islands despite the Munroe Doctrine), wealth, or sovereign power.

As the new year of 2012 begins it is already being met with caution and further upheaval. EU leaders have made a point to state from an economic perspective this year will be grim. To put things into perspective 5,000 Syrians have reportedly lost their lives, many of whom were said to be unarmed, during the people’s struggle to overthrow their oppressive government. And Iran is flexing its muscles in the Strait of Hormuz by test firing ‘long range’ missiles in response to the threat of additional international sanctions.

For those curious about what 2012 may bring, know this; change is inevitable. At the beginning of 2011 Iran wasn’t threatening the closure of the Strait of Hormuz. North Korea’s “supreme leader” Kim Jong-il was alive and provided a modicum of stability in an unstable region. And the end-of-year US election will see President Barack Obama fight for reelection against a yet undecided republican candidate in an election that could prove to be yet another turning-point in US history.

The revolution and restructuring that occurred in 1848 was the Western World’s fight for equality vs. monarchial power; that epic struggle for universal suffrage, freedom of the press, a fair wage and healthy living standards. World events today reflect the continuation of that great effort.

It is in change that things find purpose, and nothing endures but change. Heraclitus, Greek philosopher (535 BC – 475 BC).

| Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS | The Ontarian, Writer, Editor


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