The 2010s ended much as they had began: just as 2011 was the year of the Arab Spring, the Spanish indignados, and Occupy Wall Street, 2019 may well be remembered as the year of the gilets jaunes, the anti-extradition movement in Hong Kong, and the wave of mass protests from the Arab world to Latin America and the Caribbean. Just under a decade ago, with the outbreak of revolts in Tunis and Cairo, it looked like digital communication technology was ushering in a new era of democratic action. By popular consensus today, this was a pipe dream, as evidenced by the repressive turn in Egypt under El-Sisi, the persistence of austerity throughout Europe and the United States, and scandals demonstrating destructive influence of social media on democratic discourse. At the same time, despite obvious setbacks, some of the movements of the early 2010s have more recently begun to bear fruits: Podemos, the Spanish political party born during the indignados protests, is now in government, and a democratic socialist whose campaign rhetoric is drawn from the Occupy movement is a front-runner for the American presidency. It would hardly be accurate to say that the last decade was won by popular movements for democracy, but both for the better and for the worse, we are living in a world that such movements helped to shape.
As we enter a new year and a new decade, Tocqueville 21 is featuring a series of perspectives—in English and French—on the future of the political revolts that began around the world last year. Telling the story of each national context is essential in order to avoid making hasty generalizations, but collecting these stories together may nonetheless give hints as to the possibilities for global politics in the 2020s. We’ll be updating this page with links to each article as we post them in the coming weeks.
Sebastian Veg on deescalation in Hong Kong
Farès Sassine on the uprising in Lebanon
Thomás de Barros on the Gilets jaunes
Fatma Oussedik on the social movement in Algeria
Natalia Niedmann and Juan Wilson on the protests in Chile
Photo Credit: Studio Incendo, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.