This should warm Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s heart. Time magazine has named ‘The Protester’ as Person of the Year.
I had predicted that the Arab Spring would be the winner for this yearly event at Time Magazine. In some sense I guess I can claim a partial prediction victory with the result.
Once upon a time, when major news events were chronicled strictly by professionals and printed on paper or transmitted through the air by the few for the masses, protesters were prime makers of history. Back then, when citizen multitudes took to the streets without weapons to declare themselves opposed, it was the very definition of news — vivid, important, often consequential. In the 1960s in America they marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; in the ’70s, they rose up in Iran and Portugal; in the ’80s, they spoke out against nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Europe, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, against communist tyranny in Tiananmen Square and Eastern Europe. Protest was the natural continuation of politics by other means.
Ever since modern republican democracy was invented, astonishing protests and uprisings have spiked and spread once every half-century or so: the revolutions in America and France and Haiti; the revolutions of 1848; the revolutions of the 1910s (Russia, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico); the postwar wave of worldwide revolt (the movements toward decolonization, Cuba, Hungary, American civil rights, countercultural militancy in America and Europe). It happens almost like clockwork, yet each time people are freshly shocked and bedoozled. So here we are again. History isn’t a very precise guide to how long it might persist this time. In 1848 the revolutionary moment was explosive but lasted only a year, extinguished by both dictatorial and democratic counterrevolutions. The revolutionary dream hatched around 1960, however, was still powerfully contagious a decade later.