“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained, and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another,” writes Chairman Mao Tse-tung in his Red Book. Upon analysing the revolutionary upheavals across history, Professor Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut arrived at an eerily similar conclusion. He hypothesized that there were two social conditions that instigated such upheavals; namely a decrease in the living standards of the masses relative to those of a handful of the expanding elite, and huge levels of government indebtedness.
The former, colloquially known as the widening of the wealth gap might be the reason why everywhere you turn your nose, the smell of revolution is in the air. Unlike the Arab Spring, however, which has been revealed by Wikileaks to be a string of foreign coup d'etats, these are rebellions against a neoliberal, global oligarchy that puts a higher premium on gender neutral washrooms than it does on basic quality education.
The “Masters of the Universe” and their dewy-eyed retinue have not taken these acts of rebellion lightly. Brexit was met with a sneering response that painted anyone who showed the EU a rude hand gesture as being “soft in the head.” In the US, the common man choosing something different from what the media shills — who are owned by a handful of oligarchs — had prescribed has been met by charges of racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and all other labels in the identity politics playbook. In most of sub-Saharan Africa where, close to 50% of the population lives in abject poverty — barely scraping a living out of what Robert B. Marks refers to as the “biological regime” in his book The Rise of the West — people agitating for a change have been labeled as busy-bodies by the so-called educated elites and “middle class” with their fake American accents, which they got while queueing at KFC.
In South Korea, however, when the common man stepped forward to make demands from an oligarchy that asked him to work longer hours for low wages “because the economy is stagnating and we cannot afford to pay you more” even as those same oligarchs, the chaebols, made record profits, he was joined by practically everyone. Calls for the president to resign have penetrated every nook and cranny — they are echoing off every wall. If the multitudes of men, women, and children who braved the autumn chill to demand accountability from the government is anything to go by, it is no longer a question of whether or not the president will fall on her sword; it is one of when. No oligarchy — no matter how insulated and out of touch it is from the masses — can ignore a million voices.