Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela

Like many, I have been captivated by the news and images coming from the Middle East over the last month or two.  It has been fascinating to watch the virus of vocalized dissatisfaction spread from city to city, region to region, country to country.  I say with a bit of shame and awe, it took me completely by surprise.  I never had the thought in my head that things in that region might change so dramatically over such a short period of time.

I was on the phone with my father about two weeks ago, just after Mubarak finally resigned, and we were talking about Egypt.  He chuckled and said, “I bet you are half glad to be somewhere else, but half really wish you were there right now.”

It’s true.  It must have been a sublime three weeks in Egypt – at times frightening and disheartening and at other times intoxicating.  Only someone who has actually lived through a revolution could really understand what it was like to be there, to experience the swell of energy that doesn’t just recede but breaks with enough force to create true change.

And while of course I am grateful to be in a safe and democratic country, I also am left so curious as to what it has really been like for people living through these tumultuous weeks. I try to imagine the feelings pulsing through the cities as things move up and down and back and forth, drama after drama unraveling.  I try to imagine the surge in will and determination that leads people into the streets day after day.  I try to imagine how frightened and impotent people must feel as their governments use harsher and harsher methods to control the protests and stifle the dissent, as people’s capacity to communicate with the outside world diminishes or ends altogether, as people are killed. I try to imagine the moments of defiance, of hope, of fear, of exaltation, and then (at least in the case of Tunisia and Egypt) of euphoria.

But the truth is I can’t.  I do not know what it feels like to be so oppressed and to have so much at stake, nor have I ever been anywhere at the precise moment of the emergence of momentous change.

The closest I’ve come perhaps was being in New York on 9/11 or Paris when France won the World Cup in 1998.

Thousands of people fill the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 13th, 1998, as they wait for the French national soccer team. The French beat Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup final on July 12th. AFP photo by Gabriel Bouys.

In both cases I was part of an entire population brought together with a common feeling.  There was a sense of complete shared experience, in shock and tragedy in one circumstance, and celebration and pride in the other.

But these situations were so different because they were the experience of living through something that happens to a community, rather than something that a community makes happen.

How is it that things can go on one way for so very many years and then suddenly, over the period of a handful of days, change completely?  What is it that comes together to make that moment so different than all the moments that came before? What makes the perfect balance of specific factors that combine in a chemical reaction that cannot be reversed?

I guess what I wonder is how that moment, the moment on the way to change really happening, the moment just before the tipping point, FEELS to the people inside it, creating it?  When you are in the middle of it, part of it, riding the flow of it, do you have a sense of what is happening?  Do you feel as you act, as you watch, as you listen, that something is really happening, that you are in the middle of history in the making?  Is there a consciousness to it, or is it more raw and blind than that?  Do you act because you can imagine your actions having a positive outcome, because you can feel deeply that all of it is going somewhere, that there could be a breaking point right there in front of you?  Do you know somehow deep inside?  Or  is there a need to move and act, not because you feel the outcome, but just because you and those around you must, because you are carried along by an energy, a wave, a swell that must break some way or other for better or for worse?

Ostensibly I currently live in a country of protest; I would guess that the French strike more than any other nationality in the world.  As I said I have never been in a country during a period of true upheaval and dramatic change – but I think I can safely say that I believe that THIS is what it feels like to be in a country that is NOT on the verge of revolution.  THIS is what it feels like to be in a place that is not changing dramatically anytime soon.

In France, strikes happen all the time for one reason or another.  But every now and then (like much of last Fall) they will get really serious.  And the results? Flights will be cancelled, trains will be held up, roads will be blockaded.  There might be some shortages of fuel, maybe less fresh produce available in the grocery stores.  And if things get REALLY bad, garbage won’t be collected for a while.  People will get irritated, inconvenienced, and the government will get mildly perturbed, wondering how much it will cost them this time.

There is something so traditional about French strikes, like national clockwork.  It is not really progressive at all; the people march less to change things, as much as to keep them how they already are or to make them ever so slightly more agreeable.

The French government constantly must weigh every choice and decide if it is important enough to face the consequences of upsetting the people.  While on the one hand this is obviously a far superior system than a dictatorship, it also limits the government’s capacity to make any long-term choices that may be for the ultimate good of the country but might also, in the short term, inconvenience people or cause them some small discomforts.

While I think France does a lot of things really well, what I object to is how many people take it all for granted and are still dissatisfied, and don’t seem to recognize that sometimes small sacrifices are essential to the greater good and to a better future.  They protest, they complain, they show their anger, not with courage and idealism and a desire to start fresh, but a kind of pessimism.  They seem to be saying, “it’s still not good enough and it’s only going to get worse.”

Occasionally there is a different sort of protest here – a more sudden, explosive, destructive sort, where young men run around setting things on fire, breaking things and acting generally angry and disruptive. It’s usually disaffected young men from immigrant communities – they may be French, but are treated like ‘the other’, unaccepted and undervalued. These young people are angry – but as of yet it has always proven to be a somewhat directionless and vague anger, a kind of lashing out without any real goal apart from expressing rage.

Someday if this anger were to be channeled into real ideas about the changes that could be and should be in France in terms of multiculturalism, in terms of immigrant rights, in terms of religious rights, in terms of actually confronting the racism in France, well perhaps there could be a kind of revolution.

What would it be like if the immigrant community here really found a voice and found common ground and decided what they were fighting for?  It could be very powerful. But the people who currently feel disenfranchised and disaffected are not anywhere close to that.  They do not quite seem ready to find a common voice in order to verbalize what they want changed.

Apart from the immigrant community however most people in France don’t have a whole lot to complain about, although they relish doing so.   France currently feels like an arthritic sort of country – you just can’t expect it to move much or very quickly anymore. France of today is going to be a lot like France tomorrow and France next month and France next year.  But Egypt?  Tunisia? Libya?  What shape will they take in 5 years, one year, even one month? We can only guess.  I guess it’s precisely that – the numerous possibilities, both good and bad, that is what is both exciting and frightening about countries in flux.

This perhaps is what drew me to Venezuela.  I think I wanted to go somewhere in the throes of change – somewhere that wasn’t predictable, somewhere where something dramatic might happen.

A Plaza in Caracas, Venezuela

I went to Venezuela in the months leading up to the presidential elections – what would become a second win for Hugo Chavez.  I think a lot of foreigners went to Venezuela at that time with a kind of “if shit is going to go down, I want to be there” attitude, expecting some kind of fireworks or intrigue during the elections.   I think I felt a little of that myself.

It turns out they were pretty normal, above the board elections.  Chavez won fair and square, his popularity at that time still very, very high.

At this point the opposition marches were still mostly composed of the upper-middle class, strolling through the streets of Caracas wearing their sunglasses and polo shirts, and delicately waving their flags.

These seemed more marches to show disdain than anything else, and greatly contrasted with the fervor of a Chavez march – which was more like a big party – everyone eating and drinking and clapping and singing and chanting and smiling and laughing.

But over the last few years there’s been a big shift as younger, more genuinely middle class people have gotten involved, particularly students.  A lot of these people never could feel part of the stodgy, old-fashioned opposition, whose only talking point seemed to be “no more Chavez,” and yet had either become disillusioned with Chavez or had never supported him in the first place.  This group became angrier, more vocal, more political, more idealistic, and more aggressive.

Thus the nature of the opposition marches has changed. They have became more angry and violent.  Clashes between students and the police have become the norm.

On protest days, during my last year in Venezuela, you could hear the sound of rubber bullets and smell the tear gas from my window.

I left Venezuela two years ago – but even then I felt a mounting energy, like we were all sitting on a powder keg, and like every day a bit of gunpowder was added to it.  All that potential energy might remain dormant, or it might someday, given a spark of some kind, explode.

But the energy I felt there wasn’t the mounting energy of revolution like in Egypt in which a government is cast aside by surging will of the majority of the people.  It was a much more muddled chaotic energy.  The risk I felt there was not so much that the people would rise up against the government but that – given the right series of events that might give a light to the fuse – the people would rise up in violence against each other.

There is a deep divide in Venezuela between those that support the government and those that do not (currently estimated to be roughly 50/50) that is more and more entrenched every day.  While the opposition is certainly gaining in power and influence, President Chavez has a very large, loyal, and passionate base.

Increasing hatred is felt by each side for the other; the differences between these two groups have become much more important to them in general than the many cultural values that they share.

Meanwhile many Venezuelans are armed now with both legal and illegal weapons.  Violence is already deeply problematic, Caracas having one of the highest homicide rates of any city in the world.

And life is difficult, stressful and frustrating for many people throughout the country.

What might happen if that hatred and frustration is ignited?  If things were to get truly out of control, the fear I feel in the case of Venezuela, is that it might not be Egypt so much as Libya or Sudan – not a case of revolution so much as a potential civil war.  But I hope the feeling I had there was wrong.  And I hope we never have the opportunity to find out.

~ by zoetropic on March 1, 2011.

71 Responses to “Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela”

  1. Sheepies, all following the trend of the day. Revolution via internet, or just spurred on via the web. Clever Psychologists as the puppeteer’s tool & the crowds follow like sheep.

  2. Well written. I like your thought process.

    • Thank you! It’s funny because I had been really frustrated with this post, and by the time I posted it I was unsure if it really came together the way I had been hoping it would. It was quite a surprise to end up with it on Freshly Pressed! It’s nice to know that it still managed to be something that people enjoyed, despite my difficulties with it.

  3. I’ve been so struck by the recent changes in the world. I agree it would be really interesting to know what it actually feels like, to have been in Egypt when things happened.

  4. I think a lot of countries are at the point where the straw breaks the camel’s back…. there is power in numbers as demonstrated by Egypt…

    • It seems that way. However the question remains – what if people rise up but not all in the same direction – one group fighting for one thing and another group for something entirely different. Civil war is a horrifying possibility in so many places – in particular in Africa where things are more divided by tribe than by “nationality.” The idea of nation is, after all, so relatively new and frequently shaky.

  5. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    I studied in Venezuela for a summer and remember times when we couldn’t go to class because of protests. Oh, I’m sure it was safe for you if you knew how to get around it but if you happened to be a foreign student whose only known route to class was down the main thoroughfare then you needed to stay home.

    I keep watching the news for Venezuela headlines because I expect to see one any day. At first, it seemed like people were genuinely happy about Chavez and now the discontent is simmering. One day, I think it will boil over.

    • That’s so interesting – when were you there? How did you end up in Venezuela? Whereabouts were you studying? It’s not the most common study abroad choice!

      And yeah – I think staying safe in Venezuela all comes down to knowing the rules..and being lucky. Almost every single foreigner I knew there was robbed at some point or another. I never found the protests themselves to be particularly dangerous – just certain parts of Caracas were rough, and of course pretty much ANY part of Caracas at night.

  6. The world cup has nothing to do with a strike. You may confuse people showing this picture from the Champs-Elysées / Paris. That was the only time in our history that the french team was champion of the world. It may never happen again. We never have so many people in the streets for strikes… When you live in a democracy, soccer is more important that political matters.
    😀

    • I think maybe you should actually read the post! You will see that what I actually said was that I was in Paris on this amazing day – it was very impressive and moving, but it was in fact incomparable to the energy of a revolution. That was exactly my point 🙂

      • You are totally right, I am not able to read more than 3 lines, even in my own language. I only looked at the first picture. As you live in Béarn, I guess you speak french. So… sans rancune
        😆

      • 😀 It’s nice that you are trying anyway! And you write English very nicely so keep practicing! Much better than my French still 🙂

      • I am very surprised you can survive in Béarn, that is a very lost place, without speaking french. I read the first 4 paragraphes and think I will need some days (maybe weeks) to read the rest. Please be patient with me.
        😎

      • Do you grow goats and sell the milk at the market every friday ?
        😀

      • I wish! I would love a goat! In all seriousness, Pau was a BIG change from Paris (and before that I lived in Caracas, and before that New York City!!). A very big change of lifestyle. But now that I’ve learned another rhythm of life I am really loving it here!

  7. I like your point of view but I think under these revolution stuff there are a lot of international games, I mean the things don’t work in the way that we see them on the TV!!

    http://www.lifeasorkish.blogspot.com

  8. I remember watching, ‘ Revolucion,’ by Canadian filmmaker, Charles Gervais and feeling a deep gratitude for a glimpse at the heat that grew in the streets of Venezuela. A different appreciation arose for the sheer amount of emotions running in and around those joining together on the streets.
    I too was surprised at the uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East; even after having spent the better part of the last two years in Morocco. I am still amazed at the events that have taken place in the first two months of 2011. What a beginning to a year that has barely begun.
    When in university bus loads of Canadians were brought in to Ottawa from Toronto and Montreal; the streets were flooded with people, clashing with the police. We were protesting the arrival of the ever so popular President of the USA, George W. Bush. I do remember walking around in awe at what I was witnessing; un-armed guards around war monuments, people uniting, flooding the parliament grounds, pushing back the RCMP until the riot police were brought in. At first fruits were thrown, then shoes, then wood and finally chaos and emotions were amongst us. The core of the downtown was shut, and when they reported what happened on such a day, we got the shaft and Bush was welcomed by our media. Jokes played on our uniting.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts; especially the ones that hopefully will shine a different light on those of us who are so lucky to be born in countries full of options and choices.
    Being reflective is as equally important as being pro-active.

  9. […] This is an article tha caught me eye while on the main page of WordPress.com. In teh last part of the article the author mentions the mounting tension in Venezuela, and the horrific potential of a civil war. The students she mentions are those clashing with the police to change their country, my cousin has been shot at with a rubber bullet. They are fighting for change on the streets with their bodies and their voices, yet here in the states we sit and complain about the investment bankers that tanked our economy and only say maybe to a protest on a college campus. But it is rare to see portests like those in Wisconsin, in which students and everyday people fight and voice they beliefs for change. […]

  10. It wasn’t a revolution but being present in Berlin the last day Checkpoint Charlie became irrelevant is a moment in time that left an impression in me. However, I wouldn’t want to be present when an angry mob is trying to wrest control from those in power.

  11. Everything that’s going on is just crazy, it’s sad 😦

  12. It’s no fad. It’s not an overnight matter. There are many matters universal with mankind.

    We have countries that are socially – politically – economically advanced. And we have countries where people have been suppressed by their ruling elites for a long time.

    Imagine something like suddenly making a sprint forward to where the most advanced are.

    Imagine a steel coil being held down and the force holding it down is now failing.

    Imagine a steel tank that contains steam pressure ever building up tension.

    Imagine world democracy like a baby chick finally breaking out of the shell that contains it, to freedom.

  13. wow… it’s just like a new world trend, revolution everywhere.

    • Backward countries have their people awakening. Thanks to faster and wider communication of the modern day. From their desktop they are seeing the whole world!

  14. Thank you for the post, I truly enjoyed it. It is full of very powerful insights and thoughtful connections.
    The scale and magnitude of the events is truly fascinating, but I do feel that the emotional turmoil that people in those countries are now experiencing will always remain slightly beyond our understanding, given the stability and peace we build our lives in. It is, undoubtedly, something to appreciate and cherish, but it simultaneously takes away from our ability for raw perceptions and feelings.
    Like you, I have never experienced an uprising, or, to be more accurate, I was too young when my country, the infamous Soviet Union, fell apart to register any of it. However, your observations brought back another event in my memory which shook me to my very core – an Air France flight perishing on its way from Rio to Paris back in 2009. It is a tragedy, entirely different in nature, of course, but it made me wonder what people on board were going through the last few minutes – did they know? how many moments were they given to realize that that was it? And there was something else I couldn’t let go of for a very long time – I somehow believed that the emotions of that moment are the true, unvarnished essence of our humanity. Most of us throughout days/months/years are snoozing, not understanding our own depths, limits, passions, not noticing many truths. And if something happens to jolt all that straight into our face… Perhaps something like that is rippling throughout the Middle East right now…

  15. Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela « the annotated zoetrope…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  16. I hope everywhere will be cleaned from darkness and oppression, and I hope justice will be established everywhere.I am from Iran.
    visit my blog http://www.revelutionsof.wordpress.com

  17. Thanks for media and social network that makes the protestants’ thought spread more quickly.
    Hopefully, all these protests end peacefully and build a better society, better world.

    Thanks for sharing

  18. The only thing for certain in popular movements is the uncertainty in behavioral patterns some cases it exploits abruptly in other cases is more predictable.

    What really dictates the way is the level off anger and dissent against the government in mention,the middle east has been under dictators por a prolonged period of time which explain de decisive level of popular resolve to overthrow their governments.

    Venezuela in my view still going trough a period off trail that has not get prove to be clean cut approach in order to achieve social equality for its people,however the sings are that Chavez still a long way before he relinquish power due to his around 60% popular support if this was not the case he would have gone in the last election.

    Something that I have been following is the current situation in Honduras where the local establishment in connection with international consortium’s got reed of a democratically elected government an exiled president Manuel Zelaya.

    It all started when Zelaya canceled the petrol contract against the USA companies and honored new deals with Venezuela estate own petrol companies,This did not go to well with the historical modus operandi in this country.

    Manuel Zelaya actions where understood as a treat to the local establishment an its American allies which portrayed sush moves as political due to Honduras going to close to Chavez.

    What has really happens here is that there is nothing political in this case this was purely economical moves by Zelaya who was trying to bring down the petrol prises for the benefits off it people.

    Currently Manuel Zelaya is on exile in Dominican Republic an a resistance movement is taking momentum to restore institutional order in this country the chances are that Zelaya traditional political Liberal Party is going to be abandoned and they are creating a new Political Party which is good news because at list they not thinking armed revolution.

    The current Honduran president Porfirio Lobo some How has manage to do acceptable job on dealing with the International community and especially The Organisation of American Estates exigences to restore political order and made the required changes to the Honduran Constitution in order to make it more democratic and people friendly.

    This is interesting situation and we will followed to how it unfolds.

  19. One day Chavez will go the way as every other oppressive dictator. It’s just that the good people of Venezuela haven’t had to endure it as long as in North Africa. Chavez bought the votes and goodwill of the poor. But his ideology survives on hate and oppression. The most shameful thing is stupid westerners that support scum socialist leaders like this. He will go the same way as Gaddafi sooner or later.

    • I totally agree with you, Stuart. Most of my family still lives there but quite a few have managed to get out. It gets harder and harder everyday, and I know for a fact, Chavez didn’t win that election fair and square. There were many dead people that “voted” for him. And, I have to disagree with the claim that the the people for and the people against him are about split 50-50. That balance tipped some time ago. Egypt lived with oppression for 30 years. Venezuelans, now 13. They will rebel. It’s just a matter of when. He’s eliminated any broadcast media that have spoken out against him, by not renewing their broadcast license. He now controls the internet. There is no telling what will happen next with this maniacal monster in command. I wrote about my own trip to Venezuela and what I saw. You can find it here: http://monicastangledweb.com/2011/01/04/this-is-chavez-country-ruling-by-decree/

  20. Great blog – I’m living in France now, and you are so right. Change is the threat to French life, nothing more. Having lived in Venezuela too, I really felt like it’s a country which is exciting and excitable – Brazil too. They don’t feel like ‘old, tired’ countries. Very thought-provoking. Thanks!

  21. Everytime the gas stops flowing, the wealthy countries decide it’s time to make stop the craze.

    How many years have that people suffering of dictators? DECADES!

    …And now that the supplies are in risk, Oh! Its time already to do something about it! They just roll their eyes while the gas kept flowing the car kept running, and the heater giving them warmth.

    But when the good stuff stopped, the “concern” began.

    Chavez don’t stop the gas from going to the wealthy countries (even he mocks, insult and acts cocky about them) because that buys him time to keep on hurting his own people with his power fever.

    I’m a venezuelan living in Spain, and my heart aches everytime I see how people from outside just cannot see what we see, and feel what we feel. We’re so exhausted of waiting for a change…

    Watching how people from outside say “He was elected legally” “People seems to love him” or my favorite: “Just the well dressed people go to protest against him!”

    But, did you know he pays to have his people happy at his meetings? He rents transportation to brought them near him, gives them plenty of liquor, some money, red t-shirts and sandwiches or arepas, and that makes them “Happy”.

    Paid happiness its not happiness at all.

    • Hi Maria Eugenia – Thanks for commenting on my post. I totally understand your frustration. I lived in Venezuela for more than 3 years (right in the middle of Caracas in Parque Central)- my boyfriend is Venezuelan and many of our friends are still there. Part of the problem is that the situation is complex – and therefore difficult for people on the outside to understand. I feel that most foreign people paint the situation in black or white – either saying: “Chavez is a dictator” or “Chavez is loved and widely supported.” Neither of these images are correct or complete.
      I am very aware of how much money the government puts into handouts, and how much pressure they put on people to go to their rallies and marches etc. I know many of the people in red shirts are there just to get free food, or because there is pressure on them to do so. I have many friends who work at PDVSA or who have other government paid jobs, and of course they have no choice when it comes to going to the marches – even if they no longer support the government, they have no choice but to go if they want to keep their jobs. This is horrible.
      However the situation is very complex. While I know a lot of people who are VERY against Chavez, I am also friends with a lot of Chavistas…and it seems to me that a lot of people really still want to believe in him, even though the country has become such a mess.
      What I hope for for Venezuela is an era beyond Chavez politics in which the people can come together again, rather than be so divided.

      • In the end I just want peace, and a chance to go back home and help to heal the wounds he’s creating.

  22. Dunno… I am Venezuelan and I was in Egypt during the last election…. what we see is the tip of an iceberg…

    In both places there is discontent. Murabak being much longer than Chavez and having the Suez canal instead of oil. In both places, few people voted because they did not believe in the system. Somehow, the government wins straight forward forever…

    In both places being against the Government threatens one’s existence. it could be the kidnapped syndrome.

    As we say, there the blindest just doesn’t want to see.

  23. Excellent writing in the first part. It was written before that history is but a record of ‘events’ more than a recognition of the ‘feeling/emotions’ of the people at the time. I guess it’s simpler to write what everyone knew happened on a particular date or period in time rather than the emotional tide. Plus revisionism history has a way of being popping up in the strangest ways…
    I was a bit surprised that you didn’t make a connection to the French revolution of over 200 years ago that was as radical as anything that could happen in the Middle East today and what effect that has had on the attitude of it’s citizens today. Are the descendants of the revolutionaries of France keeping their government in check by protesting arbitrarily? Is it something in their genes, but have lost touch with the meaning of the revolution? That would have been some interesting insights!

    And Chavez… I live in an island right next door so we are always worried about what’s going on there. There is a very large Venezuelan community in Trinidad most of whom oppose Chavez so there is that bias in their utterances, but Chavez is exceptionally popular with the masses and he could be in power for a long time if he wishes…

  24. Really nice post. I like your ideas and thoughts.
    What I really don’t get is why foreigns would go to such a dangerous country. I mean, I was raised my entire life there. But still, we would know how to manage any situation, but a foreign would freak out. Congrats on that experience anyways and I salute you for being so brave haha!

  25. Nice post.
    Im jealous of people living in Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia. People may think im insane, but a revolution is an experiance all people need to feel.

    Regardless of political persuation, as humans we should celebrate these revolutions as they have trancended all barriers of gender, religion, sexuality etc, and we are witnessing people (hopefully) create a better world.

    As for Chavez, i’m increasingly worried that he will turn into a dictator.

  26. Congrats for being Freshly Pressed!
    To be where things happen… an adveturous streak!
    The wave of recent changes in the Middle East have also got my attention, the turmoil, the courage… and I truly wish those fighting for their liberties and rights got it, sooner than later.
    Venezuela is a drama of ambition and power, as many others, and for many living here, it has become a kind of nightmare, and your fears wwere -and still are- quite right. Let’s keep on looking for a peaceful way out.

  27. I’m astounded at the knock on effect – if Egypt hadn’t tumbled would every be else still be in limbo? Congrats on being FP – great post 🙂

  28. I enjoy watching the fall of dictators. Especially rutheless murders like Gaddafi. Congrats on FP

  29. It is so nice to see these people fight for what they believe in!!

  30. Thank You, I really like this post and the way you illustrate yourthougts, you simply revealed my exact thoughts as i watched the news these past few weeks, and being a middle east-ren myself i might understand some of it, but at the moment of mubrak’s resignation i went down to that embassy and saw the event unravel the joy of the people was immunes but i couldn’t be as happy as they were because i wasn’t a part of it,. songs and poems and works of art that i have been raised up to have called for this, for change for the waking of arabs. i am somehow too young to have the full sense of it all, but i wish, i deeply wish that i can one day be so passionate and to witness such a sudden change.

  31. Great post – and the Paris photo is amazing. Sooo many people. Here are some great photos of the Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980’s as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall. In essence, the demonstrations by the Poles led to the fall of communism in all of Europe: http://bit.ly/dVMiJA

  32. I saw that you were “Freshly Pressed” this morning and was intriqued by your opening worcs even though I generally just migrate towards the photo blogs. I was captivated and have been wondering about your archives for hours now. I am so drawn into your stories and your beautiful writing! Congratulations and thank you.

  33. Oh, what a difference a word makes … I meant “opening words” not opening worcs, and “wandering” not wondering, although that might apply as well.

  34. Living in a world with ever-changing currency values, in the world with a silent currency war, based upon inflation in China and deflation in Europe, there must be a lack of recognition in France these days with the silence all around about the monetary war. When monetary policy was used to finance war, the fallout was world-wide. A stability in France or in my country today is never a certainty that the same stability will be around, with the post traumatic stress which came from wars that affected the entire world. A civil society is an intricate, fragile, even mysterious entity and when a hungry population questioned the cost of bread, movement was no longer an elective for people caught up in hunger and fear. Questions about fairness of how the absolutely wealthy shared their wealth and power were universal, and no nation was immune from rebellion against the powers. The French Revolution was based upon the same universal feelings.

    Currency was the tea leaf which communicated something each day about weakness and strength…sometimes about a belief in false strength, as if it was something that I had done. No one who used a currency within the borders seemed to appreciate what was happening, in the view of the rest of the world, over value. Or over judging values. Money was as fragile, even as mysterious an entity as love.

  35. Me gusta mucho cómo está planteado este artículo… y tu forma joven y optimista de pensar. Nosotros vivimos la dictadura en Uruguay…y otras cosas peores en la historia de nuestra familia…como dicen los pesimistas:”para peor no hay límite” y los optimistas:”no hay mal que dure 100 años”..de una u otra forma..la vida continúa, hay que defenderla, personalmente voto por la manera menos violenta que se pueda…Felicitaciones!

  36. […] Like many, I have been captivated by the news and images coming from the Middle East over the last month or two.  It has been fascinating to watch the virus of vocalized dissatisfaction spread from city to city, region to region, country to country.  I say with a bit of shame and awe, it took me completely by surprise.  I never had the thought in my head that things in that region might change so dramatically over such a short period of time. I w … Read More […]

  37. I’ve never lived in France, but spent 10 odd years in nearby Italy, and lived the first part of my life in Norway. I now live in Canada. It seems to me that the opportunity to “vent” through protests is an important part of what makes democracy work – even when people use it primarily in a non-constructive way.
    There appears to be a better system in place to channel discontent through existing boards and ombudsmen in the Scandinavian countries than what is the case in southern Europe, which may explain why in France and Italy protest is usually taken to the streets.

  38. This is one of the most thoughtful reports I’ve seen on the fast-changing world of 2011. Your background on France and Venezeula was new information to me. Thanks!

  39. I believe that those of us living in comfortable democracies should take a lesson from the people Egypt and stop letting our differences be what defines us.

    Great piece. I too have often wondered these past few weeks what it must feel like to be part of such a grand movement.

  40. Nice Post !

    http://womensintellect.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/over-the-years/

  41. Interesting article. Curious to see which way these dominos will keep falling.

  42. […] Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela (via the annotated zoetrope) Posted: March 3, 2011 by rodsjournal in democracy-photos, Blogging, Civil society, Activism, Politics, Democratization 0 Like many, I have been captivated by the news and images coming from the Middle East over the last month or two.  It has been fascinating to watch the virus of vocalized dissatisfaction spread from city to city, region to region, country to country.  I say with a bit of shame and awe, it took me completely by surprise.  I never had the thought in my head that things in that region might change so dramatically over such a short period of time. I w … Read More […]

  43. […] Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela (via the annotated zoetrope) Posted: March 3, 2011 by rodsjournal in Activism, Blogging, Civil society, democracy-photos, Democratization, Politics 0 Like many, I have been captivated by the news and images coming from the Middle East over the last month or two.  It has been fascinating to watch the virus of vocalized dissatisfaction spread from city to city, region to region, country to country.  I say with a bit of shame and awe, it took me completely by surprise.  I never had the thought in my head that things in that region might change so dramatically over such a short period of time. I w … Read More […]

  44. very interesting line of thought, with so many different aspects and viewpoints.. and countries..
    I really enjoyed reading this. I am truly confused by the uprising in the Orient as we do not know where it will all lead.. I am hoping for the best. like you, i was surprised above all.
    your post brought back many memories from France – and the strikes I had to live through, as an expat coming from a country where syndicates do mostly achieve things by negotiation (DE). while i am absolutely for powerful syndicates, I thought that they were overusing strike as a measure of protest, not to mention things like polluting rivers and enprisoning factory directors. I the time I was there, it seemed that every single profession was striking at least once, including the Air France pilots (hightest paid in the world) and the unemployed! yeah.. seriously.
    In different forms, but still with similar attitude, I am at the moment witnessing what might bring the Australian government down. A carbon tax for top polluters is in high discussion here, the opposition is on the barricades (at least verbally), MPs are receiving death threats and people are upset because ‘shit’s going to be more expensive for everyone’.
    it makes me think that we all become a bit complacent about the world we are so lucky to live in, and want to make no compromises, while people in other countries, indeed, are risking their lives to demand the essential human rights on the street.

  45. […] Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela (via the annotated zoetrope) Like many, I have been captivated by the news and images coming from the Middle East over the last month or two.  It has been fascinating to watch the virus of vocalized dissatisfaction spread from city to city, region to region, country to country.  I say with a bit of shame and awe, it took me completely by surprise.  I never had the thought in my head that things in that region might change so dramatically over such a short period of time. I w … Read More […]

  46. This is an enriching post about current affairs. I appreciate the thought process with regards to the subject. Are we going to see more domino tiles go down soon? Is this the end of Old-World dictatorship or are we just going to see new despots? Is it a sign of the times or is it only a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same”?

  47. That is crazy how people can write so many words. I understand a little spanish, more english… but something is missing here. Puis-je me permettre d’apporter une touche d’exotisme franchouillarde avec ces quelques lignes que peu comprendront ?
    Bon week-end !
    :mrgreen:

  48. […] Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela […]

  49. This really is a great article and site, I shall be here more often!
    These revolutions are truly (I will try to avoid a cliche) “revolutionary”. We remember 1848 as being the year of revolutions, and 2011 is likely to go down the same way. Once revolutionary fervor begins it is nearly impossible to bring it back down.
    It will be interesting to see how this whole thing breaks. Will Saudi Arabia go down, or Iran? Or will it spread to Europe and take down unstable governments troubled by staggering debt and spending cuts?
    Check me out at…
    http://southpawreport.wordpress.com/

  50. It is important that we acknowledge, and begin doing what needs to change in this world so that revolution is not necessary. Revolution is one step before civil war. Democracies, too, are not always what is best. Recently, there has been a lot of pro-democracy rhetoric on the news front–but the real question we need to ask is: Are these revolutions about democracy or about being fed up with a system that leaves the many oppressed by the few? While I agree that sometimes protest can stifle government efforts to move forward, it is important that people understand the world, their place in it, and what makes the world something they are content, responsible, and safe with; allowing to flourish discontent, irresponsible government, and lack of safety eventually means time for revolution in order to make change. Let’s face it–if revolution is avoidable through peaceful demonstration (checks and balances) then let the people’s voices be heard.

  51. […] Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela […]

  52. Hello all! I am a student working on a project in political psychology. I have created a poll that should help me identify any trends leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election. The poll will only take a minute or two, and all of your answers would be extremely beneficial for my study.
    I appreciate your time, and your political interest!
    Find the poll here…
    http://southpawreport.wordpress.com/polling/

  53. Backward countries have their people awakening. Thanks to faster and wider communication of the modern day. From their desktop they are seeing the whole world!

  54. I believe that those of us living in comfortable democracies should take a lesson from the people Egypt and stop letting our differences be what defines us.

    Great piece. I too have often wondered these past few weeks what it must feel like to be part of such a grand movement.

  55. […] *Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela […]

  56. […] Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela […]

  57. […] pic of the Champs Elysees is 15 years old. Protest: Egypt, France, Venezuela | the annotated zoetrope […]

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