KINGSTON, NY, 1 February 2011 — When the Tunisian government toppled, the mass media and their stable of experts – who were blindsided by these events – quickly stepped in to proclaim the obvious: that citizens of other Arab nations would be emboldened to challenge autocratic and corrupt governments.
Now Egypt is in the throes of insurrection, and Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and Yemen are already targeted for revolutionary change. The richer and more tightly controlled Kingdoms of the Middle East will not be immune to challenges from their citizenry to break the chains of royal rule.
But, as I had forecast in the Trends Journal, it is not solely the Middle East that is destined to experience episodes of violent upheaval. What is transpiring in the Arab world will spread throughout many European states. While the call to arms will be spoken in different tongues, the underlying causes will be the same.
In December 2010 (before Tunisia made the headlines) we issued a Trend Alert® titled, “Off With Their Heads!” in which we predicted a “long war between the people and the ruling classes.” We noted that, “Anyone questioning the intensity of the people’s seething anger is either out of touch or in denial.”
It wasn’t Arab anger that led us to that forecast – it was the student and worker revolts spilling into the streets of Europe. The imposition of draconian austerity measures – higher taxes, tuition hikes, lost benefits, curtailed services, public sector job cuts – had young and old raging against a rigged system that paved the way for the privileged and punished the proles.
Though millions marched through the streets of Athens, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, London and Madrid, when the protests ended, the governments were barely shaken, let alone toppled. Unlike the autocratic Arab regimes, where the tight grip of repression could only be broken by violence, in the “democratic” West the illusion of representation and placating government promises mitigated the violence.