Has this previous year of global uprising been the opening skirmish of the “final conflict?” At this point, who can say? Who could have answered with any confidence at the start of the successful revolutions of the past? We can only examine events to date in light of revolutionary processes in the past, and compare the “Revolution 2.0” of the past two years to its unsuccessful predecessors in recent decades.
Chris Hedges recently evaluated Occupy in terms of Crane Brinton’s typology of revolutions (“This is What Revolution Looks Like,” Truthdig, November 15). The relevant steps in his list include a public loss of faith in the possibility of achieving change within the system, the inability of states to provide basic services, the undermining of the state’s aura of legitimacy and inevitability when its attempts to suppress dissent by force fail, and the internal fracturing and loss of morale inside the ruling class as its armed enforcers start to defect.
The trajectory from Wikileaks to Arab Spring to the Occupy movement already dwarfs the Seattle movement, and may be surpassing the global movement of 1968 (including not only the American civil rights, antiwar and student movements, but the French general strike and the Prague Spring). And unlike those previous movements, Occupy 1) has a generally favorable rating among a majority of the general public, and 2) coincides with the largest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression.