Since the economic crash of 2008, we’ve witnessed the 99%, the Arab Spring, the UK riots, and masses of protests just about everywhere around the world.
Take a look at this interactive map of all the riots that took place from 1979 to 2013, composed by GDELT. Quite amazing. Unfortunately, perhaps inevitably, together with these riots also come abominable flexing of power by states.
Why all these protests? What’s going on?
Yes, there’s technology aiding mass mobility, but that doesn’t explain why people are upset to begin with.
Precise causes of the world’s riots are debated (rising food prices; regimes overstaying their welcome…), but nothing explains this better in my opinion, than the basic economic law of supply and demand.
Take a look at The Crash Course, it’s a rational, comprehensive analysis of what’s happening with the Economy, Energy and Environment. There’s simply more of us, who want more, and less resources to go around.
Case in point, Egypt:
The relentless math (courtesy of Peak Prosperity:
- Population 1960: 27.8 million
- Population 2008: 81.7 million
- Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)
- Population in 2046 after another doubling: 164 million
- Rainfall average over whole country: ~ 2 inches per year
- Highest rainfall region: Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year
- Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley): 3%
- Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)
- Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
- Food imports: 40% of requirements
- Grain imports: 60% of requirement
- Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007
- Oil production peaked in 1996
- Cost of oil rising steeply
- Cost of oil and food tightly linked
So, more people + less resources + (fill in the blank) = riots. (“A nation is always three meals away from a revolution”.)
So, what about the UK?
A supply-demand imbalance is yet to rock this nation’s majestic ship, because, in my view, the country’s relative (financial) wealth has allowed the welfare state to stay afloat, and hence the welfare dependent masses are somewhat tamed.
I’m curious, what accounts for UK’s financial wealth? i.e. What exactly is keeping this ship afloat? I’m limited by my own research here, and would appreciate comments.
Okay, so the financial services industry is particularly important. In another words, the groundless, numbers game that our entire civilisation is addicted to, and I don’t think I need to explain how we’re kidding ourselves to believe this house of cards will stand forever. (Bring on the Mises fans.)
So what of the UK economy? Are we going to follow the footsteps of America (what happens when the money printing stops?) or Japan (which is becoming increasingly right wing by the way), or Europe (austerities)? Or can we be like Iceland and actually do the right thing?
I’m going to take the liberty to bring up UK’s weapons industry here, because I know this is also a huge source of our nation’s income, along with the service industry and pharmaceutical industry. If you’re interested, take a look at this link that shows which weapons were exported by the UK, to where.
Moreover, given UK’s trade deficit with the rest of the world (second worst after the US), I don’t think I’m wrong to assume that the UK has incentive to fund wars, especially as it feels the squeeze from the financial service sector.
I pray that we don’t repeat the same story so succinctly told by Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.
Going back to riots.
A tsunami of unsatisfied people are vehemently seeking answers, and we need to let people know that there are no easy answers. Otherwise we’re bound to repeat history (for the umpteenth time) and give rise to Dictators and Authoritarian governments to give us the stability we so desire. It’s never worked. Power corrupts. Every time.
Smaller is better. More diversity is better. The dangerous implications of utopian collectivism needs to be heard, now, and loudly.
We need to stand up for ourselves and be the change we wish to see in the world (hats off to Gandhi). This means: establishing our own local economies; strengthening our own communities so we won’t need to depend on the national welfare system; growing our own food so we don’t depend on imports – which depend on cheap oil-; securing our own source of safe energy -geothermal, biomas, solar, wind, come on, we’ve got the technologies! This means putting your hand to your heart and asking yourself what changes you wish to see, and what you can do to make those changes.
In times of struggle, people all too readily give up their hard earned freedoms and latch onto whatever “solution” that seems easiest to follow, for example, government snooping is not a solution to terrorism. This thinking is laziness. Yes, laziness.
There is no perfect government, no philosopher king, no utopian system (as the Zeitgeist people are advocating I might add – shudder), no magical leap in technology (it already exists, just not utilised fully because of the various death-grips on laissez-faire), no Jesus coming down from the sky, nothing! Protesting is one thing (and that’s good), but blaming the system while expecting a higher power to fix all malaise, that’s being lazy!
People need to realise that there is no magic wand to stability, and christ’s sake stop seeking any such thing, because sure as hell there’re more than a good number of power-hungry fiends lurking in the chaos, rubbing palms, waiting for the opportunity to present their “answer”.