Maybe it's from the near-dawn of the year 2012, which is more eagerly anticipated in apocalyptic circles than the millenial rollover in 2000. Or perhaps -- no, probably -- it's the awakening of a global movement in response to the inequalities, inequity, and powerlessness that face billions of people around the world every day.
America is one slice of the planet. When I first read that Time Magazine had chosen "The Protester" as its annual person of the year, I cringed a bit. "Isn't that a bit too broad?", I thought to myself. After a few minutes reflection, I decided not.
It's not too broad because there's a consciousness awakening in the world that isn't just limited to circumstances in the United States. The economy is global; the reach of the banksters and political corruption extends even to the most lonely outpost on the planet. If there is a buck to be made, or a person to be exploited for financial gain, some 1%er somewhere will seize on those opportunities to their own advantage.
The push-back by the 99% started in 2011.
As for our own American piece of the pie, Time says:
Until late September, 99% of New Yorkers had never heard of Zuccotti Park, a privately owned public plaza tucked between the Federal Reserve Bank and the World Trade Center site. On the last Saturday of the summer — sunny, mid-60s, perfect — a couple thousand people showed up, a hundred slept overnight, and the occupation was on. It seemed as though the world would little note nor long remember it. On the third day, the first arrests — of protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks in violation of an antique New York anti-insurrection statute — got scant attention....
...Globalization and going viral have been the catchphrases of the networked 21st century. But until now the former has mainly referred to a fluid worldwide economy managed by important people, and the latter has mostly meant cute-animal videos and songs by nobodies. This year, do-it-yourself democratic politics became globalized, and real live protest went massively viral. But as they've rejuvenated and enlarged the idea of democracy, the protesters, and the rest of us, are discovering that democracy is difficult and sometimes a little scary. Because deciding what you don't want is a lot easier than deciding and implementing what you do want, and once everybody has a say, everybody has a say.
Time's award this year is an acknowledgement of the inevitable change that true, committed social movements tend to birth. The shift of conventional wisdom to "inevitability" couldn't occur in a vacuum in the U.S. -- indeed, it had to be a global phenomena -- and that's exactly what's happening.
America's role in continuing this shift could never be more important than it might be when the weather breaks in the Spring of 2012:
The nonleader leaders of Occupy are using the winter to build an organization and enlist new protesters for the next phase. They have shifted the national conversation.
May you live in interesting times.
(Tip of my hat to dmhlt 66 for grabbing the cover image.)