While Americans appear mildly unsettled or perhaps “ticked off” about recent government revelations, elsewhere in the world citizens move from “unease” to “unrest” and outright “protest.”
The protests that erupted first in Turkey and now in Brazil and elsewhere are filled with the ranks of the young, not a few of whom have noticed something: They are getting a raw deal.
Many of their issues are meat-and-potatoes: lack of jobs, burdensome student debts and, in Brazil, a bus fare rate increase made ugly in the context of cost overruns in taxpayer support for the World Cup and Olympics.
The young Turks protested, at first modestly, over planning for a park, but a harsh police crackdown led to more widespread marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations — which now often bring up questions of the current administration’s repressive anti-modernist, anti-freedom agenda.
This more heroic theme resonates elsewhere, too.
In Bulgaria the issue most protested appears to be police brutality and the general spirit of repression. In Latin America, opposition to corruption has moved from old stand-by to vital question of the day.
The saddest statement I heard was this appraisal, hailing from the BBC, of the general climate: “today capitalism is becoming identified with the rule of unaccountable elites, lack of effective democratic accountability, and repressive policing.”
Well, that’s not laissez faire capitalism that’s failed, but crony capitalism. Laissez faire’s truly free markets require a rule of law, the suppression of government corruption, and effective public accountability.
But that’s not what’s dominant. America itself serves, today, not as a beacon of liberty but of institutional control, of crony capitalism.
We need to protest that here, again, in the U.S.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.