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Power to the People used to promote democracy. It can now become a lethal threat to governments.

Some individuals still believe that a sustainable global society with “freedom and justice for all’ is attainable with an integrated global economy underpinned by the rule of law. And this is our only way to sustainably maximize all of humanities freedom and security.

Some are now suggesting that the arc of history may soon turn back onto a democratic pathway where a majority of humanity champions ‘liberty and justice for all’, and call for a new and accountable global political system that puts the protection of human rights that former generations championed and acknowledged with Universal Declaration of Human Rights, superior to the rights of nations, which is now supreme to anything else. While this future is not likely — it is possible. And it may now be in its birthing stage in the protests sparking up around the world. Could this be a backlash to the nationalism, anti-globalism, and populist politics that the world has been spiraling down into for more than three decades?

By Chuck “Trilemmaman” Woolery

Two Washington Post articles (one Sunday and one today) may be evidence of this backlash. 

And, governments should pay very close attention to demands these people are making.  Why?

Because governments should rightfully fear “People Power”!  It is no longer just a democratic slogan. With technology in the hands of disgruntled citizen it’s increasingly a physical threat.  A serious threat that those in control of a corrupt, repressive, or dysfunctional government should rightfully fear.   They would be better off providing and paying attention to the ballot box. 

But the people need to be aware that ‘democracy’ alone is often the cause of problems.  It can rightfully be blamed for bringing us nationalism, populism, and even anti-globalism.   For democracy to work in a progressive direction (global governance prioritizing the protection of human rights and the environment) an educated populace is required.  Relatively comfortable citizens who cast ballots based on logic and long-term self-interest…instead of emotions and short term interests which is the past and current norm, is simply unworkable.

What is workable is the fact that every technology is now weaponizable by individual people as well as their governments.   The global outbreaks of people power in mass protests are not new.  But the exponential growth, affordability, and power of technology is.  And, this year’s outbreak of unrest is a result of its relatively non-violent use, so far.   Combined with the growing mass discontent that anti-globalism, populism, and nationalism can never solve, or prevent, a new politics of ‘liberty and justice for all’ may await.  Or, Armageddon, if governments continue to ignore the fundamental needs of all their people.    
Hong Kong has had 20 consecutive weeks of mass protests with violence escalating.  Middle East demonstrations in Lebanon, AlgeriaSudanEgypt and Iraq have also been bloody. In Latin America, large protests in EcuadorArgentina and Honduras were followed by riots in Chile where economic conditions have recently been good, and people have now been killed. Eastern Europe’s, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Georgia have also seen mass protests.  And Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin is now coping with the largest street protests in Russia since 2012.  And there’s others.
Why now? Global poverty is declining! But with it, economic comforts of the middle class and optimism about the future are also in decline.
Bottom line:  Governments are failing their primary function of protecting human freedom and security.  Street protestors see them as unacceptably corrupt, repressive, and/or dysfunctional.  And, most important, unresponsive.  Discontented youth have been empowered and emboldened by their savvy use of social media platforms.  It’s a small jump and affordable jump to weaponize anything from computers, to drones, to chemicals in our garden sheds.
Technology has empowered motivated youth to mobilize mass action in angry response to small issues.  Issues which quickly connected to a mass of discontent on other issues that had remained unexpressed.
Government’s are taking notice of the epidemic of protests but any government that responds with abusive force would be making a huge mistake.
The evolution of technology, which can always be weaponizable, combined with its ubiquitousness, increasing affordability, and anonymity…means that governments are no longer immune to the use of force by its angered and motivated citizens.   

Computer hacking, drones, and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are prohibitively hard and expensive to defend against.  The US continues to learn this the hard way.

Somehow our ” Christian” nation never got the memo to follow the Golden Rule.

About the Author

Chuck Woolery (not the Game show host) Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union.

Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love and his background in Biology and wrestling. He qualified for the Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far coming from a childhood of obesity and sloth. “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire lives. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Perhaps to his detriment he usually offers what people need to hear instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson

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