A Rebellious World Is Taking It to the Streets

Nov 25, 2019 | 11:00 GMT

This photo shows protesters in Santiago, Chile, running from riot police on Nov. 19, 2019.

Protesters in Santiago, Chile, run from riot police on Nov. 19, 2019.

(CLAUDIO REYES/AFP via Getty Images)


  • Mass protests are happening in a growing number of countries for different reasons and with various goals.
  • The inclination is to look for a common thread that ties today's popular outrage together; such a search not only would prove difficult but probably also futile.
  • Protests forced change in Sudan and Algeria this year, and have animated Lebanon with a new spirit of anti-sectarian unity; so, while success is rare and hard to sustain, the powers that be don't always prevail.

Demonstrators were out on the streets when I returned to France last week, most of them peacefully protesting but enough burning cars and smashing windows in central Paris for the police to deploy water cannons and tear gas. The latest outbreak marked the first anniversary of a movement, les gilets jaunes or yellow vests, outraged by President Emmanuel Macron's attempt to increase the tax on diesel that fuels most vehicles in rural areas. Although Macron swiftly withdrew the tax, protests have continued in Paris and elsewhere every Saturday since. Participation dwindled, but the anniversary riot showed that the yellow vests are not going away. In this, France is part of a growing tally of countries witnessing mass protests as government after government defends a status quo that many people reject....

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