The Winter of our Discontent by Anne Winkler-Morey
True, leaders have used fear of outside forces to keep their people in line for centuries. How else do you convince people to don military uniforms and put their lives on the line for the state, or put up with a few people hoarding all the goods while the rest go hungry? World leaders, who were supposedly arch enemies, have long aided each other in keeping their populace in line.
At points before the winter of our discontent, the people stood up and shouted “the emperors are naked." In 1968 a global movement, led by youth on both sides of the iron curtain, defied Cold War “stability," demanding an end to empire abroad and repression at home.
Forty-three years later we lived in a world in which corporations, social media, oil spills, hurricanes, and dead birds, revealed the fiction of national borders. Wiki Leaks exposed the global polity as a glorified middle school, where gossip and intrigue reigned, but the weapons of these bullies could obliterate the planet. A global economic crisis was making the richest even richer and swelling the numbers of those who went without the most basic human needs. Climate Change accentuated inequalities between the global North and South, while showing that ultimately we could all die together if we didn’t care for our planet.
These planetary truths had been hidden behind a global epidemic of anti immigrant movements, religious, racial, ethnic, and ideological antagonisms. These powerful distractions in the early 21st century began to dissolve during that winter of our discontent as the people of the world unveiled the pretense of a false patriotisms built on phobias of the created other. As we know, such distractions work best when sources of information are controlled so that gross contradictions can be papered over. (At one point during the winter of 2011, the Egyptian dictator Mubarak blamed the United States, Palestinians, Jews, and foreign media for fomenting rebellion in his country. Before we gasp at the incomprehensibility of such a claim, we need remember that back then U.S. commentators like Glenn Beck made fortunes claiming that gays, Muslims, atheists, immigrants, and public school teachers were to blame for U.S. ills).
The controls on information that made such outrageous lies believable, were breaking down in the winter of 2011, as new media sources, social and otherwise, allowed the people to communicate with each other. They found out that the boogie men were false, and problems they thought were personal, were social, with attainable social solutions. The STABILITY that leaders of the time like U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, Libyan leader Qaddafi and Wisconsin Governor Walker, desired, was one in which individuals accepted lives wracked with daily concerns about food, health care, jobs, housing, and the ability to speak out and organize . Up until then these seemingly individual instabilities had kept people from organizing. But during the winter of our discontent that began to change. People in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Iran, Wisconsin, Ohio, refused to believe the bunk that outside forces or internal failings were to blame for what ailed them. They acted locally, connected globally. Another world was possible.