Might 2013 turn out to be an epochal year in world history? The editors at the Economist wouldn't be surprised, citing ever-growing protests on multiple continents. The demonstrations have different origins—bus fares in Brazil, development in Turkey, austerity in Europe, "pretty much everything" in the "perma-protest" of the Arab Spring—but the demonstrators themselves have a lot in common. Those rising up now tend to be middle-class residents who normally stay quiet, but they're not anymore in the face of "the corruption, inefficiency, and arrogance of the folk in charge." Social media only accelerates things, for better or worse.
The protests are mostly happening in democracies rather than dictatorships, but autocrats in Beijing, Moscow, and Riyadh shouldn't get complacent. Democracies at least allow the demonstrations as an outlet for people's anger, and they can adapt. "When politicians accept that the people expect better—and that votes lie in satisfying them—things can change." Of course, it could all amount to nothing. But "even now, though, the inchoate significance of 2013 is discernible," write the editors. "And for politicians who want to peddle the same old stuff, the news is not good." Click for the full post.