2011: the year of street demonstrations

Nasrin Pourhamrang


 To call 2011 the year of street demonstrations seems an appropriate denomination. The self-immolation of a young Tunisian peddler was only a spark which ignited the accumulated anger of the people of this country for suffering several decades of inequality and social injustice. The uprising of the people of Tunisia was not only a stimulus for the other Arab nations of the Persian Gulf but for a number of European nations as well.

 Despite the fact that some Western analysts and media outlets refused to compare the popular uprisings in the countries such as Spain, the UK, Germany and Greece to the revolutions of the Arab world and even called the street demonstrations of the British youths the rioting of ragtag and bobtail, the expressiveness of some facts prevents the mainstream media from covering them up through propaganda tactics.

 It's true that the popular uprisings of people in the Arab world are different from the protests of people in some of the European nations; however, they share a common feature:

 Firstly, those who storm into streets are angry at inequality and social injustice. The accumulation of society's capital at the hand of a small group of people in each country and sustaining economic pressures and inequalities in gaining occupational opportunities and recreational facilities is something which causes people's dissatisfaction in many countries. Facts and statistics released by the international organizations indicates that social injustice and the accumulation of wealth at the hands of a small group of people can be seen in every country and the nature of political and economic system of these countries makes no difference to forming inequality in these societies and the only difference seems to be in the appearance of these inequalities. According to UN statistics, in 2005 the average income of each family in the world is $6,000 per year while half of the people spend their life with less than $500 a year and one third of them have a diminutive income of $250 a year.


 Secondly, the popular movements of the 2011 in different countries of the world were not supported by prominent intellectual leaders, which is that they have been somehow people-oriented. Social developments in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were greatly affected by the intellectual leaders who had a considerable reputation as academic personalities. Socialistic revolutions of the 19th century and the developments which laid the groundwork for the World War I and World War II were originated from the thoughts of the philosophers and social scientists of the universities. However, the failures of these intellectual movements propelled the system of research and theorization of the social sciences in the universities to impartiality. The scholars of social sciences and sociologists tried to observe objectivity in their researches and don't give value judgments on any intellectual movement, social phenomenon or social system. The scholars and theoreticians are fearful that the lack of objectivity and impartiality regarding intellectual systems may create disasters like what happened during the World War II and the era of cold war.

 However, this impartiality in viewpoints hasn't had an impact on the growing flow of social inequalities; therefore, poverty and social injustice are as much protested by the European demonstrators as they are in the Middle East and North African countries, even though this poverty and inequality in democratic countries is a result of democratic systems and a result of autocratic and despotic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.

 In order to have their voice heard by the governments, the European protesters have no option but to storm into the streets because the mainstream media in these countries are so overfed with the reports and news on the cinema stars, sportsmen and commercial affairs that there's no room for reflecting social injustices. Publishing news and reports on the social inequalities doesn't add to the circulation and revenues of these media; therefore, they feel no necessity for giving space to them. If it's censorship in the Asia and Africa which creates troubles for the people to have their voice heard, it's indifference, unresponsiveness and lack of financial benefits which prevents people's word to find their way into the pages of newspapers and TV footages in the Western world.

 The result will be that the people in these countries will find themselves compelled to stage street demonstrations.  

During the ending years of the 19th century, with the development of urban constructions, streets and boulevards turned into the principal basis of urban spaces and turned into places for the transaction of goods, walking and rambling and staging popular and political meetings, both by the citizens and the governments. The emergence of the information technology and the dominance of cyber space on the lifestyle of people have not yet reduced the importance of streets in the social life of the people and its functions. as the governments come to the streets to show their political power whenever they feel necessary, the people equally pour into the streets whenever they feel that their voice is not heard by the governments and this is a critical alarm for the governments who don't heed the calls of their people!