New age of rebellion and riot stalks Europe
Iceland has no army, no navy and no air force – but it does have riot police.
On Tuesday night the black-uniformed troopers came out to quell the latest riots in Reykjavik, which erupted in front of parliament. The building was splattered with paint and yoghurt, the crowd yelled and banged pans, shot fireworks and flares at the windows and lit a fire in front of the main door.
Yesterday the protesters gathered again, hurling eggs at the car of Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister, and banging cans on its roof.
The transformation of the placid island into a community of seething anger – there have been half a dozen riots in recent weeks – is more than a regional oddity.
In Riga last week 10,000 protesters laid siege to the Latvian parliament; yesterday hundreds of Bulgarians rallied to demand that the Socialist-led Government should take action or step down, in a second week of demonstrations, and last month […] days of running battles in the streets of Athens and Salonika.
The protests went beyond the usual angry reflexes of societies braced for recession. The Greek riots heralded sympathetic actions across the world, from Moscow to Madrid, and in Berlin the Greek Consulate was briefly stormed. The Riga unrest spread rapidly to Lithuania. It is, some say, just the beginning: 2009 could become another 1968 – a new age of rebellion.
The LSE economist Robert Wade addressed about 1,000 Icelanders recently at a protest meeting in a Reykjavik cinema, warning that large-scale civil unrest was on the way. The tipping point, he said, would be this spring.
“It will be caused by the rise of general awareness throughout Europe, America and Asia that hundreds and millions of people in rich and poor countries are experiencing rapidly falling consumption standards; that the crisis is getting worse, not better,[…]” he said.
Every segment of society has been hit,
Unemployment among Greeks aged 15 to 24 has reached 21.2 per cent; for 25 to 34-year-olds it is 10.5 per cent. The good years have come to an end
The boom in Iceland led to the few narrow streets of the capital becoming jammed with expensive 4x4s. Latvia had double-digit growth for years; now GDP is set to contract 5 per cent in the coming year and Latvian youths are beginning to rail against mismanagement and corruption.
the sheer magnitude of the recession means there is no easy escape. There are reports of anti-immigrant trouble brewing in Spain.
But there are common threads. Across Europe, protesters demand a change of government. Politicians in wealthier countries can try to prop up banks and industries, but it does not work in heavily indebted nations with bloated and exposed financial sectors.
The new age of rebellion, revolution, and race riots did not come as a surprise. If you read the Guardian’s article on a report from the British Ministry of Defence you will see that in early 2007 (before a hit of a global “credit crunch”) when everyone was happily docile the authorities were planning for years of riots to come, the so called “new age of rebellion”. The same globally connected authorities (all interlinked) that allowed a massive debt bubble to evolve (legalising banking fraud) which put nations in unpayable debt. They created this situation.