The whiff of revolution may be in the air but like the generals who always fight the last war most of our revolutionary commentators (and some of its self-appointed leaders) still don't understand the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and the widespread public dissatisfaction with the distribution of spoils from the current economic system.
To paraphrase Napoleon's dictum "the people are just three hot meals away from revolution' - substitute the words pay-day loan, mortgage payment, part-time job, or medical crisis.
The "lamestream' media's talking heads ask "what do they want?' and "who are their leaders?' They just don't comprehend that new technology destroys vertical hierarchies. Movements (particularly on the left) that in the past were undermined by internal dissent and the creeping sclerosis of bureaucracy will instead continue to grow like a virus.
We now live in the age of the protest meme. See Wikipedia - "A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures'.
Past revolutions have been caused by explosions of violence in the never-ending grind of an undeclared class war between the haves and have-nots. Most modern pundits fail to grasp the growth of new social types who are supplanting the traditional combatants of bosses, bourgeoisie, workers, students, dependants, and the unemployed. These new social types may be recruited from any one of the fore mentioned groups which themselves are breaking down into a confused disgruntled melange.
The first of these new social types is the graduate with no future
In a dystopian culture where you practically need a degree to work in shoe shop there is now a tidal wave of tertiary educated youth enslaved by student debt, stuck in a never-ending series of MacJobs - with low wages, poor conditions, short-term, temporary contracts, no pensions, no health care, no security, and next to no job satisfaction.
This group knows full well that it's only the sons & daughters of the lucky and privileged 1% who can take on those unpaid internships which lead to secure, well-paid, fulfilling careers. Unpaid internships are also a great deal for the bosses -- unlike the old-time slave owners they don't even need to house, feed, or clothe their workers.
The 99% also understand that the concept of social mobility is dead and that many of them will be the first generation in their family's history to be less prosperous, less contented, less healthy, and die younger than their parents. They have been force-fed the mantra that education is the key to prosperity but they are already learning to survive in a twilight zone of two or three low paid, low skill jobs, as their educational proficiencies are gradually eroded. They will be exiled to living at home with aged parents, delaying or giving up altogether the opportunity to find a life-partner and create a family and a future of their own making
Franceso Alberoni could have been talking about such people in his book "Movement and Institution' (1977 - English publication 1984). Writing before the explosion of university education and the birth of the internet he observed that "The members of classes threatened by decline and others which are growing in importance have in common a feeling of disillusionment toward an order they had believed in. Unable to realize their aims, they feel impelled to explore new roads. In the French Revolution, such frustration was experienced by the members of the lower nobility, impoverished and powerless, and by the members of the rapidly growing intellectual class who had no prospects either of bourgeois wealth or of access to office in the public administration, and it was from among them that there arose the most ardent protagonists of the revolution. As Burke pointed out, the third estate was composed of poor lawyers, the administrators of small local jurisdictions, provincial clerks, notaries, and the arbiters of municipal disputes -- all people who suffered from relative deprivation by comparison with the rising bourgeoisie.'
It takes an educated brain to turn a slave into a revolutionary
It's an uncomfortable and conveniently ignored reality for many on the left that the poor uneducated disenfranchised masses are willing to put up with crumbs from the rich man's table for generations. It takes an educated brain to turn a slave into a revolutionary. The power elite well knows this, hence their double-sided trick of encouraging the proletariat to enslave itself with student debt at the same time as dumbing down educational standards so that ticking the box for the correct answer becomes more important than knowing how to ask the right questions.