“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot!” Nov. 5 marked the 404th anniversary of the attempt by a group of Catholic conspirators to blow up London’s Parliament and unseat Protestant officials (and the king) who, at the time, were suppressing Britain’s Catholic population. Government officials thwarted the plot in its final days of planning and one if it’s main conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was taken into custody. Consequently, the fifth of November is celebrated in Great Britain as “Guy Fawkes Day,” marking parliament’s circumvention of terrorism. In the following centuries, Fawkes has become something of a revolutionary ideal. Fawkes does represent the individual’s ability to combat corruption in governments.
In more recent history, this Monday Nov. 9 marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1989, the barrier separating democratic West Berlin and Soviet controlled East Berlin was demolished by a large, spontaneous rebellion of East Berlin citizens who refused to continue living with oppression and poverty. The failure of the Soviets to impede the East Berlin rebellion represented the turning point of Soviet control, leading to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union and establishment of democracy in much of Eastern Europe. Twenty years later, the blatant suppression of free speech, press, and travel is nearly unheard of in western countries and the establishment of the European Union seeks to eradicate corruption within European governments.
Both of these anniversaries represent milestones in history when individuals banded together in revolutionary pursuit. This begs the question: What will our generation’s revolution be? Or is it already happening? I believe revolutions, in many forms, are already under way. As we reflect on those of the past, it’s time we acknowledge the revolutions occurring today.
Tehran, Iran: The nation’s capital has spent the last five months in violent uproar as opposition forces protest electoral fraud and government corruption. International investigations into Iran’s presidential election in June shows conclusive evidence that president elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rigged the election. The opposition leaders, specifically western-supported Mir Hussein Moussavi immediately revolted after election results were announced. In the following five months, riots in Tehran have drawn record crowds. Government-sponsored police have resorted to violent suppression of all protests. Despite shootings and releasing of tear gas, Iranians have continued to rebel, demanding government reform.
Washington D.C., United States: Revolutionary action for social reform is taking place across the United States, specifically in the nation’s capital. Revolutionary healthcare reform was brought to the front of American politics after the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. For the first time since President Clinton’s call for reform in 1993, a serious campaign for universal healthcare is underway. The current healthcare bill seeks to grant affordable coverage to American citizens, especially those who have lost employment and/or insurance in the recession. This revolution has the potential to completely change the state of our country’s health. The reform could insure up to 36 million Americans who, at this point, do not have access to any form of healthcare, from chemotherapy to pediatric check-ups.
China: The revolution of totalitarian-capitalism is growing fast. China has the fastest growing economy in the world and is showing no signs of slowing down. In the worldwide recession, China’s economy barely took the hit, continuing nearly normal production rates.
The cultural climate of China remains rooted in communism, while free-market policies have taken hold of the country’s economy. The fiscal revolution defies the boundaries of both capitalism and communism, with the abundance of human capital and thrifty investment aiding China’s pursuit to dominate world markets. Economists are calling China the superpower of the future, and there is little reason to refute these claims.
Revolutions are abundant in today’s society. Guy Fawkes Day and the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall remind us to appreciate revolutions of both the past and present.
Our generation will alter this world drastically. Whether it is Iranian freedom, healthcare reform, major economic transformations, or something yet to occur, our effect on this planet will be undeniable.