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The end of Globalisation?
on 15 January 2012
Paul Mason's "Why It's All Kicking Off Everywhere" is an equally ambitious attempt to provide a journalistic account of the underpinnings behind the revolutions and protest movements of the past few years. The book is an extended edition of a blog post that went viral and Mason is positive about the role of technology, what he defines as his `technological-determinist approach', particularly `social media's power to present unmediated reality'. Indeed his main argument is that modern technology has allowed `networked individuals' to overcome collective institutions which are unfit for purpose, in essence that `a network can usually defeat a hierarchy'. These networks of organisation led to security services in Tunisia and Egypt being bypassed by protestors.
Mason argues that `we are in the middle of a revolution: something wider than a pure political overthrow and narrower than the classic social revolutions of the twentieth century'. He sees the ingredients for this revolution as a combination of the `radicalized, secular-leaning youth; a repressed workers' movement with considerable social power; uncontrollable social media and the restive urban poor'. Although global in nature there are significant differences in its success, in UK for example there has been a `crisis' of protestors as `students got wrapped up in exams; the trade unions began negotiations over pensions; the small group of activists behind UK Uncut went into a defensive huddle; and the anarchists engaged in mutual recrimination'.
However the book poses more questions than it does answers and can be guilty of trying a bit too hard to be in touch with 21st century living in Mason's half-baked attempt to accredit Twitter users and constant reference to iPods and Lady Gaga. Yet beneath this enjoyable journalistic veneer is the critical heart of Mason's argument that while technology has allowed empowered individuals to overthrow authoritarian governments, globalisation itself may fail as the economics of the financial crisis of 2008 continue to unravel, something better explained in his earlier book `Meltdown'. Both Ross and Mason's accounts are important contributions to the new age of thinking that is rapidly emerging as a consequence of the crisis of globalised capitalism.