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Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:14 AM

Remember All Those "Pro-Democracy" Protests Last Year? Here's What They Were Really About...


The widespread protests across the Middle East and northern Africa in last year's "Arab Spring" were often viewed as the awakening of a critical region to the virtues of democracy.

And they may have had something to do with that.

But a paper by three New England-based researchers suggests the coordinated timing of all these protests was caused by something far more simple:

Skyrocketing food prices.

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Reply Remember All Those "Pro-Democracy" Protests Last Year? Here's What They Were Really About... (Original post)
xchrom Nov 2012 OP
leveymg Nov 2012 #1

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:07 AM

1. Fits Goldstone's PPP formula for revolution & state breakdown: Prices+Population+Popular Groups

Read the Introduction to Jack Goldstone's Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World in which he talks about how waves of state failures typically accompany the coming together of several primary forces that sweep away weakened regimes in clusters throughout history. See, http://books.google.com/books?id=M-T9dR7nWDUC&pg=PA1&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

Whether you're a CIA analyst, or someone interested in the structural-functional causes of unrest, this is an indispensable and sensible guide to the study of revolution.

While Goldstone focuses on the coming together of population increase, rising food costs, and mobilization potential of popular groups such as churches and guilds, the prices component of rising discontent is largely traceable in recent times to spikes in world energy prices, which are closely correlated with food production and distribution costs. These tend to hit countries that are net energy and food importers. If you look at the map below of food as a percentage of household budgets one sees that countries that have experienced the with highest net food costs in the MENA are precisely those that have experience uprisings in the last couple years.

Put that together with the rise in political activism by religious groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and the potential for state overthrow and civil war following energy price rises becomes enormous and irresistible, particularly as part of regional power struggles.

Click on the above image to launch a full-screen interactive map.
Source: USFDA Economic Research Service

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