in Civilization

Your Time Is Now

In the northern neighborhoods of Tehran the other night, cries of “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei.” Video after the jump…

When I talk about organizing resistance, this is what I mean by “network.” Twitter and Facebook and YouTube are merely tools for getting the message out, i.e. technology liberates those who use it for liberation. Meanwhile, Algerian protests are growing, and growing more violent:

The fact that Algeria saw the first riots — even before Tunisia — indicates the depth of the problems driving regional unrest. That they have spread to Tehran demolishes the Kristolian mythology of scary Islamists taking over. Istebdadiyah — authoritarianism — has failed to provide the basic needs of Arabs; closed economies and political cultures of despotism have reached failing point. Climate change once ruined the Roman Empire’s breadbasket in what was then called Mauritania; these are repeats of the riots that rocked Africa just a three years ago. Financial Times:

Wheat prices rose further on Friday in the wake of Russia’s decision to extend its grain export ban by 12 months, raising fears about a return to the food shortages and riots of 2007-08.

In Mozambique, where a 30 per cent rise in bread prices triggered riots on Wednesday and Thursday, the government said seven people had been killed and 288 wounded.

There comes a point where bullets are not as scary as starvation. The unrest may show up outside the Middle East this time:

Capital Economics, a consultancy in London warned that “Even if the crisis in Egypt eases soon, the actions taken by governments elsewhere to prevent similar uprisings in their own countries will add to the upward pressure on global agricultural commodity prices.”

In Central America, Honduras has frozen prices on many basic foodstuffs despite complaints from farmers.

El Salvador is increasing anti-poverty programs by 30 per cent, and Guatemala is considering slashing import tariffs on wheat and is handing out food and cash vouchers to landless peasants.

In Yemen, attempts to appease the mob failed to forestall protests. When oligarchies fail to supply basic needs, they must have a monopoly of force or be destroyed; a very well-armed society, Yemen is the Middle Eastern state most likely to end up in civil war. Yemenis have fought them before:

Like the war in Darfur, the southern province of Egypt’s neighbor-state, this round of food riots is a result of climate change. The trouble began with severe drought in Russia — and China is next:

The state-run news media in China warned Monday that the country’s major agricultural regions were facing their worst drought in 60 years. On Tuesday the state news agency Xinhua said that Shandong Province, a cornerstone of Chinese grain production, was bracing for its worst drought in 200 years unless substantial precipitation came by the end of this month.

World wheat prices are already surging, and they have been widely cited as one reason for protests in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. A separate United Nations report last week said global food export prices had reached record levels in January. The impact of China’s drought on global food prices and supplies could create serious problems for less affluent countries that rely on imported food.

Get ready. Climate change isn’t the future, it’s the present.

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