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The uprising

I spent some time contemplating history last week, and
realised just how many times we have been through moments like this.

The Civil War in Britain; the storming of the Bastille in
France; the Russian Revolution; the themes of many German philosophers during
the 1800s, such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche; and more.

Throughout history there have been many moments where the
mass poor attack the elite rich to rob them of their wealth.

‘Let them eat cake’, is a fine response, until the them concerned decide to spit the cake

OK, this is a bit of a radical conversation for a Monday,
but it struck me more as there are so many films that resonate with this elite
versus mass structure that have come out recently.

For example, The
Hunger Games
 and In
 are two that show these issues

In the Hunger Games,
a suppressed society set into different districts, are ruled by an iron fist
dictator who keeps them in order by sacrificing two of their young every year
in the hunger games.

One winner of the games gets glory, as does the winner’s
district for that year, whilst the rest die and starve.

In Time is very
similar but more adult in focus, with everyone living in districts once more, but this time in a time controlled society
where you earn more time credits in exchange for labour.  Unfortunately, as you age, you may find that
you labour less and therefore your time shortens until you suddenly reach 00:00:00:00:00:00.

The end.

The synopsis of the film is that the world is
one where time is the ultimate currency.

You stop aging at 25, but there's a catch: you're genetically
engineered to live only one more year unless you can buy your way out of it.

The rich "earn" decades at a time, constantly remaining
at the age of 25 and effectively becoming immortal, whilst the rest of us are
forced to beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day.

There are many other films that have a similar historical
reflection on the oppressed attacked the oppressor, with Metropolis being the
originator of nearly all such themes.

Metropolis was made in 1927 Germany, just before the rise of
Hitler and the Weimar Republic.

Money was becoming worthless and people were living in
abject poverty except from the rare, hedonistic 1920s few.

It led to a people who could easily be led and manipulated
back into structure, organisation and overthrow.

With all of these films and issues the themes are the same:
when the few have the wealth at the expense the many, the many will strike

Why such focus today?

Because we are living in oppressed times.

This is obvious when the oppressor is a person – Colonel
Gaddafi, President Bashar al-Assad, President Mubarak, President Ben Ali,
Saddam Hussein – all ably illustrated by the Arab Spring.

But what if the oppressor is a system?

The system is the economic system of capitalism, which
happens to have been the blog entry that gained most interest on the Finanser
over the past year.

Capitalism is oppressing the people of Europe and America in
the post-capitalistic meltdown.

The heyday of hedonism from crazy credit days has gone, and
now we suffer the austerity of the post-boom bust.

No-one likes it, and it has spawned an equally interesting
movement towards a Metropolistic movement called the 99%.

The thing is that the 99% seem to have no focus, no
organisation, no leader and therefore no action.

But what would happen if they got a leader?

That’s what intrigues me about the other major anti-system
movement: Anonymous.

They have a semi-leader, or martyr if you prefer, in the
form of Julian Assange.

They have an organisation: the internet.

They have a focus: stop government and corporate authorities
from the suppression of free movement of goods, services, voice and democracy.

This is something that I’m watching actively as I wait for a
Metropolistic movement that might change our world from a Hunger Games just In

And, just in case you blinked and missed it, it’s happening.

It’s called an Uprising.


This is the first entry in a series about Hacktivism:


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Robert

    I agree that the clock is ticking… Some countries have an extremely poor population, but somehow they are used to it.
    But Greece? Spain? Portugal? They are not used to it and will revolt. In fact, when you consider that 50% of young Spanish are unemployed, I am surprised it did not happen yet. they probably still have something to loose, when they will not have anything left to loose, you will see what happens.
    The austerity path, imposed by Germany and accepted by the other ones, is leading Europe down the drain

  • @chris Upon reading The Economist cover story you reference several months ago, I had a different reaction I’ll share here. I have studied more history than economics, and I used to think my love of history was a very impractical major of undergraduate study. Now I appreciate it much more because I’ve had the chance to observe leaders’ and lands’ rises and falls. I’ve had the opportunity to try to understand the reasons.
    One thing I’ve learned is that man constantly overestimates himself vis à vis complex systems. He comes to understand a few key patterns, uses them to interact with the systems (science, weather, economies), and sometimes his interactions seem to prove the patterns and corroborate his hypothesis. However, these are complex systems, and man never understands the whole picture. Being prone to overestimate himself, he quits watching with an inquisitive mind and comes to constrain his observations to defending his hypothesis.
    Having lived in the U.S. and several European countries, I may be overly inculcated with a “liberal capitalism” perspective but I’ll risk stating that (for me, anyway) the jury is still out on “state capitalism.” Far more relevant than political or economic system in my mind is the stage of economic history of the country under consideration (i.e. China). Obviously, this is a complex issue, but I believe emerging countries’ biggest advantage, as a group, is hungry and motivated people who have low expectations and high hopes. Contrast this with the G7, which has well-fed and wanly motivated people with high expectations and ebbing hopes.
    Emerging countries’ economic history stage also means pent up demand for all kinds of goods and services that G7ers take for granted. This will fuel economic growth in emerging markets for several years, which they themselves will largely capture. In the G7, supply has outstripped demand for many years, and this is still accelerating. As I explain in Building Post-Product Relationships in the Social Channel (http://rollyson.net/post-product-customer-relationships-in-the-social-channel), the end of the Industrial Economy is the real cause of “rich” (most industrialized) countries’ malaise. Overproduction and commoditization are accelerating globally. The root cause of the current global economic disruption is that industrial processes and maxims no longer produce the value they did even 30 years ago, and financial wizards have been helping us fake it for several decades. We will continue to pay that bill for some time.
    Turning to your reference of the 99% (and the 1%). This happens when the system stops producing growth. Those who can take the last vestiges. “Après moi le déluge.” That will pass when enough people understand the true nature of the disruption and move to where the puck is.
    The stage is set for what I call The Knowledge Economy, which creates value and differentiation in the Social Channel (http://socialchannel.biz). In the Knowledge Economy, products themselves provide little value and differentiation; applying the products to produce excellent outcomes and experiences will be the focus. People also panicked when the Industrial Economy supplanted the Agrarian Economy in the 1800s (in Europe, varied elsewhere) because it disrupted most facets of life. The revolutions of 1848 and rise of anarchism bear testimony to that disruption. No one could imagine how many different kinds of livelihoods the Industrial Economy would create. The Knowledge Economy will create millions of very rewarding livelihoods, too. Most we can barely fathom today. I use “livelihood” because “job” itself is an Industrial Economy construct. But we will endure a prolonged period of disruption first. People need to let go of the old before they can move on to the new. That’s the root of the widespread political dissatisfaction and the blame game and viciousness we are seeing. Political leaders are clueless as a group and are not leading. They should be resetting expectations, but that’s for another day.
    In summary, I also read several financially oriented sources, and I find it too easy to let them cloud my thinking; they are in a panic because their livelihoods are severely threatened, but they wrap their anxieties in pretty intellectual paper that sounds convincing but requires careful reading. Their advertisers are taking a shellacking and will continue to do so. Hence their existential crises and viewpoints.

  • trine moore(wizbiz)

    picking up on chris’ indeed..One thing I’ve learned is that man constantly overestimates himself vis à vis complex systems. He comes to understand a few key patterns, uses them to interact with the systems (science, weather, economies), and sometimes his interactions seem to prove the patterns and corroborate his hypothesis. However, these are complex systems, and man never understands the whole picture.
    the whole picture is an expressive phrase..indicative rather than affirmative, for one thing is very much assured it traders and brokers in the financial markets most certainly dont have the whole, nor the ability to picture it either… and their hunches have historically proved wrong, which is the good news, oddly, the fallability is the hope…and some hope too! is certainly needed given the unknowns, and theres those a plenty in the casino of finance, recovery, is one of those words with about as much relevance as reviving a corpse!
    because, cake or no cake, there are currently situations terminal,and beyond recovery, especially when systems are, and lost in complexity, buried feet up.