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An anti-government protester holds a banner that reads “We want a European Romania” outside the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall, Bucharest, Jan. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

The ‘Age of Rage’ vs. the ‘Age of Surveillance’

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019

It seems that everywhere you look today, people are taking to the streets. Recent mass protests have exploded in a dizzyingly diverse range of countries, including France, Hungary, Romania, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Sudan, Venezuela, Greece, as well as Gaza, and most recently Algeria. Does this surge of citizen activism and anger, which is just the most recent swell in what has been a decade-long tide of large-scale protests, offer some broader lessons about the state of democracy?

Some protests may look like a sign of democratic decay amid a rise of populism and alienation with the political status quo—for example, in Brazil, the United States or France. Others may look like a futile rattling of the political cage under growing illiberalism and authoritarianism, such as in Hungary, Morocco or Thailand. More optimistically, protests in places like Algeria, Venezuela and Sudan may signal a heartening indicator of the persistent aspiration for democracy and peoples’ willingness to fight for it in very different parts of the world. ...

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