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In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of the local government building, sparkling not only a wave of revolutionary uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa but also what would turn into a decade of global mass protest. From Tunisia and Egypt to Gezi Park in Turkey, from Brazil's Free Fare Movement and Ukraine's Euromaidan to the student rebellions in Chile and mass protests in Hong Kong, people took to the streets in unprecedented numbers. A renewed sense of struggle for change and collective power inspired loosely organised movements, the euphoric feeling to be able to shape reality, to be part of history. Their impact varied. In Tunisia and Egypt popular uprisings initially toppled dictatorial governments. In Brazil in 2013 the huge wave of mass protests was exploited by conservative forces to overturn the Workers Party and open the way to Bolsonaro’s far-right presidency. Rather similarly, the ‘Maidan revolution’ in Ukraine in 2013-14, which began as a broad-based protest movement, was taken over by far-right nationalists. While mass protests inaugurated a constitutional process in Chile, their flames were extinguished in repression in Hong Kong.
In this unique and breath-taking work of global history, acclaimed journalist and author Vincent Bevins explores the mass protest decade through hundreds of interviews with their protagonists and asks why very few of these movements achieved what they wanted. If, as Bevins argues, 'street explosions created revolutionary situations', then questions of organisation, programme and representation become key.
In this book launch, members of the Seminar in Contemporary Marxist Theory will discuss with the author the main reasons of this 'missing revolution' and the lessons we can draw to bring about real change. After all, as the book concludes, this was just the beginning.
Vincent Bevins has been a journalist since 2007, reporting for outlets with international reach such as Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Folha de Sao Paolo and The Guardian. His previous book The Jakarta Method (2020, Public Affairs) was a global success with translations in over 15 languages. His most recent book If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution was published in 2023 (Headline Publishing Group).