It’s all in the marketing!

Today, Al Jazeera ponders: From the Arab Spring to Liverpool?

Will Davies, a spokesperson for Avaaz, an international organisation that works for social justice and has rallied in support of the Arab Spring, told Al Jazeera that those rioting in the UK were, in stark contrast, not politically minded and were causing “anarchy for anarchy’s sake”.

“Juxtapose that with the situation in Syria, where they’ve finally got the courage to stand up to a brutal regime and they’ve done that entirely peacefully.”

(More at the link)

What, in my view, they are missing from this supposed “inspirational equation”: the role of mass media marketing. Both the UK riots and the Arab Spring seem to have been triggered by decades old marketing efforts. In the case of the Arab uprisings, the West has been bombarding the Middle East (perhaps redirecting post Cold War idle hands into the task), with this idea of revolutionary, Western style democracy. This democracy has not been marketed because “it is good for the people” (insert some RAH RAH inspirational crowd pleasing here), but because… it is fundamentally good for Western businesses (opening new markets, creating a Western style class divide, aspirational growth, etc etc).

On the other hand, UK youth has been equally bombarded with the marketing of a different kind of product, but with similar intent: salvation and identity through consumer goods. Which, needless to say, drives profits for Western businesses. Now, due to budget cuts and recession, these youth are deprived of the consumer goods and of the identity that marketing efforts coerced into them and so, they rebel.

Neither are really romantic in their driving factors. And of course, I am rather disappointed that we are not using these opportunities to discuss the role of “capital” in all of this.

(Add in the disparate groups that make the “Indignant Ones” in Spain and Greece, also deprived of access to consumer goods and services that are definite class markers, etc. and making that deprivation central in their protests).

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