Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 October 2019

Mass protests rock the globe

Chile protests 2019, photo Carlos Figueroa/CC

Chile protests 2019, photo Carlos Figueroa/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Angry mass revolts have been erupting in many countries across the globe. On Friday 25 October, up to two million people demonstrated on the streets of Chile's capital Santiago. That was the eve of a weekend that saw up to 500,000 demonstrating in Barcelona for the release of political prisoners, anti-government protests across Iraq and a 105-mile long human protest chain in Lebanon.

In recent weeks, explosions of protest have also broken out or been ongoing in Hong Kong, Ecuador, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Bolivia, and Haiti - among others. Prior to these there was the 'gilets jaunes' flare up in France and the beginning of a revolution in Sudan which has already ousted President Omar al-Bashir.

These movements draw inspiration from each other, sometimes echoing a tactic or symbol seen elsewhere.

The triggers and demands vary from country to country. But common to most has been fury at austerity, inequality and corruption. "Across continents, it seems, we inhabit an age of anger", said a Times editorial. The authors of an article in the New York Times called the protest wave: "A louder-than-usual howl against elites in countries where democracy is a source of disappointment, corruption is seen as brazen, and a tiny political class lives large while the younger generation struggles to get by".

In Lebanon, protesters have insisted on having a united struggle of Shia, Sunni, Druze and Christians, opposing divisive separation. Also in Iraq, sectarian divisions are being overcome through protest. The demands gaining an echo in Lebanon include the removal of the corrupt political elite and changing the entire political system. A fifth of the population - 1.3 million people - has participated in that movement so far. A tax on data services like WhatsApp was an initial trigger. But the BBC reported a protester as saying: "We are not here over WhatsApp, we are here over everything".

In Chile, the movement is also demanding political change, with mass support coming behind the demand for a constituent assembly to 'restructure society'.

The hundreds of thousands who have protested in Ecuador were enraged by a savage austerity package. A general strike took place, led by the General Union of Ecuadorian Workers. The National Assembly was stormed, and the government of Lenin Moreno forced to relocate away from the capital, Quito (see 'Uprising in Ecuador forces government climbdown' at

In alarm and desperation, ruling elites have been trying both the carrot and the stick. Demonstrators in a number of countries have faced brutal state repression, yet have been determined to continue. Over 15 have been shot dead in Chile. In Iraq, 42 were killed in protests on 25 October alone.

On the other hand, concessions have been hastily announced to try to quell the ferment. Iraq's cabinet is being reshuffled, Chilean president Pinera cancelled transport fare increases and is dismissing his cabinet; in Hong Kong the extradition bill has been withdrawn; in Lebanon the government rapidly scrapped the WhatsApp levy, and announced some reforms. And now the prime minister has announced his resignation. But in all these countries, among others, such measures have rightly been dismissed by protesters as far too little.


Commentators in the capitalist media have bemoaned the difficulties governments have in trying to counter protests which in many recent cases have been 'leaderless', spontaneous outbursts, mobilising on social media. 'Who can be negotiated with?' they ask. While socialists have little sympathy on that score, we strongly call for workers and youth to have their own committees and organisations, to be able to democratically discuss and decide the steps needed to both defend the protests and escalate them towards victory.

Suspicion towards political organisations is understandable given the past experiences of workers internationally - of being betrayed by formerly left leaders who moved to the right and accommodated to the interests of capitalist big business. But genuine workers' parties - with leaders elected and subject to recall - will be indispensable for maintaining unity of purpose in the movements and formulating programmes that firmly express working-class interests.

Organised workers in the trade unions need to be the backbone of those parties, bringing in their experience of workers' struggles and their potential power to bring society to a halt through strike action.

Due to their common class interests they can also take a lead in building and arming the movements with the ideas necessary to counter the capitalist class. In practice, this can only be through developing socialist programmes for removing capitalism, opposing coalitions and pro-capitalists and forming governments of representatives of working people that can build societies in the interests of the overwhelming majority. No trust can be placed in any of the political representatives of capitalism!

While these vital organisations are still to be built, the period since the 2011 mass uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa hasn't passed without lessons being noted. For instance, the demands now being raised by protesters for 'complete change at the top' show recognition that removing single presidents or prime ministers is not enough; other capitalist representatives can step into their place.

Journalist Simon Tisdall mentioned in the Observer on 27 October that over 40% of the global population is aged 24 or under, and referring to the present revolts, aptly wrote: "This global phenomenon of unfulfilled youthful aspirations is producing political timebombs".

While struggles will ebb and flow, the overall trend is that they will widen and escalate. Along with that, development of consciousness on the political and organisational tasks needed will inevitably speed up, providing the other vital element, along with the will to struggle, for achieving lasting victories.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 30 October 2019:

What we think

Anti-austerity, socialist policies can be a winning formula

Mass protests rock the globe


Tories out now. Bin Boris. Corbyn can win with socialist policies!

39 migrants found dead in Essex lorry container

Argos Christmas bonus cut

Wall Street Crash

The 1929 Wall Street Crash: When the capitalist system was on its knees

Workplace news

PCS union election: For a fighting democratic general secretary

PCS: Support Marion Lloyd - a history of workers' struggle and a programme for the future

McDonald's - Striking to end low pay

London - 'autumn of discontent'

RMT election: Fight the cuts, vote for Jared Wood

Uni workers' pay and pension strike ballot


How working-class tenants beat Gentrification

Black history

Black Liberation... Only possible through socialist struggle

Obituary - Bob Lee: 1954 - 2019

International socialist news and analysis

Chile in revolt

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Enfield North socialists lobby candidate stitch-up

Selling the Socialist

Donate to fund the fightback at Socialism 2019

Chile protests - London solidarity rally

Reader's opinion

Life in the gig economy

Film reviews: Sorry We Missed You by Ken Loach

TV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?

Opinion: Labour Party is structured to block left councillors

The Socialist inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 30 October 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleFrench workers demonstrating in Paris on Thursday 16 January; Now over 40 days of strike action have taken place against the government's attacks on pensions. Photo James Ivens

triangleRenewed protests shake Iranian leaders

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleUnion lawyer arrested on security guards' picket line

triangleWestex Carpet strike reaches two month mark


triangleSuleimani's assassination - Middle East thrown into turmoil

triangleAssange arrest: US and allied governments seeking revenge for exposing dirty wars

triangleFilm: Vice - Dick Cheney - a cold and calculating opportunist


triangleNottingham: Youth protest against Barclays 64 million fossil-fuel investments

triangleSustainable food production and the need for socialism

triangleCapitalism must go - fight for socialism


triangleCladding scandal: Government steps up defence of landlords

triangleNo free ride for the airline bosses - nationalise Flybe now!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Reverse Unison's undemocratic nomination of Blairite Starmer



Build for strikes to save NHS


Labour leadership

Labour Party leadership contest: Fight for a mass anti-austerity, workers' party with a socialist programme



No free ride for the airline bosses - nationalise Flybe now!


Them & Us

Them & Us


Minimum wage

Low Pay, Long Hours. Bosses rip us off. Organise the fightback now!



Ignore the hype - austerity goes on: organise to resist



Capitalism must go - fight for socialism


Minimum wage

Tory minimum wage hike not enough


Labour leadership

Labour leadership election



Trouble ahead for Johnson: Brexit is far from 'done'


Middle East

Suleimani's assassination - Middle East thrown into turmoil



Shell pays 0 corporation tax, and plans huge hike in fossil output



Children need intensive care? We don't care!



Northern Rail franchise in question: nationalise the railways!

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

January 2020