December 17, 2011
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The Giant of The 21st Century Begins To Awake.
The Asian unrest, a much bigger deal long term than the over hyped Arab Spring or even the crisis of the euro, is spreading from China to Indonesia, as strikes pop up across the fourth most populous country in the world.
The Asian industrial revolution is the single most transformative social event on our planet today. Hundreds of millions of people are moving from agricultural jobs to urban life, and from farming to manufacturing. They are doing it faster than Europeans and North Americans did during the western industrial revolution, and they are doing it in much larger numbers.
In the first stages of this movement, labor has been relatively docile. As the peasants come out of the rice paddies, they are bewildered by urban life and are struggling to gain a toehold. They still have the deferential social habits and strong moral values of the villages from which they come. They are used to hard work and low pay and they are often grateful for poorly paid, dangerous and hard labor.
But this changes over time. They learn more about how the city works. They lose the social habits and discipline of the countryside. Seeing how the rich live in their urban environment, and living in the media saturated environment of the modern world, they begin to grasp the immense distance between their lives and those of the rich and the middle class. Their ambitions — for themselves and for their children — rise and their expectations grow.
They also become aware that as industrial workers they have more group power than they did as peasants.
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