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The Spirit of 2019

If the current wave of popular protests around the world has a common thread or unifying explanation, it is the yearning for dignity and respect. People have taken to the streets because they feel they have been humiliated, ignored, and despised for too long by irresponsible, corrupt, and distant political elites.

PARIS – As in 1848, 1968, 1989, and 2010-2012, a wave of popular protests has taken the world by surprise. Ongoing mass revolts – in Beirut, Santiago, Hong Kong, Algiers, Baghdad, and other cities – are gaining strength and wrongfooting governments. But although the temptation to seek historical comparisons is understandable, the 2019 uprisings also have a distinct flavor of their own.