This was the year The People stirred.
In the ultimate protest against oppression, a man in Tunisia killed himself by immolation and ignited a revolution. Our Brothers and Sisters in that country overthrew a corrupt dictatorial government.
In Egypt, The People seethed under the yolk of Hosni Mubarak, who threatened to "cut off the hands" of those who opposed him. By February, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians were demanding his resignation and Tahrir Square was on a billion lips around the world. With Mubarak gone and a military interim government, Egyptians took to the Square again in the fall to demand free and fair elections.
In Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Libya (with a little help from NATO), Syria, public squares filled, bullets flew, tear gas filled the air. Some protesters brought down brutal regimes as in Libya, others suffered brutal suppression. Syrian authorities delivered the butchered body of a 13-year-old boy to his parents.
But The People did not rest.
They protested in Europe. They protested in the United States.
In Madison, WI, the fascist puppet governor of the Koch Brothers oil empire set out to break the public employee unions. By the thousands they poured into the square around the capitol, demanding justice. Supporters from around the country joined them. Living on pizza and popcorn they occupied the capitol building. State police refused an order to remove them by force. Now the governor, Scott Walker, faces a recall election.
Using Ghandi's tactic of civil disobedience to injustice, thousands of Americans protested the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a potential megabomb to the environment of a dozen states. More than a thousand demonstrators willingly went to jail for the cause. President Obama, a pawn of the interests behind the pipeline, summoned the gumption to postpone a decision until the heat was off.
And then came Occupy. Suggested by a lefty publication as a way to protest the vast income inequality between Wall Street and Main Street, between the richest 1% and the rest of us, it began by "occupying" Wall Street but soon spread to cities and towns across the country.
After first dismissing them as an insignificant, unwashed minority, our Oligarchy then moved to the tyrant's favorite reaction to dissent and forcefully dismantled the protestors' tent city, busting heads, spraying pepper and even manhandling reporters and photographers trying to record their misdeeds.
Occupy seized the initiative, for a while at least, from the budget-cutting whack jobs of Congress and forced the corporate sycophant in the White House to revert to the campaign trail populist rhetoric that served him so well on the way to his election. He pledged a return to "the vision that is truest to our history and most representative of the core decency of the American people." Of course he did not mention black hole torture centers, rendition, limitless detention without charge or the new right of the President to order the assassination of citizens he deems supporters of terrorism. Why stop at "cutting off their hands?"
Even in Russia, by year's end, The People stirred. Tens of thousands took to the streets to protest a rigged election; the police did not molest them and the media reported without bias on the demonstrations. The president promised to "investigate" the election fraud charges and The People sneered. The filthy rich Russian owner of an American professional basketball team announced that he would run against the regime for the presidency of Russia.
It has been a year of important beginnings. The People caused some good things to happen. Will they last?
Will the seeds The People planted in 2011 take root in 2012?
To be or not to be, that is the question.