If you thought yesterday's post on the possiblity of civil disorder was outside the realm of possibilities, Freakonomics blog is discussing (for the second time this year) the possibility of economy-related riots in the US. The Freakonomics authors cite an article in the Atlantic by Robert Kaplan where he writes
So consider, whether in the United States, the "uncontrolled surges and declines of capitalism [that] have left haves and bitter have-nots". Wikipedia ranks Greece as having less economic inequality than the United States. The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of the inequality within a given country, where the lower the number, the more equality exists. Greece has a Gini coefficient of 34.3, while the US is 40.8 (equally ranked with Ghana and Turkmenistan). Once people wake up and realize the true measure of inequality in this country, it will be hard to keep them satisfied with platitudes about the vagaries of the free market.
It’s tempting to dismiss this as a purely Greek affair that carries little significance to the outside world. But the global economic crisis will take different forms in different places in the way that it ignites political unrest. Yes, youth alienation in Greece is influenced by a particular local history that I’ve very briefly outlined here. But it is also influenced by sweeping international trends of uneven development, in which the uncontrolled surges and declines of capitalism have left haves and bitter have-nots, who, in Europe, often tend to be young people. And these young people now have the ability to instantaneously organize themselves through text messages and other new media, without waiting passively to be informed by traditional newspapers and television. Technology has empowered the crowd—or the mob if you will.
Pay close attention to Greece; at a time of world-wide economic upheaval, it might eerily presage disturbances elsewhere in 2009.