I n the autumn of I was in my first term of school in a decade. I had two jobs; my husband, Tom, was working full-time; and we were raising our two small girls. After a gruelling shift at work, I was unwinding online when I saw a question from someone on a forum I frequented: Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive? This is what it said:. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes.
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But the pace of change was too slow to prevent festering discontent and outrage against the political class from boiling over into the streets.
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But the pace of change was too slow to prevent festering discontent and outrage against the political class from boiling over into the streets. The last few days of spontaneous and uncontainable protests, looting and arson will leave in ruins a regime that in the eyes of the working and poor masses has long worn out its welcome. This is just the beginning they tell us, and as the fires spread and burn out, Chile will be transformed irreversibly. But when the smoke clears, what will the new Chile look like?
But continuing an upsurge in student protests that has lasted since , youth responded with mass civil disobedience. High school federations mobilised a social media coordinated campaign of turnstile jumping throughout the capital.
After a week of direct action by students, the campaign grew until, by the week of 14 October, it had spread throughout the city. When students, now with the support of local community activists, intensified and expanded their protests to numerous subway stations on Friday 18 October, the government called special carabinero shock forces to stop the teenagers, often trapping and beating them in cars. The hike and slaps in the face that followed were the final straw after decades of growing inequality, apartheid-like public services and oligarchic rule.
Roughly 80 stops were trashed with dozens of trains and stations burned to a char. By evening, mobs began targeting other public infrastructure, major intersections and, most concerning to the economic elites, big retail. As patrolling soldiers brought back the worst memories of the Pinochet dictatorship , the long discounted poor and working-class were eager for battle. Military occupation of Santiago only fanned the flames. Hoping to curb the disturbances, the general heading the state of emergency declared a 10pm curfew.
In the capital, officers pointed their barrels at civilians, and in Valparaiso sailors arbitrarily beat locals. Meanwhile, large middle-class progressive sectors of the capital poured into the streets to oppose the presence of troops and express their general rejection of the right-wing government.
They primarily objected to the loss of civil liberties and militarisation of public order, wary of a return to authoritarianism. The right-wing rejoinder that these are not the same armed forces of the military regime, however, is not wrong.
Today, the army is deployed not to reimpose a dictatorship but rather to safeguard post-Pinochet free-market democracy. The repression and suspension of basic rights failed to subdue the upheaval. Fires spread and looting became generalised, as the rebellion reached medium- and smaller-sized towns. Walmart, for instance, claimed that 80 of its supercentres and markets, known as Lider and Ekono in Chile, had been plundered. In one incident at a military checkpoint, two civilians were near-fatally shot.
By the end of the weekend, the hazy panorama was clear enough. Basic stability vanished in the most stable country in Latin America. By midnight on Sunday, roughly superstores, pharmacies and 75 gas stations had been partially or totally destroyed. In a northern port, marginalised youth unabashedly rampaged against a luxury casino. The poor will continue to pay a high price for their resistance, but the most decisive cost was imposed on the ruling class. All political forces in Chile acknowledge the obvious: the uncontainable rage reflects much more than the subway hike.
Vast swaths have had it with poverty wages, undignified pensions, tiered schools, all while elites vaunt their growing wealth. Public minimum pensions amount to slightly more than that for retirees between 70 and 75 years old.
Those appalled, surprised or lamenting that supermarkets and pharmacies were the main targets of the protests simply operate in an entirely separate social universe. With its inadequate and tone-deaf response, the entire political class appears bent on going down with the fires. Both the centre-right in power and the less cohesive centre-left that governed for most of the post-dictatorship period have mainly proposed a restoration of the status-quo ante.
After first calling for dialogue and soon thereafter announcing a reversal of the hike, the president has doubled down on a harsh law-and-order strategy. As the days of rage escalated, their anti-crime discourse hardened. Repeated concerns for middle-class property and hard-earned opportunities reiterated by Chadwick and other officials is surely dog-whistle messaging. But it also reflects the world view of the conservative politicians and their constituents.
On the other side of the aisle, any differences were merely of degrees and emphasis. Put simply, like its right-wing counterparts, the centre-left wants above all to preempt being swept away by the popular fury. Between demands for removing troops from the streets and calls for the president to step down, it been unable to reframe the national policy debate. Perhaps more significantly, none of its member parties has forged organic links with the protesters. As parties jockey around the unfolding events, the angry masses keep delivering on the threatening promise that things are only beginning.
A hike reversal, ratified on Monday 21 October, or a raise in minimum public pensions will not persuade people to clear the streets. While they lack a coherent set of demands or representatives to negotiate on their behalf, the mobs and pot-bangers are clear that they must maintain the heat on the state.
As ordinary Chileans impose increasing costs on to elites, concrete steps should emerge from the rebellion. For the moment, no political force has the capacity to lead the effort, but channelling popular discontent in this direction is necessary lest the rage burn itself out and public support fade into exhaustion and recrimination.
More importantly, the social forces that can sustain a general stoppage have lined up to make it happen. Teachers in most large cities have been forced to stay home, transit unions have ordered members to avoid the dangerous conditions at work, powerful miners remain on the tail end of an industry-wide strike wave and dockworkers have explicitly promoted a national strike.
If coordinated, the standstill will force the political class to entertain radical reforms. For that, a comprehensive and minimum set of reforms must be placed on the agenda. As the movement rejects the piecemeal relief measures that have begun trickling out of Congress and the presidential palace, an alternative programme must emerge as the baseline concessions targeted by the mobilisations.
If properly coordinated, the social movements that have emerged over the past decade are fully capable of formulating these policy blueprints. Of course, these forms of socioeconomic democratisation require real political democracy. The existing regime is designed to block reform. In Chile there is a before October , and an after. What the post-October reality looks like will depend on what ordinary people do with the opportunity.
The self-immolation of the political class All political forces in Chile acknowledge the obvious: the uncontainable rage reflects much more than the subway hike. A popular democratic solution As parties jockey around the unfolding events, the angry masses keep delivering on the threatening promise that things are only beginning.
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10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America | Mark Manson
He has his moments, but you keep your distance from him. You still love him. This is how I lovingly describe my current relationship with the United States. The United States is my alcoholic brother. As it turns out, stuff you always assumed was normal your entire childhood was pretty weird and may have actually fucked you up a little bit. You know, dad thinking it was funny to wear a Santa Claus hat in his underwear every Christmas or the fact that you and your sister slept in the same bed until you were 22, or that your mother routinely cried over a bottle of wine while listening to Elton John.
There are just a few things you need to hear. I also lived abroad for several years , primarily in South America and Asia with various stints in Europe. I speak three languages. So I feel like I have a good perspective on the US from both the inside and outside.
Note: I realize all the things on this list are generalizations and I realize there are always exceptions. I get it. Yes, we had Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, but unless you actually are Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison which is unlikely , then most people around the world are simply not going to care.
There are exceptions of course. And those exceptions are called English and Australian people. Not only is this not true , but people get irritated when you bring it to their country with you. Despite the occasional eye-rolling, and complete inability to understand why anyone would vote for George W.
I know, that sounds absurd, especially with CNN and Fox News showing the same 20 angry Arab men on repeat for ten years straight. They have jobs, kids, house payments — you know, those things called lives — to worry about. Kind of like us. Americans tend to assume that the rest of the world either loves us or hates us this is actually a good litmus test to tell if someone is conservative or liberal. The fact is, most people feel neither. Remember that immature girl in high school, how every little thing that happened to her meant that someone either hated her or was obsessed with her; who thought every teacher who ever gave her a bad grade was being totally unfair and everything good that happened to her was because of how amazing she was?
Notice a running theme here? We did not invent democracy. There were parliamentary systems in England and other parts of Europe over a hundred years before we created a government.
In our culture, appreciation and affection are implied rather than spoken outright. Two guy friends call each other names to reinforce their friendship; men and women tease and make fun of each other to imply interest. Feelings are almost never shared openly and freely. Consumer culture has cheapened our language of gratitude. In America, women usually get incredibly nervous and confused when I do this.
The system is stacked heavily to allow people of talent and advantage to rise to the top quickly. The problem with the US is that everyone thinks they are of talent and advantage. But this shared delusion also unfortunately keeps perpetuating large social inequalities and the quality of life for the average citizen lower than most other developed countries.
In those terms, despite the average American having more material wealth than citizens of most other countries more cars, bigger houses, nicer televisions , their overall quality of life suffers in my opinion. In , I got into a taxi in Bangkok to take me to a new six-story cineplex.
It was accessible by metro, but I chose a taxi instead. On the seat in front of me was a sign with a wifi password. Wait, what? I asked the driver if he had wifi in his taxi. He flashed a huge smile. The squat Thai man, with his pidgin English, explained that he had installed it himself.
He then turned on his new sound system and disco lights. His taxi instantly became a cheesy nightclub on wheels… with free wifi. Singapore is pristine. Hong Kong makes Manhattan look like a suburb. My neighborhood in Colombia is nicer than the one I lived in Boston and cheaper. Sweden and South Korea have more advanced high-speed internet networks.
Japan has the most advanced trains and transportation systems. Norwegians — along with Swedes, Luxembourgers, the Dutch and Finns — make more money. The biggest and most advanced plane in the world is flown out of Singapore. The tallest buildings in the world are now in Dubai and Shanghai and soon to be Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
I spent a week with some local guys in Cambodia. You know what their biggest concerns were? Paying for school, getting to work on time, and what their friends were saying about them. In Brazil , people have debt problems, hate getting stuck in traffic, and complain about their overbearing mothers.
Every country thinks they have the worst drivers. Every country thinks their weather is unpredictable. The world becomes, err… predictable. None of that has happened. In fact, the experience has been the opposite. In countries like Russia, Colombia, or Guatemala, people were so honest and open with me, it actually scared me.
Some stranger in a bar would invite me to his house for a barbeque with his family, a random person on the street would offer to show me around and give me directions to a store I was trying to find. They were just insanely friendly. Our culture is built around achievement, production, and being exceptional.
Therefore, comparing ourselves and attempting to out-do one another has infiltrated our social relationships as well. Who can slam the most beers first? Who can get reservations at the best restaurant?
Who knows the promoter to the club? Who dated a girl on the cheerleading squad? Socializing becomes objectified and turned into a competition. Unless you have cancer or something as equally dire, the health care system in the US sucks. The World Health Organization ranked the US 37th in the world for health care, despite the fact that we spend the most per capita by a large margin.
The hospitals are nicer in Asia with European-educated doctors and nurses and cost a tenth as much. And before you make fun of Colombian hospitals, Colombia is 28th in the world on that WHO list, nine spots higher than us. My health insurance the past year? Because I live outside of the US. Our food is killing us. Our portion sizes are absurd more profit.
In terms of life expectancy , despite being the richest country in the world, we come in a paltry 35th — tied with Costa Rica and right behind Slovenia, and slightly ahead of Chile, Denmark, and Cuba.
Enjoy your Big Mac. The United States is a country built on the exaltation of economic growth and personal ingenuity. Small businesses and constant growth are celebrated and supported above all else — above affordable health care, above respectable education , above everything. Comfort sells easier than happiness.
Comfort is easy. It requires no effort and no work. Happiness takes effort. It requires being proactive , confronting fears, facing difficult situations, and having unpleasant conversations. Comfort equals sales. The American public is becoming docile and complacent. When we travel, we look for giant hotels that will insulate us and pamper us rather than for legitimate cultural experiences that may challenge our perspectives or help us grow as individuals.
Depression and anxiety disorders are soaring within the US. Throughout history, every dominant civilization eventually collapsed because it became TOO successful. What made it powerful and unique grows out of proportion and consumes its society. I think this is true for American society. My generation is the first generation of Americans who will be worse off than their parents, economically, physically, and emotionally.
And this is not due to a lack of resources, to a lack of education or to a lack of ingenuity. There are things I love about my country.