Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Financial Stress and Revolution

A revolution rarely occurs except after an authoritarian government has been under financial stress for some time, a situation John Kenneth Galbraith called a “rotten door.” Turkey looks ready to follow the same pattern. Remember the incident that sparked the current uprising — a government-sponsored project to pave over the last open space in a city. Governments in normal times do not sell off obviously valuable public assets like the only park or the only turnpike. This can happen only when the budget is a disaster and they are near their wit’s end. The same financial pressures imply that continuity and the needs of the broader public are being neglected, while the truth is being stretched thin. It’s a recipe for rapid political change.