My Choice for Person of the Year: The Proletariat

With Time magazine set to announce its Person of the Year this week, we asked Yahoo! Voices contributors for their picks.

COMMENTARY | 2011 has been an absolutely fascinating year. It seems that, no matter where you turn, the winds of change are blowing. From a billion-dollar standoff between owners and players in two of the most lucrative sports leagues in the world to the resolution of a decades-old conflict and the emergence of a new country it seems that everybody on the planet is starting to awaken and want more. The 2011 Person of the Year is (and somewhere Karl Marx is brimming with delight) the proletariat.

First was the Arab proletariat. He set himself on fire to protest the Tunisian government’s practices. Using online social networking he organized mass protests against a seemingly unshakeable Hosni Mubarak. He fought and won a civil war against Moammar Gaddaffi. The so-called Arab Spring (begun and maintained by everyday citizens fed up with the abuses of power in government) have resulted in three complete overthrows of government and have resulted in real political change in 11 countries. The protests continue. That region of the globe will never be the same. And it is due to the awakening of the Arab proletariat.

Next comes the European proletariat. He marched onto the Acropolis in Athens (a symbol of government spending and extravagance if there ever was one) and protested austerity measures in a time of record unemployment. He gathered with tens of thousands of others to block the streets of Madrid. He rioted in downtown London out of frustration over inequality of all forms. Europe continues to deal with financial crisis and mass protests fueled both by the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements taking place in the United States, and will continue to for quite some time.

Finally, there is the American proletariat. He is the 99 percent. He is camped out in cities across the nation (indeed, across the world) in solidarity with his fellow man. He marched through the streets of New York and was arrested for civil disobedience. He overturned a law through direct referendum prohibiting public unions from collective bargaining. The upcoming U.S. elections will likely be focused almost solely on the economy, and the choice the American people make will have a long and lasting effect on the way the country is run.

Never before has the entire world been involved in protests. A collective consciousness has kicked in and the scarcity of economic resources has triggered it. The proletariat is unhappy, which is a terribly frightening thing for the current elites. The “workers of the world” are uniting for the first time without regard to national boundaries. The world is changing. And the proletariat is driving that change.

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