If they're right, the world as you've known it will never be the same again. "They" are the seers who, in growing numbers, are predicting widespread upheaval, revolution if you like, during the 21st century. To some, the 21st is shaping up to be The Century of Revolution. I suspect they're right.
The latest voice to join the choir is Trend Journal publisher Gerald Celente. He foresees a perfect storm of unemployment, austerity and corruption sparking popular uprisings of the sort we've seen in North Africa spreading around the world.
" We had forecast that there would be a wave of protests raging throughout the world in response to three elements: high unemployment, draconian austerity measures and corruption," Celente explains in a telephone interview.
" What you're seeing in North Africa and the Middle East is the same three elements," he insists. " It has nothing to do with autocracy or democracy."
Instead, Celente says anyone who sees the world as he does will recognize that there's actually a form of neo-feudalism at work, pitting oppressed " peasants" against a rich ruling class unwilling to share the wealth.
" You have people between the ages of 18 and 30, their hormones are raging, and they're raging mad. You've got no limits at that age, you're not afraid of anything and you have nothing to lose," he says. " The difference is, these peasants are educated, they know the deal."
" Europe is next," Celente continued, explaining that in his view the uprisings in North Africa and the Mideast were not triggered by events in Tunisia. Instead, he believes they're the inevitable result of political, social and economic conditions shared by a vast, growing array of countries including, but not limited to Albania, Croatia, Romania, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Soaring unemployment, cuts to pensions and benefits, rising fees for diminishing services, across-the-board value-added tax increases and declining minimum wages are all common factors to some degree, he says. Combine those with the numbers of young people who are still living with their parents, struggling to find work and not seeing much hope for the future, and Celente says you've got some powerful reasons to not only get angry over the growing gap between rich and poor, but to do something about it.
" We have to tax the multi-billonaires, we have to stop all of these tax rip-offs of the multinationals, and go back to when it worked better."
According to Celente, that means reinstituting laws that curb banks' abilities " to become like casinos," and generally reverting to the state of affairs before NAFTA.
" It's not free trade. It's manufacturers going to slave labour countries, getting their products made, and shipping them back at a mark-up. Let's call it what it is."
Celente offers a similarly stark view of the steps taken by world leaders to curb the recent global economic slowdown. Rather than fix the world's financial problems, Celente says policies of tax cuts, austerity measures and stimulus spending have instead served to reinflate economic bubbles that are near-bursting."
" This is not capitalism. The merger of state and corporate powers by definition -- from someone who knew a thing or two about it: Mussolini -- is facism," Celente asserts. " And fascism has come to America."
I believe Celente is absolutely right, at least in his conclusion. Oddly enough he has left out two powerful factors that will also drive social upheaval - climate change and the looming freshwater crisis. These will greatly stoke the fires of discontent.
It's curious that these issues have not even reached the radar screens of Canada's political establishment. Iggy, for example, will focus on day care, family benefits and universal education but income inequality won't even cross his lips. I think Ignatieff is missing the boat on this entirely and that's unfortunate because these problems won't go away on their own and will only become more intractable the longer they're ignored. Canada deserves better.