Source: The Guardian Unlimited
Writing on the protests in Brazil recently, a New Yorker columnist posed the conundrum of “revolt in the midst of relative prosperity“: “Since 2003, some 40 million Brazilians have joined the middle class … the protests have been widespread, popular and, most striking of all, dominated by the middle class.” The explanation, he said, was that Brazil is a middle-class country with the infrastructure of a poor country.
This is not a new trope. According to the UN assistant secretary general, Heraldo Muñoz, a “new middle class” is responsible for a wave of protests across Latin America. Francis Fukuyama, seer of “the end of history”, says we’re in the middle of a global middle-class revolution. This analysis suggests that protest arises from the thwarted aspirations of a thrusting new petty bourgeoisie. The UN says a member of the new global middle class earns between $10 and $100 a day, and thus has spare income for consumption. On this basis, it estimates the middle class will grow from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 3.2 billion in 2020.