Time Magazine Dubs 'The Protester' Its Person Of The Year For 2011

After a year marked by mass public outcries in most parts of the world, and tilting at the windmills of everything from totalitarian governments to unchecked financial institutions, Time magazine has handed its annual Person of the Year cover to “The Protestor.”

While much of the magazine’s coverage is given over to protests in Egypt and Libya, it also includes the grassroots Occupy movement which began only a few months ago on Wall Street and quickly spread to seemingly just about every metropolitan area in the U.S. and abroad.

For all their differences, Time’s Kurt Andersen remarks on the characteristics that were common among most of these protests — and why it all seemed to happen at once:

It’s remarkable how much the protest vanguards share. Everywhere they are disproportionately young, middle class and educated. Almost all the protests this year began as independent affairs, without much encouragement from or endorsement by existing political parties or opposition bigwigs. All over the world, the protesters of 2011 share a belief that their countries’ political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt — sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change. They are fervent small-d democrats. Two decades after the final failure and abandonment of communism, they believe they’re experiencing the failure of hell-bent megascaled crony hypercapitalism and pine for some third way, a new social contract.

During the bubble years, perhaps, there was enough money trickling down to keep them happyish, but now the unending financial crisis and economic stagnation make them feel like suckers. But this year, instead of plugging in the headphones, entering an Internet-induced fugue state and quietly giving in to hopelessness, they used the Internet to find one another and take to the streets to insist on fairness and (in the Arab world) freedom.

Time’s decision to run with “The Protestor” comes on the heels of a reader’s poll that selected “The 99%” — the name given both to the movement behind the Occupy protests and to the general mass of people who think banks are given a pass by the government — as the leading Person of the Year nominee.

The Protester [Time.com]