Across the globe, this was a year when people took to the streets, often overthrowing their leaders in the process. That was true in the Arab world, in Russia, in India, in Western Europe, in the United States and even in China.
And everywhere, this year of mass defiance caught off guard those who were supposed to be in the know. The experts had thought the Arabs were getting richer and were too scared of their autocrats, that the Russians were apathetic and quite liked their neo-czar, that the Indian middle class was politically disengaged, that Western Europeans were too old for outrage, that Americans did not care about the class divide and that the Chinese comrades were too effective at suppressing dissent.
But the conventional wisdom was turned upside down around the world by people who turned out to be angrier than their elites had suspected – and better able to channel that dissatisfaction into mass protest and even revolution.