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Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

Egypt: It Can’t Happen Here – Or Could It?

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Last Friday morning I shared the relief, if not the ecstatic joy, that the people of Egypt must have felt when Mubarak’s resignation was suddenly and tersely announced. “At last,” I thought, “Our long international nightmare is over.” Having obsessed over developments in Egypt for two weeks I thought that I could think about something else for awhile – like my 2010 tax return for example.

OTOH while the spotlight has swung away from Egypt’s closeup, the revolution there is far from complete. Heck, I don’t think even Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution™ is quite complete yet.

Egypt has taken a giant step forward but on a very hazardous path. What may facilitate a successful completion of the journey to a democracy is the manner in which the revolution has so far been conducted. The people of Egypt reached a consensus about the kind of change the country needs and then peacefully took to the streets in growing numbers. Mubarak never saw it coming and in the end had no way to resist the demand for change, starting with his resignation.

From here it looks like the people of Egypt are demanding two kinds of distinct but intertwined change. They want procedural and constitutional change, so that everyone has a say in the direction of the nation, but they also want outcomes and conditions to change. They want to be free of arbitrary persecution and prosecution and they want changes in the material conditions under which they live, meaning more employment opportunities and a higher standard of living.

The historic and remarkable element in the Egyptian is the relatively peaceful way in which a nation changed its direction. Contrast with conditions here in the U.S. Bob Herbert says , “We’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only.” :

While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.

So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding and increasingly obscene tax breaks and other windfall benefits for the wealthiest, while the bought-and-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services and the social safety net, saying we can’t afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands. Camden, N.J., a stricken city with a serious crime problem, laid off nearly half of its police force. Medicaid, the program that provides health benefits to the poor, is under savage assault from nearly all quarters.

The newspapers – and cable news and talk radio – continue to go along for the ride. The corporate media continues its transformation into a Pravda for obscenely wealthy capitalists. The
rich own the media and make it serve their needs. As John Cole says:

One thing that even the dim bulbs in the media should understand by now is that there is in fact a class war going on, and it is the rich and powerful who are waging it. Anyone who does anything that empowers the little people or that threatens the wealth and power of the plutocracy must be destroyed. There is a reason for these clowns going after Think Progress and unions, just like there is a reason they are targeting wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald, Planned Parenthood, and Acorn. To a lesser extent the fail parade that was the Daily Caller expose on Journolist was more of the same.

You have to understand the mindset- they are playing for keeps. The vast majority of the wealth isn’t enough. They want it all. Anything that gets in their way must be destroyed. They don’t care if they poison every stream or crack the foundation to your house or if your daughter dies getting a back alley abortion or if every one in your mining town has an inoperable tumor. They just don’t give a shit.

Oh well; Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.

Written by slothropia

February 14th, 2011 at 10:42 am

Egyptian Revolution – Reliable Sources

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I am no Middle East expert. I speak and read a little French (which might help in Tunisia and Algeria) but have no Arabic, Pashtun or Farsi whatsoever. All I know is what I see on the tv or read in the papers and inter tubes. Like many others, I have been obsessively following recent events in Cairo and Egypt. Last night, anti Mubarak demonstrators in Tahrir Square took gun fire, apparently from Mubarak supporters. I know this because I am watching and listening to a live video stream from Al Jazeera English, which is probably the best source of news and information about the Egyptian crisis.

If you want detailed analysis, context and perspective, see Juan Cole at Informed Comment.

On Wednesday, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewed Noam Chomsky about the implications of the Egyptian uprising for other dictatorships in the Middle East.

As of this moment it looks from as though pro Mubarak thugs have failed in their attempt to drive pro democracy demonstrators from Tirhar Square. Large demos are expected tomorrow after Friday prayers.

Written by slothropia

February 3rd, 2011 at 10:36 am