We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, February 5, 2011
This Egyptian activist provides some excellent information on street level tactics using electronic media as well as the general experience of activists in the current effort to overthrow their government.
The author surveys the history of old, oppressive regimes being toppled by popular demand, followed by new ones, often with capitalist collusion, only to submit once again to the discipline of the international banks. Hence, he is rather pessimistic about real changes in Egypt and nearby countries.
Workers suffer painfully from neoliberal harshness, often hardened by IMF diktats, including mass privatizations, layoffs, wage and benefit cuts, and public debt service over people needs, causing massive impoverishment and human suffering. Replacing one regime with another with this agenda leaves deep-rooted misery unaddressed.I share his fears. The Empire has a tight relationship with Egyptian military leaders, most of whom received a lot training in the US. This is the same model the US has been using throughout Latin America in the last 40 years, and only in the past decade have we seen much more independence in that area. It appears to me that the Egyptian people can succeed only if they win the allegiance of lower ranking officers, or if a Chavez-like general emerges to champion the cause of the people.
Only when the scourge of capitalism is removed from the Earth will people really be able to organize their economies to serve their needs. The system not only preys on people, but on the Earth's ecosystem with the same devastating results. Thus, it is no longer only a matter of social justice, it has become a matter of human survival that is now at stake if we allow capitalism to continue. The extreme weather we currently witnessing across the globe are only the early signs of climate change. Let us pray that it is not too late.
The author explains how Goldman-Sachs and other capitalist casino players are getting rich using the new derivative bets while many people starve in the world.
Underlying the sudden, volatile uprising in Egypt and Tunisia is a growing global crisis sparked by soaring food prices and unemployment. The Associated Press reports that roughly 40 percent of Egyptians struggle along at the World Bank-set poverty level of under $2 per day. Analysts estimate that food price inflation in Egypt is currently at an unsustainable 17 percent yearly. In poorer countries, as much as 60 to 80 percent of people's incomes go for food, compared to just 10 to 20 percent in industrial countries. An increase of a dollar or so in the cost of a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread for Americans can mean starvation for people in Egypt and other poor countries.
The anarchist interviewee provides his political perspective and street-level view of the revolutionary events in Egypt.
The most difficult obstacle Egyptian revolutionaries face is the cutting of communications. Western revolutionaries must put pressure on their governments to prevent the Egyptian regime from doing this. That's for now, but no-one can say what will happen in the long term. If the revolution is successful, then Western revolutionaries must build solidarity with their Egyptian comrades against the expected aggression from the USA and Israel. If the revolution is defeated, then it will be a massacre for all Egyptian revolutionaries.
About Horace Campbell
This scholarly specialist in African affairs examines the current African revolution now in progress and argues that they have some unique 21st century characteristics that have been built upon the legacy of 20th century revolutions.
1) The revolutions are made by ordinary people independent of vanguard parties and self-proclaimed revolutionaries
2) The nature of independent networks of networks and the sophistication of the tools of the revolution
3) The leadership of ordinary people who displayed self-mobilisation for the revolution
4) The building of revolutionary non-violence for self-defence
5) The revolutionary ideas of the people whose ultimate goal is to be dignified human beings and not to be dictators' robots or zealots.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Egypt's Democratic Uprising Exposes the U.S. Corporate Welfare Scheme of Military 'Foreign Aid'
by Ernest A. Canning from The Brad Blog via Amped Status.
William Blum's observations regarding the Egyptian uprising.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Unfortunately, the article starts out with a couple of paragraphs repeating themselves; but nevertheless, the article is very thought provoking regarding the meaning of the events in North Africa and nearby areas.
No event occurs in a vacuum; events originate in concrete conditions, and consequently they tend to come in waves. The events in Egypt show that the center of revolutionary impetus is no longer “the West”; this new age of revolution will culminate first in areas where the living conditions are becoming unbearable and the ways of life are not yet completely colonized by capital. However, it would be a mistake to see this as merely the conclusion of an unfinished anti-colonial revolt. It is something much bigger and deeper. The financial crisis is a sign that capitalism is on a declining trajectory. The conditions that precipitated the events in Egypt are rapidly becoming universal across the globe, spelling another cycle of revolution and possibly war. Eventually these same forces will hit Saudi Arabia, Europe, China, and finally even the United States with the strength of a tidal wave.
We use fossil fuel because it's cheap, and it's cheap because Exxon Mobil and Peabody Coal get to use the atmosphere as open sewer to dump their waste for free. And today you can see the results of that particular business model from outer space.Extreme weather is now considered the new normal by ruling class media. They rarely mention it in the same breath with greenhouse gases and catastrophic climate change. So, get use to it people--just suck it up! Nothing must get in the way of the ruling class from feeding its profits addiction.
McKibben is a fine environmentalist, but he fails as a political-economic scientist. He never takes issue with the predatory system of capitalism which fosters the exploitation of workers and the environment for the enrichment of a few. This may be a result of his having spent so many years in academia where indoctrination accompanies skill training. Only those who do not ask any serious questions about the system are allowed to pass through.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Americans have for so long pretended that Arab nationalism is dead, their corporate media fail to recognize an Arab nationalist rebellion when it breaks out in front of their noses. Arab nationalism is more dangerous than Islamist politics to U.S. imperial hegemony, because “the path to mass mobilization can be direct and democratic, as evidenced by the spread of the Pan-Arab conflagration from the spark in Tunisia only weeks ago.”
Stirrings of popular dissent are already underway in Yemen and Jordan too. All the other U.S.-backed monarchies and pseudo-democracies across the region are feeling the heat. The U.S. empire in the region is crumbling.This commentator from a liberal think tank provides a useful framework to view the events unfolding in the Middle East, especially in Egypt.
As many pundits in mainstream media have correctly stated, the events there pose some very difficult problems for the US Empire. Egypt is a kind of lynch pin for the Empire's control of the Mid-East. Also, it must be noted that Zionists exert considerable influence in the US ruling class. If Egypt were to come under the control of real popular power, it would be very threatening to the Empire. For both of these reasons, I think it is likely that the Empire's agents will do everything they can to prevent any popular regime coming to power in Egypt. Hence, I see some very volatile days ahead for the Egyptian people. Thus, I do not share the optimistic tone with which this writer concludes her essay.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Certainly, the downfall of a hated dictator would be a fantastic achievement by the Egyptian working class. But transforming the miserable conditions of Egyptian workers--and sweeping aside the ruling class that created and protected Mubarak--will take sustained struggle and the revival of independent working-class organization and politics.
With the popular movement broadening and deepening, despite early attempts to terrorize and repress it—estimates of the dead from police attacks last week range from 138 to 150, but the real figure is likely much higher—there are growing concerns within the bourgeoisie both in Egypt and internationally that the Egyptian capitalist state could be overwhelmed by revolution.
Monday, January 31, 2011
A most interesting perspective on recent developments.
Right now, the streets of Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere look like battlefields. But the biggest battlefield yet to come will be in the US. And quite fittingly so. As the executive power upholding the capitalist order that has for decades spawned wars, violence, injustice, corruption and fascism around the world to achieve its undemocratic ends, the US is the primary site of struggle for democracy, not just in the US, but also for the rest of the world.
In past decades, the battle lines were obscured by lack of communications and propaganda diversions (the ‘evil Soviet empire, Vietnam, Latin American subversion, war on drugs, and, latterly, this phony war on terror, etc). But with mounting and unrelenting poverty across the US (and Europe), and global communications, the battle lines are now becoming apparent. The real enemy is the US/Western diktat of capitalism – the economic system that enriches the few and impoverishes the majority because it is all about private profit, and increasingly elite private profit.
They are discussing the findings of Obama's Crisis Inquiry Commission on the recent economic collapse. The findings are not at all surprising. They always have these "inquiries" for public relations purposes. They are always designed to cover the crimes of the ruling class.
One of the first, and most outrageous such group that I remember, was the Warren Commission's report on the assassination of President Kennedy. It provided cover for the the insidious secret cabal within our government that rules over us, and who assassinated our President. (If you wish to know more about this, you must view the excellent films entitled, "The Men Who Killed Kennedy, V1 &2.)
What this interview with Hudson most illustrates is how well indoctrinated US intellectuals are. Hudson is a highly trained and intelligent economist. But you must understand that the more training one receives in US institutions of higher learning, the more one also receives indoctrination in capitalist ideology. If one doesn't absorb capitalist ideology, one is weeded out of the institutions of higher learning at some point in one's education. To get a more detailed explanation of this thesis, you must read Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt.
When people such as Hudson enter the real world and begin to experience reality, they often feel a sense of outrage as expressed in this interview. At the risk of one's career, one must never go beyond that outrage to grasp the insight that the ruling class makes laws not to apply to themselves, but to control working people. Were he to do so and behave accordingly, he would be banished to the occupational equivalent of Siberia.
The ruling class of capitalists make laws to create the illusion that our society is governed by a legitimate legal framework. Any laws which get in their way are ignored, while those which serve their interests are vigorously enforced.
The looting of Cairo’s world-famous Egyptian Museum over the weekend seems to have engendered the desired news headlines.There is more and more evidence being reported that counter-revolutionary forces are deliberately encouraging chaos in order to justify the insertion of overwhelming force by the Empire. Hence, Western media is playing up the themes of looting, property destruction, and chaos. According to a report I heard over NPR radio this morning, the authorities released criminals onto the streets and removed all police forces. Al Jazeera reports that people are organizing their own police forces in defense of their neighborhoods:
‘Looters smash ancient treasures’, ‘Looters decapitate mummies’, ‘Looters rip off heads of artifacts’ etc., read a rash of headlines, following the apparent breaking into the country’s national museum, which is said to house the world’s biggest of Pharaonic antiquities.
However, it has since emerged, although with much less headline coverage, that some of the would-be looters apprehended by protesters outside the museum were identified as working for the state’s interior ministry.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Occasionally I post an article that argues a point of view with which I disagree, but otherwise find useful to pose a counter-argument.
This one takes a very cynical view of the dramatic events in Egypt and argues that the Empire is manipulating everything to its advantage. Here the author makes the case that the US is in control of events and merely setting the stage for a replacement of another unpopular dictator. To be sure, this has often happened in the past in such places as Korea, South Vietnam, Chile, Guatemala, etc. I believe her argument that Egypt is following a similar pattern is not correct.
There is no question in mind that the US is trying to gain control of the situation from behind the scenes, but there are striking differences with what is happening in Egypt compared to changes of leadership orchestrated by the US in its other puppet governments.
First of all, the rebellion was spontaneous, sparked by the upheaval in Tunisia. Second, the rebellion had widespread popular support with millions of people participating. The Empire does not like to see popular uprisings like this. They can too easily get out of their control as happened in Iran with the expulsion of the Shah, another of America's appointed puppets. The Empire much prefers to remove their puppets before the people take to the streets. They much prefer palace coups as has frequently happened in Latin America. These are much easier to engineer.
(Note: Al Jazeera is clearly the best source of information on these fast moving developments.)
Although the article addresses the issue of tax cuts in Canada, much of the same points the author makes applies to the US as well.
Tax cuts are an attack on the lives of ordinary people--their education, health, and welfare. On the other hand, expenditures for military purposes are rarely cut. He makes the point that tax cuts weaken the infrastructure of the country, except of course near corporations. The latter always demand subsidies from local governments in the form of tax relief and funding for related infrastructure.
But the general deterioration of infrastructure is now less important to the ruling class under neo-liberal policies of "free trade" because of the outsourcing of much of our production to overseas cheap labor markets.
One adverse effect which I didn't see in the article that does apply in the US is that the various levels of governments must, with the reduction in tax revenue, borrow from the banks to keep things running.
Witness the recent decision of the Fed to buy $600 billion of US government bonds. Because of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the Fed issues money "out of thin air" to buy government bonds, that is, it gives its magical money to the government for bonds on which interest is added. Thus tax payers continue to go deeper and deeper into debt slavery.