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 12, 2011

The leaked campaign to attack WikiLeaks and its supporters [article of the month]

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.  

This must-read article from a courageous, former constitutional lawyer has so many lessons to give all progressive Americans about how their society is governed and the class war that is becoming more vicious in recent years. There are many valuable links included (I've featured one following this article), many of which I have yet to access. The article and all the links demand our complete attention if we are going understand what we are up against, and then begin to make changes. Let the Egyptians be our inspiration!
...the real issue highlighted by this episode is just how lawless and unrestrained is the unified axis of government and corporate power.  I've written many times about this issue -- the full-scale merger between public and private spheres --  because it's easily one of the most critical yet under-discussed political topics.  Especially (though by no means only) in the worlds of the Surveillance and National Security State, the powers of the state have become largely privatized.  There is very little separation between government power and corporate power.   Those who wield the latter intrinsically wield the former.  The revolving door between the highest levels of government and corporate offices rotates so fast and continuously that it has basically flown off its track and no longer provides even the minimal barrier it once did.  It's not merely that corporate power is unrestrained; it's worse than that:  corporations actively exploit the power of the state to further entrench and enhance their power.
"Law" is something used to restrain ordinary Americans and especially those who oppose this consortium of government and corporate power, but it manifestly does not apply to restrain these elites.

More Fallout From Anonymous

by John Cole from Balloon Juice
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.
If you are still not convinced that a class war is underway in the US, read this brief article AND specifically the comments following the article.

The World Turned Upside Down

by Asa Winstanley from New Left Project

The scenes depicted in this article accurately describe what a real social-economic revolution looks like, and thus, provides lessons for all people who strive to build a better world, a world governed by a social-economic system that is compatible with the Earth's ecology and principles of social justice. We must study it and learn from it. The Egyptians have much to teach us.
The massive popular uprising in Egypt is already the most important event in the modern history of the Middle East. It will have wide-reaching reverberations for decades to come. Arab tyrants around the region are already announcing pre-emptive “reforms” in the hope of staving off what US Senator John McCain has called the “virus” of resurgent pan-Arab nationalism.

Scenes from a revolution

by Mostafa Omar from Socialist Worker
It is very important that if we bring down Mubarak today, it will not be the end, but the beginning of the revolution. The regime is not just one person, but an entire ruling elite around Mubarak. Our revolution started as a youth revolution, but now it has developed into a people's revolution.

Mubarak resignation staggers Obama administration

by Alex Lantier from World Socialist Web Site.
Obama administration officials reacted to yesterday’s ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with hypocritical declarations of solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian masses. Their comments barely disguised, however, the alarm they felt at the downfall of a dictator the US government has backed for 31 years.

Friday, February 11, 2011

World reacts as Mubarak steps down

from Al Jazeera

The picture in this article of Obama reportedly "watching history unfold" says a lot about the concern that the US ruling class has for this great event. Besides their noises about concern for "democracy", US leaders have voiced serious concern about an "orderly and managed transition to democracy" (American style). The whole Egyptian military and state apparatus has been created by Mubarak with the support of the US. Can we expect that the Egyptian people, having tasted real power, are going to go back to their jobs and other daily activities leaving this structure intact? I don't think so.

The US has tremendous influence over the hierarchy of the Egyptian military, but does the Egyptian hierarchy have control over their armies? During the last few weeks the people of Egypt have been fraternizing with the front line troops, and who knows where their allegiance lies? Mubarak and Suleiman evidently didn't trust them to respond to orders. Because the Empire leadership was unable to engineer a quick change of satraps in Egypt and because of the intelligence and bravery of the Egyptian people, the Empire leadership now have a real problem on their hands--and I mean the real leadership (for example, see this and this), not the formal US leadership. 

Obama functions as the public relations officer for the Empire. He, including his advisers, Press Secretary, speechwriters, etc., only have to worry about giving out the right messages to cover the deeds of those who control actions. However, the worried expression on Obama's face in the picture symbolizes perfectly the concern of the directors of the Empire.
The investment in the Egyptian military as a bulwark of regional influence has made sense for U.S. strategic needs: preserving the Egypt-Israel peace accord and projecting U.S. military forces into the Persian Gulf to safeguard energy supplies. 
This victory today, as great as it was, was only a battle. The revolutionary victory for the Egyptian people is not yet finished.

U.S.-Egyptian military partnership comes under stress [8:18 AM Seattle time]

by Tom Curry from MSNBC

This is a rare article coming from US media that deals with the close relationship of the Egyptian military and US authorities. It is clear the Mubarak and the Egyptian police state are hideous creatures of US imperialist designs in the Middle East. Although this article doesn't go quite that far, if one has been awake and aware of events since WWII history, one can reach no other conclusion. 

Egypt, of course, is not the only example of such imperialist policies, but Egypt is one of the key linchpins of US control over the Middle East. Therefore, the political actors of the US ruling class and their Empire must maintain control of Egypt. These imperial actors also feel very constrained by all the "democratic" themes behind which they rule the Empire to give it a veneer of legitimacy. Hence, their public pronouncements are increasingly at odds with what is happening on the ground.

Obama continues to make public noises about how Mubarak should take steps toward a democratic transition while we occasionally learn from other voices in the Empire that state unequivocally that the US must support Mubarak and his regime. Thus, we saw this early in this drama that Frank Wisner was sent by capitalist interests to Egypt to advise Mubarak to stay the course. (See also this.) US Vice President Biden said that Mubarak should not step down and that he was no dictator. Other US satraps such as leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE in the Middle East have likewise urged US support for Mubarak's regime and, of course, Israel likewise. 

Typically, when one of US sponsored dictators loses control of their citizens, the US merely replaces them with another. This is the strategy of choice and I'm sure that this is what the US ruling class political operatives are trying to accomplish. But this course of action has been muddled by other Empire actors and by the actions of the brave people of Egypt. There is always a tension between those in the ruling classes who wish to maintain the "democratic" facade and those who are more fascist oriented and who are more inclined to use their instruments of force by supporting Mubarak's regime. 

The US authorities seem to be losing control of the situation; hence, the title of this article, "U.S.-Egyptian military partnership comes under stress". It appears that the relationship between the Egyptian military and the people of Egypt will determine the final outcome. The longer this stalemate continues, the more likely that the lower ranks of the military will be won over by the heroic people of Egypt.

(Just learned that Egyptian military has taken over in Egypt.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egypt: Seeds of change [25:14m video]

from Al Jazeera by People & Power

According to this presentation, the current Egyptian revolutionary struggle essentially started three years ago by activists who have become known as the April 6th Youth Movement. They made a study of revolutionary strategy and tactics which they practiced and refined over the last few years of activism. I can't imagine that they are prepared to merely remove one US supported tyrant for another. 

From Stalemate to Checkmate; Meet Egypt's Future Leaders

by Esam Al-Amin from Uprooted Palestinians

In the first part of this article, the author introduces us to some of the brave, young people who have stood up to the US satrap, Mukbarak, and his US funded army and appear to be winning. Of course, the Empire will do everything it can to manage and tame this revolution so that Egypt continues to serve the Empire. But it is difficult to put a people down once they have drunk the elixir of real participatory democracy. 

The second part subtitled, "Revolution and counter-revolution: A test of two wills", summarizes the events of the fast moving developments in this struggle that include all segments of Egyptian society.

To keep up with these developments, I advise you to watch live Al Jazeera TV.

Labour Unrest Feeds Growing Protests

by Cam McGrath from IPS
With international press coverage focused almost entirely on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, few outsiders have grasped the scale of Egypt’s popular uprising, now in its third week. But massive demonstrations, and pitched battles between pro- democracy protesters and the regime’s security forces, are taking place in every corner of the country.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hunkered down in Alexandria

by Linda S. Heard from Online Journal. (Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs.)

Excellent description of neighborhood street scenes in Alexandria and the morale of Egyptians.
They complained about fat cats flying off with millions of dollars. “This is our money,” one said. They told me proudly that they had just flagged down two cars filled with uniformed and plainclothes police who had willingly succumbed to being ordered out of their vehicles for an identity card check. What a difference 10 days make!

Their spirits were high. They wanted me to know that for the first time they feel proud to be Egyptian; their heroes are the people in Tahrir Square who sleep there with bandaged heads, despite the chill of night and the rain or proper food or washing facilities.

Everyone spoke of the new sense of camaraderie they feel sharing cigarettes, food and what little cash they have left with neighbours they had only nodded at before all this. I’ve noticed it, too. Every time I pop my head out of the window, women hanging out washing or watching the world below smile and wave.

Egypt protesters gain ground

from Al Jazeera
Labour unions stage country-wide strikes and pro-democracy supporters extend demonstrations to the parliament buildings.

Marxists' views of the Egyptian crisis

from Internationalist Perspective:

On Egypt (3)

On Egypt (2) 

On Egypt (1) 

U.S. Negotiating Mubarak's Severance Package

from The Onion

A spoonful of satire can help the bitter taste of imperialism go down.

The Tea Party and civil liberties

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

This constitutional lawyer is not as ecstatic over yesterday's vote which failed to extend three provisions of the Patriot Act as are many liberals in the US.
I'm ultimately quite pessimistic about its ability to produce any meaningful benefits in the near future.  That's because there are far too many impulses among ostensibly "limited government" conservatives which conflict with -- and ultimately negate -- any possibility for meaningful civil liberties defenses.
He provides a close examination and analysis of the vote in which liberals and Tea Party Republicans combined to defeat the extensions.

Indigenous Communities Fighting For Land Rights More Than Ever - Governments & Corporations Fighting Back

by Rachel Cernansky from Tree Hugger.
"On one hand the necessity of secure rights is now widely promoted by climate change negotiators and development specialists," said RRI Coordinator Andy White. "Yet on the other, the rate of recognition is not at all keeping up with the rate of large commercial land acquisitions—so called 'land grabbing'."

Droughts, Floods and Food

by Paul Krugman from the NY Times.

This well known economist and liberal columnist for the NY Times sees climate change happening currently in the world, but so far, he is unable to connect these events with the inherent demands of the capitalist system. I gather he believes that if we just buy more energy-saving light bulbs and refrigerators, install more weather stripping, and buy electric cars that everything will be all right.  

Well, give him credit--he is about the only one in mainstream media that is making the connection between all the extreme weather events and climate change. On the other hand, he doesn't mention the catastrophic events that are in our future due to climate change.                                                

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Egyptian revolution establishes a new social contract and values

by Nawal El Saadawi from Bikyamasr. From Wikipedia we learn that "Nawal El Saadawi (born October 27, 1931) is an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist. She has written many books on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital mutilation in her society. "

She provides a very poignant description of the people power that is behind the uprising in Egypt.
“We are a popular revolt that establishes a new social contract, not just demands, and our slogan of this revolution is ‘equality of freedom of social justice.’ The people who made this revolution are the ones who should put the rules for the new governance, choose the transitional government, select a National Committee to change the constitution, the committee of wise men of the revolution, so as not to allow opportunists (the owners of wealth and power) to impose on us committees of wise men who did not participate with us in this revolt.”
These people are up against the rulers of the Empire, and particularly the Zionists, who will do everything they can to steer the energy and spirit of this revolutionary struggle into phony "democratic" reforms that are acceptable to the Empire because, then, essentially nothing will change.

Washington Faces the Arab Revolts: Sacrificing Dictators to Save the State

by James Petras from Dissident Voice.
To understand the Obama regime’s policy toward Egypt, the Mubarak dictatorship and the popular uprising it is essential to locate it in an historical context. The essential point is that Washington, after several decades of being deeply embedded in the state structures of the Arab dictatorships, from Tunisia through Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, is attempting to re-orient its policies to incorporate and/or graft liberal-electoral politicians onto the existing power configurations.

'Sheik al-Torture' is now a democrat

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.

The author looks at US's transition strategy using the US funded Egyptian military to create the appearance of change.
Washington could live with an Egypt like a new Pakistan; a heady mix of unstable comprador elites, some political Islam (via the Muslim Brotherhood), military intelligence and why not, another military dictator. It's not exactly "democracy".

Yet the notion that protesters from all walks of life, from students to lawyers, not to mention Egyptian human-rights groups, would gladly accept the face-lifted Sheik al-Torture as a dialogue-driven democrat speaks Luxor temples about how Washington really despises nationalist, popular movements.

Egypt: Mubarak's Fate in Military Hands

by Cam Mcgrath from IPS

This piece provides an in-depth look at the Egyptian military, a key factor in the current revolutionary struggle. 
With nearly half a million men, the military is Egypt’s most powerful institution. But it would be wrong to think of it simply as a massive defense complex. The army is deeply integrated into the national economy and workforce, engaged in civil works, running businesses, and the production of everything from weapons to tea kettles.
Read also Pepe Escobar's view of the Egyptian military, from Asia times.

Reaganomics Sucked Wealth up, Did Not Trickle it Down [8:31m video & script]

Paul Jay interviews Michael Hudson for Real News.

I've become so sickened with US mainstream media's portrayal of Ronald Reagan as a kind of superhero among US Presidents. I remember the Reagan administration in connection with the Contra War (US sponsored Honduran mercenaries) against Nicaraguans seeking independence from the Empire in the early 1980s. I visited that country twice during this period and witnessed the destruction these mercenaries inflicted on health clinics, schools, and cooperatives. I also associate his administration with the attacks on US labor unions, on the rise of the neo-cons in the government.

Of course, like all post WWII Presidents, he was largely a figure head, a second rate actor and former GE salesman whom the public found very personable and likable, much like Obama today.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Division of Egypt: Threats of US, Israeli, and NATO Military Intervention?

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Global Research. (I presume this is part 2 following part 1.)
The White House and Tel Aviv do not want a second Iran in the Middle East. They will do whatever they can to prevent the emergence of a strong and independent Egypt.

A free Egypt could prove to be a much bigger threat than non-Arab Iran within the Arab World to the objectives of the U.S., Israel, and NATO.
I thoroughly agree with these statements. They, the US and Israel (and NATO?) will do everything they can to prevent a true popular government from taking power in Egypt. The liberal commentators in the US are far too optimistic and celebratory about real progressive changes ahead for Egypt. For example, Tom Engelhardt writes:
...part of the spectacle of the moment lies in watching that other great power of the Cold War era finally head ever so slowly and reluctantly for the exits.  You know the one I'm talking about.  In 1991, when the Soviet Union disappeared and the United States found itself the last superpower standing, Washington mistook that for a victory most rare.  In the years that followed, in a paroxysm of self-satisfaction and amid clouds of self-congratulation, its leaders would attempt nothing less than to establish a global Pax Americana.  Their breathtaking ambitions would leave hubris in the shade.

The results, it's now clear, were no less breathtaking, even if disastrously so.  Almost 20 years after the lesser superpower of the Cold War left the world stage, the "victor" is now lurching down the declinist slope, this time as the other defeated power of the Cold War era.

US Envoy's Business Link to Egypt

by Robert Fisk from The Independent

I doubt that very many people in Egypt and the Middle East were shocked by this incident. I suspect that it is mostly Western journalists and progressives who are shocked. The people in the Middle East have witnessed first hand the many contradictions of official US political propaganda and the realities on the ground. It is mostly people in the West who do not experience the brutal consequences of the Empire's policies that have a difficult time reconciling the contradictions.

See, for example, the NY Times spin that American policy is "complicated". 

It is only complicated because the contradictions are surfacing in some of the mainstream press and the official political apparatus. The Obama administration, has to work overtime trying to cover with democratic rhetoric the real imperial operations of the Empire. Although the capitalist ruling class will continue to maintain a democratic political facade as long as possible, they are perfectly capable of moving into fascism by putting into full operation the police state apparatus that now exists in the US.

Progressives in the US must grow out of all the indoctrination they have been subject to about the formal political institutions in the US. They must begin to see it as an elaborate facade, much like that of a stage play, designed to distract people from the real events that the ruling class tries to hide from view. Obama, Clinton, and the most of the official political figures are little more than mere actors who are hired by the capitalist ruling class to focus our attention on the stage play and away from real events. 

People like Frank Wisner II are often the real political operatives representing the capitalist class, and who really influence events. They mostly function behind the scenes in complete secrecy; but every once in a while, they come into public view as this fellow has, although very briefly, during the Egyptian crisis. His father, Frank Wisner, was a key figure at the beginning of the CIA and headed many of its most nefarious activities.

American Police State: FBI Abuses Reveals Contempt for Political Rights, Civil Liberties

by Tom Burghardt from Antifascist Calling
As mass revolt spreads across Egypt and the Middle East and citizens there demand jobs, civil liberties and an end to police state abuses from repressive, U.S.-backed torture regimes, the Obama administration and their congressional allies aim to expand one right here at home.

Why I call myself a socialist

by Wallace Shawn from War in Context. (You may want to skip the introduction and scroll down to the essay entitled, "Are you smarter than Thomas Jefferson?" in which he explains why he is a socialist.)

Wallace Shawn is an Obie Award–winning playwright and noted stage and screen actor. He is co-author of the film My Dinner with André and author of the plays The Fever, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Designated Mourner, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors.
Our capacity to fantasize about other people and to believe our own fantasies makes it possible for us to enjoy this valuable art form, theater. But unfortunately it’s a capacity which has brought incalculable harm and suffering to human beings.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

American Warships Heading to Egypt

from Washington's Blog

While Obama and Hilliary make noises about democracy and human rights for public consumption, the mailed fist is brought out to deal with the crisis in the Middle East. And you won't see this covered much in mainstream media, and if it is, it will be for humanitarian purposes only! From Wikipedia we learn:
Kearsarge is fully capable of amphibious assault, advance force and special purpose operations, as well as non-combatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions. Since her commissioning, she has performed these missions the world over, including...the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as a platform for bombing missions against Serb forces in Operation Allied Force....

Revolution: Is 1848 Repeating Itself in the Arab World? PART I

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Global Research.

This is a very sound history of the dominance of the capitalist class over Western societies. And it very well may be true that "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." So read it so that we don't continue to repeat this awful history.
...democracies can be managed and manipulated. Since 1848, the capitalist class has managed to hinder genuine democracy in all its forms, while promoting kleptocracy. Big capital has always managed to carve a place for itself at the helms of the state and has managed to maintain itself through the mercy of liberalism.

Roots of the Egyptian Revolutionary Moment

from The Real News an interview with Mohammed Ezzeldin who is "a graduate of political science from Cairo University, and is doing his Masters' Degree in History at Georgetown University." 

This is somewhat dated in the fast moving developments of the Egyptian revolution, but very relevant because the interviewee provides a lot of recent history leading up to this event.

The death of Israeli [fake] democracy

by Mya Guarnieri from Al Jazeera

While Egyptians demand real democracy, Israel's right-wing is moving their country in the direction of fascism. 
At an October protest against legislation commonly referred to as the loyalty oath - a bill that would require non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge allegiance to a "Jewish and democratic" state - Gavriel Solomon, a prominent academic and peace activist, likened Israel to Nazi Germany, circa 1935.

That was the year that the Nuremberg Laws - racist legislation that led to the systematic and deadly persecution of Jews - were created.

"There were no [concentration] camps yet but there were racist laws," he said. "And we are heading towards these kinds of laws."