Global Lessons From The Egyptian Revolution

This video is disturbing.  As demonstrators walk peacefully, a police car smashes into them and drives on.  This is exactly the state sanctioned behavior that the Egyptian Revolution is trying to stop.

Many “political pundits” speak of the Arab street.  What they don’t tell you, is that of the many who look at the street from their balconies.  When my mother was young in Alexandria, in the 1920’s, she told me she would look from her balcony as truck loads of Egyptian day laborers heading west.  From time to time one, or two would fall off the truck.  When they did, the the boss, under the eye of the English overlord,  would come out with a whip, and beat the men who fell off.  This injustice, lived with my mother.  She was not political, but she knew injustice when she saw it.  She saw it from her balcony.

We are now in the year 2011, almost 100 years later, and the Egyptian people are still treated with the same inhumanity.  And still, Egyptians, watch from their balconies, the same injustices.

The Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions  are the battle for freedom, democracy and human rights.  A battle for breaking down the authoritarian  model of oppression.  We replaced colonialism with a model of new-liberal economics and we think that tyrants will eventually democratize their societies.   We imposed our financial demands, our market rules, but we have failed miserably to have the same expectation when it comes to civil society.  Humanity is not just a set of economic rules and transactions.  De-buckling economic models from social and civic standards is a formula for catastrophe.

We can all have cell phones, computers and televisions.  But, if we are not free to say, write and see different points of view, or question our society, they are useless toys reduced to mind numbing chatter.  We can educate entire nations, but we cannot keep them submissive and numb.

Our Neo Liberal economics stands as a place holder to perpetuate the authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.  In truth, western societies did not advance because of the economic functions, they advanced because we had “Social Democracies”.  Democracies that nurtured civil society and the individual.  Social Democracies that did not just appear, social democracies that took a great deal of work to establish.

Tony Judt, in his last book, Ill Fares The Land, describes how we have placed a blind faith on the markets and we have allowed our values of Social Democracies to wither.  We have closed an eye to the most abhorrent violations of human rights in the name of economic gains.  Shame on us.  In fact, some are hell bent to regress from the core values of social democracies and just create states that are mere vehicles for commerce.

It is time, it is time that we look at the demands of the Egyptian people for self-determination, freedom, democracy and human rights.  The empty shell of exporting Neo Liberal free market economies as stand alones, corrupts everything and strengthens all the authoritarian tendencies of nations.  The Egyptian revolution is the next step to a true global culture.  A system that is not just free markets that help the few, a system entrenched in democratic values.  The young people are trying to smash this cloud of oppression.

The men from the balcony, in total frustration start screaming “sons of dogs”, ” sons of dogs”, then they go into the anti -Mubarak chants.  Do not be mistaken, that feeling of despair is starting to percolate here in America and in other parts of the west, we watch from day-to-day as our gains are taken away in the name of economic expediency.  My mother, could only tell me the story, these men could post it on You-tube using a cell phone camera.  Thank you for the tools, now, how do we keep the avenues open to use the tools for a purpose?

Time to stand up globally to all authoritarian practices that are justified in the name of economic gain and social stability.  Authoritarian thinking uses fear to keep nations and individuals passive.  Look at how fear is used to keep us from uniting and from standing up to those who brought the economic calamity?  As we feel weaker in our civil societies, yet the oligarchic interests are gaining power, we will fall into a state of entropy.  The Egyptian revolution and the young voices from Egypt are waking us up.  Telling us, there are values worth fighting for, values beyond fear and consumerism.



Filed under Culture and Society, Middle East

3 responses to “Global Lessons From The Egyptian Revolution

  1. fluffy

    Who is this “we”? I think a majority of American have issues w/neo liberal econ policies, not only that, but the U.S. isn’t the only (or arguably the most powerful) country that pushes these policies. Just like what is happening in Egypt doesn’t occur in a vacuum devoid of politics and history, the same can be said of the neo liberal econ paradigm. Neo liberal econ policies always lead to instability. That’s why there was an age of regicide. The problem is that higher education system doesn’t force certain majors to take a lot of history/anthro classes. Not only that, there’s this idea (propagated by many people) that the only good economist go to certain schools, and of course those certain schools are the ones that turn out the main proponents of this ideology. Also, look at the age of the stalwarts of this type of thing, they are old, but not old enough to remember the Great Depression. Moreover, although certain European countries appear to have more diversity of ideas when it comes to their economies, those countries still push very hard for neo liberal economic principles for the global economy. Again, this isn’t a world or an issue w/out past history, and many people talk about the events in Egypt with out knowledge of Arab Nationalism and how that ideology was defeated. It wasn’t that long ago that many countries were still colonies are protectorates of certain European countries. Lastly, I will say that it is interesting that there are uprisings in many countries that had uprisings in the 60’s. I only wonder if we will see actions in the American states that had uprisings in the 60’s. There’s a lot more I can say (about cycles and journalism) but I won’t.

  2. Thank you for this.


  3. This is the third video I’ve seen of official vehicles used as battering rams in the streets of Cairo. I’m sure there are many more incidents that have not been taped. Hopefully, nobody was seriously hurt.

    Unremarked aspect of the Egypt uprising is the ‘normalcy’ of traffic and presumably some sort of auto- dependent business. It should be noted the brutality of both traffic and normalcy are the fetters that bind not only Egyptians but millions more elsewhere. Egyptians and Yemenis and Iranians demand the right to live well, but more jobs in Egypt mean fewer jobs in China. China lends money to America, Europe and rest of the so- called ‘developed world’ so it is easy to see who is on which ‘side’. It is also easy to see how the unsettledness in Egypt will play out.

    The side that ‘matters’ is the automobiles’ side. This uprising represents a choice the entire world is facing right this minute: to either drive a car or have a decent job, to drive a car or have something to eat. There is a lot more to cars running over people than what is seen on TV.

    In the zero- sum world, the problem is resources which are allocated by the Mubaraks of the world for the gain of their sponsors. When one version of Mubarak is ejected, another clone is put in his place. After the clone fails the Jihadists are inserted. After these fail the country is turned into a failed state run by mercenaries and mafias such as Iraq or Nigeria for the benefit of energy companies.

    And automobiles.