Egyptians Call for National Strike and Civil Disobedience Marking Mubarak’s Downfall

“We know the way to Tahrir Square.”


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

13 comments

  1. Alien Booze Consulting

    US Bank backed Mubarack is gone, and as Hedges predicts:

    “any attempt to close the system further—say a replacement of Mubarak with another military dictator—will ensure a deeper radicalization in Egypt and the wider Arab world.”

  2. Conscience of a Conservative

    This is just a scary situation. Egypt is the linch-pin of American Middle East foreign policy, they receive billions in aid, have access to the best American Weapony. Then you have the Egypitan middle class who is worried about a break-down of rule of law, lawlessness and the rise of the Moslem brotherhood is the best organized party in all of Egypt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, the religious authorities denounced this march, and it went ahead anyhow. Back in January, I remember counting the beards in the Tahrir Square crowd as a rough proxy for Muslim Brotherhood membership, and it was 25%, the same as the general population. So while they’re a player, I don’t think they’re the dominant player. However, the more the military prevent an actually functioning civil society from emerging, the more that the Muslim Brotherhood are likely to be the only ones standing when the regime does collapse. Perhaps that’s what they want. As always, the question of our elites is stupid and/or evil….

      As for democracy, I think it’s more our place to be taught by the Egyptians, rather than to teach them. And it’s also so visible in the crowds what a really serious, maturely thought-through success can do for a people. That’s why I used the tag “We know the way to Tahrir Square.”

      And as for fear, I’m a good deal more afraid of the Syrian situation, where the administration seems to be fomenting a war on Iran’s flank. I mean, at least the Bush administration had the common human decency to fake stories about baby killers in Saddam’s hospitals, but the administration is generating bloody and horrible footage for the same realpolitik. Not that I’m bitter or cynical.

      1. Conscience of a Conservative

        Unfortunately in Egypt, we know what our worst case is, it’s 1970’s Iran after the Shah. The United States is hoping that it can control the situation by using influence with the Egyptian military, but the arrests and trials regarding non-profits these last few days, throws that influence in doubt.

  3. Middle Seaman

    For all the bad mouthing: Egypt is a very poor country. It’s also a very populated country, about 100m people. It’s the duty, responsibility and the right political move to support them financially and otherwise.

    The Egyptian Spring was a miracle that will lead and shine for a long time to come. It is a now a military led country and the Muslim Brotherhood will not change that much.

    It is important to continue the support to Egypt and do as much as morally possible to stir them towards democracy and away from the pre-Sadat times when instead of food the government fed war to the masses.

    1. Bored

      Independence is the greateast threat, not radical Islam. As for political moves, perhaps saying nothing would have been better. The first meaningless words out of Ofraud’s mouth last year was’orderly transition. Here’s what he said:

      “I don’t like to use labels for folks. Mubarak is a good man. He has done good things. He has maintained stability. We will continue to support him. He is a friend.”

      Kind words for one of the most awful, brutal dictators anywhere. Follow the tentacles.

  4. stock

    I created a nuclear information resource.
    Point it out to anyone who is on the fence in terms of being pro or anti nuke.

    There is quite a bit of original material, and just an overall good compilation of material, pointing out the big problems and the big lies of nuke.

    Drop a comment

    http://nukepimp.blogspot.com/

  5. Conscience of a Conservative

    I find it interesting how the Western World is callling for more Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa while supressing Demoracy where it was born(Athens) Greece. There’s talk of having Europe collect taxes for the Greeks, and many of the decisions on Greece’s citizens are being imposed on it by technocrats and members of the E.U.

    1. Gaelle

      Talking about Greek Democracy and/or General Strike
      He is the outcome of today’s events:
      ‘Austerity bill approved as Athens burns’ (literally)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS6BijNMsPY
      Meanwhile a Columnist in one of the main Irish Newspaper ends today’s column with
      “It’s at this point that the Bastille is stormed”
      http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/carol-hunt-well-only-be-pushed-so-far-enda-theres-nothing-left-to-take-from-us-3016993.html

    2. G3

      Actually when the US/West/Israel (the real axis of evil) say “democracy” in the middle eastern context, it means replacing a “rogue” dictator by a friendly one. You won’t hear about “democracy promotion” with regard to the monarchies like Saudi, Jordan, Qatar etc because already they are friendly to US (and hence Israel).

      http://www.democracynow.org/2011/9/19/noam_chomsky_the_us_israel_strongly

      “There’s also—the Egyptian opinion, public opinion, like throughout the Arab world, regards the United States and Israel as the major threats they face. In [Egypt], latest polls, about 90 percent. And they don’t regard Iran as a threat. Maybe 10 percent in the Arab world, major polls about a year ago, regard Iran as a threat. In fact, opposition to U.S. policy is so strong that throughout the Arab world, a majority—in Egypt, it’s 80 percent—think the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. Well, you know, that’s not the kind of policy that the United States and Israel want to see implemented, needless to say, hence a strong opposition to the rise of any meaningful democracy.”

    3. G3

      Greece is the trailer for the austerity horror show coming to the Western world. If the conservative Trojan Horse (Ah Greece again) Obomba wins second term, he will gleefully go ahead and cut SS, Medicare etc.

      And hey, Greece loves the Amreekan way of life – being run by “Government Sachs”, as Prof.Bill Black says.

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