It's amazing what happens within a month. The year started with a whimper. In America, the House of Representatives was to be taken over by Republicans. Globally, the U.S. was pretending to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, while endorsing various tyrants across the globe.
Then, the people of Tunisia revolted, overthrowing Ben Ali, their brutal dictator. Then the Egyptians overthrew Mubarak. Now, the Libyans are trying to overthrow Muammar al-Qaddafi. Even in the seemingly silent U.S., people in Wisconsin are taking to the streets to protest the Governor's attempt to destroy public sector unions and cut education.
First, to state the obvious, I support all of the revolutions in the Middle East, and the protests in Wisconsin.
Secondly, all of these protests have one thing in common, the working class is fighting back against the capitalist class.
In all three revolutions in the Middle East, the U.S., and the West in general, backed the dictators. Propublica puts the figure of U.S. foreign aid at about 2 billion dollars per year since 1979. For all its talk about democracy, the U.S. was giving Egypt the second most foreign aid of any country (the first being Israel), so that Mubarak could stay in power.
In the case of Tunisia, Ben Ali was western through and through. Writing for Counterpunch, Esam Al-Amin points out that he was a product of the French Military academy and the U.S. Army School at Fort Bliss Texas. He also points out that the U.S. gave Tunisia millions of dollars in military aid, presumably to "improve security" ie. keep the regime in power.
Qaddafi may be the most interesting case of Western support. Until 9/11, Libya was viewed as an enemy by the West and the U.S. in particular. Since then, Qaddafi has become a Western ally, while giving oil to European nations, particularly Italy. While Qaddafi is not a Western created dictator, he is a clear example of how the West will support dictators if they do what the West wants.
The U.S. has spent years either propping up or supporting existing dictatorships in the Middle East. Now, the people are bringing down the U.S. Empire piece by piece, by taking to the streets. If I had to pick one of the three historical analogies for the protests in Egypt, it most resembles the fall of the Berlin Wall. This time, the "evil empire" that is crumbling is not the U.S.S.R., but the U.S.
Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin, its easy to simply portray this as a battle between Democrats and Republicans. Governor Walker is a Republican, and is considered to be a Tea Partier. However, it is a piece of the same struggle. Just as the U.S. government endorses dictators abroad to support the capitalist class, it opposes unionization towards the same ends. The elites are calling the shots, and they are doing so globally. In the U.S., austerity is taking hold, with Obama promising a 5 year spending freeze, an idea that was rightly viewed as lunacy when McCain suggested it on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, New York's Democratic governor is slashing education for Long Island without anyone saying anything. We need to move beyond anger at the Tea Party, and revolt against the entire capitalist class. Both political parties want to cut necessary social spending, whether it be education, social security, or the National Weather Service (which we might think is a good thing to cut until the next Hurricane Katrina happens). We need to stand up to both political parties. Otherwise, the working class will suffer over the next few years.
This photo sums it all up. The Egyptian people are still fighting for workers rights, just as people are in Wisconsin. Here is an Egyptian protestor summing up what this is all about:
About my Blog
I am writing this blog from a radical political point of view. To be a political radical is to examine everything critically. It is about taking today's news, today's unmentioned news, history, or even just the way we think about ideas, and adding a totally new perspective to them. If you are a radical, and a socialist, like me, you will agree with a lot of what I have to say. If not, I hope I at least make you think about things that you previously took for granted. Most of all, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.
I have just graduated from college, where I wrote opinion pieces for my school newspaper. Though I started out a liberal, I have moved far to the left since then. Despite my politics being different from most people, many people found a lot of what I had to say interesting and insightful. I hope to continue challenging people to think here on my blog.