Sunday, August 18, 2013

This is not the time for postmortems on Egyptian democracy

In Egypt, military tanks are still prowling the streets, riot cops & soldiers along with armed vigilantes in the pay of the regime are still hunting down unarmed civilians to shoot down in cold blood, tear gas & the stench of slaughter still fill the air. But such carnage cannot deter media smart alecks & cynics who pass themselves off as political commentators from farting out glib obituaries not just on the Egyptian revolution but all of the Arab uprisings. With the contempt for humanity so customary to the cynic they pass off lame humor as political analysis, express disappointment at the naiveté of revolution, & chide the Egyptian people for bringing this on themselves by not being patient enough to wait for another election. At least a postmortem has the advantage of analysis but this the smart-asses are incapable of; sneering is where they reach their political depth.

Those who claim impatience caused this carnage, that Egyptians should have held on till the next election are captive to parliamentary forms completely flouted under tyranny. They do not understand the elemental force of revolution is like a volcano that will not be capped when it is ready to erupt. The political, social, & economic pressures bearing down on Egyptian working people had reached the eruption point & no amount of indignant homiletics about parliamentary patience could change that. That fury & thunder is what gives power to revolutions; it is the molten lava of social transformation. Egyptian working people had been patient long enough. In social transformation, long-suffering is not a virtue; in revolution, it is not possible.

Arabs in several countries under the whip of militarism, dictatorship, & neoliberal austerity rose up to defy all that in numbers not seen in human history. They challenged US military might like no people have dared since the Vietnamese. They tried (& this is by no means past tense) to make social revolution. This is momentous, this is a colossal historic task. But there’s no denying that after nearly three years of social revolution in Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, & Libya, the political terrain is perilous & violent. In truth, things could not look worse. Cynics grasp on this to document their misanthropy; Islamophobes grasp on this to prove the barbarism of Arabs.

Revolutions are messy things not because the Arab peoples have failed at their historic mission but because the ruling elites are using every resource at their disposal to thwart & outsmart social transformation & revolution--including the most extreme violence as in Egypt today. In Syria we can see just how far they’re willing to go. So now we know revolution takes more than elemental molten fury. It takes a thought out program for action & a proven & uncompromising leadership forged in struggle that can unite the disparate political forces. The Arab uprisings have not failed. They are under siege. And they are learning & schooling us in what it takes to stand up & risk everything to make this world a suitable place for human beings to live & love in.

By contrast, working people in the US are still sitting on their duffs patiently enduring several US wars & occupations, other international treacheries, bank bailouts & corporate ripoffs galore, massive home foreclosures & evictions, the shredding of the Bill of Rights & the installation of a surveillance state. Is that kind of long-suffering preferable? Only to the oligarchs!

This is not the time for obituaries & postmortems. What is needed is active solidarity of the kind shown yesterday in Dublin, in Toronto, Montreal, & Vancouver & elsewhere with protests outside the Egyptian & US embassies demanding an end to the violence, demanding “Hands off the Muslim Brotherhood, hands off Egypt, no US aid to Egypt.” We have no idea what energy is smoldering in these revolutions but our solidarity can help bolster the beleaguered spirits of those who have fought so intransigently against such odds. The future of humanity is at stake--& that is not an overstatement.

(Photo of Cairo street in Ramses Square from CNN)

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