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Viva la revolucion!

February 23, 2011

Fighting for bread. A James Buck (@flickr) photo.

The entire Middle East is finally poised to deal with its post-colonial legacy of western-supported dictators and massive social inequalities. It’s a social media revolution and the old leaders appear powerless to deal with it. Tunisia and Egypt are but the first of a line of dominoes waiting to tumble throughout the region.

Can the Middle East survive the chaos and political fractioning that comes with new democracies? The people have no previous experience with such things. Peaceful democratic processes are not something one picks-up at night school.

One only has to look at America to see how the grand ole lady of democracy is holding up these days. Tea Party conservatism, an 80% increase in military spending (this decade), and FOX TV hysterics all have pragmatic political realism by the throat, and no one seems to care that they are strangling the lady who loves them.

But lost in all the crisis coverage of Egypt is the much bigger dilemma facing global leaders today. Their adherence to the neo-conservative economic free-market principles, which allow the very essentials of life to be traded on the open profit market, is destined to doom the entire system.

Egypt is the number one per capita importer of wheat in the world. Not surprisingly, wheat is at an all-time record price. When fewer and fewer people can buy bread, when suppliers horde wheat stocks and wait for further increases in the price, the people standing in lines grow angrier and angrier.

The people dream in ideals because they live with dictatorships. They do not realize that they are wishing to enter the new global economic orthodoxy, where it’s only the rule of profit – and that in this system, they will never be able to afford their bread.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Meteorito permalink
    February 24, 2011 12:05 pm

    “The people dream in ideals because they live with dictatorships. They do not realize that they are wishing to enter the new global economic orthodoxy, where it’s only the rule of profit – and that in this system, they will never be able to afford their bread.”

    This type of North American condescension annoys me. Just because the US is doing a lousy job of running its empire doesn’t mean that people around the world are equally as ill-equipped. Similar things have been said about Bolivia, China, East Germany at different moments. In fact, many people living under non-democratic regimes are quite aware of what’s happening in the rest of the world and quite capable of running their own countries without North America looking down its nose at them. (They’ve so far done a damn good job of overthrowing the dictators pointing guns at them!)
    Egypt, Tunisia and a handfull of other countries are now facing very interesting futures and the next year or so will be key but support might go a little further than condescension and a list of just why the people of these countries are unfit to run their own democracies.

    • Ariel Weiner permalink
      February 24, 2011 4:26 pm

      I think you missed the point a bit. First of all, we’re all for throwing out dictatorships, rest assured. Secondly, Sherwood was not being condescending so much as cynical. And he wasn’t talking about American colonial powers so much as a philosophy of free-market capitalism that has become a global burden and becomes more so by the day.

      The crux is that throwing out colonial powers, and figurehead autocrats is not going to guarantee the Egyptian people their bread and water.

      It is a global economic problem that will not stop until we quit trading food/commodity shares on the global stock exchange for profit.

      Crops are failing, climate is changing, and the global population is growing. A newly democratic Egypt is entering a shitstorm (which they had little part in creating) that is way bigger and more complex than civil liberties and class divisions in the third world.

      And be theirs a good democracy, or a bad democracy, their real challenges haven’t even begun.

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