Friday, February 11, 2011

America just been schooled -- by Egypt.

Chris Floyd puts it well.
Mubarak is gone! Ordinary people took to the streets, in their hundreds of thousands, they stood their ground against state goons and hired thugs, they saw ordinary soldiers and many officers refuse to obey orders to repress them, and they have brought down a 30-year dictatorship supported by the full might of the American imperium.

Many, many things are still in play, many dangers abound, many uncertainties remain -- and many forms of retribution will no doubt be assayed by the powerful elites in both America and Egypt who have been humiliated by this uprising of the "rabble" against their "betters." But it is a great day, a day of rejoicing for all those who believe in the worth and dignity of individual human beings.

The Egyptians stood up, they asserted that worth, they embodied that dignity, and they have set themselves free. Long may they hold on to this liberation -- and long may it serve as an inspiration to everyone beset by the dead hand of elite domination.
I've got some serious philosophical objections to some core assumptions in Floyd's universe, but this is not one of them.  Spend some time at Empire Burlesque and you will find that he's been covering this admirably since things flared up.  (You'll also find that, with only a couple of weird exceptions, Floyd really gets it on most things of consequence.)

This is actually the first article I saw on Mubarak's resignation (hat tip to Joel at TUAK).  I immediately went to Floyd to see if he was on it (he's over in London and several hours closer than I am) and he was.

Another great take on events is Denninger's, again despite some reasonably significant disagreements.  (Vive la difference!)

Splendid.  Hopefully lots of people over here are taking notes.  I find it interesting that when I first ran across it, the latest update in the USA Today article said this:
Update at 1:35 p.m. ET: A statement on Egypt by President Obama was originally scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET but has been delayed until later today. The White House did not indicate when it will be delivered.
Somehow this is not surprising.  This is a delicate moment for the US government, which of course put Mubarak in power and has been propping him up for most of our lifetimes now.  The Current Occupant's most immediate responsibility, of course, will be to tell us all How It Is, but only in a way that keeps his own uppity peasants from getting all the wrong ideas about what happened over in Hosni-topia.

We'll see what the teleprompter says, once the handlers figure out what it should say.  Bring popcorn, this is actually likely to be entertaining.

As for Egypt, Floyd is right that a whole lot of things could go wrong at this point.  The most common historical model is that the military will "determine" that elections cannot actually be trusted (you know, with all the corruption), so--for the best interests of everyone--they really should stick around to run things a little while longer.  Now to be fair, it seems as though the Egyptian military has been somewhat more faithful recently to The People than to their Commander-In-Chief, as explained admirably by Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers:
Reason: What do you make of what we've seen in Tunisia and Egypt?

Rhodes: I like it. What happend in Tunisia is an excellent example of the military doing the right thing. When Ben Ali ordered the senior military general to shoot the protesters, he refused, and the Tunisian military simply stood down and got out of the way. And without the military, the secret police were overwhelmed by the people, and the dictator was done. He fled for his life. Note that the Tunisian military did not remove the dictator in a coup, which would just lead to another dictator. But instead, they simply stood down and let the people of the nation decide their own fate. That was precisley the right thing to do, and I hope the military in Egypt does likewise. A military coup is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire, so we don’t want to see that. But we do want to see the military refuse to be tools of oppression. When the military withdraws its support, a dictator is powerless, just as happend in Romania when Ceausescu was overthrown in 1989. Mubarak is a dictator, and there is never any excuse for propping up dictators. He needs to go, and he will, so long as the Egyptian military does the right thing.
So far, Egypt seems to have mostly lived up to that hope--moreso than any historian would expect of a military, at any rate.  Thing is, that could slip back into the traditional mode very quickly, and the revolution could turn really bloody.  We'll see.

One way or the other, though, this is exciting.  Sure, it's quite possible that the Egyptian people will settle down and simply decide on some different flavor of authoritarianism for themselves;  with a certainty of one hundred percent we can predict that other governments (from Hamas to the US and doubtless many others) will give them all kinds of "help" to reach precisely that conclusion (and just maybe benefit from such actions themselves, y'think?).  Ignore all that for now--that is a different struggle to overcome.

Instead, take a minute to marvel at what we are continually told is not possible:  a state regime has fallen to a peaceful revolution, simply because the people withdrew their consent and stood their ground.

Not possible?  Funny, we're looking at it right now:
  • Revolution.  The people caused the big, bad government (dictator) to step down.
  • Peaceful.  They did not have to go through "civil war" to overthrow the big, bad government.  Nor did they do it by voting.  They simply withdrew their consent until the dickheads went away.
  • Rapid.  When enough people decided they'd had enough, it did not take long for the big, bad government to cave in.

Wow.  Much for cogitation in there.

Might this cause more Americans to snap out of their bread and circuses and ask some serious questions?  Maybe such as:
  • Why has there been all this emphasis on "peaceful revolution is impossible;  millions will die horribly, so don't even think about it;  just vote, and all will be well"?  Who is it that this line invariably comes from, anyway, and why would that be so important for us to fixate on?
  • People have been trying to reform "within the system" for how long now?  And yet this action, distinctly "insurrectionist", distinctly "seditionist", distinctly "illegal", distinctly "outside the system", got results right away?  Boy, that's not the way I got it in Civics class.  Hmm.
  • If we choose to similarly re-assert our liberty as a people, might we want to consider a different long-term solution--maybe something other than a traditional authoritarian state?  (Let's be clear here:  the only difference between dictatorship, monarchy, oligarchy, plutocracy, and democracy* is who controls the mob.  They all have a mob that claims to own every human being within an arbitrary border.  Some may be "nice" mobs and some may be "mean" mobs, but all the mobs reserve the "right" to act like a mob--you know, "if necessary" for things like "national security".**)  My word, we might be able to learn from history and actually do something different.
On second thought, that's crazy talk.  We should just go back to working within the system.  Surely that will work!

* For those who were looking for the words "fascism", "socialism", "communism", and/or "corporate mercantilism":  those are economic systems, not "rule-by" political systems.  Each of these economic systems can exist within any of the above political systems, but they are completely dependent upon having some political system to work within, since they all need the critical ingredient of a vertical power structure for enforcement, or top-down control.  (The only economic system that could possibly function within a non-political, horizontally-structured system is "capitalism", in which Franz Oppenheimer's "economic means" is at least theoretically possible.) 

** Anyone who disagrees with this is invited to explain just how it is incorrect.  You'll need to be able to refute this, as well.  Have fun!

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