For those interested in how governments fall, events
in Cairo are inspiring and informative. The staid, stolid and corporate/government-owned
Western media were unprepared for reporting there and remain incapable
of interpreting the popular uprising in Egypt.
Events over the past two weeks in Egypt have been
decades in the making, and are founded on a long history of human
resistance to regime thuggery, ranging from passive survival, quiet
discussions, and emigration to the acutely violent. As is the way
of all dictatorships, Mubarak’s rule has concentrated and abused
the country’s wealth, grown a massive military, made unpopular entangling
alliances abroad, developed an intricate and well-funded set of
domestic surveillance and policing capabilities, built many prisons,
imprisoned many people, obsessed over border security, and strangely,
breaches of that border security.
Oh, my. No wonder the overall picture is hard for
American state media to report. The very portrait of modern Mubarak-era
Egypt – and what is happening to it – is
telling. Of course, recent global inflation in food and energy
sectors has exacerbated dissatisfaction with the regime. Oops.
Egypt’s public and peaceful rejection of Mubarak
is said to have been sparked in part, not by self-immolations of
angry and frustrated Egyptians and Tunisia’s success in driving
out Ben Ali, but by a
short, honest, compelling video by a young Egyptian girl, Asmaa
Mahfouz, who decided to assert her natural rights, in the great
tradition of peaceful withdrawal of support for dictators and their
gangs advocated by St. Augustine, Etienne de la Boétie, Thoreau,
Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King.
Rockwell points out, these protests began on National Police
Day – a recently Mubarak-declared holiday "celebrated"
on January 25th.
The optimistic and those who love freedom share
the joy of the long-frustrated Egyptians of all religions and at
all economic levels. But if we share their joy, we necessarily are
rejecting – perhaps uncomfortably – our very own Washington, D.C.
ruling elite, which has done everything it can to maintain Mubarak
in power for three decades. This same elite, Republican and Democrat
in lockstep for five decades, has fostered a variety of prefabricated,
unnecessary and expensive wars, created a war
machine that gulps the wealth of this country, promoted and
benefited from central
bank policies that have wasted the middle class, as they are
destroying both the very old and the very young in America. Given
these unfortunately undisputable facts, Egypt’s example of people
rising up for freedom and dignity should shame Americans in more
ways than one.
There are other ways of viewing the people’s rejection
of the Egyptian state. While the Egyptian military has exhibited
a kind of solidarity with the people thus far, Mubarak has unleashed
and his U.S. (and U.S. allies) have provided
weaponry designed to be used against protesters and unarmed people
in the streets. Certainly, as sides are taken, the side of human
dignity and freedom is
not the side associated with United States and her allies. Neoconservatives
perched in American media and policy corridors are screeching in
full-on panic, what will happen to US interests if Muslim people
are determined to have self-rule? It’s not like the American governing
elites haven’t thought of this before in the Middle East, with an
open history of attempted coups, pastel "democratic" revolutioneering,
purchasing loyalty though cash and promises, and that failing, invasion
and installation of our favored leaders – all because people, in
particular Muslims, simply are not trusted to do America’s bidding.
Israel in particular is worried – the undersea
gas pipeline from Cairo that supplies a third of its domestic energy,
already unpopular amongst energy-starved Egyptians, is one thing;
inspiring Muslims to
assert human rights and dignity is another arrow that may strike
close to home.
Shia mullahcracy is concerned at a genuine popular uprising
in the neighborhood, as are other
presidents for life with U.S. backing in Africa. Thus, we see
the real dividing line in politics, not left or right, religious
or secular – but state power versus the people who are – under threat
of imprisonment, state-induced war or shortages, and state terrorism
– forced to subsidize that power.
We may safely view recent events in Egypt as a living
revelation that the U.S. government stands shamefully in a nasty
group of "governments," that includes the unelected and
unpopular religious government of Iran, the corrupt state capitalism
of China, the elected warmongerers in nationalist Israel, and many
less important dictators in Africa and East Asia. The Egyptian people,
on many levels, have pulled away the curtain, revealing American
hypocrisy and the hard-core interests of the American ruling elite.
Nearly two weeks into what is a truly historical
convergence of humanity, technology and politics in Egypt, Western
(and Israeli) interests have concluded that what is needed is a
military dictator subject to Western leverage, and one imagines
the CIA and DIA corridors are buzzing with questions of "Who
do we know?" and "How can we help him?" That it will
be a man, ideally a "strong man" who can "lead the
country" is a given for American policy-makers, if they can
get their way.
of what is discussed within the stale and frightened halls of our
own stultified government, Americans ought to reflect on the words
of Saint Augustine, a man quite familiar with the Mediterranean
and North Africa, as well as extreme state thuggery: "An unjust
law is no law at all." De La Boétie observed that to reject
unjust laws and the unjust state that enforces them, a people need
not be exceptionally courageous, but rather to simply withdraw their
consent. He wrote, over four centuries ago,
…there is no need of fighting to overcome this
single tyrant, for he is automatically defeated if the country
refuses consent to its own enslavement: it is not necessary to
deprive him of anything, but simply to give him nothing; there
is no need that the country make an effort to do anything for
itself provided it does nothing against itself. It is therefore
the inhabitants themselves who permit, or, rather, bring about,
their own subjection, since by ceasing to submit they would put
an end to their servitude.
It is doubtful that Asmaa
Mahfouz studied Augustine or read de La Boétie. Yet she – and
millions more – came to the same conclusion. She reasonably
calls out to Egyptians "Do not be afraid," and Egyptians
are acting on her call by ceasing to submit. This is natural law,
as the great resistors of the state discovered again and again,
through reason and logic, inspired by faith and optimism, and powered
by a love of liberty. Godspeed, Egyptians!
columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send
her mail], a
retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty
and Power and The
Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles,
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