A dog starved at his master’s gate / Predicts the ruin of the state

The supposedly unthinkable is happening once again: people are rising up for freedom. In Tunisia and now in Egypt, people have had enough of poverty and oppression, and they’re doing something about it. Will they succeed immediately? Unknown. In Tunisia, the powers that be are trying to placate the people by switching around a few ministers and getting rid of a few faces, but not changing anything essential. So far, no-one’s buying it, but we’ll see. They’ll try the same in Egypt.

But it’s happening, even though all the self-important oppressors, all the glib rich assholes who run this world, thought it was impossible… it’s happening. And it will happen again. And again. And again. And the more they take away people’s rights, the more they force the poor to work for the profit of the rich, the more it will happen. Because there always comes a point when too much is too much. When another day of the many starving while the few feast is no longer bearable. When another corrupt politician selling out the country to greedy corporations cannot be tolerated. When another innocent beaten to death by police officers can no longer be accepted.

We need to express our solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia. They are fighting for freedom – they are dying for it. But where are all the voices that went crazy for the US-sponsored “Green Revolution” in Iran? Where are the celebrities changing their location to Tehran? Is freedom only worth fighting for when it involves cosmetic changes, like replacing Ahmadinejad with equally foul Mousavi? This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Don’t be fooled by their occasional progressive-seeming comments. They only speak when Hillary tells them to.

If we truly want change in the world – real change, not the same old shit with a different colour – then we must support people when they struggle for freedom, no matter which part of the world they’re in. We must not allow their struggle to become isolated and inwards-turned. They must know that their struggle is part of something bigger; not a nationalist fight for a better leader, but part of the worldwide struggle for equality and freedom. Without that greater perspective, without the acknowledgement of our common human history, we are too easily led astray.

Our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.

– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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20 Comments

  1. They (and by they I do mean the pathetically few millions that run and ruin the lives of billions) really are not as powerful as we believe. Their days are numbered.

  2. Jn

     /  February 1, 2011

    “They are fighting for freedom – they are dying for it.”

    “part of the worldwide struggle for equality and freedom”

    Just out of interest, how do you know they’re fighting for freedom and equality? Have you asked them? How do you know they’re all fighting for the same thing? Is their idea of freedom and equality the same as yours?

    Too few questions, too many assumptions.

  3. Ah, let’s make up some convenient differences between people so that we don’t need to support the inscrutable Others.

    I know they are fighting for freedom because… well, because that’s not particularly hard to discover. What do you think they’re fighting for?

    Is their idea of freedom the same as mine? It’s pretty similar in most people; freedom from want, freedom of speech, freedom from being tortured and killed by government lackeys. A short look at what the protesters in Egypt are saying, what the issues that caused the riots are, will confirm that. I don’t see how the likely existence of factions and disagreements changes that.

    Are the protesters suffused with democratic consciousness and a clear idea of how the economic and political system needs to be transformed? No. And that would be very unlikely, given decades of dictatorship supported by the Western powers. But fighting for freedom? That they are. And that’s a start.

  4. Well looking to the french revolution for an example I would not say they fought for freedom as much as they did for hate, as demonstrated by their genocidal killing of everyone even somewhat well too do.

    And people do riot for non-good reasons, like because they hate living with some other ethnicity or religion (a lot of people in the world do not want freedom of religion).

  5. I think you are very wrong in saying that about the French Revolution. It was a revolution for freedom and equality – parts of which degenerated, yes, and with its (justified) rage often spilling in the wrong directions – but a revolution for freedom and equality nonetheless. It was a momentous event in human history that was driven by a genuine desire for a better world and an end to injustice; it grew out of the terrible conditions of the time, of the oppression and terror of the system, and out of the growing ideals of the Enlightenment. And, no matter how wrong it went, the world is better for that it happened.

    And though riots have happened for a number of reasons (most of them ultimately connected to poverty), the riots in Egypt are not about race or religion. They are an attempt to fight against poverty and dictatorship.

  6. I just do not see the notion of a nation rising up to restore freedom and justice something that could happen in anything other then fairy tales.

    Sure I think it is a good thing what is happening in Egypt, sure I do not like rich people myself. But I think this would be an idealized view of the common people.

  7. Why? History is full of such attempts, some of them more successful than others. Why do you think the people of Egypt are in the streets? Because they’ve had enough of oppression and exploitation, or because they are just full of hate? Why is the same thing happening in Yemen and Tunisia? Do you think regular people, in such amounts, would just riot for the fun of being shot by policemen? Every single person who goes into the streets knows they stand a pretty good chance of being murdered in cold blood, or at least beaten and tortured. Do you think they’re fighting anyway – people from all walks of life – because they just want to smash stuff?

    There is nothing idealized about my view. People are fighting for freedom and justice, because these are real things that people have fought for again and again over the centuries. And such revolutions can also go wrong – which is precisely what I said in my post, when I pointed out that we must express our solidarity and keep the struggle from becoming inwards-turned and nationalistic.

    If we just stand by and say “oh well, people are shit, nothing will improve” then that’s exactly what’s going to happen. If we allow our governments to play their game of divide and conquer, or of installing new representatives of old regimes, then it’s quite possible that things will not go as well as they could.

    But what is there that makes a genuine revolution impossible?

  8. Jn

     /  February 2, 2011

    “Ah, let’s make up some convenient differences between people so that we don’t need to support the inscrutable Others.”

    Need I point out that you’re doing the reverse? Jonathon is right here; people riot for many reasons and many of those reasons aren’t good.

    Don’t try to second guess my motives; you have no idea who/what I do/don’t support.

  9. Actually, from your hateful post about the clichés you believe about Greece (a country about which you haven’t bothered to read up in the slightest), I can tell exactly what sort of motives you have.

    I don’t have the time for fascist bullies; go away.

  10. His points aren’t invalid just because you believe he is a “fascist bully”. Why not counter his arguments in an intelligent and rational matter instead of ignoring him like a child? Saying you don’t have the time and that he’s a fascist bully just says to me that you are insecure about your position and can’t counter him, so you make some silly excuse so you can attempt to save face.

  11. Sorry allen, but no, you’re wrong. I’ve had this discussion on this blog a dozen times, and engaging with a troll who won’t even sign his name, and who is obviously a racist, is a waste of my time. Ignoring an idiot is not childish, it is the adult thing to do. I have had many rational discussions on political topics, but you can’t reason with a fanatic. If you honestly think I can’t counter his “arguments”, hop on over to my article about Greece for Enemies of Reason. As for the topic of the Egyptian revolution, as far as I can tell I haven’t been presented with a single actual argument. All I’ve seen so far from “Jn” is hate and regurgitated clichés, and I don’t think that giving him a forum for his insanity on my blog is a constructive thing to do.

  12. “They must know that their struggle is part of something bigger; not a nationalist fight for a better leader, but part of the worldwide struggle for equality and freedom”

    That should be a famous quote…one of those ones you find randomly at the bottom of a diary or on some “list of famous quotes” website. I honestly think this is one of the finest sentences I’ve read in a long time

  13. Oh,and upon reading the previous comments…the french revolution was for freedom. first paragraph of wiki “French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from liberal political groups and the masses on the streets. Old ideas about hierarchy and tradition succumbed to new Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights.” a simple google would have saved Johnathon from making a fool of himself here. It was about people having priviledges over others and the masses wanting the same priviledges and rights.

    Johnathon it is naive to think that Its simply a fairytale to riot for equal rights and restore justice and peace…It is actually upsetting to find people in the world who think like this. Have you not learned anything from history, being scottish myself I ask you to look at the scottish history as we overthrew the english reign in 1314 through rebellion, the american revolution (Im not anti english just so you know, these were just good examples)and to the less successful UDD’s mass protesting which led to rioting in the streets of thailand recently due to the people wanting the right to vote someone into power rather than whoever the army is backing, all in the name of freedom. You may be right in that not all rioting is for freedom but your comment on “they are all fighting for freedom – they are dying for it” is disturbing to say the least… to think that the death of mohammad bouazizi (The student who kicked off the jasmine rebellion) was in protest to anything other than freedom from oppression is simply shameful to say the least. The same goes for the others who have died in the rioting in egypt and tunisia, the unnamed deaths within the crowds of protesters, those very protestors who took to the streets to overthrow the government, the corrupt police system, the lack of free elections and freedom of speech.

    Freedom of speech and free elections sounds like my kind of freedom, in my eyes, me and the egyptians want the same kinds of freedom…what freedom is it you think they preach and how does yours differ?

    and yes, ignoring trolls is the best idea, they are only looking for attention, not an actual intellectual debate

  14. Stegg we simply disagree and that is no reason to call me a fool or naive, or to state since wikipedia says that the French revolution was fought over freedom that I have been proven wrong and my argument has absolutely no point.
    Additionally I would say that naive would be the wrong word to use in your case, as it is used normally to convey that the naive person has a simple black and white view of the world.

    I simply believe that peoples motives are not normally simple or wholly good or evil. I am almost certain that some of the Egyptian protesters are protesting/rioting for the wrong reasons and I am equally sure that that some of the feudal rulers, and their lackies/consenters, are doing their part for anti-freedom for good (or at least partly good) reasons.

    If we disagree it is not really a big thing, because almost certainly the Egyptian protesters are by far doing a good thing and of course overall feudal supporters are evil.

    Just remember that we both read/comment on Jonas’s blog because we do share a lot of views in common.

  15. Additionally I would say that naive would be the wrong word to use in your case, as it is used normally to convey that the naive person has a simple black and white view of the world.

    That’s not actually true. Naive means (to quote Wordweb) “marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile or worldly experience.” Stegg was trying to express that human history is full of people fighting for freedom, sometimes even succeeding, and that it’s foolish to treat every revolution as if the past had not occurred.

    I simply believe that peoples motives are not normally simple or wholly good or evil. I am almost certain that some of the Egyptian protesters are protesting/rioting for the wrong reasons and I am equally sure that that some of the feudal rulers, and their lackies/consenters, are doing their part for anti-freedom for good (or at least partly good) reasons.

    I’m not sure that putting the emphasis on the possibility of some individuals having different motivations is particularly constructive, though. Sure, in a crowd of ten thousand, there might be one idiot who’d just like to smash stuff. Maybe – remember that these people are being murdered and tortured, so it’s not exactly fun to be there, and it takes great bravery, conviction and anger to take to the streets. But putting the emphasis on that individual is highly misleading; idiots exist everywhere, but their existence does not alter the motivations of the movement and the vast majority of people risking their lives for freedom.

    Furthermore, I think it’s problematic to confuse the personal with the political. We see it a lot on TV, but I think it’s mostly a way of obfuscating the real issues. (Battlestar Galactica was often guilty of this. So President Roslin has a bunch of people indiscriminately murdered, but she feels bad about it and believes it had to be done… which makes it OK?) The personal psychology of tyrants and their supporters is only relevant when they’re standing trial for their crimes.

  16. Some very good points.

  17. Well it looks like their protests have gone pretty well, that president has resigned. He has apparently given control of the country to the army instead of the vice president. Which seems pretty strange and worrying.

  18. I loved the egyptian army…what was it they said again? something like…”we refuse to suppress a cause we feel is justified” dont remember it exactly

  19. Still no matter their stance in the past the military should not control the state, too much power in one place for my liking. And their are far too many reasons to use totalitarian power to protect the good of the people.

  20. Well, as I wrote on twitter, Mubarak standing down is part of the system trying to maintain itself – with the support of the United States and Europe, of course. It’s a transfer of power, not a change in government. We’ll see if the people buy it, and for how long.