Thursday, 24 February 2011

A revolution against neoliberalism

THE EGYPTIAN revolution was an uprising against neoliberalism and people must be careful that it stays that way.

That's the conclusion of a thoughtful and well-informed article posted on the Al Jazeera website by 'Abu Atris' - the pseudonym of a writer working in Egypt.

He says: "The demands of the protesters were clear and largely political: remove the regime; end the emergency law; stop state torture; hold free and fair elections.

"But implicit in these demands from the beginning (and decisive by the end) was an expectation of greater social and economic justice.

"Social media may have helped organise the kernel of a movement that eventually overthrew Mubarak, but a large element of what got enough people into the streets to finally overwhelm the state security forces was economic grievances that are intrinsic to neoliberalism.

"These grievances cannot be reduced to grinding poverty, for revolutions are never carried out by the poorest of the poor.

"It was rather the erosion of a sense that some human spheres should be outside the logic of markets.

"Mubarak’s Egypt degraded schools and hospitals, and guaranteed grossly inadequate wages, particularly in the ever-expanding private sector.

"This was what turned hundreds of dedicated activists into millions of determined protestors.

"If the January 25th revolution results in no more than a retrenchment of neoliberalism, or even its intensification, those millions will have been cheated. The rest of the world could be cheated as well.

"Egypt and Tunisia are the first nations to carry out successful revolutions against neoliberal regimes. Americans could learn from Egypt.

"Indeed, there are signs that they already are doing so. Wisconsin teachers protesting against their governor’s attempts to remove the right to collective bargaining have carried signs equating Mubarak with their governor.

"Egyptians might well say to America 'uqbalak' (may you be the next)."