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DEMOCRACY IN ACTION February 1, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, North Africa.

After seven days the protests intended to remove the thirty year dictatorship continue in Egypt. A major question remains as to how long the government will be able to command the army and the police. The democratic revolution in Egypt is extraordinary.

Change has not been as instant as I would have liked it to be. Still, I imagine, after thirty years, Egyptians will be patient. All democratic revolutions probably look the same. They embody such principles as pluralism, localism and minority rights because they recognize human needs and human nature. And by opposing violence with nonviolence the Egyptian people have grown and assumed the mantle of the leaders of humanity.

Despite the brand change, the war of terrorism is prosecuted with unbridled ruthlessness. We might recall that Egypt was the society that created the extremism, reinforced by torture, that led to the methods of al Qaeda, and the rationale for murderous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the latter case, the drone attacks, authorized by “the peace bomber” who rightly decries violence in the streets of the American cities does not make the connection to the systematic murder of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those who protest against these criminal actions are themselves convicted of crimes.

We can see the hand of the military-industrial complex in play. The army, deployed on the streets, is a major national institution and apparently popular, but its leadership is aligned with, and its equipment is supplied by the United States. The crowds in the street have beaten back the power of murder with their bodies. One suggestion, I heard was that elite troops might be sent in to the do the killing. A difference with the Iranian uprising is that snipers were not used. The longer Mubarek stays in power the more likely the Israelis will be on ear to provide their expertise in crowd control and media manipulation.

Both Tunisia and Egypt were social laboratories where the IMF apparently applies their policies. Tunisia was apparently the poster case – but who cares what effects economic policies have on people.

Fears of the triumph of democracy, are not irrational. There is a loss of elite power and privilege with the breaking down of structural violence and the deployment of overt violence to reinforce the status quo. If Egypt has profoundly changed, then the policies of its government will profoundly change, much like any country in which the government reflects the desires of the people. On this basis, for example, the United States is not yet a democracy, but aspirations are important, and the example of Egypt might be a powerful paradigm.



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