Egypten: Revolutionen fortsætter, men kommer til at vare længe

Den egyptiske journalist og revolutionære socialist Hossam El-Hamalawy forklarer i dette interview, hvorfor han stadig er optimistisk med hensyn til udsigten til at få afsat det diktatoriske regime. Han siger blandt andet, at det er forventeligt, at det hele ikke falder på plads på én gang, og at det uanset udfaldet af det seneste valg let kan tage tre til seks før der sker nogen mærkbar bedring af situationen:

Has this affected the legitimacy of the elections? Of course, it did. I had already taken the position even before the current uprising of boycotting the coming elections because they are happening while the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is still in power. You cannot have clean elections while Mubarak’s generals are still running the show or when the army, together with the police, had just massacred people in Tahrir, and Maspero. They were not even held accountable, and now they are the ones supposedly in charge of supervising the whole process?

More importantly, it’s not about who you vote into this inept parliament. My argument was that even if you elect one hundred percent Revolutionary Socialists in parliament – forget about the Salafis or the Ikhwan – still you will not be able to achieve the goals of the revolution. If you bring a prophet or a saint to be the prime minister today in Egypt, he will still remain a puppet in the hands of SCAF. If you elect a president today, while the situation is still as it is, he will also be a puppet in the hands of SCAF. SCAF are opting for a model which is like the old Turkish model where you get the people enjoying elections, electing civilian politicians in suits, and having civilian cabinets, but with specific red lines that cannot be crossed, and once they are crossed you will get a phone call from the army – or you will get a coup.

The fierce level of confrontations with the police has definitely been unprecedented since January. You can draw parallels between them in terms of police brutality triggering the uprising, in terms of the tactic of occupying the square, in terms of even repeating the same battles on Mohamad Mahmoud Street that were very reminiscent of the 29th of January – the day after the ‘Friday of Anger’ there was a massacre on that street. But there are differences, of course. Not all sections of the population took part in the uprising, unlike January where there was a higher level of participation.

The other qualitative difference is that you were then revolting against Mubarak; now you are revolting against his own army generals. This is a plus, meaning we’ve come a long way. In February or March if you would have chanted against the army generals in a protest you could have been lynched by the people themselves – not by the military police – I mean by the people. Many people believed the lies and the propaganda of the army at the time about them protecting the revolution, or that it’s Tahrir that’s causing all of the instability, but ten months later when you get this full scale uprising basically against the military and a strong occupation that lasted for a few days with the one demand of putting the army generals in jail then you know you’ve come a long way in terms of the consciousness of the people

The uprising didn’t succeed, obviously; we still have the army generals running the country. But it’s not going to be the last uprising, and we have, at least, I would say, from 3 to 6 years of ebbs and flows, of battles to be won and others to be lost. But in general I’m optimistic. I’m not pessimistic about it.

En vigtig konklusion er, at den optimistiske forestilling om, at Mubarak ville gå af, og får vi et overgangsstyre og en hurtig overgang til et frit og demokratisk samfund, trods alt er alt for optimistisk i et land, hvor militæret så at sige har ejet så stor en del af samfundets aktier (modsat Tunesien, hvor det trods problemer er gået noget bedre).

En vigtig detalje er også, at oprøret i januar og februar selvfølgelig ikke kun var det på Tahrir-pladsen – Tahrir har været vigtig, men Mubarak var aldrig blevet væltet, hvis ikke der var udbrudt demonstrationer og strejker over hele landet; og et endegyldigt opgør med militæriktaturet kræver tilsvarende, at oprøret generaliseres og kommer helt ud på arbejdspladserne:

According to a labour organizer friend of mine, you witnessed at least 1,500 industrial actions in February alone, which is the total amount of all industrial actions in 2010. Now, these actions continued in February through March, and went down a little bit in April, May, and June. But then you had September, which was probably the month that had the biggest hit in terms of strikes, where roughly three quarters of a million Egyptians took part in a strike; they were mainly in the public transport sector, the teachers, the doctors, and the sugar refineries. Here we are only mentioning the major blocs, but you opened up the newspaper at the time and all these wildcat strikes were happening everywhere.

We did not witness any strike actions in solidarity with Tahrir in this uprising; it is true that the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, and some independent unions, supported Tahrir and they had their banners there and a symbolic presence there, but they didn’t mobilize full scale. My explanation for this is that, on the one hand, the Independent Federation is still not rooted enough so as to be able to put together a general strike; and number two, the working class is usually the last class to move – it’s very easy for the youth and the radicals to just leave their family or university for a month to go to Tahrir and set up a camp. If you’re a worker and you have four kids and you’re working a 9 to 5, and sometimes even a 9 to 7 job, to put together a strike action is a completely different story. They are usually the last to move, but when they move it’s game over.

The general strike is coming. I have no doubt about this; what you don’t know is what’s going to be the outcome of the general strike. But the ball is in our court – can we push it left or right, that’s what we’ll see. At the moment there are several important protests taking place, mainly in Alexandria. Tomorrow in Cairo there will be a protest in front of the State Council in Dokki on Giza Street – it’s called Magles Al-Dawla – where workers from two privatized factories are going to show up for a court case to demand the re-nationalization of their companies – which they already won, by the way. That’s the other problem: even when you have a strike that reaches victory it never means that the government is going to fulfill its promises. Just pick and choose the name of any company that’s right now on strike and I will tell you that they have been on strike since 2009, or even 2007!

Tahrir Square is for sure the symbol of this revolution but we will not fall into the trap of taking Tahrir as a barometer for how the revolution is progressing or regressing. That’s what we’ve been saying to activists for the past months who have been demoralized. For example, you call for a ‘Million Man Protest’ in Tahrir to denounce military tribunals and only a few hundred show up, so you get demoralized. But at the same time, within the same month, you have 750,000 Egyptians going on strike and, in effect, destroying the emergency law. Even if they didn’t show up at your own protest in Tahrir Square, they effectively broke the emergency law.

Der er mere – meget mere, så læs endelig det hele. El-Hamalawy taler også om den amerikanske og efterhånden internationale Occupy-bevægelse og mener analogt til, hvad der er brug for i Egypten, at bevægelsen kan få stor betydning – men at den er nødt til at nu ud over og væk fra de pladser, de er begyndt med at besætte:

If your movement remains confined to the square than you’re not going to succeed. You have to take this movement from the square to the workplaces and the university campuses. We did not topple Mubarak in Tahrir. Yes, Tahrir was a heroic battle, a heroic sit-in, and a heroic occupation, which will definitely go down in history as one of the most fantastic struggles that happened this century, but at the same time, the regime could have held out; Mubarak could have stayed in power for a much longer time if it wasn’t for the labour strikes that broke out. So, I’m very proud of our colleagues and brothers and sisters who have taken part in the Occupy movement everywhere, but they have to link their struggle to the workplaces. If they don’t bring in the working class – which is a big challenge, and I’m not saying it’s something easy – then this movement is going to die.

Og det kan de, der gerne vil se et vellykket oprør mod de økonomiske kræfter, der i disse år insisterer på at frede bankerne og samfundets rigeste, mens almindelige mennesker får lov at betale prisen, så få lov at tænke over.  A big challenge, and I’m not saying it’s something easy.

Link: The Egyptian Revolution Continues – an Interview with Hossam el-Hamalawy.

Occupy LA: En anholdelse og dens baggrund

Patrick Meighan, der blandt andet er manuskriptforfatter på TV-serien “Family Guy”, fortæller om sin anholdelse sammen med resten af Occupy LA:

I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison. (…)

I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.

My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm. (…)

So that’s what happened to the 292 women and men were arrested last Wednesday. Now let’s talk about a man who was not arrested last Wednesday. He is former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince. Under Charles Prince, Citigroup was guilty of massive, coordinated securities fraud.

Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.

This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least mine is.

Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains overnight, this is why.

If your son’s middle school has added furlough days because the school district can’t afford to keep its doors open for a full school year, this is why.

If your daughter has come out of college with a degree only to discover that there are no jobs for her, this is why.

But back to Charles Prince. For his four years of in charge of massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million dollars in stock holdings. What Charles Prince has *not* received is a pair of zipcuffs. The nerves in his thumb are fine. No cop has thrown Charles Prince into the pavement, face-first. Each and every peaceful, nonviolent Occupy LA protester arrested last week has has spent more time sleeping on a jail floor than every single Charles Prince on Wall Street, combined.

Og dette skrives, netop mens EU-landenes regeringer planlægger en traktat-ændring, der vil sikre, at heller ikke de europæiske finansfyrster kommer til at lide den mindste nød. Det bliver befolkningen, der kommer til at bære den byrde. Indtil altså nogen får nok og siger fra. Men så er der, som Meighans historie viser, pludselig ressourcer nok – i hvert fald inden for politiet.

Link: My Occupy LA Arrest

Alan Moore om bogbranchen, Occupy-bevægelsen og politik generelt

Alan Moore er naturligvis ikke hvem som helst i forhold til Occupy-bevægelsen – det var, ham, der opfandt Guy Fawkes-masken i Hollywood-filmen V for Vendetta. Det er altså på grund af Alan Moores oprindelige tegneseriefigur, at Occupy-aktivister og Anonymous bruger lige netop den maske i deres aktioner (masken blev designet af tegneren David Lloyd til Lloyds og Moores gamle tegneserie V for Vendetta, som udkom i 1980erne).

Honest Publishing har interviewet Moore om vore dages bogbranche og rigets politiske tilstand, og det kom der en hel del  interessante betragtninger ud af:

[Om bogbranchen]

The people in publishing have given up any personal integrity in favour of sales returns. This has meant that presumably there are as many great first novels as there have always been, but when publishers insist upon squandering their budgets on people that they believe to be celebrities, they’re obviously not going to have anything left to encourage new talent, even if those are talents that could potentially change the entire literary scene or world of publishing. In Private Eye, they published a very informative list of sales figures for political biographies. These are all ones that had been trailered in the national press, had been talked about on television programmes, had been given an immense amount of hype. I think from the biographies they talked about, Cherie Blair’s was the out-and-out winner. I think it sold something like 167 copies. John Prescott had sold 65 copies of his biography, Prezza. What the advances were for that book I would estimate would be getting on for the quarter million mark, something like that. For something that sold 65 copies, if there was an advance of a hundred pound, you’d be lucky to make it back. (…)

[Om Occupy og Frank Millers kritik]

As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.

[Om, hvad der bør laves om i det her samfund]

Everything. I believe that what’s needed is a radical solution, by which I mean from the roots upwards. Our entire political thinking seems to me to be based upon medieval precepts. These things, they didn’t work particularly well five or six hundred years ago. Their slightly modified forms are not adequate at all for the rapidly changing territory of the 21st Century.

We need to overhaul the way that we think about money, we need to overhaul the way that we think about who’s running the show. As an anarchist, I believe that power should be given to the people, to the people whose lives this is actually affecting. It’s no longer good enough to have a group of people who are controlling our destinies. The only reason they have the power is because they control the currency. They have no moral authority and, indeed, they show the opposite of moral authority.

Link: Del 1, del 2.

Tahrir Square: Protest mod politivold i Oakland

Hvis du stadig tror, intet har forandret sig det sidste års tid: Disse billeder er fra Tahrir Square i Kairo, hvor demonstranter viser deres solidaritet med Occupy Wall Street og ofrene for politivold i Oakland, Californien. Almindelige egyptere demonstrerer i solidaritet med almindelige amerikanere, og folk i USA er glade for og stolte af støtten. Det er for tidligt at sige, hvad det ender med at komme til at betyde, men noget er bristet.

As they vowed earlier this week to do, Egyptian pro-democracy protesters marched from Tahrir square to the U.S. Embassy today to march in support of Occupy Oakland—and against police brutality witnessed in Oakland on Tuesday night, and commonly experienced in Egypt.

Above and below, photos from Egyptian blogger Mohammed Maree, who is there at the march live-tweeting. He is a journalist with, a human rights activist, and a veterinarian …

Link: Egyptians march from Tahrir Square to support Oakland protesters.

Dagens citat: Occupy Wall Street

USAs præsident Barack Obama:

Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. (…)The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly…

Nåh nej, det var noget helt andet, han talte om. Eller var det?

Herunder ser vi Oaklands heroiske politi, der forsvarer Mubaraks dikatur det amerikanske demokrati mod demonstranter, der forsøger at komme en såret kammerat til undsætning:

Danny Glover taler til Occupy Oakland

Tunesien, Egypten, Wisconsin, Grækenland, Spanien – så Wall Street, og nu alle større byer i hele USA. Der er mere oprør i luften, end der har været meget længe.

Og her, Danny Glover:

Activist and filmmaker Danny Glover was among speakers in downtown Oakland on October 15th, at a rally in support of the Occupy Oakland encampment. Frank Ogawa Plaza has been renamed Oscar Grant Plaza, replete with a library, hot organic meals cooked on site, dishes, toilets, and a network of raised walkways to get you around the tent city that blankets the square.