After a year under the elected rule of President Mohamed Morsi, in June and July the Egyptian people once again took to the streets to protest a government that was not serving their interests. Back in 2011 the Egyptian people successfully took down Hosni Mubarak and forced the country's first elections for President. As we wrote at that time in ULK 19: "The Egyptian people forced President Mubarak out of the country, but accepted his replacement with the Supreme Council of the Military — essentially one military dictatorship was replaced by another. One of the key members of this Council is [Omar] Sueliman, the CIA point man in the country and head of the Egyptian general intelligence service. He ran secret prisons for the United $tates and persynally participated in the torturing of those prisoners." But the Egyptian people were not fooled, and they rightfully took to the streets to force further change this summer. Still, we do not see clear proletarian leadership of the protests, and instead the U.$.-funded military is again stepping in to claim the mantle and pretend to represent the people.
Morsi is widely considered "Egypt's first democratically elected president." Prior to the elections in 2012 the country was led by an elected parliament and an unelected President, Hosni Mubarak, a former general who took power after the assassination of his predecessor in 1981. But it's important to consider what "democratically elected" really means. Democratic elections presume that the people in a country have the ability to participate freely, without coercion, and that all candidates have equal access to the voting population. Most elections in the world today do not actually represent democracy. In many countries dominated by Amerikan imperialism, there are elections, but we do not call these democratic, because it is not possible for candidates without lots of money and the backing of one imperialist interest or another to win. When democracy gets out of imperialist control and an anti-imperialist candidate does participate and win, they better have military power to back them up or they will be quickly murdered or removed by military force (see "Allende in Chile" or "Lumumba in the Congo"). We should not just assume that people participating in a balloting exercise represents democracy for the people.
There are some key political reasons why Morsi won the presidential election in 2012. Representing the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi was well educated and spent several years getting a doctorate in the United $tates and teaching at University in the 1980s. He is certainly not one of the 40% of the Egyptian population living on less than $2 a day.(1) The Muslim Brotherhood has long been a well organized activist group, which despite being banned by the government from participating in Parliamentary elections was allowed to organize on the streets as a counterforce to progressive anti-imperialist parties that faced complete repression.(2) Demonstrating the advantage it had over other banned organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood put together the most effective electoral campaign after Mubarak fell. It is telling that the runoff in the presidential election was between Morsi and Ahmed Shafiz, the prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, and the vote was close. Essentially the election was between a representative of the status quo that had just been overthrown, and a candidate who promised to be different but represented a conservative religious organization.
The military has once again stepped in to the vacuum created by the mass protests demanding the removal of President Morsi, pretending to be defending the interests of the people. This position by the military is no surprise after Morsi, in August, stripped the military of any say in legislation and dismissed his defense minister. The military selected the leader of the Supreme Constitutional Court to serve as interim president after Morsi stepped down. Morsi still enjoys significant support among the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who continue to take to the streets to demand that he be freed from military prison and returned to power.
The Egyptian military actually has a long history of institutional power. In 1981, after Mubarak took power, the military expanded with the help of Amerikan aid. This aid came as a sort of bribe, as up until the 1977 peace accord Egypt had been attempting to lead an Arab resistance to Israel's occupation of Palestine, a cause the people of Egypt continue to support to this day. Since then the military has remained one of the top receivers of U.$. military aid, second only to Israel itself, until 2001 when Afghanistan became the largest. The armed forces in Egypt used this economic power to take up significant economic endeavors entering into private business with factories, hotels and valuable real estate.(3) It is clever leadership that allows the military to divorce itself from failed leadership of Egypt time and again while acting behind the scenes to ensure that only those individuals they support, who will carry out their will, gain the presidency. This is not a democracy. And the leadership of the armed forces will continue to serve their Amerikan masters, not the will of the people, as General el-Sisi is once again claiming.
MIM(Prisons) supports the interests of the masses of Egyptian people as they ally with the interests of the world's majority who are exploited by imperialism. We praise their ongoing activism in taking to the streets when the government is not meeting their needs. But we can learn from history that deposing one figurehead does not make for revolutionary change. Fundamental change will require an overthrow of the entire political institution in Egypt that is dependent on U.$. imperialism. And while President Nasser offered an independent road for Egypt during the anti-colonial era following WWII, true independence requires the full mobilization and participation of the masses in creating a new system based on need and not profit.
It is a truth in humyn history that those with the guns and power will not voluntarily step aside, but they will make cosmetic changes to try to fool the masses into complacency. We call on the Egyptian people, who have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice for the movement, not to be fooled and not to allow electoral politics to drain their momentum. The military is not on your side, and neither are any of the branches of the existing government. Seize the power you have demonstrated in the streets and build for fundamental, revolutionary change to a government that actually serves the people and not the elite.
According to Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (N.P.T.), all signatory member nations possess the "inalienable right" to "develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination."(1) As a signatory nation, the Islamic Republic of Iran is entitled to this most basic right, just like any other nation. However, the United $tates and its allies are seeking to infringe upon and limit Iran's right to produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes, asserting that the Iranian government is using its civilian nuclear program as a smokescreen for an alleged covert nuclear weapons program.(2) These assertions are backed by no credible evidence, just the assurances of the U.$. and Israeli governments respectively. It is further insinuated that once Iran develops nuclear weapons, it will certainly use them to "wipe Israel off the map of nations,"(3) presenting an existential threat to the Jewish people.
Despite the belligerent public tone of the U.$. government, however, its intelligence community has consistently reported to Congress that Iran's military strategy is strictly geared towards "deterrence, asymmetric retaliation, and attrition warfare" (emphasis mine).(4) Even the U.$. National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, recently admitted to Congress that "we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons" and implicitly confirmed that Iran is not presently seeking to do so because if it were, such activities would certainly be discovered by the "international community."(5) In spite of all this, President Obama maintains that "all options are on the table" to thwart Iran's nuclear program, with a military attack on Iran taking place as early as June 2013.(6) As we shall see, the United $tates is merely using Iran's nuclear program as a pretext to justify further military intervention in the region in a larger effort to redesign the landscape of the Middle East in order to secure the continued global hegemony of the U.$. empire. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United $tates remained standing as the world's lone superpower. In 1991, President Bush declared the establishment of a "New World Order," that is, a unipolar global system completely subjected to the imperial dictates of the United $tates and its junior partners.(7) Foreign policy experts and government policy think tanks immediately began mapping out blueprints for a new century of what can be called trilateral imperialism (the United $tates, Western Europe and Japan).(8)
To this end, the Bush I administration called for "the integration of the leading democracies into a U.$.-led system of collective security, and the prospects of expanding that system, [to] significantly enhance our international position and provide a crucial legacy for future peace."(9) Within this collective framework, the United $tates would act to "preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the reemergence of a global threat to the interests of the United States and our allies."(10) In other words, the First World should unite under the leadership of the United $tates to dominate and exploit the resources of the Third World (cheap labor, oil, cobalt, etc.), while preventing any other power from emerging which could disrupt this neocolonial relationship.
At the time, Russia was deemed to be the only military power capable of potentially deterring U.$. imperialism. Thus, during the late 1990s Council on Foreign Relations member and Clinton foreign policy advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski advised that Russia "ought to be isolated and picked apart" in order to extend "America's influence in the Caucasus region and Central Asia," both formerly under Russian control.(11) In doing so, the United $tates could secure its domination over Eurasia, long deemed to be the strategic "heartland" of global power.(12) The NATO-led "humanitarian intervention" in the former Yugoslavia during the late 1990s must be understood in this light.
The Middle East has long been assigned a very narrow role within the imperialist world system, being seen as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."(13) This is of course only because of the region's massive natural gas and oil reserves, which the United $tates considers to be vital to its national interests. U.$. foreign policy in the Middle East in the post-war period has been geared towards three main objectives: 1) securing and maintaining "an open door" for Western companies to the region's vast oil and gas reserves; 2) maintaining a "closed door" for potential rival powers (i.e., Russia and China) to Middle Eastern oil; and 3) preventing Middle Eastern "radical and nationalist regimes" from coming to power that might use their oil and gas resources for the "immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses" and development for domestic needs.(14)
In the bipolar world of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was able to counter U.$. ambitions in the Middle East, supporting various secular nationalist regimes relatively hostile towards U.$. imperialism. After the collapse of the USSR and the subsequent isolation of Russia, however, the United $tates was in a position to fundamentally alter the political map of the Middle East so as to "ensure that the enormous profits of the energy system flow primarily to the United States, its British client, and their energy corporations, not to the people of the region" or potential rival powers.(15) It is in this light that we must view the recent wave of "humanitarian interventions" conducted by the United States and NATO in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the current confrontation with Iran.
In 2000, the Project for a New American Century published a report entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century," which was extended and adopted as official national security policy in 2005. Drawing on the themes of the first Bush administration and Brzezinski, the report recommends that U.$. military forces become "strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States."(16) As noted above, there was nothing new in this goal of American hegemony per se, but what was new was the emphasis placed on "transforming" the political landscape of the Middle East. Due to the rise of Islamic terrorism and the stubborn existence of "rogue states," the "stability" of the Middle East, North Africa, and their oil reserves were deemed to be essential objectives of U.$. national security and foreign policy.
Using the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a pretext for this grand imperial project, the Bush administration outlined a list of seven "rogue states" targeted for regime change in order to secure de facto U.S. control over global oil supplies. Those seven countries were Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.(17) Of course, Iraq was invaded, occupied and "democratized" by the United $tates in 2003. The threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon has been satisfactorily neutralized as a result of Israel's 2006 invasion, the Jamahariya government of Libya was utterly destroyed by NATO and Al Qaeda in 2011, the Assad regime of Syria is on the verge of collapse today as it is under attack from NATO and its Islamic mercenary forces, while there are ongoing covert military operations being conducted against Somalia and the Sudan. Only Iran remains intact as a nation-state out of the seven countries targeted by the U.$. imperialists for regime change.
The current U.$. propaganda campaign would have us believe that the United $tates is targeting Iran because it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons with which it will destroy Israel. As we have seen however, U.$. intelligence — that is, the agencies responsible for obtaining such information — does not have strong evidence to prove that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Further, in its assessment, Iran's military strategy is not geared towards aggression or the offensive, but strictly deterrence and defense. Therefore, there must be some other reasons why the United $tates is gearing up for war against Iran.
In light of U.$. policy objectives to dominate global oil supplies and to subvert or overthrow "nationalist regimes" that seek to use their natural resources to benefit their domestic populations or to promote independent development, it should be fairly obvious that Iran is a target because its oil is nationalized and it pursues a program of independent development. Indeed, when Iran first nationalized its oil in 1953 under Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, the CIA and British MI6 quickly organized a coup d'etat to overthrow Mosaddegh and reprivatize Iranian oil.(18) The oil industry wasn't nationalized again until the 1979 Islamic revolution, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, which quickly set Iran on a path of independent nationalist development.
Also of grave concern to the United $tates is Iran's growing commercial and economic relations with Russia and China. Iran exports 22% of its oil exports to China,(19) while it has cultivated a strong economic relationship with Russia on various fronts, especially in military equipment and nuclear infrastructure.(20) The Iranian regime's independence from Washington has afforded Russia and China a foot in the door of the Middle East, which hinders the ability of the United $tates to completely dominate the region and prevent the rise of potential rival hegemons in the world system, perhaps the greatest threat posed by Iran.
Iran itself is deemed as a threat to U.$. interests in the Middle East, as it is devoted to "countering U.S. influence" and becoming a regional dominator.(21) To this end, Iran has been fostering political, economic and security ties with other actors in the region, appealing to Islamic solidarity and resistance to imperialism. Iran has become influential in both Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining U.$. objectives in those countries, and has maintained its support for the Assad regime in Syria, thwarting NATO's efforts there.(22) All of these factors make Iran a formidable obstacle to U.$. objectives in the Middle East, halting Washington's ability to totally redesign the political landscape of the region.
Iran also gives financial and military support to various politico-military organizations in the region. As the United $tates considers many of these organizations "terrorists," Iran is then a "state sponsor of terrorism." Most of its support is channeled to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Both of these groups are opposed to the Zionist colonization of Palestine and to U.$. imperialism in the region more generally. Through Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran is able to exert its influence in the Middle East, creating political "destabilization" in Lebanon and Palestine.(23) The continued existence of such armed groups is considered a threat to U.$. objectives in the region and is another main reason why the United $tates is seeking to attack Iran.
When we place the current threats towards Iran in their proper geopolitical and historical context, it becomes clear that Iran's nuclear program is not the real reason why the imperialists are gearing up to attack it. In fact, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the alleged threat posed by Iran's nuclear program is merely a propaganda fabrication designed to garner popular support for the immanent invasion of Iran, similar to the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. In truth, Iran was targeted for regime change at least ten years ago, but because of its resistance to the "Washington Consensus," its economic nationalism, its growing commercial and economic ties to Russia and China, its potential to become a regional authority, and its support of politico-military organizations opposed to the United $tates and Israel, not because of its nuclear program.
The drums of war are now beating in the United $tates as Washington prepares to launch the final phase of its grand strategy to remake the Middle East. This plan is merely one component of a much larger plan to maintain the world system of trilateral imperialism. In order to maintain the global supremacy of the West, the United $tates and its junior partners are determined to prevent the rise of Russia and China to hegemonic status. Thus, an attack on Iran will surely be viewed as an indirect attack on both Russia and China. A war on Iran may very well quickly escalate into a global military conflagration, consuming other states in the region, as well as Russia and China. To prevent such a scenario from unfolding, academics and intellectuals must dispel the propaganda about Iran's nuclear program and expose the imperialist ambitions behind the U.$. government's agenda to the Amerikan people.
This movie claims to chronicle the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attack, culminating in his death in May 2011. This is a hollywood film, so we can't expect an accurate documentary. But that doesn't really matter since the movie will represent what Amerikans think of when they picture the CIA's work in the Middle East. And what they get is a propaganda film glorifying Amerikan torture of prisoners, and depicting Pakistani people as violent and generally pretty stupid. From start to finish there is nothing of value in this movie, and a lot of harmful and misleading propaganda. The main message that revolutionaries should take from it revolves around government information gathering. From tracking phones to networks of people watching and following individuals, the government has extensive and sophisticated techniques at their disposal, and even the most cautious will have a very hard time avoiding even a small amount of government surveillance.
The plot focuses almost exclusively on a CIA agent, "Maya," who devoted her career to finding clues to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. Early in the film there are a lot of graphic scenes of prisoners being tortured to get information, including waterboarding, beatings, cages, and food and sleep deprivation. Maya is bothered by the torture initially, but quickly adapts and joins in the interrogations. The movie is very pro-torture, showing critical information coming from every single tortured prisoner, ignoring the fact that so many prisoners held in Amerikan detention facilities after 9/11 were never charged, committed no crimes, and had no information. Throughout the film there are constant digs against Obama's ban on torture as a method of extracting information in 2009. Ironically, in the movie the CIA still found Osama bin Laden, using no torture after the ban. But we're left understanding that it would have been much easier if the CIA still had free reign with prisoners.
Although Zero Dark Thirty portrays Obama as soft on terror and a hindrance to the CIA's work, we should not be fooled into thinking that the U.$. government has really ended the use of torture. While we have no clear information about what goes on in interrogation cells in other countries, we know that right here in U.$. prisons, torture is used daily. And this domestic torture is usually not even focused on getting information, it's either sadistic entertainment for prison staff or punishment for political organizing. In one example of this, a USW comrade who wrote about Amerikan prison control units died shortly after his article was printed, under suspicious circumstances in Attica Correctional Facility.
Banning certain interrogation techniques, even if that ban is actually enforced in the Third World, is just an attempt to put makeup on the hideous face of imperialism. Even if no Amerikan citizen ever practices torture on Third World peoples (something we know isn't true), the fact is that the United $tates prefers to pay proxies to carry out its dirty work anyway. Torture, military actions, rape, theft, etc., can all be done at a safe distance by paying neo-colonial armies and groups to work on behalf of the Amerikan government.
Whether actions are carried out by Navy SEALs, CIA agents, or proxy armies and individuals, Amerikan imperialism is working hard to keep the majority of the world's people under control and available for exploitation. The death of bin Laden is portrayed as a big victory in Zero Dark Thirty, but for the majority of the world's people this was just one more example of Amerikan militarism, a system that works against the material interests of most people in the world.
15 September 2012 — Tens of thousands of people in dozens of cities and slums across Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and parts of Europe and Australia have demonstrated in recent days in response to a film made in the United $tates attacking the Prophet Muhammad. Protests primarily targeted U.$. embassies and other symbols of imperialism including an Amerikan school, a KFC restaurant, and a UN camp.(1) The latter was one of many locations where authorities shot at protestors with live ammunition. Many have died so far. Some common unifying symbolism of these actions has been burning of Amerikan flags and chants of "Death to Amerika!"
The first protest that got the world's attention was in Libya, where U.$.-backed forces recently overthrew the decades-old government there. Timed to occur on the anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United $tates by Al Qaeda, rebels grabbed headlines by laying siege to the embassy, killing as many as a dozen people, including the new U.$. ambassador. Since then protestors have attacked imperialist embassies in Tunisia, Yemen and Sudan without firearms.
While incumbent U.$. President Barack Obama has been making plenty of mention of his role in the assassination of Al-Qaeda's former leader Osama bin Laden in campaign speeches, hundreds of protestors in Kuwait chanted outside the U.$. embassy, "Obama, we are all Osama." Osama's vision of a Pan-Islamic resistance to U.$. occupations and economic interference in the Muslim world has reached new heights this week.
The Amerikan media has tried to play it off as a small group of trouble makers protesting, while Amerikans are shocked that they can be blamed for a fringe movie they have never seen and think is a piece of crap. At the same time, Amerikans seem very willing to condemn the protestors as ignorant, violent, low-lifes — just as the movie in question portrayed Muslims. But the trigger of these protests is far less important than the history of U.$. relations to the people involved. The most violent reactions occurred in countries that have all been under recent bombing attacks by the U.$. military, two of them for many years now, and the other had their whole government overthrown. Cocky Amerikans won't recognize that the ambassador was targeted as the highest level representative of the U.$. puppet master in Libya.
MIM has held for some time that Muslim organizations have done more to fight imperialism in recent years in most of the world than communists have.(2) And while there are plenty of ways communists could theoretically be doing a better job, they are not. As materialists we must accept and work with the people and conditions we are given. And we do not hesitate to recognize that Islam has brought us the biggest internationalist demonstration of anti-imperialism we've seen in some time.
When the 2011 food strike was peaking in California, MIM(Prisons) had mentioned similar tactics being used by Palestinians in Israeli prisons. And just as the struggle in U.$. prisons continues, so has the struggle of the Palestinians. A mass hunger strike lasted 28 days this spring, with some leaders having gone as long as 77 days without food, until an agreement was made on May 15.
"The written agreement contained five main provisions:
The prisoners would end their hunger strike following the signing of the agreement;
There will be an end to the use of long-term isolation of prisoners for "security" reasons, and the 19 prisoners will be moved out of isolation within 72 hours;
Family visits for first-degree relatives to prisoners from the Gaza Strip and for families from the West Bank who have been denied visit based on vague "security reasons" will be reinstated within one month;
The Israeli intelligence agency guarantees that there will be a committee formed to facilitate meetings between the IPS and prisoners in order to improve their daily conditions;
There will be no new administrative detention orders or renewals of administrative detention orders for the 308 Palestinians currently in administrative detention, unless the secret files, upon which administrative detention is based, contains "very serious" information."(1)
While the concessions were a bit more gratifying than those that stopped the strike in California, Palestinians still have to ensure that Israeli actions followed their words, just as prisoners have been struggling to do in California. And sure enough the Israelis have not followed through, as leading hunger strikers have had their "administrative detentions" (which means indefinite imprisonment without charge or conviction) renewed. One striker has been on continuous hunger strike since April 12, and was reported to be in grave danger on July 5, after 85 days without eating. Others have also restarted their hunger strikes as the Israelis prove that they need another push to respect Palestinian humyn rights. [UPDATE: As of July 10, Mahmoud Sarsak was released from administrative detention, after a three month fast. Others continue their fasts, including Akram Rikhawi (90 days), Samer Al Barq (50 days) and Hassan Safadi (20 days).]
MIM(Prisons) says that U.$. prisons are just as illegitimate in their imprisonment of New Afrikan, First Nation, Boricua and Chicano peoples as Israel is in imprisoning the occupied Palestinians. The extreme use of imprisonment practiced by the settler states is connected to the importance that the settlers themselves put on the political goals of that imprisonment. Someone isn't put in long-term isolation because they're a kleptomaniac or a rapist, but they are put in long-term isolation because they represent and support the struggle of their people to be free of settler control.
The point of guerrilla war is not to succeed, it's always been just to make the enemy bleed. Depriving the soldiers of the peace of mind that they need. Bullets are hard to telegraph when they bob and they weave. The only way a guerrilla war can ever be over, is when the occupation can't afford more soldiers. Until they have to draft the last of you into the service, and you refuse because you don't see the purpose. - Immortal Technique, the Martyr
In just over a week, six Amerikan soldiers have been killed by Afghan patriots within the state military that is supposedly working with the U.$. occupation. Nominally triggered by reports of the U.$. military burning copies of the Koran, these killings bring the number of NATO troops killed by their Afghan "allies" to 36 in the last year. This is a significant increase from previous years and some have suggested no other "native ally" of U.$. imperialism has compared.(1) While tiny in comparison to the loss of life by the occupied population, these incidents support the assessment that the United $tates continues to lose their war on Afghanistan. The deaths of Amerikans, while providing fuel for anti-Afghan propaganda, frightens the Amerikan public away from participating in ground wars. It took a long 9 years to turn Amerikan public opinion towards pulling troops out of Afghanistan, and Afghans are still fighting to get them out.(2)
There are two incorrect bourgeois narratives underlying the reporting on recent events. One attempts to hide the fact that the nation has faced a brutal occupation for over a decade, as if Afghans are just irrationally responding to the minor incident of the burning of some books. The second narrative is that there is an outside radical religious element, which must be distinguished from the greater Afghan nation that wants to work with Amerikans. This narrative was used against the Taliban for years before the invasion by U.$. troops even began. The truth being (however flimsily) covered by both of these narratives is that the Afghan nation has supported a decade-long war of resistance to the imperialist occupation led by Amerika. A parallel might be drawn to the media's portrayal of the prison movement where the outside element is "criminal gangs" and resistance is pinned to issues like wanting TV or better food.
In a recent report on NPR, an official stated that USAID had to hide the fact that they were giving aid to the Afghan people, because no one in the country would be seen with a blanket or food with a U.$. flag on it. This fact is a clear demonstration that either the resistance is the Afghan people, or the "outside radical element" is so prolific as to make distinguishing it from the Afghan people irrelevant. Meanwhile, the funeral of an Afghan air force colonel that killed nine Amerikans was attended by 1500 mourners last year.(3) Since this article was first drafted another bomb struck near Bagram Air Force Base where the Korans were burned on March 5. On March 8 the Taliban infiltrated Afghan police in Oruzgan and killed nine of them, while six British occupiers were killed during an attack on their vehicle in Helmand province. Our strategic confidence comes from examples like this, where whole countries have united to reject and fight imperialism. Comparing these conditions to those in the United $tates demonstrates our line on where guerrilla war is possible and not.
"Time works for the guerrilla both in the field — where it costs the enemy a daily fortune to pursue him — and in the politico-economic arena."(4) The occupation of Afghanistan is estimated to have cost as much as $500 billion(5), with sources reporting costs per Amerikan soldier at $850,000 up to $1.2 million a year.(6) While almost all of this money goes to U.$. corporations and their employees supplying the soldiers, even bourgeois economists have recognized that militarism is not a sustainable way to prop up a capitalist economy. What they fail to acknowledge is that only a socialist economic system that produces for need, not profit, can eliminate the inherent contradictions in production where circulation of capital must always increase in the interest of profit.
"There is no great novelty in [guerrilla tactics], nor can the Marxist-Leninist camp claim any special credit for it. What is new — and Mao is the apostle and the long Chinese revolution the first proving ground — is the application of guerrilla activity, in a conscious and deliberate way, to specific political objectives, without immediate reference to the outcome of battles as such, provided only that the revolutionaries survive."(7)
We are coming out of a period where the universality of Maoism has been dirtied by an association of communism with revisionists and First Worldists. Islam continues to unite the national liberation movement in Afghanistan, while "communism" has an association with foreign invasion. While socialism is necessary to meet the needs of the people of Afghanistan, the movement's ideology so far has kept it isolated from the toxic politics of the First World. This will work in their favor as the people's struggle reaches higher stages.
Here in the United $tates we must continue to find creative ways to help the Afghans' heroic struggle to whittle away at Amerikan support for occupation. And we must learn from the events in Central Asia about who are our friends and enemies, what is possible where, and what it looks like to take on a long struggle with the confidence that you are on the right side of history.
While Israel/Netanyahu proclaim that Iran has, or is developing, a nuclear arsenal and that nuclear research by Iran can be dangerous for peace in the Middle East, Israel continues to stockpile nuclear weapons freely, without any restriction or limit from the international community; the same as the U$A! So why is Israel allowed to develop all kinds of nuclear arsenal and weapons of mass destruction, as is the United $tates, but Iran is not allowed to have any kind of nuclear research, not even for peaceful purposes, such as energy? Is Israel less aggressive and less war-waging than Iran? Is the U$A less war waging than Iran? Are the U$A and Israel more democratic and just than Iran or Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan?
It looks like democracy, to the U$A, is in the eye of the beholder! To the imperialists, democracy means providing for the elite, the top aristocracy and their lackeys, but not for the oppressed and exploited of the world. This is part of the principal contradiction in imperialist society. It is selfish and cannot see democracy from the vantage of the oppressed nations and the Third World nations!
So Israel can have nuclear warheads, pointing toward Iran, Syria, or any Arab-Muslim country that they claim threatens Israel, but none of those countries can have nuclear research, even if it is for peaceful purposes like generating electricity. With this kind of provocation, Israel is ushering the Arab-Muslim countries to war; but that might be unfortunate for Israel!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good point about imperialist double standards that we need to hammer home each time we see examples of it. The imperialists define who they want to label "terrorists" while they run around the world committing real acts of terror: mass murder, widespread destruction, and environmental devastation. It is the imperialists who will be the cause of the end of humyn life on earth if we do not come together with the oppressed of the world to put an end to imperialist terror.
Today, the United $tates threatened to trigger conflict with Iran when one of its unmanned drones allegedly lost control and flew into Iranian air space.(1) If it was Iran's drone that had flown over the United $tates, we would again see the double standard at play. Last month the Amerikans made unlikely accusations against Iran's Qods force that it plotted a terrorist attack in Washington DC with the Mexican drug cartel, Zeta. Amerikan politicians attack the Third World as "terrorists" and the internal semi-colonies as "gangs." While they tell fantastic stories(2) to link foreign terrorists with North American gangs, we work with lumpen in the United $tates to develop in a united front with the struggle of Third World peoples to end oppression and exploitation. Many people join the anti-imperialist movement out of persynal reasons (for instance fighting against the horrible conditions of imprisonment in Security Housing Units) but we need to broaden our thinking beyond our persynal struggles and see the connections to the oppressed of the world if we hope to make real and lasting change.
On March 19 2011, the United $tates, playing the role as leader of the united nations forces, began bombing areas in Libya. What we know from the imperialist media is that small pockets of opposition to the Libyan government are attempting to rebel and attack the current government.
While we observe these developments in the Middle East in general, but more particularly in Libya, we must first understand the history as well as the current relations of production in these governments to really grasp the conditions and contradictions on the ground. It's good to understand the world and pay attention but it's better to know the truth and be able to sort through the BS that blurs reality and works to shape ideas to the imperialist program.
Libya, like much of the Middle East, has long been eyed by Amerika because of its vast oil reserves. Libya was colonized up until after World War II when it then became a semi-colony that was under U.$. and British influence with a monarchy under King Idris.
In the 1960s the Middle East, like much of the world, felt a whirlwind of revolution and liberation struggles that swept the globe. Libya also caught this upsurge of anti-colonial fever, and King Idris was overthrown by military officers in 1969. Moammar Gadhafi was the leader of this coup.
Although Libya changed its name to the "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" it is not currently a socialist country. There are revolutionaries within Libya but for the most part they do not lead any of the struggles we see in U.$. media. The incantation of imperialist propaganda is that the Libyan people are going to overthrow Gadhafi and that the majority want him out, but this is false.
Just as the U.$. used the south Vietnamese to massacre Vietnamese freedom fighters, just as the U.$. used the contras to massacre their country men the Sandinistas, and the Afghan against Afghan, Iraqi on Iraqi, so too are they now using Libyan to destroy Libyan. I wonder when the masses of the world will ever unite to take on the true oppressor?
Let's be clear Gadhafi did not come to power through a socialist revolution, although he did make some concessions and reforms, particularly with tribal alliances. For the most part what is practiced in Libya is a form of state capitalism where revenue from oil fuels the economy. Nonetheless they should not be met with imperialist intervention nor should the united nations be used to dictate their air space as another Iraq under Sadaam Hussein.
The opposition that the United $tates seems to cozy up to the most is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya which is known to be funded and trained by the CIA. This group, which was founded in 1981, has been based on the border of Egypt and Libya and seems to be the main vehicle for propping up a U.$. puppet government in Libya should the Gadhafi regime fall.
But let's get to the heart of the matter in this U.$. intervention: the main reason for this attack on Libya is oil! It's ironic how the so-called "united nations" have their hands in this intervention when within their very own documents, specifically the 1514 Declaration, they claim to grant self-determination to colonized nations and peoples. Yet here we are watching them deny self-determination. Not that we expect these imperialists to act in any way that isn't exploiting the people, but it shows those who are unaware of their parasitic aims what they're really about.
With the largest oil reserves in Africa it's no surprise that this nation is a target of the United $tates. We have seen this played out in Iraq where the no-fly zone was set up as a prelude for outright war and occupation. As I write this I'm sure backroom deals are being banged out between the imperialist countries on who gets what and at what price. Until these business agreements are worked out we probably won't see "troops on the ground" from the United $tates.
We see in the U.$. media accusations of Gadhafi being a "mad dog" but why was he invited years back to the United $tates? We all remember the jokes of him pitching a tent on one of Donald Trump's properties. The same bad things were said of Sadaam and Bin Laden but we see old pictures of both of them smiling with U.$. politicians at one time. Just to be clear, none of them were pushing for a socialist revolution. It is the pattern of being business partners with the United $tates, and then when the United $tates can't exploit these leaders to the extent that they want those same business partners become "mad dogs" or better yet "terrorists."
As Maoists we say no to imperialist intervention! We say no to the exploitation of the people around the world! We say hands off Libya! We hope for the masses of Libya to use this situation to create a socialist revolution to discard all oppression! End the intervention!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Many legitimate wars for liberation start with "small pockets of opposition" fighters, so it is hard to use numbers to judge a movement from afar. What we can see is that whether monarchist forces, CIA-backed "pro-democracy" parties or Islamic fighters, all of the "rebel" voices in the press are supporting imperialist intervention in Libya. This is what tells us they do not represent the masses of Libya. No to U.$. Imperialism! Unity within keeps the imperialists out!
"Democracy" is the culprit yet again in the U.$. empire's latest adventurous gamble to spread the money-making concept of the democratic shell to the middle eastern country of Libya.
Amerika, that great city shining on a hill spread some of that luminescence to the sovereign skies of Libya over the weekend, as they lit up the night sky with the glow of over 160 long range missiles in their effort to supposedly stop the Libyan government from killing of innocent civilians. Ironically enough, more lives were taken than "saved" by the amerikans as numbers have already come out of Libya that at least 70 civilians were killed by the strike.(1)
The Arab League has come out in anger and denounced not just the U$ but their international lackey bureaucracy (the UN) for authorizing and initiating the deadly strikes. Even republocrats, Michael Honda and David Kucinich have criticized and questioned this abominable act.(1)
Some may ask, well, wasn't the Arab League down with Amerikan intervention in Libya? And the answer is yes, however, the strength of anti-imperialist pan-Arabism in the region was reflected as they wavered when the bombs actually started to drop.
There are two reasons that the U$ is giving for it's current open aggression. One is for the firm support and protection of the Libyan people. The other is their supposed concern that Gadhafi is possibly in the possession of weapons of mass destruction, i.e. Mustard Gas.(2) Hmm. Why does this sound so familiar?
Pre$ident Obomber came out over the weekend while on his trip to Brazil, during his tour of Latin America and said that there will be no ground forces deployed to Libya, as the U$ does not wish to be at war with a third Muslim country; lest they be labeled crusaders.(1) Obomber emphasized many times over that amerika is not at war with Islam, which might actually be true per se, they just like to go to war with whatever oppressed nation happens to have something they want (oil).
Curiously enough the social-democratic government of Brazil who has the habit of paying lip-service to the plight of the oppressed (while simultaneously oppressing and exploiting it's own proletariat) had nothing to say about it's amerikan guest, nor did they have anything to say about their abstention from the UN vote to bomb Libya... all of a sudden!
So now two questions are begged. Are we currently seeing the sequel to the invasion of Iraq, which has had disastrous consequences to the Iraqi people? Doubtful, but you never know with these imperialists. Or are we seeing a possible test run for a similar style bombing of Iran?
Regardless of what you think of Gadhafi and his regime, Libya is a nation oppressed by imperialism and currently under attack, it must be defended. The imperialists need to keep their filthy hooves out of the mix and let the Libyan people decide their own destiny.
[Leaders] realize that the success of the struggle presupposes clear objectives, a definite methodology and above all the need for the mass of the people to realize that their unorganized efforts can only be a temporary dynamic. You can hold out for three days — maybe even for three months — on the strength of the admixture of sheer resentment contained in the mass of the people; but you won't win a national war, you'll never overthrow the terrible enemy machine, and you won't change human beings if you forget to raise the standard of consciousness of the rank-and-file. Neither stubborn courage nor fine slogans are enough. - Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, p. 136, chap. 2, paragraph 57.
Starting in Tunisia on December 17, and spreading across the region in January and February, the people of north Africa and the Middle East are taking to the streets to fight brutal dictatorships in their respective countries. Taken by surprise by the force and longevity of these protest movements, the various imperialist-backed regimes are working hard to come up with changes that will pacify the people without fundamentally changing the system. These just struggles of the people are primarily targeting the figureheads in government, but the real problem lies in the system itself and at this stage we are only seeing some shuffling of the leadership.
Protests are sweeping across the region as the people are emboldened and inspired by the actions and results of those in neighboring countries, even moving further south into other parts of Africa. As this article is being written, there are reports of people's uprisings in Bahrain, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Djibouti, Syria, Morocco and Jordan. In other parts of Africa, less visible in the media, popular revolts are also happening in Sudan, Gabon and Ethiopia.(1) Protesters are facing violent repression by the governments in most of these countries.
The response in the United $tates has been strong condemnation of Mubarak and other leaders targeted by protests (among those paying attention). Arabs may falsely look to Amerikans as friends in their current struggles. But where was this Amerikan "support" for the last thirty years as their country bank-rolled Mubarak with billions of dollars? In reality, their reaction is a sick reminder of what went down in Iraq. The same seething opposition to Mubarak was aimed at Saddam Hussein, resulting in the deaths of millions of Iraqis and the destruction of one of the most developed Arab countries. Iraq is just one example to demonstrate how Amerikan racism quickly lends itself to popular support for militarism, the savior of post-WWII U.$. global dominance.
Economics of the People's Struggles
There are many differences between these mostly Arabic-speaking countries, but the one common enemy of the people there is the enemy of the people throughout the world: imperialism. Capitalism is a system that is defined by the ownership of the means of production (factories, farms, etc.) by the wealthy few who we call the bourgeoisie, and who exploit the majority of the people (the workers, also called the proletariat) to generate profit for the owners. Imperialism is the global stage of capitalism where the territories of the world have been divided up and exploited for profit. Under imperialism, the economy in each country no longer operates independently, and what happens in one country has repercussions around the world. Because of this global interdependence, events in the Middle East and north Africa are very significant to the Amerikan and European capitalists, and are related to events in the global economy.
The question of real change hinges on whether the exploited countries that are now mobilizing stay within the U.$.-dominated economic structure, or whether they look to each other and turn their back on the exploiter nations. While militarily and politically controlled by the United $tates, their economic relationship to imperialism is dominated by the European Union who was responsible for 50% of trade for countries in the southern Mediterranean region in 1998. A mere 3% of their trade was with each other that year.(2) In 2009, these percentages had not changed, despite the lofty promises of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area to develop trade between Arab countries.(3) Tunisia, where the first spark was lit, had 78% of its exports and 72% of its imports with the European Union. Compare these numbers to the ASEAN and MERCOSUR regional trade groups, also made up of predominately Third World countries, which had about 25% of their trade internally.(4)
The problem with Europe dominating trade in the region is based in the theories of "unequal exchange" that lead trade between imperialist and exploited countries to be inherently exploitative. Part of this is because the north African countries mostly produce agricultural goods and textiles, which they trade for manufactured goods from Europe. The former are more susceptible to manipulations in commodities markets that, of course, are controlled by the imperialist finance capitalists. The latter are priced high enough to pay European wages, resulting in a transfer of surplus value from the north African nations to the European workers.
In order to develop industries for the European market, these countries have been forced to accept Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) from the various world banking systems (World Bank, International Monetary Fund). This has further tied the governments to imperialist interests over the years, as SAPs have many strings attached. The loans themselves, which are larger in this region than for the average Third World country (5), serve to transfer vast amounts of wealth from the debtor nations to the lender nations in the form of interest payments.
Countries in the Middle East and north Africa generally have greater relative wealth compared with Third World countries in the rest of Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a result the people in these countries enjoy higher levels of education, better health and fewer people living in poverty.(see World Bank, World Health Organization and CIA statistics) General trends since WWII are a growing middle class with an emigrant population that expanded and benefited from European reconstruction up to the 1980s. Since then immigration restrictions have increased in the European countries, particularly connected to "security" concerns after 9/11. The north African countries relate to the European Union similar to how Mexico does to the United $tates, but Mexico remains more economically independent by comparison. These uprisings are certainly connected to the growing population and the shrinking job market with slower migration to the EU.
Locally, there are economic differences within the region that are important as well. Other than the stick of oppressive regimes, some governments in the region have been able to use their oil revenues as a carrot to slow proletarian unity. Even so, extreme international debt, increasing unemployment with decreasing migration opportunities and the overall levels of poverty indicate that these countries are part of the global proletariat.
The recent economic crisis demonstrates the tenuous hold the governments of the Middle East and north African countries had on their people. Because imperialism is a global system with money, raw material and consumer goods produced and exchanged on a global market, economic crises happen on a global scale. The economic crisis of the past few years has affected the economy of this region with rising cost of living and increased unemployment rates. In particular food prices have reached unprecedented highs in the past few months.(6) One might think this would help the large agricultural sectors in these countries. However, food prices affect the Third World disproportionately because of the portion of their income spent on food and the form their food is consumed in. On top of this, all of these countries have come to import much of their cereal staples as their economies have been structured to produce for European consumption.
Reliable economic statistics are difficult to find for this region. Estimates of unemployment in any country can range from under 10% up to 40% and even higher, and there is similar variability in estimates of the portion of the population living below the poverty level. But all agree that both unemployment and poverty have been on the rise in the past two years. We suspect this trend dates back further with the decrease in migration opportunities mentioned above.
In Egypt about two-thirds of the population is under age 30 and more than 85% of these youth are unemployed. About 40% of Egypt's population lives on less than $2 a day.(7)
The middle class in these countries, who enjoy some economic advantages, are sliding further into poverty. This group is particularly large in Tunisia and Egypt compared to many other countries in the region.(8) In Egypt the middle class increased from 10% to 30% of the population in the second half of the 20th century, with half of those people being "upper" middle class.(9) This class has been closely linked to the rise of NGOs encouraged by the European-led Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. They know that it is possible for them to have a better standard of living and enjoy more political freedom without a complete overthrow of the capitalist system. And so we saw many of the leaders and participants in the recent protests demand better conditions for themselves, but generally leave out the demands of the proletariat.
In fact, some middle class leaders, like Wael Ghonim (an Egyptian Google employee who was a vocal leader in the fight against Mubarak), are calling for striking workers to go back to work now that Mubarak has stepped down, effectively opposing the demands and struggles of the Egyptian proletariat. Without the leadership of the proletariat, who have never had significant benefits from imperialism, these protests end up representing middle class demands to shuffle the capitalist deck and put another imperialist-lackey government in place. The result might be a slight improvement in middle class conditions but the proletariat ends up right back where they started.
In Tunisia and Egypt, where the uprisings started, the leadership and many of the activists were from the educated middle class youth.(10) In Tunisia people were inspired to act after the suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi, an impoverished young vegetable street seller supporting an extended family of eight. He set himself on fire in a public place on December 17 after the police confiscated his produce because he would not pay a bribe. Like many youth in Tunisia, Bouazizi was unable to find a job after school. He completed the equivalent of Amerikan high school, but there are many Tunisian youth who graduate from college and are still unable to find work.
The relative calm in the heavy oil producing region that includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Qatar underscores the key role of economics and class in these events. These countries enjoy a much higher economic level than the rest of the region, as a direct result of the consumerist First World's dependence on their natural resources. Only Libya joins these countries in having a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita above $5000, while all others in the region are below that level.(11) That's compared to a GNI in the U.$ of $46,730.(12)
One economic factor that has not made the news much and which does not seem to be a focus of the protesters so far, is the importing of foreign labor to do the worst jobs in the wealthy oil-producing countries. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (consisting of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and the Sultanate of Oman) there are an estimated 10 million foreign workers and 3 million of their family members living in these countries.(13) This was used as a carrot to the proletariat who were losing opportunities to work in the European Union. Egypt in particular encouraged this emigration of workers.
Revolutions or Unrest?
To belittle the just struggles of people around the world, typical imperialist media is referring to the recent uprisings as "unrest," as if the people just need to be calmed down to bring things back to normal. On the other side, many protesters and their supporters are calling these movements revolutions. For communists, the label "revolution" is used to describe movements fighting for fundamental change in the economic structure. In the world today, that means fighting to overthrow imperialism and for the establishment of socialism so that we can implement a system where the people control the means of production, taking that power and wealth out of the hands of just a few people.
The global system of imperialism puts the nations of the Middle East and north Africa on the side of the oppressed. These nations have comprador leaders running their governments, who get rich by working for imperialist masters. Yet these struggles are very focused on the governments in power in each country without making these broader connections. Until the people make a break with imperialist control, changes in local governments won't lead to liberation of the people.
Further, we have heard much from both organizers and the press about social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) as a tool of the revolution. These tools are celebrated as a replacement for leadership. It is true that the internet is a useful tool for sharing information and organizing, and decentralization makes it harder to repress a movement. But the lack of ideological unity leads to the lowest common denominator, and very few real demands from the people. No doubt "Mubarak out" is not all the Egyptian people can rally around, but without centralized leadership it is hard for the people to come together to generate other demands.
Related to the use of social media, it is worth underscoring the value of information that came from Wikileaks to help galvanize the people to action in these countries; the corruption and opulence of the leaders described in cables leaked at the end of 2010 no doubt helped inspire the struggles.(14)
Egypt provides a good example of why we would not call these protest movements "revolutions." The Egyptian people forced President Mubarak out of the country, but accepted his replacement with the Supreme Council of the Military - essentially one military dictatorship was replaced by another. One of the key members of this Council is Sueliman, the CIA point man in the country and head of the Egyptian general intelligence service. He ran secret prisons for the United $tates and persynally participated in the torturing of those prisoners.
Tunisia is also a good example of the lack of fundamental revolutionary change. Tunisia's president of 23 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, stepped down on January 14 and fled to Saudi Arabia. But members of Ben Ali's corrupt party remained in positions of power throughout the government and protests continue.
In State and Revolution Lenin wrote that the revolution must set a goal "not of improving the state machine, but of smashing and destroying it." The protests and peoples' struggles in the Middle East and Africa reinforce the importance of this message as we see the sacrifice of life in so many countries resulting in only cosmetic changes in governments.
What is the United $tates interest?
The United $tates is the biggest imperialist power in the world today; it controls the largest number and most wealth-producing territories in the world. Just as the economic crises of imperialism affect the rest of the world, political uprisings around the world affect the United $tates. The capitalist corporations who have factories and investments in this region have a strong financial interest in stability and a government that will allow them to continue to exploit the resources and labor. And with capitalism's constant need to expand, any shrinking of the imperialist sphere of influence will help trigger future crises faster.
The Amerikan military interest in this region relies on having some strong puppet governments as allies to defend the interests of Amerikan imperialism and hold off the independent aspirations of the regional capitalists. This includes managing the planet's largest oil reserves, which is important for U.$. control of the European Union, and defending their #1 lackey - Israel.
Tunisia is a long-standing ally of the United $tates, cooperating with Amerikan "anti-terrorism" to maintain Amerikan imperialist power in the region. Other imperialist powers also have a strong interest in the dictatorships in Tunisia including France whose government shipped tear gas grenades to Tunis on January 12 to help Ben Ali fight the protesters.(15)
Bahrain is a close U.$. ally, home to the U.$. Navy's Fifth Fleet.(16)
Egypt has been second only to Israel in the amount of U.$. aid it gets since 1979, at about $2 billion a year. The majority of this money, about $1.3 billion a year, goes to the Egyptian military.(17) Further, the United $tates trains the Egyptian military each year in combined military exercises and deployments of U.$. troops to Egypt.(18) So for Amerika, the Supreme Council of the Military taking power in Egypt is a perfectly acceptable "change." To shore up the new regime and its relationship with the United $tates, Secretary of State Clinton announced on February 18 that the United $tates would give $150 million in aid to Egypt to help with economic problems and "ensure an orderly, democratic transition." In exchange, the Council has already pledged to uphold the 1979 peace accords with Israel. Prior to 1979, much of the Arab world was engaged in long periods of wars with the settler state.
United $tates aid to countries in this region is centered around Israel. The countries closest geographically to Israel are the biggest recipients of Amerikan money, a good way to keep control of the area surrounding the biggest Amerikan ally. In addition to Egypt and Israel, Jordan ($843 million) and Lebanon ($238 million) received sizable economic and military aid packages in 2010.(19) Compared to these numbers, "aid" to the rest of the region is significantly smaller with notable recipients including Yemen ($67M), Morocco ($35M), Bahrain ($21M) and Tunisia ($19M). The United $tates gives "aid" in exchange for economic, military and political influence.
Is Wisconsin the Amerikan Tunisia?
The global economic crisis clearly affects imperialist countries like the United $tates just like it does other countries of the world, but we don't see the people in this country rising up to take over Washington, DC and demanding a change in government. Like the Middle East, the youth of Amerika are having a harder time finding jobs after graduation from college. But unlike their counterparts in the Middle East, Amerikan youth and their families do not face starvation when this happens.
Some people are drawing comparisons between the widespread protests by labor unions in Wisconsin and the events in Tunisia and Egypt. These events do give us a good basis for comparison to underscore the differences between imperialist countries and the Third World. Amerikan wealth is so much greater than the rest of the world (U.$. GDP per capita = $46,436); even compared to oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia (GDP = $24,200). GDP does not account for the distribution of wealth, but in the United $tates the median household income in 2008 was $52,029. This number is not inflated by the extreme wealth of a few individuals, it represents the middle point in income for households in this country.
On the surface, unemployment statistics for the United $tates appear similar to some numbers for countries in the Middle East and north Africa. In 2008, 13.2% of the population was unemployed in the United $tates based on the latest census data.(20) However, with income levels so much higher in Amerika, unemployment doesn't mean an immediate plunge into poverty and starvation. For youth in this country, there is the safety net of moving back in with parents if there is no immediate post-college job.
Similarly, U.$. poverty statistics appear quite high, comparable to rates in the Middle East and north Africa, at 14.3% in 2009. But this poverty rate uses chauvinistic standards of poverty for Amerikans. The U.$. census bureau puts the poverty level of a single individual with no dependents at $11,161.(21) Much higher than the statistics that look at the portion of the population living at $2 or $1.25 per day (adjusted for differences in purchasing power). Wisconsin public teachers average salaries of about $48k per year.
The Leading Light Communist Organization produced some clear economic comparisons between Egypt and the U.$.: "The bottom 90% of income earners in Egypt make only half as much (roughly $5,000 USD annually) as the bottom 10% of income earners in the U.$. (roughly [$]10,000), per capita distribution. Depending on the figures used, an egalitarian distribution of the global social product is anywhere between $6,000 and $11,000 per capita annually. This does not even account for other inequalities between an exploiter country and an exploited country, such as infrastructure, housing, productive forces, quality and diversity of consumer goods, etc."(22)
In the United $tates it is possible for the elite to enjoy their millionaire lifestyles while the majority of the workers are kept in relative luxury with salaries that exceed the value of their labor. This is possible because other countries, like those in the Middle East and Africa, are supplying the exploited workforce that generates profits to be brought home and shared with Amerikan workers. Even Amerikan workers who are unemployed and struggling to pay bills are not rallying for an end to the economic system of capitalism. They are just demanding more corporate taxes and less CEO bonuses. In other words they want a bigger piece of the imperialist pie: money that comes at the expense of the Third World workers. These same Amerikan workers rally behind their government in wars of aggression around the world, overwhelmingly supporting the fight against the Al-Qaeda boogeyman in Arab clothing.
Down with Amerikanism, Long Live Pan-Arabism
Whether in Madison or Cairo, signs implying that Wisconsin is the Tunisia of north Amerika are examples of what we call "false internationalism" on both sides of the divide between rich and poor nations. Combating false internationalism, which is inherent in any pro-Amerikanism in the Third World, is part of the fight against revisionism in general.
What no one can deny is the connection between the mass mobilizations across the Arab world. That this represents a reawakening of pan-Arabism is both clear and promising for the anti-imperialist struggle. Even non-Arab groups in north Africa that have felt marginalized will benefit from the greater internationalist consciousness and inherent anti-imperialism with an Arabic-speaking world united against First World exploitation and interference.
Of course, Palestine also stands to benefit from these movements. The colonial dominance of Palestine has long been a lightning rod issue for the Arab world, that only the U.$. puppet regimes (particularly in Egypt) have been able to repress.
Everyone wants to know what's next. While the media can create hype about the "successful revolutions" in Tunisia and Egypt, this is just the beginning if there is to be any real change. Regional unity needs to lead to more economic cooperation and self-sufficiency and to unlink the economies of the Arab countries from U.$. and European imperialism. Without that, the wealth continues to flow out of the region to the First World.
As Frantz Fanon discussed extensively in writing about colonial Algeria, the spontaneous violence of the masses must be transformed into an organized, conscious, national violence to rid the colony of the colonizer. Unfortunately, his vision was not realized in the revolutionary upsurge that he lived through in north Africa and neo-colonialism became the rule across the continent. Today, the masses know that imperialism in Brown/Black face is no better. As fast as the protests spread, they must continue to spread to the masses of the Arab world before we will see an independent and self-determined people.