Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On violence and uprisings

There has been a lot of talk about the non-violent nature of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings and of the Western "civilizing" role in this achievement. Aside from the issue that the colonizing powers want to take credit for everything the natives do, I would argue that:

1. The protests were not non-violent. There were 300 dead and 2000 injured at least in the Egypt protests. The self-immolation by fire of Mohammad Bouazizi and others who have set fire to themselves are acts of violence directed towards one's self, because of the feeling of despair and disempowerment. The protests in Yemen are leading to violence, fomented by the rege, and so are those in Bahrain.

2. The regime in Egypt has not (yet) changed. Mubarak is gone, but for a regime change and a departure from the neoliberal domination in all its forms, the army, which is now in control, may have to be neutralized. It is the main source of potential violence, along with the security apparatus. I will be looking closely at the events as they unfold, especially at the continued strikes of the egyptian workers. I will also be looking at how the uprisings in other Arab countries wil be dealt with. I am, like everyone else, hoping for a non-violent transition towards Arab regimes that place social and other forms of justice at the top of their agendas. Somehow I doubt that the small group of beneficiaries from the neoliberal regimes will just watch this take place without reacting...violently. I would also argue that the Empire will use all forms of violence possible in order to protect its interests. Whether protesters can continue to confront these pressures "peacefully" remain to be seen.

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