An amazing sequence of events has taken place in which one of the largest and most strategically important countries in the world disposed of its dictator of 30 years in a matter of weeks, through the sustained actions of the people there. Of course a lot of other factors went into this people’s revolution, but one thing is spectacularly clear: the people ain’t taking this sh*t anymore.
Many believe that a global rebellion going on, with thousands upon thousands of people (most of them young & ready to take their future in their hands) standing up to tired, corrupt regimes, demanding and sometimes actually bringing about change. It is not just happening in Egypt. Or Tunisia, or Jordan, or Yemen, or just the Middle East. In Albania there were 20,000 protestors demanding the corrupt regime there resign, and 3 protesters were killed by police in January. There was a travel alert in Bolivia last summer when protestors shut down 1/3 of the country demanding better finances with the government, and in December massive protests over fuel price hikes. Similar protests in Chile over fuel price hikes last month. Many of these protestors are young and wired to the internet, so they know they are not alone.
In Bolivia last summer, tourists were trapped and had to flee. In Chile last month, tourists were trapped and had to flee. In Egypt, tourists were trapped and had to flee. Amazing how this sh-- is going on and we’re just sitting around watching sports & playing video games.
So I’ve been wondering what is keeping this type of “unrest” from taking place in the U.S.? Here are five reasons why it will spread to the U.S. and five reasons why it won’t.
1) There are hundreds of thousands of poor, underemployed or jobless, hopeless, pissed off Americans with just as many reasons to protest as those in any other economically oppressive nation. What’s to stop them from rising up by the millions? It would be a helluva thing to see Americans demanding ‘freedom’ again, but this would be about economic freedom, freedom from the ripoff by the rich. It is amazing that we have social freedom, but are just about as economically trapped as those in any struggling nation in the world. Funny that we have the ‘democracy’ everybody else wants, but are losing ground faster than people in some totalitarian nations…
2) Everyone is wired to the internet, so if a giant scandal or greed driven economic disaster took place, or if something jumped off, say, in Tulsa or Oakland or Jacksonville, Florida, folks would know in an instant and would be able to compare notes on what went down and what is going on. And if the “government” tried to stop the internet, there would be a whole other strata of society up in arms, ready to take their anger to the streets over being “censored.”
3) Most of these protestors are challenging corrupt, belligerent regimes and tired old leaders. Well, Obama has been brown-nosing big business for so long, most of us have just given up on his message of “change.” Everything is being cut, and yet we see big business fatcats giving themselves $100,000 bonuses, with Obama administration approval. We all know Obama’s abandoned the working class in favor of kissing the ass of the rich, and he’s just about lost all of the cache he had going in, being a cool, black president and all. That only gets you so far. Michelle notwithstanding, folks might just let Obama know what they think of his slobbering over the rich the past two years.
4) In the past, global upheaval has had a deep impact on social changes in the U.S. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s got a great deal of inspiration from the anti-colonial struggles of nations in the “Third World” such as India, Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam and Cuba. In the 1980s the worldwide efforts to isolate and sanction the modern day slavery of Apartheid in South Africa eventually sparked a grassroots movement in the US to compel congress to finally cut off ties with the racists there. Who is to say that this youth movement around the world won’t inspire people with nothing to lose here to do the same?
5) It’s the dead of winter and the spirit of protest worldwide is at a fever pitch. What happens when things thaw out in the northern countries? And on top of that, what happens if there is a lockout and no NFL football? And an NBA lockout too? With no distractions, things could get dicey. As my friend Pat Thomas put it: “If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine off the market for a week, they'd have to bring out tanks to control everyone.”
Not advocating, I’m just saying…
On the other hand, while most Americans are reaching a state of economic desperation - if not already there - Obama said to Congress in his State of the Union Address, “none of you would trade places with anyone in another country.” Maybe so, maybe not, but that doesn’t mean sitting still while we’re being gouged, ripped off, incarcerated, abandoned, indoctrinated, demonized, and taken for granted all at once.
The media says that this thing began with a people’s uprising in nearby Tunisia, and that protests in Jordan and Yemen are about Middle Easterners finally gaining a notion of what is possible with a Democracy. To the extent that ‘peaceful protests’ against ruthless dictators have successful a track record anywhere in the world, the influence of some western countries plays a role to be sure. But the Egyptians and others aren’t doing this because they dream about America’s Democracy, because they know that it is America’s Democracy that has kept Mubarak and these other S.O.B.'s in power all these years.
Our "democracy" has become a joke because while political power appears to change every election cycle, real power does not. Yet too many of us are ok with the status quo, sh*tty that it may be. So we act like the U.S. is somehow immune to these protests. Maybe it is our ‘system’ that will prevent an uprising here.
Here’s why we won’t have a rebellion; I’m not advocating, I’m just saying…
1) While there are plenty of poor people in the US, they are so busy hating each other, harping on irrelevant right wing fabrications, watching 800 channels of worthless consumerist garbage, and swallowing up the American myths of opportunity, there is no time left to clearly analyze one’s own socioeconomic status, and to organize with others of similar persuasion. We have ‘normalized’ trivial activities like reality TV shows & sports to the point where actually working in the community is seen as a distant abstraction. So while there are millions of poor in the US, they don’t see themselves collectively as victims of a system, only as individuals suffering in silence while they watch & envy everyone else.
2) Everyone is wired up, but is that good? There is access to so much information, too many folks just use the web to look up irrelevant sh*t, like that commercial with people blabbering data they searched on the web, leading to search overload. On a deeper level, Cornel West calls the digital gaming epidemic “Weapons of Mass Distraction.” It has a generation addicted to a tiny plastic box, with the only world they can control at their fingers, not in their city.
3) Obama is brown nosing but because he’s brown we don’t’ see the shit there. Yes he has a long way to go before he’s in the dysfunctional category of Bush, but so what? He’s still selling us out. But the trick is, the presidency changes over each 4-8 years and that saves the country from itself. When we get pissed enough, the ‘regime change’ takes the form of a "demopublican" color change, which is not really a change at all. In our Orwellian complacency, we figure that is great. We have democracy and f**k everybody else. We really don’t have a choice.
I started wondering, what if in 2008 Bush ‘stole’ the election again, and found a way to claim Obama was not a citizen, and find a loophole to remain in office? What would be going on in the streets? Same as in Egypt… people wouldn’t stand for it. But we wait to exhale every four years while the poison keeps working on us.
4) As for the protests inspiring people here, well, international influence means nothing to the mainstream. Look at how we trashed the metric system. We don’t care what the rest of the world does. Further, we have a lunatic fringe right wing and a middle and a left wing and they would all be going at it, so there is no clear sense of he bottom vs the top that is seen in so many of these other countries. Further, unlike the protests in all the other countries, we have guns everywhere, so instead of camels and sticks we’d have cracker vigilantes in souped up SUV’s wilding on colored people (and vice versa), so a sustained rebellion that the army “allows to happen” could easily degenerate into chaos that the ruling classes would be content to blame on the poor themselves.
5) As for sports, drugs and distractions, the US rules the world in this one. Like kids & cartoons, give some Americans some sports to watch in HD and they will be so obsessed with it, outside issues won’t matter. By comparison, every four years the rest of the world’s nations get caught up in World Cup Fever, and stop what they’re doing to watch. In the US we do this every four months, for baseball, football, March Madness, NBA & other playoffs. Who wants to challenge the system, when we’re just about as blissfully plugged in as those pod people in the Matrix?
So it looks like the U.S. has as many reasons why there won’t be any rebellions here as there will be. I’m not advocating, I’m just saying…
It will come down to the people here, whether or not they will overcome their generations long biases against each other, unplug from the “Weapons of Mass Distraction” and clearly articulate and focus upon a singular goal, a target of universal wrath that transcends the window dressing of the Oval Office. We blame the political leaders because they are the visible targets of a larger power structure that stays just out of view, so we bitch and moan and vote, and not a damn thing changes.
As Gil Scott Heron put in so well in Winter in America, "Ain't nobody fighting, 'cause nobody knows what to save."
Here are some other important discussions to read about:
Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?
North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 1
by Andrew Gavin Marshall
The Fall of Mubarak and the Bankruptcy of Western Empires
By Rosa L. Blanc
Could What happened in Egypt Ever happen Here in the US?
by Davey D