Saturday, August 17, 2013

Death on the Nile

More bloodshed took place as the Muslim Brotherhood staged their anti-coup and anti-military protests. Radical Islam is the refuge for many of the Muslim poor. If you live in the sprawling slums of Cairo every avenue of escape is closed. You cannot get an education. You cannot get a job. You cannot get married. You cannot challenge the domination of the economy by the oligarchs and the generals. The only way left for you to affirm yourself is to become a martyr. Then you will get what you cannot get in life—a brief moment of fame and glory.  People dream of an Islamic state because their lives are so hopeless and despairing that the rigid structure of extra pious Islam gives them meaning. The wealthy quickly become secular, or at least observant only in name.

Nearly half of Egypt’s 80 million people—33 percent—are 14 or younger and live under or just above the poverty line, which the World Bank sets at $2.00 a day. The poor in Egypt spend more than half their income on food, and often food that has little nutritional value. An estimated 13.7 million Egyptians or 17 percent of the population suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 percent in 2009, according to the report by U.N. World Food Program and the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. Malnutrition is endemic among poor children with 31 percent of children under 5 being stunted in growth. Illiteracy runs at over 70 percent.

 In his book The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, written in 1852 Marx described Bonapartism more precisely as a an attempt by counterrevolutionary military cliques and dictators, in a capitalist or colonialist context, and then use a few reforms, in the case of Egypt, secularism and nationalism, to gain support. The Bonapartist ruling military clique will turn on the liberals and the left and begin to crush to booming trade union, feminist, secularist and youth movements as soon as they're done dealing with the Brotherhood. They'll be fully supported by the United States who fully intend to continue supplying them with billions of dollars of military weapons. Obama's criticisms of the harshness of the military dictators is for public consumption only. Obama and Cameron  failed to condemn the coup when it was announced or stand up  for democracy and the rule of law. However, both condemned the violence but time after time, the  rhetoric of lofty values are sacrificed at the altar of short-term interests. They will accept the aftermath of the slaughter. Sisi is not Bashar Assad. Don’t expect passionate calls for “targeted strikes” or a no-fly zone over Egypt. He may be a military dictator killing his own people. But he’s one of “our” bastards.

 The original spirit of Tahrir Square is now dead and buried. Disillusioned and frustrated with all parties the Egyptian people threw out Mubarak’s repressive and corrupt regime. But given their disappointment and impatience with the slow progress, they thought they could just as easily get rid of what they perceived as the arrogance or incompetence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the process, they not only handed back control to the military, and also made the dream of establishing a genuine democratic system ever more distant. The violence has now widened the gap between aspiration and actions for democracy even further. The army appointed a puppet prime minister, and a cabinet largely composed of Mubarak loyalists. Out of 25 governors, the military appointed 19 generals including many Mubarak-era officials. Brute force and violence is the military’s preferred tool to settle disputes, not the messy processes and compromises of democracy. If the coup regime was not already illegitimate, the bloody massacres has completely stripped it of any semblance of legitimacy.

Our enemy is capitalism.The elite leading the Muslim Brotherhood represent a competing interest with the military elites. Neither of these groups represents most Egyptians. What the Brotherhood was doing in Egypt was not helping the poor.They were consolidating their own positions to ensure their wealth and power, much like the military has done.  It is a world where the wretched of the Earth are forced to bow before the dictates of the marketplace, where children go hungry so global corporate elites siphon away the world’s wealth and natural resources.

The key question is who profits from a polarised Egypt. The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood or the military-controlled  Mubarakist corrupt oligarchs.

Both options are equally repulsive.

No comments: