After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Arab Revolution

I asked my father, a veteran of the 1958 Iraq revolution, what he thought of the events in Egypt. His answer... "this is a world revolution". I agree. It is more than Egypt, the era of dictators is over.

A myth created by the imperialists forces that occupied the Middle East was of the great Arab Revolution that swept away centuries of Ottoman rule. The reality is that there was no such thing. The military elites that ruled in the name of the Ottomans saw which way the wind was blowing at the end of the the First World War and switched sides to serve new masters.

These elites are part of a social class that established itself over 400 years of Ottoman rule and has roots that go back even further - they have learnt over hundreds of years the methods of organizing and exercising power and are not going to give up control lightly. If one looks at the recent history of the Arab world - the end of the Ottoman rule, the beginning of imperial rule under the British Empire, the upheaval that brought about the independence of the Arab states in the 50's, and the establishment of the modern dictators in the 70's - there was one constant through all this change: the military classes that ran the armies of the Arab world. But this class is not always reactionary. Sometimes it will fight for nationalist causes and support the people against foreign powers. But always this class will fight tooth and nail for its own survival and will not hesitate to sell out its country to stay in power. In the recent years of occupied Iraq the same class was responsible for much of the armed resistance to American occupation yet also responsible for harboring the extremist thugs that carried out horrendous massacres against Iraqi civilians, and for cooperating with the occupier when they saw their rule threatened from within Iraq.

It is these same military families that held up the bloody dictators in Iraq, Syria and Egypt; the same elites that tacitly accepted the state of Israel. What we are witnessing is the end of this era.

The web, mobile phones and modern communication has brought up a generation that are well connected with each other and the rest of the world. This generation is no longer willing to be treated as serfs to a medieval landlord.

The modern globalized economy has created a world where countries and markets have to adapt quickly to changing economic conditions and the feudal mentality of the military elites can no longer sustain the populations they rule. The military classes must recognize that their time has long past and if not, as in the streets of Egypt and Tunis, the people will remind them daily.

We, the Arab peoples will find ways to rid ourselves of these parasites whether peacefully as in the British Industrial Revolution or violently like the French Revolution. The Great Arab Revolution has begun and like the French revolution it will change the world.

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