Arab Uproar

Long time in the making! Long time suffering poverty, inequality, official murder-torture-imprisonment, despotism, fundamentalism, and governments lackeyed to US/Western powers.

I am no expert on Arabic/Middle East history or politics, other than knowing that US/Israel-led imperialism has had a grip on the entire area for decades, and before that there were other foreign oppressors. I know that in part of the Arab world – not currently involved in this uproar – the US-led “humanitarian” operation has cost upwards to two million Iraqi lives, millions of migrants fled and fleeing, tens of thousands tortured, and the destruction and thievery of much cultural wealth and history. European allies assist in this butchery. Something similar is occurring in Afghanistan, and extending into Pakistan.

Wikileaks’ dispersal of US Embassy cables from Tunisia, posted in the British Guardian, December 7, 2010 and January 28, 2011, how how duplicitous and corrupted all US governments are with the Ben Ali family government for the past two decades.

US ambassador to Tunisia, Robert F. Godec, wrote, on July 17, 2009, that the Ben Ali regime is: “sclerotic;” and that “Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.”

On the other hand, Godec expressed the need to continue supporting this regime because, “The government is like-minded on Iran, is an ally in the fight against terrorism…the US Mission has, for the past three years, [responded] by offering greater cooperation…notably in the commercial and military assistance areas.”

The US government supports Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid annually, second only to Israel.

Most shamefully, a number of Arabic governments aid and abet the US in its “war against terrorism”. Egypt, and Tunisia, where the courageous uproar began a month ago, are among them. In others — Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon — many thousands of people act supportively with the Tunisian people, and with their own similar demands.

Will this lead to revolution, to socialism, as a rejection of misery under capitalism? Marxist analysis of what it takes before a socialist revolution can break out and grow entails two aspects. First, objective conditions must be present: too much poverty, exploitation and oppression to ignore; plus sufficiently high level of technology (industrial or?), and acutely antagonistic productive relations.

The second condition is subjective, in which a significant number (majority or?) of the most productive and exploited of industrial workers (perhaps also or either a significant number of land proletariat and small peasants) are conscious enough of their position as exploited, and are angry enough to take up the call for revolt. Overthrowing oppressors  — as is occurring now, or is in the process of occurring, in some Arabic nations — is a good indication that a huge percentage of folk (in many places the large majority) are ready subjectively. Many have been murdered, thousands more arrested, yet they persist, especially in Tunisia and Egypt.

(Iraq, also an Arabic nation, has not moved into supportive action. Most of its people are too brutalized by the US+ invasion and their accomplice national governments, supported by the Persian neighbor, Iran, to come into the streets. But I suggest that many have their hearts beside their Arabic brothers and sisters in uproar, and time may bring them to fore. But this will probably not occur shortly in Saudia Arabia where the US-backed multi-billionaire government leaders rule with a fascist fist.)

The objective material factors for Tunisia and Egypt are, in large part, present as well. Does the high level of production relations necessary exist? I do not know. Are the workers antagonistic enough with the bosses and do they know that (condition two)? I’d say yes to both.

I do not seek to become an oracle. I wish merely to shed us of illusions. It takes more that what is occurring now to win over not only the national oligarchies and their armies and police forces well-equipped with US-French-British armaments, but also the very Empire itself awaiting in nearby skies and waters for the signal to move in if all else fails. The people are not armed well enough.

Nevertheless, I am encouraged by a sense of pan-Arabic unity, a sense that they are all one brethren no matter the name of the State. I do not see, however, in many of these areas, that the people are well organized, that they have their own parties or unions that lead with sagaciousness, or that they lead at all. There is great spontaneity and determination. All to the good! But people never win over the oppressors unless they have organizations that formulate policy and direction.

In Tunisia, however, I see a positive development with the January 14th Front, forces involved in the revolt.  The eight organizations and political parties forming it, several illegal and operating underground, gathered into a united front on the day that the dictator fled the country. They propose 14 points to move forward, to form a people’s government and change the economic foundations.

Among the key points are anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist demands, coupled with democratic and social demands to raise the people out of poverty and exploitation:

• Eliminate all temporary governments that have any relations with the Ben Ali government and party (the RCD).

• Dissolve the existing state apparatus and create an assembly of peoples’ organizations for a new constitutional foundation.

• Eliminate the secret service and the political police.

• Jobs, health care, civil and social rights for all.

• Solidarity with all forces for liberation, especially with Palestinians in opposition to Zionism.

Most of you who read this commentary are not in the Arabic region. To you I say: we are all brothers and sisters in our common struggle! Take up what arm you can and support these people today, and hope that, one day, we will all support one another to build a universe where we are all one free people living with essential needs!

Ron Ridenour is an anti-war activist and author of 12 books. His latest is The Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert, Punto Press. Read other articles by Ron, or visit Ron's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 31st, 2011 at 11:06am #

    the question of utmost importance arises, who will in any system of rule, rule the govts?
    or to put it another way, who wld supervise an executive class of people? who manages a safeway manager? who manages w.h. management?
    who’d manage it in another structure of governance?

    present governances in so many lands have not built-in safeguard: that of supervising supervisers.

    if u’r not able to devise a governance that is self-correcting or as explained above, not much good wld happen for the underclass.
    one just shld not tinker with a pot that has to be held together by plastics!
    most of the Left in u.s. appears happy just to tinker with broken and an niniquitos structure.
    some people call this attitude “pseudo-left”, “chomskyism”, and use such meaningless labels
    and, folks, we need to evaluate nearly all labels as hunting for souls! tnx

  2. mary said on February 1st, 2011 at 3:01am #

    This excellent comment from Dr Gideon Polya was censored by The Age, an Australian paper. It was sent in response to an article about the Egyptian revolution by Mona Eltahawy who is a radical.


    The Age published an article by UK-based Egyptian writer and lecturer Mona Eltahawy on the current Egyptian Revolution and entitled “All Egyptians are being liberated from the burden of history” (The Age, Melbourne, 31 January 2011: { }

    The Age is arguably Australia’s most liberal Mainstream medium, but it apparently declined to publish the carefully researched, informed and credentialled views of Dr Gideon Polya while publishing about 20 views of mostly anonymous bloggers about the article.

    This is what The Age’s Censor(s) decided that its readers should not read or know:

    “Excellent article. One hopes that the Egyptian people will throw out the US-backed, pro-Israel Mubarak dictatorship and achieve a genuine democracy, setting an example for the whole Arab world.

    A key aspect of the dead hand of Anglo-American and Anglo-American-backed Israeli domination of the Arab world is the deadly deprivation of 300 million Arabs outside the Gulf States. This has a dreadful consequence measured as avoidable mortality (excess mortality, excess deaths, avoidable death, deaths that did not have to happen) that can be measured using UN data as the difference between the actual deaths in a country and the deaths expected fro a decently governed, peaceful country with same demographics.

    Annual avoidable mortality in Egypt under Mubarak has been 0.22% (2003 data), this meaning today that each year 180,000 Egyptians die avoidably from deprivation out of a population of 82 million and that about 16 million have died avoidably from deprivation since 1950 (see “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”).

    The annual avoidable death rate of 0.22% for Egyptians under Mubarak can be compared with 0.0% (Arab Gulf States), 0.05% for Western Europe, 0.38% (South Asia), 0.97% (non-Arab Africa) and 1.8% (Indigenous Australians).

    Of acute relevance to the Egyptian tragedy is the 50% increase in international cereal grain prices in the last year (Google “World Food Situation”).

    Anglo-American-backed, genocidal colonization of Palestine, US-backed Israeli occupation of territory of all its neighbours, US backing of Arab dictators and the Anglo-American-imposed Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide (4.4 million dead, 1990-2011) has devastated the Arab world.

    All decent folk hope that Egypt will arise again.”

  3. mary said on February 1st, 2011 at 5:42am #

    ZBC are now saying that King Abdullah of Jordan has dismissed the government.

    eg Twitter – irinaursu? RT @euronews: BREAKING NEWS: Jordan’s King Abdullah has dismissed his government and appointed a new prime minister, according to officials.
    Twitter – 11
    11 seconds ago

  4. AaronG said on February 1st, 2011 at 8:15pm #

    Mary, I can see exactly why a corporate newspaper would not print those words. I had a quick scan of Dr Polya’s comment, edited out the “non-polite-words-that-my-readers-and-advertisers-should-be-protected-from” and came up with this that is sanitary enough to print: