'We can go back in time and look at people cheerleading the Iranian revolution or the Zimbabwean anti-colonial struggle or the ANC in South Africa or the Sandinistas or whatever political fight. In all cases there is an understandable urge to side with the underdog. But what was the outcome? Why are radicals so quick to patriotically cheer on the latest thing, when we should be saying: '"Brothers and sisters in Yemen and Egypt and Algeria and Tunisia, watch out for the states in waiting, watch out for the 'popular resistance hero'. Remember Mugabe. Remember Khomeini. The difference between a dictator and a democrat is only at the ballot box - the factory and the slum will not change. The 'imprisoned opposition leaders' of today will be the jailers of tomorrow. Stay strong. You will need miracles, and G-d is not watching. All the proposed solutions are lies!'"
Perhaps it is too soon to say this (Mubarak may hold on), but the real enemy of those revolting in Northern Africa is the political opposition that is preparing to take power. And when I say 'take power', I mean that in the most general way.
If/when a revolt appears where 'we' are, 'we' cannot fall prey to the indecency of waving flags and banners in support of whatever is happening. Our task is to pee on the parade. To say "No! Push further! The old world is not behind you yet!" To point out the policeman with red and black flags. To maintain our principles and avoid urgency, even when the situation appears to be moving quickly.
Remember every international revolt you've been excited about in your life. Look at what happened after each of them. What happened May, 1969? What happened to your enthusiasm? All of the doors that appeared to be open lead nowhere or were, in retrospect, closed. The freedom fighters joined or became the government. The political situation was turned upside down, the old leaders jailed, the elections became free (at least for one election!), and yet... wage labor, value production, the unending circulation of commodities and money, the reproduction of classes, all of this carried on without pause. Why?
Does anyone believe the situation in North Africa is a revolt against capitalism? If you do, do you think this revolt could lead to communism (or 'anarchy' or whatever you want to say)? If you say no to either question, what exactly are you supporting?'
-- From the Letters Journal
"Made in USA" tear gas cannister used by the Egyptian police on protestors. January, 2011.
Image source: crisisofcivilization