February 12, 2011

Today’s the First Day of the Rest of Your Democratic Lives

Filed under: American Revolution, Freedom, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: — Russ @ 3:20 am


Yesterday was a great day for Egypt and humanity. If only for a moment, humanity has shone forth in all its best qualities. Aspiration, resolve, courage, faith, the will to freedom, discipline, grace under pressure, good will, generosity, self-organization, and an effusive heart have been the defining themes of this great democratic movement. Anyone who doubted whether such things could exist again on this scorched earth can never doubt again. The revolution has already achieved this great goal. It has added another glorious tale to the annals of freedom’s history, which is the defining line of human history itself, the core of what makes us human.
At Egypt’s Liberation Square, which has now expanded to encompass the entire country, the great achievement has been a self-sustaining movement. In principle there’s no reason for the democracy to physically adjourn, and every reason for it to stay in session. This physical convocation has won its first demand and in the process has constituted itself as the ongoing demonstration of the people’s belief in and respect for themselves. It looks like they were having lots of fun as well.
These are the things that make us human, not the toil we allegedly must perform to receive a meager portion of a vast productive output. So if it were me I’d be saying now’s not the time to return to what the still existing system, and much of our own indoctrination, will still be telling us is “normal”. I’d say let’s make this living democracy our new normal. Let’s cycle between it and our workaday lives while we formulate a new Constitution which will change this strange wealth distribution which forces us to work so hard for such a small portion of what only we produce. Let’s hold open democratic session where every citizen has the full opportunity to be a democratic participant. Our citizenship shall reform our work arrangements while our work informs our citizenship. Thus we shall circle the Square.
The identifiable spokesmen gave different versions of the same basic plan for a transitional government toward real elections. There’s a definite difference on whether the Constitution merely needs tweaking (which may or may not even be actual reform), or whether there must be a whole new convention. That’s a clear measure of real vs. phony democratic aspiration. The transition-to-election plan will depend on the integrity of whoever is delegated to negotiate with the military, on the military’s own good faith (I don’t expect this to be overflowing, but perhaps there might be some flexibility there), and on whoever runs for office. All this sounds uncertain, but this election along with constitutional change comprise the highest hope of the Egyptian people. A street democracy (I don’t mean the assembly has to literally be held in the Square) could serve as the democratic vigilance committee, keeping military and wavering democratic “leaders” on notice that they’ll be held to the standard of the movement’s promise to the people.
In that way democracy could continue its development independently of the pre-existing political forms. This evolution has cycled from the original planning of the April 6th Movement (A6M), building on the example of years of intensifying strike activity, which was able to propel enough people into the streets to achieve critical mass for revolutionary spontaneity to take off. This spontaneity then masterfully organized itself to meet every challenge over two weeks of stand-off, tension, threat, violence, on top of all the mundane yet critical logistical challenges. This provided the space for the strike movement to achieve its own breakthrough, and together the political revolution and the strikers achieved the first proximate goal, forcing out the hated figurehead and severely damaging his regime.
Now begins the far longer work of preserving, nurturing, and building on this democracy. Since the living democracy is in the Square, while the rest remains fraught potential, the people must cherish and defend the ground they’ve won, and continue the assertive fight from that terrain. Everything points in the same direction – the Commune, to import a term from the glorious episodes of another city and people, must stay in session to oversee the work of the “designated” committees and assemblies. It’ll be a great development if the people constitute some vigorous form of this. It’s the most logical thing, the most practical thing, and the best way to keep alive the new democratic spirit which has become such a part of the demonstrating citizens’ day-to-day lives. Surely they don’t want to hand off such a wonderful self-bestowed gift to “representatives”? The higher, better mode of organization, the true natural development of the democracy, will now be the organization of this bottom-up form. From there, every kind of council can ramify throughout Egypt. Not to fully replace the designated top-down forms (yet), but to exist parallel and co-equal. That would be the goal for anyone who would say, “We have a democracy, if we can keep it.”
The American Revolution proclaimed that revolution is the true redemption of the best spirit of antiquity, the original democratic aspiration which was so obscured through the dark centuries of empire and the degradation of the intellect. Therefore revolution, true to its name, is in one sense a circling back and the restoration of a lost heritage. So, just as the positive circle of the democratic citizen’s activity between economic and political democracy circles the Square, to continue the Egypt-specific metaphor, this revolving back to ancient redemption is a Squaring of the circle. Just as the Square cannot survive except through the permanent living circle, so this virtuous circle cannot exist except as sustained by the intrepid spirit of the Square.  


  1. From Daniel Levy, in Haaretz today:

    “The Israeli-Egyptian peace has neutralized any serious Arab military option vis-a-vis Israel, although the same cannot be said in reverse. Since signing the accord with Egypt, Israel has conducted several large-scale military campaigns against Lebanon and against the Palestinians, launched bombing raids against Syria and Iraq, and conducted high-profile assassinations in Jordan and the UAE – and that is only a partial list.

    To the 1978 Camp David Accords was attached an annex entitled “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East,” which included a commitment to withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and to negotiating final status within five years. That of course never happened. What did happen is that the 10,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank when that accord was signed have become over 300,000 today.”


    Comment by black swan — February 12, 2011 @ 6:44 am

    • It sure is an eccentric use of the word “peace” to describe Israel’s depredations since Camp David.

      Comment by Russ — February 12, 2011 @ 10:10 am

  2. Who will be next, Jordan and Morocco or Algeria?

    Comment by black swan — February 12, 2011 @ 7:44 am

    • It looks like this can reverberate anywhere. Jordan’s king tried to pre-empt it by getting ahead of the protests by sacking his government at the first sign of trouble. (By contrast, Mubarak’s “concessions”, even leaving aside their bogosity, were always too little too late, after the democracy’s demands had already moved on.)

      Anywhere and everywhere will be a great place. Saudi Arabia’s the ultimate prize.

      Comment by Russ — February 12, 2011 @ 10:14 am

      • Russ, when it comes to Saudi Arabia, be careful what you wish for. The madrassas are not a joke. Many of the Taliban were educated in Saudi madrassas. When the Saudi Royals are finally overthrown, it will be by some serious religious hardliners. Ditto for Pakistan.

        Comment by black swan — February 12, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

      • Why would any of us be worried about madrassas? Our enemy is neoliberal corporatism, and I want to get out of the Middle East and end globalization completely.

        It’s well-known that the people of the Middle East don’t want caliphates, and that the only thing which generates support for fundamentalism is the US imperial presence and its crimes.

        So as with other questions like this, my premise is that the best thing American democracy can do for Arabian democracy is to end the empire, end globalization, and get out.

        Which is also the best thing American democracy can do for itself. The interests of democracy are everywhere aligned. It’s simply the radical antithesis of the interests of corporate globalism. Zero sum.

        Comment by Russ — February 13, 2011 @ 4:01 am

  3. “and that the only thing which generates support for fundamentalism is the US imperial presence and its crimes.”

    “US imperial presence” is an important factor in fomenting the rise of religious fundimentalism in Saudi Arabia, but is certainly not the “only” factor.

    “end globalization, and get out.

    Which is also the best thing American democracy can do for itself”

    This “American democracy” you speak of has become a myth at best and an oxymoron at worst. America is run by a corporatocracy that nobody voted for. It is an occupying force, and any “free” democratic national elections are little more than bread and circuses for the hoi polloi. As far as religious fundamentalism goes, last time I checked, there was a large religious fundamentalist movement alive and well right here in the US, and the Ayatollah Robertson, etc, would be just as powerful, with or without the US presence in the Middle East. As Ron Paul once quoted, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross”. Fascism, of course, has already come to America. Leo Strauss and Father Coughlin must be laughing from their graves. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

    Comment by black swan — February 13, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  4. What you call “America”, I call a colony of an international corporatist cartel, that works like this:


    Comment by black swan — February 13, 2011 @ 7:38 am

  5. I believe we are pretty much on the same page, other than that I believe that those who rule America are international in nature. The same destruction of the middle class, that we are experiencing here in the US, is also mirrored and in concert with what is being experienced in Greece, Ireland, Iceland, the UK, etc.

    There is a cartel of central banks, and the Fed is just the largest member. It is the Fed’s list of PDs that reads like a who’s who of those in power at the top of the pyramid, and over the central banks. What most see as American policy, I see as international corporatist cartel policy. Post-industrial countries have no national borders that limit the power of the international corporatist cartel. The cartel’s money, power and influence is ubiquitous in post industrial societies.

    Comment by black swan — February 13, 2011 @ 11:32 am

    • You’re right about it being a rootless, stateless, alien cabal.

      The US government (a rogue, illegitimate structure) is the most powerful player in terms of brute strength, although it’s dominated by the Wall Street banks and other favored oligopolies. Other kleptocratic governments, other corporate rackets, and the globalization organizations all ramify from there.

      As I described it in this post:


      Who are the globalizers? Don’t look first at the World Bank, IMF, WTO and so on. Those are just the power launderers, the stooge cadres. In America, the real globalizers are Wall Street, the Republican and Democratic Parties, the weapons rackets, and the Big Ag rackets – Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, Tyson, Smithfield, and others. These are the players who concoct the “agreements” among “countries” which are really turf deals among gangster elites. The politicians sign these agreements and set up special organizations like the WTO and IMF to serve as the point men. But the WTO, and for that matter most of the Dems and Reps, are the hired goons. The “free” trade treaties are really corporate contracts, written by the likes of Monsanto and Cargill. But these contracts aren’t actual agreements among free parties. They’re instruments of tyranny to be imposed by elite diktat, from the top down, from the highest, most concentrated power, as a hail of rocks, burning ash, and poison upon the disenfranchised people below.

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

      • I agree 100%, and their execution of the divide and conquer game has been so successful, that the US will never be able to pull an Egypt without taking over the corporatist run MSM. The FCC is just one more tool of the monopolistic mafiocracy.

        Comment by black swan — February 13, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  6. Russ/All,

    Not sure if you’ve already seen this one or not, but over at Naked Capitalism, Yves links to a brilliant article by Arundhati Roy, entitled “Democracy’s Fading Light”.

    It’s 14 pages and should be read from start to finish, as one or two excerpts can’t begin to do the article justice. Nevertheless, following are two excerpts (and I apologize if you’ve already read the article) First, on how corporations and ruling elites have debased language for their own benefit:

    “This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the new dispensation. It has allowed them to marginalize their detractors, deprive them of a language in which to voice their critique and dismiss them as being ‘anti-progress’, ‘anti-development’, ‘anti-reform’ and of course ‘anti-national’negativists of the worst sort.

    And an excerpt on Indian elites who may be committing (or about to commit) genocide in the name of “progress”:

    “If you look at a map of India’s forests, its mineral wealth, and the homelands of the Adivasi people, you’ll see that they’re stacked up over each other. So in reality, those who we call poor are the truly wealthy. As the globalized corporate economy strengthens its grip on our lives and our imaginations, its beneficiaries have united and seceded into outer space. From there they look down at the forests and river valleys where the poor live and see superfluous people sitting on precious resources. They are puzzled. They wonder: What’s our water doing in their rivers, what’s our bauxite doing in their mountains? What’s our iron-ore doing in their forests? The Nazis had a phrase for superfluous people —überzähligen Essern, superfluous eaters.

    Comment by Frank Lavarre — February 13, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    • Thanks Frank. I like to think that once the scam is well known, out in the open, as this Orwellian/Frank Luntz/Goebbel’s propaganda machine has become, that the jig is up. It may be too much to expect in this case, but my own instincts usually don’t exceed the norm.

      I’ve been painfully aware of this stuff for a long time so that, when I saw an article on HuffPo, that Sarkozy’s wife has stated that she’s become conservative, it got my attention. Not that I read the story. It was some combination of the comment’s timing and placement that struck me as -well, discordant -you could say.

      So, now that discordance can be explained. Now that her hubby has proclaimed that he believes (independently of course) that ‘multiculturalism’ doesn’t work; Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom (independently of course) says, ‘multiculturalism’ doesn’t work;
      Merkel (independently of course) says German multiculturalism has failed; and Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) (not just incidentally a Black man who drew attention to that fact by pointing to himself as “proof” that claims Republicans were racist were plainly untrue) while delivered the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference included a similar remark (independent thinker that he is also, like the others similarly stricken with the revelation) ‘warn[ing] about allowing multiculturalism to “grow on steroids” and overshadow “definitive American culture. ”

      Coalition against the people of the Middle East? Does it matter? I think what matters is that western leaders are in cohoots against democratic representative systems all over the world.

      And, as such, they are not leaders at all; nothing but criminal propagandists, etcetera

      Comment by LeeAnne — February 13, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

      • Thanks for the link, Frank. I noticed that at NC but didn’t read it yet. But I’ve read some other good stuff by Roy.

        I often find myself thinking of the phrase “useless eaters” nowadays, but in a very different direction from the one Roy mentions. It’s very clear who are the useless eaters infesting and afflicting us.

        Like for example the elite parasites LeeAnne mentions. It’s funny how they brought in large numbers of immigrants in order to drive down wages but never did get the hang of how to assimilate them. Now they’re giving up, but it’s too late.

        America’s “melting pot” and propaganda of freedom and prosperity made a lot more sense for a long time, as far as inducing immigrants not only to come but to want to assimilate.

        One of the key symptoms of America’s late-empire decadence is how immigrants no longer believe in the lies about American “freedom” and “values”, but come only looking to improve their economic position. They figure there’s no reason to abandon their existing culture, language, etc., since they rightly figure that those of the US are worthless to anyone who’s not rich. So if you weren’t born and raised here, why bother?

        There as usual, liberals and conservatives collaborated in this atomization which is now starting to backfire on their corporate system, since as the European corporatists have already found, it’s harder to control an immigrant population which simply reconstituted its native culture on the new soil.

        Comment by Russ — February 13, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

    • Thanks for pointing this article out, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it buried in the links otherwise. Quite good.

      Comment by paper mac — February 13, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

      • Paper mac, thanks for the Rull article. I especially appreciate how he identifies capitalism as such (and not “abuses” of it) as the destructive, unsustainable practice. That’s impressive for what you say is a neoliberal publication. (Normally I have to go to Monthly Review for such environmental critiques.)

        On the other hand, he still thinks the answer has to be some top-down solution worked out by elites.

        Comment by Russ — February 13, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

      • I’m glad you found it of interest, Russ. I agree that the conclusion of the article is weak, at best, and short on legitimate democratic solutions to the issues outlined therein. I was refreshed to see someone outlining the problems with “sustainability” under our current economic regime, though, and the venue was interesting. I’ll be interested to see whether this kind of highly charged viewpoint begins to become more common in scientific journals, or whether those views are quashed by the predominant tendency to delegitimise “political” interpretations of scientific data (ie those interpretations which explicitly acknowledge that incremental “reform” of the neoliberal order is doomed to failure).

        Comment by paper mac — February 13, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  7. Good morning Russ,

    Having learned just last night on progressive radio that such a thing exists, that the Green Bay Packers are a community-owned team (I’m suddenly alert to such ideas thanks to you), your readers may find this randomly selected Internet opinion on the subject of ‘community owned’ vs ‘privately owned’ teams relevant to the subject of direct democracy as I do:

    kevinhates blog

    Comment by LeeAnne — February 13, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    • Good afternoon, LeeAnne. I don’t follow football, but I heard something about that.

      There’s nothing democratic about corporatist professional sports, though. Yet another thing that wouldn’t exist if those who want it actually had to pay for it.

      Thanks for what you said about my having helped alert you to this stuff.

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

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