February 17, 2011

Egyptian Seed Bank Looted by Thugs; Seeds Safe

Filed under: American Revolution, Civil Disobedience, Food and Farms, Freedom, Relocalization — Tags: — Russ @ 4:31 am


After the Egyptian people chased the uniformed police from the streets, the police pivoted to plain-clothes and a looting offensive. This was meant to terrorize citizens and smear the protests. As we know, it failed miserably, as the people took responsibility for defending their homes and streets, public property, and confronting the thugs.
Mubarak’s thugs were eventually reduced to attacking Western media figures and carrying out revenge attacks in isolated places. They were routed.
But one location which fell victim to the thugs was the Egyptian Deserts Seed Bank in North Sinai. Luckily, the seeds themselves weren’t damaged (read the comment thread at the link), although lots of equipment was stolen or damaged. This confirms not only the viciousness and stupidity of existing governments (early in the Afghan war a seed bank there was completely destroyed for no apparent reason but pure neoliberal terrorism), but the strategic principle that while state of the art centralized seed banks are good as long as they’re not corporatized, they are not sufficient. In a world of increasing civil disturbance, counter-revolutionary destruction, and natural disaster, it’s imperative that the Freedom Seed movement develop a broadly decentralized system of seed saving. This seed bank relocalization is necessary as both complementary to and independent of any formalized system.
Meanwhile the strikes continue in Egypt, as the workers defy regime threats to criminalize worker assemblies. The democracy is calling for a Day of Victory demonstration on Friday. The Military Council continues to try to ease into “normalization” while postponing the most formal measures. It keeps pushing back bank reopenings and lifting other suspensions. By trying to refuse the democracy’s economic demands, the regime continues to damage the very stability it claims to want to restore.
Egypt’s continued revolution is now the center of a vast fan of uprisings which have broken across the wings of the North African/Middle East eagle. In Algeria, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen the people are demonstrating against varying levels of repression, making demands similar to those of Egypt. (In Bahrain there’s also a strong Shiite vs. Sunni aspect to it.)
These are all repressive regimes, perhaps worse than that of Mubarak. But we see the contagion of democracy. Even more imminently potent, we see the contagion of political self-respect, self-confidence, courage. Almost everywhere the people are realizing that no matter how forbidding the regime’s ugly face, if they go to the streets confidently, in critical numbers, these gangs of thugs turn into paper tigers. In the end they’re just cowardly bullies who can’t stand up to the defiance of the unified democratic people, but can only foment division and prey on despair.
So the lesson is clear. Reject despair, reject “fear itself”, reject the failed “reformist” counsel of cowardice (which has its basis only in this despair and fear, where it’s not simply treacherous). Face the enemy with confidence and resolve. Perhaps, especially in a place like America, most of the initial work must be organizational and directly affirmative, indirectly subversive. There are also innumerable opportunities for direct action and civil disobedience right now. All this will be laying the groundwork for the eventual great democratic assertions, once our own discipline and confidence reach critical mass. 

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