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The Arab Revolution: coming to a cinema near you

The Arab Revolution: coming to a cinema near you

The only way to deal with an “unfree” world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.  That appears to be the modus operandi that has defined the Arab Uprising for months.  Now, this phenomenon is slowly but strenuously gnawing into the socio-economic psyche at global level.  When a poor Tunisian man took his own life for being slapped by a female police officer, little did the world know that this one-man act of defiance will give birth to global unrest?  As unrests go,Tunisia begot Egypt, Egypt begot Syria and the latter, Libya. Although these unrests took place in different geo-political regions, political commentators have not stopped falling over themselves to describe them.  Some called it “the Arab Spring” while I politely referred to it as the “Arab Perestroika”.  The common gender among these states is that, they are all Muslim dominated countries where a dichotomy between politics and religion is thinly veiled (no pun intended).

Rebellions in these parts were not only uncommon but unthinkable. Their leaders or tyrants have always used the Koran (religion), like Karl Max said, as the opium of the masses. To defy or even question their authority was seen as blasphemous to these self proclaimed God’s deputies on earth. Their leaders used fear as their weapon of choice to keep the populace down trodden. FromIraq,Iran, to right downSyria, It is no surprise that these countries have always been ruled by the minority. While the Western world enjoys a relative dose of the rule of law, Middle Eastern countries have been breast fed on the rule of fear. Ironically, with the changing tide of events in these parts, rebellion against tyrants is now seen as an act of obedience to God. Interestingly, these rebels may not know where they are going but they believe that any road will get them there.

The world watched on as the political landscape in theMiddle Eastwas re-jigged. It is unquestionable that the rise and fall of these tyrants had the finger prints of the West all over them. Millions of dollars, pounds and Euros have been spent to “politically upgrade” the Middle East; though selectively. Jose Ortega once said that “revolution is not the uprising against pre-existing order, but the setting up of a new order contradictory to the traditional one”. It is the recent protests in cities around the western world that have brought such similarities sharply into focus. The comparisons cannot be more glaring. Although individual countries, spear headed by the Greek tragedy have had their share of protests against job cuts and other austerity measures, this week’s simultaneous protests have threatened, like the head of Medusa the Gorgon, to take it to global proportions.

Some of these protests may be well meaning but run the risk of them being hijacked by “trouble makers”. But like the Arab Spring, similarities abound. In theMiddle East, politics and religion are bed fellows while in the west, politics and greed share a marital existence. They might differ in makeup but in both sets of circumstances, it is the minority that is exerting authority over the majority. The recent protests inRome,London,New York, and Athens etc have targeted financial institutions, which in themselves symbolise the greed perpetuated by the minority over the majority.

The irony is that every society is structured on greed; which is commonly referred to as “capitalism”. In essence, capitalism has become an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, and hence the problem of social organisation. Although there is enough in the world for everyone’s need, sadly not enough for everyone’s greed. The twin ingredients of capitalism have always been greed and envy. It is no wonder that politicians will never accuse you of “greed” for wanting other people’s money, but will do so for wanting to keep your own money. Just ask the taxman or IRS. In other quarters, greed has been seen as the word used by losers, liberals and low achievers to discredit and shame those who have acquired superior job skills and decision making, through the application of their jobs.

With the Arab Spring wafting its way to the west, one cannot help make flimsy but noticeable comparisons. President Assad has been told to go, as he has “lost the right” to rule. Mubarak and Gaddaffi were asked to leave power when the people relinquished fear. Violent attempts to clamp down on the uprisings were rightly condemned and continue to be by all and sundry. These leaders were told to observe the right of the civilian to protest; “a God given right”, peacefully. It is interesting to see what happened when people tried to protest, “Peacefully” inNew York,London,ParisandRome. “Do as I say” springs to mind.

President Obama may be experiencing an unenviable opinion poll rating. When he took power in 2008,Americawas fed on a diet of hopes and aspirations. He professed and continues to believe that the rich, who make up less than 2% of the population, must endure a higher tax burden. With that, he hoped to fund, among other sources, healthcare for all. The Republicans opposed him and branded him a socialist and communist. Had it not been for the laws of sanity, words like “Obamacare” would have found their way into the Oxford Dictionary, courtesy of the Tea Party. The Republicans have always been known as apostles of big businesses and capitalism. They opposed Obama’s tax rise for the rich minority 2%, and tax cuts for the poor.

The irony is that, they were right when they accused Obama of being a socialist and communist. Socialism is judged by its hopes and aspirations; and this (hope) is exactly what Obama brought to the political dinner table. Capitalism is judged by its operations; man exploiting man. When they coined the phrase “Obamacare”, they were correct too; as Obama cares. With the protests inNew Yorkaimed at Wall Street, this could be political manna for Obama. If I were Obama, I will take my 2008 manifesto to Wall Street, join the protest; sit back and see my ratings take a seismic rise on the political Richter scale; because both he and the protesters had long had these fat cats in their sights.

It seems like the Arab Spring is blowing towards the west; for a winter of discontent. Grab your coat, not a Hoodie.

Abdulai Mansaray,UK

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