Category "America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?"

Chris Hedges On The Occupy Movement, Culture, Propaganda, Labor Suppression & More

January 24th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

Another excellent presentation by author and journalist Chris Hedges. Here he discusses his book “Death of the Liberal Class” and the destruction of critical culture, which flourished before World War I, but was destroyed soon afterwards. He provides a short, but spot on overview on the history of the American labor movement, the historical congealing of the forces aligned against it, and its relationship to the modern Occupy Wall Street movement.

Of particular importance and relevance is the history of the rise and dominance of state/corporate propaganda from World War I. This apparatus was originally employed against the Germans, but was then quickly turned against the labor movement. This is particularly relevant and telling history, which he begins to get into the meat of around the 12-minute mark in the video.

Hedges is one of the few people to openly and persistently discuss what I personally feel to be some of the most important and least talked about history in America; that of the ubiquitous but sublimated role of propaganda. Here, Hedges goes into some detail about the creation of the Committee on Public Information (The Creel Commission), and the employment of modern propaganda in America through the ideas of people like Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays. These are names known to very few Americans, but whose impact on our nation and our world is incalculable.

In Depth With Author and Journalist Chris Hedges

January 9th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

On New Year’s Day, C-SPAN did an in-depth interview with Chris Hedges, probing the author’s entire body of work. During this engaging discussion, the Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent spends three hours taking viewers’ calls, emails and tweets on topics such as terrorism, religion and politics.

This Book TV program is a comprehensive and fascinating conversation with one of America’s most important and critically lucid reporters. Hedges details in sweeping detail exactly why and how America has found itself in the sorry state that it is in today, and accurately characterizes our condition as one of a collapsing corporate empire.

This is a must see program for anyone interested in coming to grips with the full scope of the problems we face, and the course of action we can and should be looking towards ahead.

Watch The Program

New NDAA Law Effectively Nullifies The Bill of Rights: State Assumes Right To Arrest and Detain Indefinitely Without Charge

December 22nd, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

So has anyone noticed the Bill of Rights has become pretty much a dead letter? Maybe what is the final blow (after years of a series of blows), was this, the so-called “National Defense Authorization Act,” (more like the National Elite Power and Privilege Protection Act), passed on December 15th, which was, ironically enough, “Bill of Rights Day,” marking the 220th anniversary of its adoption. The gods of history have a sense of humor, if nothing else. Nothing like being killed on the day you were born for poetic drama.

Read about it here.

Jon Jost wrote about this insidious piece of legislation and its ramifications, in a post on his lucidly pointed blog Cinemelectronica

While the circus of the Republican nominee selection process travels the country putting on its dog and pony show, back in DC, in the furious rush to wrap up “business” before the Christmas break, our wonderful Congressmen and women have hobbled together a fantastic new bill, the annual National Defense Authorization Act – to say “law” – which Barack Obama, our erstwhile scholar of the Constitution, and our erstwhile “liberal” President, had promised to veto if it retained a certain element that had been tacked on in the devious manner of our politicians, a “rider” having to do with giving the Executive the (unconstitutional) right to declare someone “a terrorist” or even someone as being vaguely in some way connected to a claimed “terrorist” and to arrest them, lock them up, hide them, and throw away the key. American or not, where ever they are. However, as is his way, Mr Obama did his feint to the left, and now is ready to sign this new bill/law. And bye-bye to what is left of the Constitution’s “Bill of Rights.”

Read more about what all this means here from Robert Scheer.

Glenn Greenwald effectively dissects and debunks the myths about the NDAA, which are being propagated by its supporters and Obama defenders. This, like practically all of Greenwald’s stuff, is essential reading.

The Punk Patriot pretty much explains what this law potentially entails for American citizens, summing it up in his direct, to-the-point style in this video… (Note: Alert! - This video features the repeated use of graphic language)

This is bad stuff folks. Bad stuff. And how anyone can rationalize voting for Obama or ANY of the constitutional traitors in Congress who voted for this is beyond me. Would love to hear your rationale, if you’ve got one.

Assassinating The American Constitution

October 5th, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

With the recent extra-judicial killing of American Anwar Awlaki, exectued on the orders of President Obama without any provision of a charge of a crime against him, or any evidence as to such a crime having been committed, the United States Constitution has become effectively null and void.

Now certainly, the degradation of American legal and civic principles has been underway for quite some time. These anti-Constitutional policies went on steroids after 9/11, particularly due to the the uber-state, almost fascistic policies plowed forward by the Cheney/Bush administration.

The Fourth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution have long been dead letters. Now, thanks to Obama’s imperial act of killing an American citizen without any effort to recognize constitutionally guarantees to legal due process and state exhibition of evidence and proof of a crime before sentencing for that crime, we can now add the Fifth Amendment to the mortuary of American rights and principles.

Few writers have provided as clear, cutting, insightful, disturbing a description of this action by Obama than constitutional lawyer and commentator on, Glenn Greenwald

Now that hordes of Obama defenders are running around justifying the President’s due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki based on exactly the same claim and mindset — our President targeted a Very Bad Terrorist, so no due process or disclosure of evidence was needed — the same question obviously arises: if there’s so much evidence showing that Awlaki was involved in plotting Terrorist attacks on the U.S. (as opposed merely to delivering anti-U.S. sermons protected by the First Amendment), isn’t that even more of a reason to have indicted him and charged him with crimes before killing him? Please watch this amazing video of ABC News‘ Jake Tapper persistently questioning a stonewalling, imperious White House spokesman Jay Carney about this issue; remember: he’s asking the White House what evidence justified the U.S Government’s targeting of its own citizen for assassination with no due process, and the White House is telling him: we have it in secret but don’t need to show anyone.


That mentality — he’s a Terrorist because my Government said he’s one and I therefore don’t need evidence or trials to subject that evidence to scrutiny — also happens to be the purest definition of an authoritarian mentality, the exact opposite of the dynamic that was supposed to drive how the country functioned (Thomas Jefferson: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution“).


In other words: we wanted to strip Awlaki of his citizenship, but there’s no legal authority for us to do that, so we just went ahead and killed him. What a world apart from George Bush.

Bullseye. As one of Greenwald’s readers commented…

One of the more astounding things here is the willingness of, not just internet commentators, but pundits and media personalities who almost certainly know better, just blatantly making up fake “laws” or “circumstances” that supposedly allow and excuse this… His youtubes constitute treason! By moving to Yemen he revoked his US citizenship! He’s outside the country so the constitution doesn’t apply! I saw the same kind of thing regarding “Collateral Murder” and then again regarding Julian Assange. The media explaining to their audience circumstances and laws that factually do not exist. Just an extension of the “clap harder” principle… if we repeat a lie enough, we can act as if it’s true.

Read Greenwald’s complete article Here.

There’s also more on this from another realm of the political spectrum, someone who can hardly be considered some lefty agitator, Paul Craig Roberts. This former Reagan Treasury department official and member of the Wall Street Journal editorial staff is even more blunt and disconcerting regarding the full scope of what this action means for America and its future.

In our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Lawrence Stratton and I showed that long before 9/11, US law had ceased to be a shield of the people and had been turned into a weapon in the hands of the government. The event known as 9/11 was used to raise the executive branch above the law. As long as the President sanctions an illegal act, executive branch employees are no longer accountable to the law that prohibits the illegal act. On the president’s authority, the executive branch can violate US laws against spying on Americans without warrants, indefinite detention, and torture — and suffer no consequences.

Awlaki was a moderate American Muslim cleric who served as an adviser to the US government after 9/11 on ways to counter Muslim extremism. Awlaki was gradually radicalized by Washington’s use of lies to justify military attacks on Muslim countries. He became a critic of the US government and told Muslims that they did not have to passively accept American aggression and had the right to resist and to fight back. As a result Awlaki was demonized and became a threat.

All we know that Awlaki did was to give sermons critical of Washington’s indiscriminate assaults on Muslim peoples. Washington’s argument is that his sermons might have had an influence on some who are accused of attempting terrorist acts, thus making Awlaki responsible for the attempts.

Obama’s assertion that Awlaki was some kind of high-level Al Qaeda operative is merely an assertion. Jason Ditz concluded that the reason Awlaki was murdered rather than brought to trial is that the US government had no real evidence that Awlaki was an Al Qaeda operative.


“Terrorist” and “giving aid to terrorists” are increasingly elastic concepts. Homeland Security has declared that the vast federal police bureaucracy has shifted its focus from terrorists to “domestic extremists.”

It is possible that Awlaki was assassinated because he was an effective critic of the US government. Police states do not originate fully fledged. Initially, they justify their illegal acts by demonizing their targets, and in this way create the precedents for unaccountable power. Once the government equates critics with giving “aid and comfort” to terrorists, as they are doing with antiwar activists and Assange, or with terrorism itself, as Obama did with Awlaki, it will only be a short step to bringing accusations against Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU.

Read The Full Article

Death, Taxes and The American Founders: Losing The American Revolution

July 12th, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

There certainly is lots of heated political activity these days in regards to the issues of taxes (including estate taxes), public budgets, and the role of government within society and the economy. Now, adherents of what is being labeled the “Tea Party” are pushing an anti-tax and anti-governance ideology, on the premise that this is in the original traditions of American revolutionary independence. This article by Andrew M. Schocket goes some way in detailing how such an ideology doesn’t quite jive with historical fact.

Does allowing a small number of families to accumulate great wealth — increasing from generation to generation — harm democracy? The United States Constitution’s ban on inherited titles met with unanimous approval because of the perceived threat posed by lords and earls to a democratic republic. Similarly, Americans have always understood that establishing a small group of families with seemingly unlimited wealth, social privilege, and political power undermines a fundamental American principle: that all citizens are legally and politically equal.

Some founders wanted to eliminate inheritance entirely. In a letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson suggested that all property be redistributed every fifty years, because “the earth belongs in usufruct to the living.” Madison gently pointed out the plan’s impracticality. Benjamin Franklin unsuccessfully pushed for the first Pennsylvania constitution to declare concentrated wealth “a danger to the happiness of mankind.”

Read Death, Taxes and The American Founders

And this speech by Bill Moyers, originally delivered back in 2005 on Losing The American Revolution, helps lay out the lie of some of the disingenuous logic and history pushed by the corporatists and their political lackeys in their radical, market fundamentalism, which is currently eviscerating the social and economic fabric of America.

They’re back, my friends. They’re back in full force and their goal is to take America back - to their private Garden of Eden in that first Gilded Age when “the strong take what they wanted and the weak suffer what they must.” Look no further than today’s news: William Donaldson, who made a decent stab at enforcing post-Enron reform on Wall Street, is out as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; according to USA Today, the President’s big donors - the captains of finance - cashed in their IOUs and came away from the White House with his head on a platter. In his place: A right-wing congressman who takes a dim view of shareholder suits and favors eliminating the estate tax, the dividend tax, the - well, there’s no tax on wealth he doesn’t want to eliminate. Once again the chicken coop is sold to the fox.


Here’s the point: The last thing ideologues want is reporting about the facts on the ground. Facts on the ground subvert the party line. That’s why if you live where rightwing talk radio and media monopolies dominate the public discourse, you are told a hundred different ways every day why unregulated markets work better than democracy. It’s a lie, but it works, because you are never told the other side of the story. But here, on PBS one Friday evening, was the other side of the story. Here were ordinary people who are in pain for reasons not of their own making. And it was more than a rightwing apparatchik could take. Because too much of the truth might set those people free. Might take them to the voting booths - or even to the streets - to declare: We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

Read a transcript of the complete speech Here.

Historian Harvey J. Kaye on Thomas Paine and His Relevance To Change In America Today

June 20th, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

Good discussion between Thom Hartmann and Harvey J. Kaye, one of the foremost historians and academics on the life and work of Thomas Paine. This interview provides an introductory synopsis of Kaye’s book Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, one of the the great works of historical literature. Not simply a biography of Paine, the book details his importance to, and influence on, the American Revolution and all of American political progress since.

Watch Part 2 of the Interview

America, Empire of Consumption: Bill Moyers Interview with Andrew Bacevich

June 15th, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

This is a great interview on America’s state of denial and delusion in what is effectively our one-party state. Andrew Bacevich is a tried-and-true conservative, whose intellectual and moral authenticity is a breath of fresh air, and much-needed tonic, in today’s toxic charade of politics in our United States of Amnesia. This should be required reading/discussion in every political science classroom in the country.

You began The Limits of Power with a quote from the Bible, the book of Second Kings, chapter 20, verse 1: “Set thine house in order.” Why that admonition?

I’ve been troubled by the course of U.S. foreign policy for a long, long time… I think there’s a tendency on the part of policy makers and probably a tendency on the part of many Americans to think that the problems we face are problems that are out there somewhere, beyond our borders. And that if we can fix those problems, then we’ll be able to continue the American way of life as it has long existed. I think that’s fundamentally wrong. Our major problems are at home. You begin healing yourself by looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself as you really are.


Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington, D.C., and then imposed on us. Our foreign policy may be concocted in Washington, D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we the people want. And what we want, by and large, is to sustain the flow of very cheap consumer goods. We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the books balance at the end of the month or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want an unending line of credit.


You describe another fateful period between July 1979 and March 1983. You describe it, in fact, as a pivot of contemporary American history. That includes Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, right?

Well, I would be one of the first to confess that I think that we have misunderstood and underestimated President Carter. He was the one president of our time who recognized, I think, the challenges awaiting us if we refused to get our house in order.

Talk about his speech on July 15, 1979. Why does that speech resonate so strongly?

This is the so-called Malaise Speech, even though he never used the word malaise in the text. It’s a very powerful speech, because President Carter acknowledges that our dependence on oil poses a looming threat to the country. If we act now, he says, we may be able to fix this problem. If we don’t act now, we’re headed down a path along which not only will we become increasingly dependent upon foreign oil, but we will have opted for a false model of freedom. A freedom of materialism, a freedom of self-indulgence, a freedom of collective recklessness. The president was urging us to think about what we mean by freedom. We need to choose a definition of freedom that is anchored in truth, he argued, and the way to manifest that choice was by addressing our energy problem. Carter had a profound understanding of the dilemma facing the country in the post-Vietnam period. And, of course, he was completely derided and disregarded.

And he lost the election.


This speech killed any chance he had of winning reelection. Why? Because the American people didn’t want to settle for less?

They absolutely did not. And indeed, the election of 1980 was the great expression of that, because in 1980, we have a candidate, perhaps the most skillful politician of our time, Ronald Reagan, who says, “Doomsayers, gloomsayers, don’t listen to them. The country’s best days are ahead of us.”

“Morning in America.”

It’s “Morning in America.” You don’t have to sacrifice; you can have more of everything. All we need to do is get government out of the way and drill more holes for oil. The president led us to believe the supply of oil right here in North America was infinite.

You describe Ronald Reagan as the “modern prophet of profligacy, the politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption.”

To understand the truth about President Reagan is to appreciate the extent to which our politics are misleading and false. Remember, he was the guy who came in and said we need to shrink the size of government. But government didn’t shrink during the Reagan era, it grew. He came in and he said we need to reduce the level of federal spending. He didn’t reduce it. It went through the roof. The budget deficits for his time were the greatest we’d experienced since World War II.


What I would invite them to consider is this: if you want to preserve the American way of life, then you need to ask yourself, what exactly is it you value most? I believe that if we want to preserve that which we value most in the American way of life, then we will need to change the American way of life. We need to modify or discard things that are peripheral in order to preserve those things that possess real importance.


This brings us to what you call the political crisis of America, and you say, “The actual system of governance conceived by the framers . . . no longer pertains.”

I am expressing in the book what many of us sense, even if few of us are ready to confront the implications. Congress, especially with regard to matters related to national security policy, has thrust power and authority to the executive branch. We have created an imperial presidency. Congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of its members.


One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It’s not true.

I happen to define myself as a conservative. But when you look back over the past thirty or so years, said to have been a conservative era in American politics, did we get small government? Do we get balanced budgets? Do we give serious, as opposed to simply rhetorical, attention to traditional social values? The answer’s no. The truth is that conservative principles have been eyewash, part of a package of tactics that Republicans employ to get elected and to then stay in office.

Read The Complete Interview

Nuremberg, Bin Laden, and Those Quaint, Obsolete American Principles

May 18th, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

Ever since the killing of bin Laden, I have been trying to make sense of a whole series of thoughts and concerns, trying to put them into some kind of clear, cogent point, which would adequately express my nagging concern about the whole affair. There is no longer much need to continue that process, as Glenn Greenwald pretty much sums up my own thoughts and sentiments regarding the issue around the killing of bin Laden, and the state of American foreign and legal policy today. Thank you, Glenn, for giving those thoughts voice here, while saving me the effort to try to draft them out myself.

One bothersome aspect about the reaction to this event is the notion that bin Laden is some sort of singular evil, someone so beyond the pale of what is acceptable that no decent person would question what happened here: he killed civilians on American soil and the normal debates just don’t apply to him. Thus, anyone who even questions whether this was the right thing to do, as President Obama put it, “needs to have their head examined” (presumably that includes Benjamin Ferencz). In other words, so uniquely evil is bin Laden that unquestioningly affirming the rightness of this action is not just a matter of politics and morality but mental health. Thus, despite the lingering questions about what happened, it’s time, announced John Kerry, to “shut up and move on.” I know Kerry is speaking for a lot of people: let’s all agree this was Good and stop examining it. Tempting as that might be — and it is absolutely far easier to adhere to that demand than defy it — there is real harm from leaving some of these questions unexamined.

No decent human being contests that the 9/11 attack was a grave crime. But there are many grave crimes, including ones sanctioned by (or acquiesced to) those leading the chorus of cheers for bin Laden’s killing.


Yet the very same country — and often the very same people — collectively insisting upon the imperative of punishing civilian deaths (in the bin Laden case) has banded together to shield George Bush from any accountability of any kind. Both political parties — and the current President — have invented entirely new Orwellian slogans of pure lawlessness to justify this protection (Look Forward, Not Backward): one that selectively operates to protect only high-level U.S. war criminals but not those who expose their crimes. Worse, many of Bush’s most egregious crimes — including the false pretenses that led to this unfathomably lethal aggressive war and the widespread abuse of prisoners that accompanied it — were well known to the country when it re-elected him in 2004.

Those who advocated for those massive crimes — and even those who are directly responsible for them — continue to enjoy perfectly good standing in mainstream American political circles. The aptly named “Shock and Awe” was designed to terrify an entire civilian population into submission through the use of massive and indiscriminate displays of air bombings. John Podhoretz criticized the brutal assault on Fallujah for failing to exterminate all “Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35.” The country’s still-most celebrated “foreign affairs expert” at The New York Times justified that attack based on the psycopathic desire to make Iraqis “Suck. On. This.” The Washington Post hires overt torture advocates as Op-Ed writers and regularly features Op-Ed contributions from the architects of the Iraq crime, as they did just today (Donald Rumsfeld claiming “vindication”). And, of course, we continue to produce widespread civilian deaths in multiple countries around the world with virtually no domestic objection.

There’s no question that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack committed grave crimes and deserved punishment. But the same is true for the perpetrators of other grave crimes that result in massive civilian death, including when those perpetrators are American political officials. As Ferencz put it when describing one of the core lessons of Nuremberg: “every leader who is responsible for planning and perpetrating that crime should be held to account in a court of law, and the law applies equally to everyone.” More than anything, that precept — the universality of these punishments — was the central lesson of Nuremberg, as Jackson explained in his Opening Statement:

What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. . . . . And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.


There is, of course, a difference between deliberately targeting civilians and recklessly causing their deaths. But, as American law recognizes in multiple contexts, acts that are undertaken recklessly — without regard to the harm they cause — are deemed intentional. And when it comes to an aggressive and illegal war that counts the deaths of extinguished civilian lives in the hundreds of thousands — such as the destruction of Iraq — those distinctions fade into insignificance.

Read The Complete Post

And this is a must-hear piece, from a Canadian radio interview with Benjamin Ferencz about the bin Laden killing, the Nuremberg principles, and the U.S. role in the world. Ferencz is a 92-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, American combat soldier during World War II, and a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, where he prosecuted numerous Nazi war criminals, including some responsible for the deaths of upward of 100,000 innocent people.

He lays it out straight up. I hope we take the time to listen, America, and know thyself a bit better.

Listen to the Interview

Emergency Powers Dissolving Local Government Authority

April 24th, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

If this doesn’t make you nervous, perhaps it should.

In a move believed to be the first under sweeping new state legislation, Emergency Manager Joseph Harris suspended decision-making powers of city officials Friday.


The action is likely the first since Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law in March a new statute that grants more powers to emergency managers appointed by the Treasury Department to take over distressed schools and communities.


“This is sad news for democracy in Michigan,” said Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton Harbor … we can now see the true nature of the emergency manager system.”


The new powers of emergency managers include setting aside collective bargaining. Harris’ order comes before two days of training for prospective emergency managers and turnaround experts is to be held next week.

These laws allow the governor to appoint an emergency “manager” from any “firm,” which means a private company could become responsible for the governance of a local municipality. It’s a form of corporate martial law. We saw some first, ugly tastes of it in New Orleans in the wake of the flood.

Here’s another example of this at work, where Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is looking to implement the same process that we are seeing in Michigan.

Following the lead of Michigan GOP Governor Rick Snyder, Walker is said to be preparing a plan that would allow him to force local governments to submit to a financial stress test with an eye towards permitting the governor to take over municipalities that fail to meet with Walker’s approval.


Such a law would additionally give Walker unchallenged power to end municipal services of which he disapproves, including safety net assistance to those in need.


Should these reports prove accurate, Walker’s plan would resemble-if not directly mirror- the legislation signed into law by Gov. Snyder of Michigan which gives Snyder extraordinary powers to take over municipalities when he determines them to be in financial trouble, further permitting him to actually fire locally elected public officials when he deems it desirable.

Gov. Snyder’s extraordinary law became all too real this week when Emergency Financial Manager, Joseph Harris, appointed by the Governor to take charge of Benton Harbor, Michigan, issued an order which took away all powers of the city’s elected officials.

Yes, this has really happened right here in the United States of America.

Walker’s plans give further credence to the notion that the efforts of the GOP governors with Republican majorities in their state legislative bodies are part of a coordinated plan to enforce a right-wing agenda designed to not only destroy state, county and municipal employee unions, but to take control of local governments by replacing elected officials with appointees, both corporate and individual, of the state’s highest executive officer.

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From Protest To Revolution

February 22nd, 2011 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

Dan Hind gets to the point at hand here, and calls us all out to act and live more democratically. This means not simply waiting around for leaders to provide for our freedoms and civic well being, but to take responsibility into our own hands for the state of our society and its future sustenance.

The decision of the Egyptian people to take responsibility for their future - their decision to become citizens - enlivens, even delights. This is a movement that isn’t being orchestrated by leaders in the way we have been led to expect. People are acting as though they are free and so becoming free.

The Egyptians, like the Tunisians - like people all over the world - want a share in the vast wealth that their rulers and a handful of insiders have hoarded for themselves. They want dignity and a life they can call their own.


They have changed their opinion of what is possible and right. Every day of freedom they enjoy is a message to the rest of us; things do not have to be as they are.


We have long been entranced by the idea that shopping and voting once every four years for one wing or other of the pro-business party would be enough to give us the good life. Vast public relations campaigns fostered the sense that a better future could be had, if only we chose wisely from the list of approved candidates. All the while the rich have taken more and left the rest of us to struggle with insecurity, anxiety and mounting debts. The people in Cairo didn’t look to charismatic politicians or party machines to do the work for them.


The Tea Party in the United States and Conservatives in Britain promise change while working to ensure that everything that matters stays the same. The right in both countries has benefited from the failure of their centrist opponents to address the fundamental causes of recession, unemployment and social breakdown. It is as though the entire political establishment has adopted the stultifying uniformity of a one-party state. There is a bankruptcy of policy and of principle that will, perhaps, finally compel us to take matters into our own hands.

In the presidential campaign of 2008, Barack Obama never tired of telling voters they were the change they had been looking for. The people of Tunisia and Egypt have turned a clever slogan into an undeniable fact. They did not wait for permission to take action. If we want another world we must all learn from them.

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