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Decline and Fall (Maybe) Jan 31 - Egypt and the False Dilemma

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image Image: Cairo, January 2011

The powers that be are busy creating a false dilemma for the public: support the right of the Egyptian people to determine their own fate or protect your safety and the current standard of living, as it were.

By Michael Collins

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to  petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The people of Egypt have had enough of a failed dictatorship masquerading as a democracy.  As events unfold, we're seeing a cautionary message entering the corporate media coverage of this event.  Having never exposed the dire conditions that prompted the massive protests and demands for change, we're now told that this could negatively impact oil supplies, the stock market, and anti-terror efforts.  No foundation for the claims was provided but they're repeated regularly on CNN, the NBC's, Fox, and the print media.

Thus, a false dilemma is created for the public:  support the right of people to determine their own fate or protect your safety and the current standard of living, as it were.

Egypt's Oppressive Tyranny

Eighty million Egyptians have suffered under an oppressive regime for thirty years.  President Hosni Murbark became Egypt's president and dictator in 1981 after the assassination of the late President Answer Sadat in 1981.  Sadat had just completed a peace treaty with Israel.  Since then, Mubarak has ruled through emergency law for all but 18 months.  Using this law, the government has the, "right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court."  The Egyptian parliament extended for two years in May 2010.  For those who get too far out of line, there are the famous torture facilities of the national police.

The Egyptian revolution followed the successful peoples uprising in Tunisia just days before.  The Egyptian economy has not performed for the people.  The majority of Egyptians live in substandard conditions and they see little reason for hope. Conditions were no better in Tunisia.   Future hot spots for revolution, Algeria and Yemen, are equally bereft of the conditions that allow for human dignity - gainful employment, health, and safety.

Children are particularly hard hit, one third of Egypt's population.  A recent UNISEF that, "Increases in child mortality and morbidity, child labour, child exploitation, violence against children and women and other forms of abuse, alongside declines in school attendance and the quality of education, nurture, care and emotional wellbeing, can all be traced to times of economic crisis." (Harper et al, 2009).  The Egyptian economic crisis has been devastating to children.

The following graph shows relative life expectancy, illiteracy rates, and infant mortality for Tunisia and Egypt.  These are fundamental conditions of life and human dignity.  High illiteracy rates promote tyrannical rule by keeping the people uninformed.

The conditions in Egypt are different from those in the United States in terms of income and material wealth.  On a structural level, however, the class inequalities mirror those faced here.  A robust stock market failed to translate into employment gains or basic benefits for the vast majority.  Policies are friendly to businesses but discriminate against worker rights and unions.  Privatization has sapped the public coffers.

While conditions were building up to a boiling point, the Egyptian Stock Exchange became a favorite for foreign investors.  Somehow, the geniuses on Wall Street convinced President Mubarak to privatize and adopt a market economy[crony capitalism].  He did, the people suffered more, and the results led to the near universal demand that Mubarak step down.  The globalization of crony capitalism has reached the point where the main stimulus is revolution.

Things were fine for the Egyptian stock exchange until the people had enough. Bloomberg

The False Dilemma

The coverage of Egypt's revolution has been a bit timelier than the Tunisian affair, which the corporate media nearly missed.  The initial focus was on events and the questions determining the survival of Hosni Mubarak.   Who will win?  There was no explanation of conditions prompting the protests.  That would legitimized the protesters and foreclose media manipulation that may be needed to continue the three decade support for the present dictatorship and oligarchy.

A Wall Street Journal article Sunday laid out the talking points for fear mongering and the false dilemma - support a peoples revolution or take an oil shock and more terror.

US stocks are taking a big hit because of the revolution.  We're supposed to react by thinking, Is this really worth it?  The recession may get worse.

"Anti-government protests in Egypt have affected world financial markets, with US stocks suffering the biggest one-day loss in six months." Egyptian Unrest Has Repercussions in Global Economy Wall Street Journal (WSJ), January 30

The specific fear of oil price increases appears.  Somehow, we're asked to believe that a new government might say, all of a sudden, no more United States ships in the Suez Canal.

"In the short term, the biggest global economic worry remains oil prices. Egypt itself isn't a big energy producer. But significant shipments of oil and petroleum products pass through Egypt each day on their way from the Mideast to European and U.S. markets."  WSJ 01/30

There is absolutely no basis for this.  Therefore, the fabrication is deliberate and ill intended.

Then the Journal trots out an expert who draws a conclusion based on the unproven hypothetical.  Once again, there is no basis for saying that there would be any shipping disruptions.  Why would a new Egyptian government give up that income or pick a fight with a White House with a record of military aggression?

"If oil shipments through Egypt were disrupted, European supply—and global prices—would be affected tremendously, said Dalton Garis, an associate professor in petroleum-market behavior at the Petroleum Institute, an energy-research center in Abu Dhabi." WSJ 01/30

The media is like a dog on point.  They just can't give up the notion that we're headed for an oil shock.

"Apart from Egypt's role as an energy transporter, fear that unrest could spread to bigger oil producers could exacerbate worries." WSJ 01/30

Where is the information that would justify this fear?

Where is the explanation that accounts for this remarkable mass uprising?

Where are the questions about the three decades of neglect by several U.S. administrations?

When you support a tyrant who oppresses his/her people, you risk the antipathy of the people when they gain control.

Apparently, our ruling class hasn't paid any attention to recent history.  For years, successive US regimes supported dictatorial rule in South America.  The dictators are gone, left leaning governments are in place, and no one is lining up to punish the United States.

The real concern about change in Egypt is all about control.  The elite of the US and Europe may encounter a leader who isn't in their pocket, doesn't care whether or not he or she is invited to Davos, and actually seeks the benefit of the vast majority of citizens rather than the crony capitalist network also known as the global economy.


The Money Party

This article may be reproduced in part or entirely with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (2 posted):

Kat on 01/31/2011 08:31:41
Thanks, Mike. I cringe when I see headlines focusing on how the demonstrations threaten stock markets. Proof that many people profit from misery.
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Susan Lindauer on 02/02/2011 08:44:33
FINALLY some sensible commentary (backed up by outstanding research). No surprise that it comes from Michael Collins. CNN and Fox ignored the Egyptian uprising as long as they could. You pretty much have to check with the BBC to learn anything real now that Al Jazeera's been tossed by the dictators.
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