Not solving the problem in the Middle East

Just as I thought the story had died down, the New York Times carried a story about how uprisings inspired by successes in Tunisia and Egypt have appeared all over the Middle East.[1]

While unloved dictators are being overthrown, I see little indication of a realization that the problem is much more hierarchy than it is which particular persons occupy which positions of illegitimate power. It is dangerous ever to presume agreement among anarchists, but probably a lot of us see the Obama administration seeking desperately not to be on the wrong side of whomever they think will prevail so that they can preserve some semblance of U.S. imperial influence.

Egypt’s army is now in charge there. Apparently revered and trusted by the Egyptian people, it has historically been bought off by the U.S. and has participated in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.[2] Such policies seem unlikely to be popular with ordinary people anywhere in the Middle East, but it seems likely that at minimum, the army will seek to preserve at least the position it had in Egyptian society under Mubarak, a position enhanced by U.S. aid.

I’m guessing there will be more of this in a desperate U.S. bid to protect Israel—as well as access to oil. Which means that people will not have control over either their own resources or their government’s policies toward Israel and Palestine. Which means that control of resources (property)—the essential factor for power in capitalist relations—will continue to protect the positions of those at higher levels in social hierarchy. Which means that it is only a matter of time before today’s winners are discredited.

  1. [1]Neil MacFarquhar, “Unrest Spreads, Some Violently, in Middle East,” New York Times, February 16, 2011
  2. [2]Juan Cole, interview on Democracy Now!, “Egypt is a Praetorian Regime,” January 28, 2011; Juan Cole, “Egypt’s Class Conflict,” Informed Comment, January 30, 2011; Haaretz, “Egypt opposition figure: Peace treaty with Israel is ‘rock solid’,” February 6, 2011.; Joshua Mitnick, “An anxious Israel watches neighboring Egypt unravel,” Christian Science Monitor, January 30, 2011.

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