Oh Sunday and global anxiety.

On the snow shoe trails at Mt. Seymour Sunday morning

Agh. I missed making a post yesterday because I was way too involved in Sunday activities – snow shoeing on Mt. Seymour, playing music, cleaning the house, making dinner for friends, finishing the Žižek book, drinking a little too much wine, ranting and hot-tubbing (not necessarily in that order). On the other hand, I had a super-awesome day with very little screen time – which is also necessary to my well-being – so, whatever. I wish it was postaday2011exceptforSunday because that would be more realistic in terms of my desires on the weekend.

One of the big focal points in our house at the moment is Egypt (of course) because that’s where all the really interesting action is at the moment, and because I am having a peculiar set of emotional reactions that are difficult to articulate in the time I have to write here today. Basically, my feelings can be summed up as thus:

  • Liberation struggles are exciting, but with no ideological direction are very quickly taken up by opportunists (political, religious, criminal). What fills the void here remains to be seen.
  • There is certainly analysis out there which points to the CIA being a major player in not only Egypt and Tunisian uprisings but also what happened in the Ukraine and Iran post-elections a couple of years back. My gut instinct tells me that these are all “revolutions out of the box” in which foreign operatives (US mostly I would guess) trigger existing discontent which is grounded in legitimate concerns (poverty, oppression, police brutality, misogyny etc). If this is the case, we have to wonder what the end game is in the Middle East (increasing control over the region’s resources as they dwindle I suppose – but through what mechanisms).
  • There is the very real potential that this climate of destabilization could lead to cataclysmic warfare in the Middle East as Israel gets increasingly nervous. Israel has an itchy trigger finger and a huge amount of collective trauma which makes them more apt than others to act on it. A fully engaged Middle East war is not an option ecologically or morally at this point and would quickly burn through what few resources are left for sustaining life on the planet (and don’t get me started on the looming potential for war in the Arctic).
  • Part of what is triggering recent uprisings (and a lot of people seem to be missing) is food scarcity and rising prices as a result. This scarcity is the result of massive crop failures due to flooding (and fire) last summer – which of course is climate-change triggered. Even if a people’s revolution is successful, the global food crisis is upon us. This is not simply a matter of redistribution anymore – we are in food store freefall and have been for the past decade. Further carbon-burning in the form of warfare will only worsen the crisis.
  • There is little global infrastructure for supporting progressive revolution at this point – Venezuala and Bolivia may be shining beacons, but there isn’t an International in place to broaden that. Not that I’m a fan of monolithic ideological structures, but the fact is – we’re fighting one and we need some solidarity tools in our belt.

So there it is – my concerns that even though we see this great upswelling of people in the streets calling for freedom and dignity – somehow we are still missing the point. Globally, that is. And it’s not hard to understand why – the issues here are enormous, complex and the potential outcomes hard to grasp. There is a fabulous quote in the book I just finished that sums this up, but of course I don’t have it with me at the moment so it’ll have to wait for later. In any case, I’m experiencing a little global anxiety at the moment – something I hope will pass with more time spent in forest and garden.


2 Comments on “Oh Sunday and global anxiety.

  1. I agree with a lot of your feelings about the situation in Egypt. Your first concern is very much an issue. The opportunism is in full effect, though it remains to be seen how easily the Egyptian people can be fooled (or, more importantly, how willing and able they are to resist those trying to fool them while they and their families starve).
    As for the second, the fingerprints of Western GONGOs (Government-Organized Non-Governmental Organizations) are all over the most visible organizations behind the revolt, but the revolt has very much surpassed them. It’s a lot harder for those western orgs to steer the direction of things through “soft power” and strategic funding in the context of full-blown revolt like this where the people are made aware of their collective power, money be damned.
    I’m personally not too worried about this resulting in a regional military conflagration. Israel is indeed in deep doo-doo here, but the existential threats it has to worry about will not be military. No matter who comes to power in Egypt (if anyone–still holding out a bit of hope about that), military adventures against Israel will not be on the table, even if it ends up being that great boogeyman, the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel’s problem will be with a continuing slide in its perceived legitimacy and non-cooperation on a massive, even national and international scale. This is particularly true if the intifada spreads to Palestine, which was already seeming likely. As Al-Jazeera was still trying to decide whether it cared about what was happening in Egypt during the first few days (25th-27th), it was devoting the vast majority of its coverage, especially in Arabic, to the “Palestine Papers”, which basically spell the end of the Palestinian Authority. So, yeah, Israel may go through some massive collective freak-out and manufacture something they can aim their missiles at, but I think its neighbors are unlikely to respond in kind to a state so obviously on the point of collapsing by its own actions, especially when their own military capabilities are likely to be eviscerated by popular revolt and the withdrawal of military aid by western powers.
    Totally with you on the food scarcity. That’s gonna get ugly.
    As to the question of global infrastructure for progressive values, I often wonder about that myself, but I think there has been a serious rupture in the Middle East that makes the creation of that infrastructure possible in very short order. I’m not sure that Latin America has seen this kind of rupture for some time, except on a small scale in Honduras. In any event, I seriously doubt that this infrastructure will look anything like an “International”. I have no idea what it will look like, but I, for one, am excited to see how it constitutes itself.

  2. Hey Fhar!

    I really appreciate your comments because you have a different sense of things than I do and are definitely paying closer attention than I am (as evidenced on FB). I hope you are right about military conflag because that’s probably my single greatest worry (warfare on a large scale anywhere right now would be the tipping point into the abyss I’m afraid). It’s not like my worrying can change anything anyway – I know that – and of course I am supportive of people taking back power. On the other hand I am frozen by cynicism as Žižek would say – I don’t trust the other countries to leave Egypt and its people to sort themselves out. I suppose I just have to dial that down and see what happens – and refute all calls for US intervention (which I have seen coming from even some parts of the American left and I just don’t understand).

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