Starling On Revolutionary Movements In Egypt

August 18, 2013

images flaG E[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling] As I write events in Egypt are moving at a very fast pace, with a lot of confusion.

The events of the last few weeks, the coup which overthrew the constitutionally democratically elected government led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freed & Justice Party, has sowed much confusion, both in Egypt and internationally.

The events of last month were, however, a coup, regardless of how much the military rulers there protest such a definition and stress their commitment to returning to civilian rule – much as all coup leaders do everywhere, historically.

While Bermuda remains a colony of the United Kingdom, which has, so far, failed to have the moral courage to call a coup a coup and suspend relations with the coup leaders, just as the USA and other Western hypocrisy’s have – while the African Union has instead shamed the West by following their protocol – and as a colony we have limited say in matters of foreign affairs, this does not mean Bermuda should not – or cannot – take a position and action in regards this coup and its related bloody suppression of democracy.

It is true that our people face our own problems, with wages becoming depressed and the cost of living, including basic foodstuffs, increasing, while the threats of debt, repossessions and redundancy hang over the heads of the working class, both blue and white collar.

But that does not mean that we should absolve ourselves of what is going on in Egypt, or because this tragedy is happening thousands of miles away that we can do nothing.

It is a manufactured lie that the events in Egypt are unique to them, that it is part of an ‘Arab Spring’ separate from the issues and concerns of workers in the West – and whether you like it or not, Bermuda is squarely in the West.

Since the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008 the world has seen a revolutionary upsurge, a rejection of the failed policies of neoliberal capitalism and the continuance of imperialism, even if the empires today are less about pith helmets and the formal occupation of non-Western peoples. Changing flags and replacing Western overlords with local rulers who continue to serve the interests of imperialism does not mean independence from empire.

The revolutionary movements have spread globally, from southern Europe, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa and China, with an unprecedented wave of strikes and demonstrations sweeping the globe.

Even in the English-speaking West we have seen the revolutionary movement manifested, both in waves of strikes and the Occupy Movements of the USA, the UK and Canada – which, one might add, were brutally repressed by the forces of the State.

Understanding the Egyptian Revolution

The people of Egypt rose up, not just against the tyranny of Mubarak, a stooge of Western imperialism [who the West backed, financed and armed right up until they sacrificed him in the face of the Egyptian uprising], but also against the continued privatisation of public services, the reduction of social welfare and the failures of the economic system which saw unemployment surge, along with increases in the cost of living, of basic foodstuffs. The people rose up against the injustice of paying the price for an economic crisis they did not create, while the imperialist, the bankers and the rich carry on business as usual.

The revolutionary movement in Egypt was not just for democracy. It was for social, economic and environmental justice and against imperialism. The people rose up for a better world, one where the economy works for the people, and not the people for the bank accounts of the rich.

The military stepped in then, replacing Mubarak with, first, a military junta – the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – and, later,with the charade of constitutional democracy, which saw the Muslim Brotherhood legitimately form the official government, even if the deep state of the military continued.

Following the failure of the constitutional democracy charade to contain the revolutionary demands of the people, the military have again stepped in to prevent a genuine revolution.

What We Can Do

Bermuda is often host to Egyptian military hardware – in the last seven months alone I believe we have hosted the Egyptian air-force at least three times, as they travel to and from the USA.

Bermuda should make clear that it views the events of the last week in Egypt as a military coup. We should close our ports to the Egyptian military, until the time that the coup is overthrown and its perpetrators facing justice. Workers at the ports should refuse to service the vehicles of oppression that represent the coup.

Furthermore, Bermuda has passed a number of pieces of legislation as part of international sanctions against Iranian interests. There is no reason why similar sanctions against Egyptian interests as part of our solidarity with the people of Egypt.

This isn’t about supporting the Muslim Brotherhood – although they have a legitimate claim of representing constitutional democracy, while the secular ‘liberals’ have supported the coup – this is about resisting a military coup and all that means for working people – the suspension of civil liberties and the oppression of workers – both in Egypt and elsewhere.

After all, if the coup in Egypt is allowed, it gives a green light to coups elsewhere, as well as for greater oppression everywhere.

- Jonathan Starling has degrees in Ecological Economics and Urban and Regional Planning, and is well known in the online community through his Catch-A-Fire blog, which he has maintained since 2007. He ran as Independent candidate in C#20 Pembroke South West in the 2012 General Election.

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Comments (24)

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  1. Lebron says:

    ‘Bermuda has failed to have the moral courage to call a coup’…are you suggesting that ousting Governor Ferguson, with aggression and threats is a good thing?? Coups don’t happen in a civilised and orderly fashion you know.

    And are you suggesting that when I go to the US and have to then get a visa, that’s a good thing, and losing my freedom of European travel – that’s good too, and my affordable university place for my kids in the UK, all gone, but a good thing?

    And business leaves us because of the instability, the end of UK support in immigration, policing, services and education, and tourists feel we are becoming just another island, but with worse weather.

    If you really feel all of this is worth ‘calling a coup’ for (absurd phrase by the way), and all the misery that brings, then go for it Jonathan. The rest of us will be at the beach.

    • Milton says:

      Hahahaaaaa, omg even with the text right before your eyes you still manage to misquote, misunderstand, and misrepresent the writer’s ideas?? First, he did not say “call a coup” as in call for a coup lol. He said “call a coup a coup”, analogous to “call a spade a spade”. Second, he said the UK failed to have the moral courage, NOT Bermuda! Illiterate much?

  2. Sandgrownan says:

    Hard to see how a crackdown on theocratic bullying is bad thing..but that’s just me.

    • Milton says:

      Hard to see what planet you are accessing internet from while the “crackdowners” you support are killing thousands of civilians. Put your crack down and sober up bigot. The people’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a coup. How would you like a crackdown on your government by a military junta who kills you if you dare protest? Moron

  3. TED says:

    @lEBRON. Starling is not suggesting a coup. What he is saying is call it what it really is in regards to what’s going in Egypt. A military coup.

    Stop running with a piece of the information and skewing it to what you think. I do realize that each person sees this world in different realities but you must be careful in how you perceive info and then running with it.

  4. Billy Mays says:

    Sadly, the world is not as “black and white” as Starling likes to pretend it is. The Muslim Brotherhood is, and has always been, against the democratic system that elected it. They were in the process of putting into place a theocracy, removing judges that disagreed with them, limiting a wide range of personal freedoms, and encouraging religious intolerance, including the attack and destruction of several churches throughout Egypt. That is not what Egyptians voted for. The final choice the people had was between Morsi, who pledged not to do what he ultimately did, or a figure from the Mubarak government. They thought they choose the lesser of two evils. What you are calling a coup was, and is, broadly supported in Egypt. Don’t paint the Muslim Brotherhood to be some kind of benign or even benevolent group; they are anything but, and were in the process of turning the most politically important Arab state into another Iran or Afghanistan, in opposition to the will of the people of Egypt.

      • Plato says:

        I agree to all your points except the propaganda, he was elected, and is broadly supported in egypt by the poor muslim majority, the upper middle class secular christian minority supported morsi, all of the points you made are in reference to the implementation of shria law which the majority supports, this coup is only supported by the christian minority and the military who is backed by America if not they wouldn’t have 1 million + marches and hundreds of people killed since. Bottom line the Muslim Brotherhood is supported by the majority and has the will of the people, but america owns the military so they will be dictated to, and will have a puppet ruler installed. I like the benefits just like anyone else but I just prefer to call a spade a spade.

        • Billy Mays says:

          Plato, no thinker are you. Christians, or Copts, are not more than 20% of the Egyptian population, and their situation there is tenuous at best, particularly since Morsi’s supporters took to attacking them since their candidate came to power. To assert that “…this coup is only supported by the christian minority and the military…” only shows your abject ignorance of the facts.
          Also, polls taken before and since the election show that Egyptians broadly OPPOSE the implementation of sharia law, which is exactly why the coup is supported by the vast majority of Egyptians, aside from the few zealots who are leading the unpopular protests.
          You might want to talk to an Egyptian or two before making such incorrect assertions. Egypt is not Iran… and even most Iranians are opposed to sharia law.

    • Milton says:

      I just love how all you bigots prefer to speak for the Egyptians without facts rather than hear their voices at the polls. You sound just like general Sissy! The Egyptians spoke loud and clear and their democratically elected president has been overthrown by a military junta backed by the same power that supported the tyrant Hosni Mubarak. The protest was of the minority in Egypt, the ones who DIDN’T win the vote legally. This is a perfect opportunity to steal the freedom of the Egyptian people and instal another puppet tyrant.

  5. Billy Mays says:

    It’s also curious that Starling seems to think that the Occupy movement was “brutally oppressed by the forces of the state”. This movement pretty much unwound due to it’s own lack of direction and leadership; brutal oppression was not a factor, and aside from a repulsive use of pepper spray against these peaceful protestors, it just didn’t take place. Calling what took place in most instances “brutal oppression” is an affront to those people who have truly had to face such treatment in the world today as well as in the past.

  6. Navin Johnson says:

    Have you ever been to Egypt Mr Starling?

    • Support for Egypt says:

      Thanks for that Navin Johnston and Billy Mays.
      Yes Mr. Starling have you ever been to Egypt?
      The Muslim Brotherhood has had an eight decade history of being banned or restricted. In the 1950′s (in my lifetime of visits to Egypt) President Nasser cracked down on them viewing the group as a threat. Later in the 1970′s the off shoot of the Brotherhood was Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyaa who were responsible for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. Among the leaders of this group was Amyan al-Zawahiri who was tried, imprisoned and expelled from Egypt. Maybe his name is familiar? He is presently Al-Queda’s Number one man with a reward of $25 million on his head. Moving ahead the group was responsible for the heinous 1997 terrorist attack on the tourists at the temple in Luxor. Also not to be forgotten is the ‘Blind Sheik’..Omar Abdel-Rahman who is currently serving a life sentence convicted of seditious conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombings and accused of being the leader behind this group.
      So Mr. Starling do you really think that the majority of Egyptians want the Muslim Brotherhood of terrorists to hold power?

      • Milton says:

        Consider that despite all the history you just mentioned, the overwhelming majority of people of Egypt STILL voted for the Muslim Brotherhood, so your argument is self defeating. Do you think the Egyptians don’t know the history of the group? No matter what you say or believe or regurgitate about the party. The PEOPLE OF EGYPT VOTED FOR THEM!! PERIOD!!! So to ameer your asinine question at the end of your post, YES! The Egyptian people really want the people you label as terrorists as their leaders. They freaking voted for them. Just remember that Nelson Mandela was on the US list of terrorists as well. In fact the Americans were on Great Britain’s list of terrorists before they defeated them for their independence, as was the Indians under British rule, Ghandi, as are the Palestinians being slaughtered, as was Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, The Jews in Nazi Germany, the American Indians, and now the people being slaughtered by General Sissy! If all republicans protested by the millions in the streets of the USA that STILL does not give the military the right to overthrow Obama. If all the people who voted PLP took to the streets by the thousands that does NOT mean the OBA does not have the right to lead. Im appalled such mins exist amongst us. YOU are the terrorist!

        • Billy Mays says:

          Milton, you are wrong. Morsi took 51.7% of the vote versus 48.3% for Shafik. Hardly overwhelming. Turnout was about 52%, a low number considering what it took to get there, because the choices were so unattractive. Shafik was a stooge of Mubarak, and Morsi was a religious fundamentalist. Those who voted for Morsi broadly agreed that he was the least of the evils, as the truly moderate candidates split the vote in the first round of elections. Morsi pledged NOT to create a theocracy in Egypt, but then took to doing exactly that. His overthrow is very broadly supported by all but the vocal minority of Egyptians.

  7. Terry says:

    The guy is a Marxist Starlinist.
    End of story.
    His words and history. Not mine.

    • Victor says:

      Surely you mean Marxist-Leninist? Regardless, Terry, you are absolutely right, though in my view more a Trotskyite crank. Perhaps the Yanks should put him on the stop list?

      Seriously though, what is going on in Egypt is tragic and I hope the Egyptians somehow work there way through it to a happier future for their ancient country and civilisation.

  8. Maybe if the writer and the blogs take a broader look for themselves you will see, that many young people whose families were traditionally under the brother hood and they themselves also, have become tired of the old regime and the old way of doing things.

    This is more to do with the uprising of the Christian movement in Egypt then anything else, many Muslims, especially the young people are denying their faith and putting their trust in Yahweh. this not going down to well with the Muslim brotherhood but the name of Jesus the Christ who is also known as the Messiah,Yeshua Hamashiah has and is alive and well in the lives of this once known Muslim country and this is what the real uprising is about.

    The sad part is those that are politically correct will look at it from a political perspective and not from the truth were prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes and yes JESUS IS COMING,no man knows the time or the day but He guaranteed to show us signs of His coming so that we will know the season.

    • Milton says:

      Hey hey, it’s puff puff pass bie.

    • Milton says:

      Yes so the Christian movement rose up and voted for the Muslim brotherhood? NO! They acted like sissies and got the great general Sissy to overthrow the rightfully elected government of the people. If you want to link the massacre of innocent civilians and protesters as an uprising of Christian values go right ahead, it wouldn’t be the first time a military killed muslims acting on behalf of Christians. A military junta takes power from a democratically elected government in a coup and you are waving the blood stained flag of the crusades. Can you please pipe down the religious bigotry and over zealous Christian crusader masturbatory mantras?

  9. Terry says:

    Another 2000 years Duane.

    • You know the good thing is that history is recorded and the day will come that you will be called into remembrance to your statement, I don’t say it in joking form because every knee will bow at the feet of Jesus and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

      There has always been wars and rumors of war but if you knew the significance of these young people rising up and who is really getting ready to take over, it will be an amazing event for the christian world to watch.

      This will be a modern day Joseph and if you don’t know the story of Joseph in the bible I would suggest you and the rest of the readers to read it, just might amaze you.

      God always uses the ones who seem to be the least of the brethren to bring about His work upon the earth. It may actually seem like a joke but if we keep going the way we are headed in Bermuda, I can see the young people being sick and tired of a government that do not take them serious about their futures and their destiny as Bermudians.

      Keep exploiting them the way we are and I really think I may stand alone in thinking way out of the box, but they will make this Island pay a price it has never paid and bring this country to it’s knees.

      Don’t think this is to far fetch because it can happen before you know it. I hope and pray that it don’t but the seeds you sow is the seeds you reap.

      • Terry says:

        Your talking general or whom are you addressing “you will be called”.
        Of course you include yourself; right?

  10. campervan says:

    People power and using the power of veto to tackle human rights issues. I like the concept Johnny.
    I would wager that you are also a fan of the recent groundswell of outrage and boycott of Russian vodka along with moves to have the Winter Olympics banished from Russia due to their xenophobic treatment of the gay community.
    I therefore assume that if the opposition party here in Bermuda regain power and continue to be led by the current xenophobic, anti gay leader, you will welcome a groundswell of protest too.
    Tourists boycotting cruise ships.
    Pouring Bermuda rum into the gutter.
    A ban on Bermuda competing in the Small Island Games.
    That sort of thing.

    If that puts another dent in the Islands revenue we can all pray hard to turn it around.