Stoller on Egypt

Matt Stoller has a post up at Naked Capitalism where he looks at the revolution in Egypt’s strong labor base and the extent to which it is a rejection of a Rubinite economic view. Stoller writes:

What is going in Egypt represents a remarkable new political coalition striking deep at the heart of the Washington consensus. Social media mattered, in that it was the language by which the youth expressed themselves and their hatred of the torture inflicted upon them to extract maximal profit. This alliances, of a domestic business-military community, women’s groups, and a youth-driven labor movement, has parallels in the 1930s New Deal coalition and the 1850s anti-slavery coalition. It is also interesting that the pre-Facebook blogosphere of 2004-2005 played an important role in unmasking torture and delegitimizing the authority of the state, including the justice system and the media.

Seen in this context, Egypt is part of a global conflict of financial oligarchs fighting with leftist human rights activists, unions, and domestic industries. Egypt’s going to need the money stashed away and stolen by the Mubarak family; getting to that money requires an international crackdown on superrich tax havens. Furthermore, the links between Mubarak corruption and various Rubinites are probably as extensive as the torture trade between the CIA and Egypt. The extent of the cover-up of the Mubarak regime’s behavior will be the way to judge what happens going forward. Obama’s mild-mannered and largely irrelevant statecraft simply reflects the paralysis of the foreign policy establishment as the extent of its complicity in the overall economic and political strategy of this repressive regime is revealed.

Of course, it’s quite possible that the Mubarak-style repressive franchise isn’t done. Already, the Egyptian military is trying to ban the labor and professional organizing at the heart of the uprising. Like Obama’s promises of hope and change in 2008, Egypt in 2011 is full of promise, with ambiguous tidings.

It’s deeply troubling that among the first acts by the military of their hopefully interim regime is to ban labor unions and worker organizing. Why is the military trying to break the back of a movement that just handed them power? Obviously they are scared – as Mubarak was scared – of the people uniting across class lines to support revolutionary means of achieving economic improvement. The question will be, how will this coalition of youth, women, and workers respond to the crackdown by the military? Will they ride it out patiently until this fall’s elections in the hopes of democratic change through the ballot box? Or will there be resistance to military rule straight away? It was clear last week and even more so now, but Egypt is not out of the woods yet.

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