PEP COLUMN: Egypt today! Barbados tomorrow?
The crisis in Egypt that has caused millions of Egyptians –led by the educated youth – to engage in nine days of mass demonstrations, was “made” in the United States and Europe, and is coming to us right here in Barbados and the Caribbean.
The best way to conceptualize the situation in Egypt is to refer back to the labour rebellion that rocked the English-speaking Caribbean in the 1930s. In Barbados, for example, the masses found themselves contending with an oppressive, autocratic planter/merchant oligarchy that was reinforced and propped up by the power of imperialist Great Britain.
And the critical spark was applied to this tinderbox of social conditions when the international capitalist system plunged into a profound depression that inflicted the additional penalties of unemployment, scarcity, hunger and hopelessness on the already suffering people.
The result was an explosion of pent up revolutionary anger and energy that shook the very foundation of the quasi-feudal colonial order – not only in Barbados, but throughout the region.
Well, the Egyptian people are facing an almost identical scenario. For 30 long years they have suffered under the oppressive, autocratic rule of an oligarchy led by Hosni Mubarak, and propped up and financed by the imperialistic United States.
But this alone does not explain the hundreds of thousands out on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria. The other critical contributing factor is the fundamental breakdown in the system of international capitalism that has manifested itself since the 2007.
The reality is that the “vampires” of finance capitalism in the United States and Western Europe engaged in such an excessive, prolonged and parasitical plundering of the resources of the world, that by 2007 it had become clear that they had caused fundamental damage to the world economic system.
Compelling evidence of their greed and parasitism is reflected in the fact that they created a quantity of largely fictitious financial derivatives that is equivalent to ten times the gross domestic product of all the countries of the world combined.
And, particularly since 2007, they have been forcing national governments to save and bail out these fraudulent financial instruments at the expense of the welfare of their own people.
Egypt has not been spared the ravages of this international capitalist crisis, and the Egyptian people have been rocked by steeply rising levels of youth unemployment and a hyper-inflationary increase in food prices.
It is not simply about Mubarak, it is much deeper and wider than any one leader, no matter how powerful or autocratic he might be.
The truth is that an economic and political system is dying and if nations and leaders do not recognise this reality and take concrete steps to distance themselves from the effects of the death throes, they will be dragged down as well.
The Barbados and Caribbean governments need to wake up. If they simply continue to do what they are doing now their young people will soon come to sense that their future prospects are diminishing rapidly, and they too will eventually take matters into their own hands – in the streets of Bridgetown and every other Caribbean capital.