Protest in Syria
Photo: AP

The Arab war on capitalism

Op-ed: Arab uprisings have little to do with democracy, everything to do with corrupt leaders

Make no mistake about it, ladies and gentlemen. The masses who headed to the squares are not aspiring for democracy and in principle do not despise dictatorship. This is the case neither in the Arab world nor in other places like London, where half a million people hit the streets with fury.


There is no longing for democracy in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya or Yemen. Everyone just wishes to topple the rulers who rob the state’s capital and starve the masses. The struggle is anti-capitalistic, in a world where capitalism won big time – a triumph that was too great – thereby undermining its own pillars.


Mubarak was hated and toppled, and now he is being humiliated not because he was a tyrant and banned competing parties, but rather, because he exploited his rule in order to rob Egypt’s wealth; because he left the people hungry and unemployed and left the middle class thirsty for a job, a reasonable salary, and a future.


It was not the thirst for democracy that toppled the preposterously affluent ruler of the largest, most important Arab state. His wealth and that of his sons was ostentatious. The regime’s riches outraged the masses. The same is true in London and was true in Greece and in Paris a few years ago. It’s of course true for Libya, Tunisia and Yemen as well.


The domino effect in the Arab world made it clear that this can happen anywhere. It will happen in any country where the rulers rob the public’s wealth under the guise of legislation. While the masses cry for freedom and chant anti-dictatorship slogans, what they in fact want is food, work and social justice. They are happy to see emergency laws annulled, but the storm won’t be quelled as long as the well-connected get everything and leave mere crumbs for millions of miserable souls.


When the hunger of people is not satisfied, they cannot be satisfied with the regime, regardless of what kind of regime it is. The masses demand their share of the national pie. The poor protestors in Syria’s Deraa are not hungry for democracy. They’re hungry for food. Meanwhile, the well-to-do middle class in Aleppo continues to sit in the coffee shops.


Revolt to spread beyond Arab world

The man who brought the system to the point of absurdity has been sentenced to 150 years in prison. However, it is the entire system that is rotten; a system adopted by kings and tyrants in poor countries, where the rulers accumulate huge amounts of gold and silver. While the Cairo court may sentence Mubarak and his sons to a shorter prison term, his and Madoff’s crimes stem from the same source: The evaporation of morality and a sense of proportion under the auspices of the law and of the capitalistic regime.


Gaddafi and his sons, Yemen’s president and his offspring, and Assad and his close associates robbed the food from the poor and the fuel from the middle class’s vehicles.


This has been going on for generations. Tyranny isn’t a new phenomenon and neither is capitalism. Yet only now, with the help of the media and modern technology that exposes everything, the masses discover what goes on among their political-economic elites. There are no more secrets. Everything is transparent and simple folk now perfectly understand who robs them, draws huge, immoral salaries and passes laws that protect the robbers.


Do you recall how surprised we were by communism’s collapse? We already forgot how immensely powerful it was until its sudden breakdown. This has happened and will happen to any regime that knows no limits, that has lost its sense of proportion, and whose leaders are never satisfied. We’re familiar with it in the world around us. It also happens at our own backyard.


The Arab revolution is merely at its early stages. It will not stop at the Arab world’s borders. It will influence the whole world, as the Russian Revolution did 100 years ago and as the French revolution did 200 years ago. It will affect us too, of course.






פרסום ראשון: 05.18.11, 18:09
 new comment
This will delete your current comment