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The People Arise in Egypt. Meanwhile, in Davos . . .

Tony Wikrent's picture

I hope there are some people more familiar with Tunisia, Egypt, and the Middle East than I am, who are monitoring the situation there, and have some historical, socio-economic, and political background to share. My own belief at this time is that the populist uprising in those countries was sparked by the steep increases in the price of food which have been in no small part caused by financial speculators in the futures markets. Jon Larson at Real Economics has posted some highly relevant material the past few weeks, and also fingers the role of global climate change:

Cattle Prices Stampeding
Lester Brown on the food crises
The world food supply is breaking down
It's about energy--it's always about energy

For the most current news (or rumors?) there is a recced diary on Dkos right now, Breaking: Police Siding with Protesters in Egypt. Mubarak regime falling... There is another diary that looks at the basics of the internet closure ordered by the Egyptian government. And just in case you had any hope left in the Obama administration Vice-President Biden has reportedly defended Mubarak, insisting he is not a dictator.

I've spent some time this morning going back through Juan Cole's blog, where I hope to find some good background material.

For those unable to work up the interest in the Middle East, another area people should be looking at is Eastern Europe. On Sunday I made this appeal on European Tribune:

Right now, I have a very strong feeling that what many in the U.S. need to learn much more about, as a possible guide to our future course of action, are the revolutions in the Soviet Bloc. Not just the events of 1989, but, for example, the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the Prague Spring in 1968, the development of Solidarity in Poland, and so on. Earlier today, I read "Intellectual Origins of the Reform Movement" by Antonin Liehm (who was expelled by the Czech Communist Party in the 1970s for being a radical socialist!), and yesterday I read a 1986 interview of Janos Kis, the editor of a major piece of Hungarian samizdat. Even the most basic information would be extremely useful right now, such as who were the major leaders of the movements, and what of their material is available in English. And, I would issue this specific appeal: if you know of particularly important articles, interviews, or other material dealing with the movement in the former Soviet bloc, that are not available in English, please, please, PLEASE, consider translating it.

Meanwhile, in Davos, the world's financial, corporate and entertainment/media oligarchs are meeting. I like Larson's reaction to JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon's angry denunciation of "banker bashing": This sort of talk produces revolutions. What do you think? Is it just coincidence that waves of unrest are sweeping Europe and the Middle East at the exact same time the financial, corporate and entertainment/media oligarchs are having their hired political thugs impose austerity?

UPDATE - I just listened to Secretary of State Clinton's remarks. Not surprisingly, she made no attempt or allusion to relate increasing popular unrest with the economic-financial crisis that erupted on Wall Street and the City of London nearly three years ago now.

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