Sunday, April 22, 2012

State crime and street crime: Two sides of one coin?

When society is this corrupt, are the poor entitled to rise up and take what is 'theirs'?

By Philip Rizk

(Left: Philip Rizk)

"Cairo, Egypt - The revolutionary process that erupted in this country on January 25, 2011, is an uprising against crime. This crime was structural and legalised - made legal by the political leadership of Egypt and their friends and business partners that practice it.

Various criminal forces - the police, the secret police, the state security - exist in large part to protect these criminals' interests, with authority to enforce the ruling classes' "law" without judicial liability. These forces were the first line of defence of the ruling system and this is why, in the first days of revolution, the population targeted them and broke the chains of their control.

I will argue that unless these conditions that allowed for organised structural crime change, street-level crime will only increase. With the government structure lacking the basic measures to provide for the widest portion of the Egyptian public, it comes as no surprise that many of those whom the rulers exploit and neglect are taking back what they think is theirs......

Alternatives to crime

The current political leadership - SCAF, the unelected government and a majority of elected parliamentarians - is using the excuse of an existing "economic crisis" as reason to entrench a criminal tendency, rather than to look for new solutions. These crimes include more loans for which the poor will pay, an entrenchment of open market policies that will lead to increased food prices, maintenance of tax evasion for the richest echelon of society and the maintenance of labour law conditions that favour entrepreneurs over workers. The list goes on.

The January 25 uprising, which started in response to suppression and the polarity of the standard of living, is a message clear enough that the burden of the cost of running a country such as Egypt must be broadened. This should also include, among other things, progressive taxation, significantly reduced subsidies for private industry, internal economic restructuring (instead of increased external loans) and independent monitoring mechanisms over public funds with judicial authority.

We must realise that the resistance taking place on the streets is a battle to undo the hegemony of capitalism, no matter if under the rule of the National Democratic Party (NDP) or the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) or the Salafis or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).....

Furthermore, in recent months - since receiving a majority of parliament seats - the Brotherhood has taken significant steps to deepen the economic neo-liberal stance of the Mubarak regime that once repressed the movement. We have every reason to believe that the economic conditions that brought about the start of a revolutionary process are going to be maintained.

In Egypt, as elsewhere, the model of societal organisation of a deep partnership between capitalism and the nation-state is imploding. The mechanism of the nation-state today acts as a tool to control and suppress the masses on behalf of the ruling class. If the economic conditions during the Mubarak regime remain largely unchanged, then the logic of representation itself falters....."

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