Saturday, June 2, 2012
by Immanuel Wallerstein
".....When the groups in power repress, they quite often fan the flames of protest. But repression often works. When it doesn’t and groups in power compromise and co-opt, they often are able to pull the plug on the protestors. This is what seems to have happened in Egypt. The recent elections are leading to a second-round runoff between two candidates, neither of whom supported the revolution in Tahrir Square – one the last prime minister of the ousted president Hosni Mubarak, the other a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood whose primary objective is instituting the sharia in Egyptian law and not implementing the demands of the those who were in Tahrir Square. The result is a cruel choice for the about 50% who did not vote in the first round for either of the two with the largest plurality of votes. This unhappy situation resulted from the fact that the pro-Tahrir Square voters split their votes between two candidates of somewhat different backgrounds.
How are we to think of all of this? There seems to be a rapidly and constantly shifting geography of protest. It pops up here and then is either repressed, co-opted, or exhausted. And as soon as that happens, it pops up somewhere else, where it may in turn be either repressed, co-opted, or exhausted. And then it pops up in a third place, as though worldwide it was irrepressible.
It is indeed irrepressible for one simple reason. The world income squeeze is real, and not about to disappear. The structural crisis of the capitalist world-economy is making the standard solutions to economic downturns unworkable, no matter how much our pundits and politicians assure us that a new period of prosperity is on the horizon.
We are living in a chaotic world situation. The fluctuations in everything are large and rapid. This applies as well to social protest. This is what we are seeing as the geography of protest constantly shifts. Tahrir Square in Cairo yesterday, unauthorized massive marches with pots and pans in Montreal today, somewhere else (probably somewhere surprising) tomorrow."