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13 August, 2013

The age of stagnating revolutions(?)

by system failure

Alain Badiou, the famous French philosopher, has told that "capitalism is the impose of a peculiar time, a time of a titular endless transformation, while in reality time is stagnating...".

This stagnating situation appears to be confirmed with a characteristic way through the movements of the latest years in the European south, East Mediterranean and the Arab World. What we see, is in essence, the result of societies trapped inside a one-dimensional cultural totalitarianism.

During the last three years, many riots of different intensities took place - and some of them are still active - in those countries, a combined area of more than 15 million square kilometres and total population of nearly 460 million people.

Despite the huge total size of these countries, someone would sense that almost nothing changes. Neither the importance of these riots seems to mobilize West, which is not particularly interested for the future of millions of people. The United States, specifically, are trying to get over with open fronts, probably due to the fact that some new big oil and natural gas fields have been found inside their territory. It appears that they only want to control Russian influence in Europe, by promoting oil and natural gas pipelines, controlled by Western companies. A recent example, is the deal of the TAP pipeline from Azerbaijan, to compete against South Stream, the Russian interests' pipeline.

In Egypt, for example, after the fall of the Mubarak regime, authoritarianism and police violence continued unabated. It seems that not too many things have changed in the everyday life of the Egyptians. The desperate effort of people to escape from the authoritarian state treatment, resulted to new riots and the fall of Morsi this time. But again, it seems that Egypt is facing a dead end, walking towards a disastrous civil war similar to that in Syria. Some people have given their lives, and no one knows how many others will be sacrificed, but for what purpose?

We know very few things for the situation now in Libya, which seems that is left in chaos. No one seems to be interested for the fortunes of people, but only for the oil and natural gas fields.

In Turkey, the intention of Erdogan to impose specific prohibitions, made people, especially young, to go out in the streets to protest. But, due to the different culture, Erdogan should normally had a different perception, compared to that of the Western leaders. However, he is another characteristic example of a leader who is unable to inspire a vision for the people and restricted from the one-dimensional economic perception of the neoliberal dictatorship. It is quite clear of how much hollow these prohibitions are, for the sake of Islamic culture because, on the other hand, Erdogan follows exactly the rules of the "new economy", which sacrifice everything for profit.

Traditional Islamic values, opposite to the passion for wealth and money lending at interest, totally incompatible with the Western lifestyle (promoted by the Turkish TV soap operas with the necessary particularities), have been lost a long time ago. However, Erdogan seems that he doesn't understand this reality and vainly tries to bring back the Islamic culture in Turkey. Besides, he didn't dare to challenge Turkish big media bosses instead of challenging people in the streets. He didn't dare to send the police to them.

The riots in Bulgaria is another characteristic case. People appear to be trapped between Right-wing governments and supposed Socialist governments, like the present one, which they adopt similar policies against the majority and for the benefit of the local economic oligarchy. Even the fear for the return of an old-type Communist regime, seems to be pointless.

In the European south, people are in trenches, defending and trying to save what they can. But in this case also, the "stagnating" situation is present and clear, confirmed by the fact that societies are unable to vision a totally different model of social organizing, at least for the present and in a massive level, and protest in the streets with economic-type requests which essentially belong to the totalitarianism of the neoliberal dictatorship. The pseudo-rationalism with which societies have been "poisoned" by this cultural totalitarianism, supposedly to prevent total destruction, in reality destroys human conquests of decades, and therefore, protests in the streets seem to be, at least, pointless too.

Someone could argue that these thoughts are rather simplified because the nature of riots is different in various countries, due to the different facts related mainly with the history and culture of each country. This might be true, but what about the commercials between live pictures of thousands of people in the Tahrir square in Egypt, for example? What do they mean? And, what about us, watching those people - and allow me to use another phrase of Badiou - like a spectacle? While at the same time, we, who taste all the consequences of the economic crisis, become a spectacle for others?

This cultural totalitarianism is like a powerful tool which aligns everything in the same direction. It cuts everything in a minimum size and impose itself. Thus, the question-mark in the headline of this text seems to be justified. Are we indeed living in the age of stagnating revolutions? Or, are these only riots that lead to nowhere? People who sacrifice their lives for nothing?

3 comments:

  1. For what is worth, although I'm far from being a living fossil, at my age (50+) I've seen many things.

    People will try to avoid reaching to extremes for as long as possible. They will put up to all sorts of abuses, just so as not to rock the boat.

    And then, one day, for something seemingly trivial, they explode. The question is what happens after that.

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    1. Hi, nice to see you back. Well, I think it happens already. Today, people died in Egypt. What is more extreme than this? Of course I understand your thought, because we don't have yet "uncontrolled" massive riots in many countries simultaneously.

      Well maybe this is the case. In such a populated planet, first time in history, we need to see massive riots in many countries to reach a critical mass which will make the difference.

      But I wonder as you, what happens after that because there is no alternative even in theoretical level in people's minds. This is the key issue here. This cultural totalitarianism spreads everywhere, erasing every other alternative. More and more people are thinking through its terms, especially new generations.

      We need an alternative, truly radical, in order to return back to the real evolution as humanity.

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  2. How many times and in how many places did peasants in Medieval times rise up against their lords? I don't think the present situation is new. Revolutions by definition, unless it's a leadership revolution (basically a coup, or what has been happening in Egypt), are likely to fail.

    Capitalism, like Feudalism, is strong enough to survive quite a number of revolutions. Things will change if the conditions and the culture of the population change. Like the rise of the cities and the new economic power of the bourgeois that lead to end of Feudalism.

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