Thursday, March 31, 2011

#Capitalism is your Nation NOW

Yet another widely circulating video on #Facebook shows a middle-aged Egyptian woman carrying a big plastic bag full of oranges, frantically distributing them to young army conscripts during #Jan25. She beseeches them to not fire on their brother protesters. Which compels me to ask the question: Why would the army fire at its people? I thought the army was there to stop a foreign invasion, secure national interests (Hint: The Nile) intimidate timid African countries, deter a Palestinian invasion and in the case of some natural disaster perform relief work. In other words, if #Egypt was a building then the #Army would be the Bawab*. At this point I can't help but admire the #Army's role in protecting my country. My chest swells with strong feelings of admiration, pride and nationalism, "#Egypt will crush you to nothing if you come near us", "Just you TRY taking an extra drop of water from us, our Air Force will obliterate you". Slowly, my chest deflates as a new string of thoughts comes scurrying along, "Are they really protecting the nation?", "Is this really about nation states?", "If they are then why do they care about internal matters of the state? The protesters are not a foreign invasion, they just want a new regime. Why would the army care?"

Well in case you haven't noticed, nation states are so twenty years ago. Nationalism is done and over (except for of course you know who, who are so insecure about their legitimacy that they over-compensate with excessive nationalism). Nationalism has been replaced by #Capitalism, #Capitalism is our nation now. The #Army is not the Bawab* anymore, its the snazzy security guards, donning state-of-the-art tazers and semi-automatics. These security guards don't have big bulky Walkie-Talkies, they have small discrete transparent earpieces, you know the kind I'm talking about. They are way too special now to stand and guard apartment buildings, they stand guard on these very high-end businesses and projects. But not only that, there's been an impressive incentive program where the CEOs of the security companies can now even own some shares of the businesses they protect or even get the start-up for their own businesses. Over the last 40-50 years an extremely effective incentive program was established to ensure that they will be working harder to make their employees work harder in protecting these businesses where they own valuable shares.

So when the army cracks down on you, as one of their communiques stated there was misunderstanding. the truth is its not a misunderstanding on their part, its a misunderstanding on yours, you seem to have forgotten that #Capitalism is your nation now. The army was quick to react to workers striking outside their own factories, much faster than they were willing to react to #Tahrir protesters. As any good CEO would tell you, PR does matter, at least to some extent, and well cameras were all directed towards #Tahrir not the #Workers. The #Workers were definitely chipping away at the structures that the army was not only assigned to protect, but would also carry some serious financial repercussions on their own interests if productivity was hindered somehow. To the luck of the #Army these impudent #workers were somewhat invisible and thus were easy to get rid of without affecting the #army's PR image. The #Tahrir protesters required a long and careful process of villainizing before the #army could do anything to them.

While its much easier to enlist people through ideological propaganda, its much harder to make people let go of certain power privileges they may have when their own interests are secured through these power privileges. It gets even more complicated when their interests are not necessary the interests of the #Egyptian people as a whole. The #Egyptian #army does not differentiate between citizen and foreign, internal or external, it only differentiates between those who support its interests and those who don't. It is clear from #Jan25 that the #Egyptian people do not support the army's interests, so the likelihood that it will let go of its power is pretty unrealistic. So instead of challenging the army over its power privileges directly, it might be more fruitful to directly immobilize their interests and that is through #worker strikes. The army like any #capitalist endeavor cannot function without its #labor force, and since #Capitalism is your nation now, labor force is your strongest weapon.

*Egyptian term to refer to doorman found in most houses in Egypt. He also occasionally lives with his whole family and provides many services, although his main role is the protection of the building from invasions

This post has been inspired by conversations with @sumayaholdijk and @bassemk

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