In Egypt the people have toppled the US-backed Mubarak regime. Throughout the Middle East the people are rising up against authoritarian regimes that previously seemed indestructible.
Western governments that have previously turned a blind eye to the denial of democratic and economic rights in countries such as Egypt can only look on, pathetically calling for a 'peaceful transition' that would merely result in a change of rulers.
The focus is Egypt is now shifting from that of the political revolution- the removal of Mubarak - to that of the economic revolution. It was the dire economic conditions - poverty and unemployment, the lack of welfare services, etc -that were the catalyst for revolution and they will be the motor that will drive the revolution on.
Despite the military attempting to suppress working class activism, all reports indicate that strikes and protests continue to sweep the country. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook we are informed of strikes and workplace occupations as they happen.
The Egyptian people are fighting for jobs, for decent wages for economic security. On the internet and in the streets Egyptians are calling for the nationalisation of the banks and of major industries. There are calls for the business elite and their allies in the Mubarak regime to be brought to justice.
No longer will the Egyptian working class accept an economic model that allows a wealthy elite to control ninety percent of the economy. What do Barack Obama's 'democratic rights' really mean when you cannot provide enough food for you're family?
While western politicians and the media have been united in their focus on the removal of the Mubarak regime, what isn't being talked about is that Egyptians are fighting the same neoliberal forces that have devastated and blighted the lives of working people in the west, including New Zealand.
Such is the interconnectedness of the global economy that the same economic forces that have consigned 40 percent of the Egyptian people to subsist on less than $2 a day have also consigned one in five New Zealand children to a life of poverty.
And the callousness of the Mubarak regime has been mirrored by the Key Government. In Parliament yesterday John Key stated that poverty was the result of people being irresponsible with their money. This is the same man who justified tax cuts for the wealthy because they were 'required' for 'economic growth'. This is the same man who, at a time of mass unemployment, defends his Government cutting of benefits - or throwing people off benefits altogether.
It was Galam Mubarak, the son of the former Egyptian dictator and believed to be have been chosen by his father to succeed him, who was a central architect of Egypt's neoliberal economic policies.
Galam , a former investment banker trained by the Bank of America, explained the Egyptian's regimes economic policies this way:
Our purpose is to improve Egyptians’ living standards. We have a three-pronged plan to achieve this: favouring Egypt’s insertion into the global economy, reducing the state’s role in the economy, and giving the private sector greater freedom.
Globalisation. State sector cuts. Privatisation.
These are things we are very familiar with in New Zealand. They have been policies of a neoliberal consensus that has prevailed for over thirty years, implemented and pursued by both National and Labour Government's.
They are the policies that so-called 'social democrats' meekly surrendered to. These are the same 'social democrats' - who write for blogs like The Standard - who say that 'we' will be 'better off' under a Labour Government.
Because of the failure of the trade union hierarchy to resist neoliberalism - indeed the trade union bosses embraced it - the lives of many ordinary New Zealander's have been wrecked and dismantled.
And these policies continue to dominate. The National Government wants more privatisation while the Labour Party leader Phil Goff, reflecting the thinking of his party, says there is 'no alternative' to neoliberalism and the free market
Meanwhile the Green Party wants to harness 'the power of the market'. These are the words of co-leader and former socialist Russel Norman. The Green Party leadership deny there is a fundamental conflict between the demands of capitalism and the needs of the environment.
While career politicians like Murray McCully and Maryann Street call for a 'peaceful transition' in Egypt, the demands of global capital mean that the battles of the Egyptian people are our battles too.
But the contrast could not be starker. In Egypt the people march in the streets, close down factories and workplaces and overthrow a dictator. A new world beckons for the Egyptian working class
Here in New Zealand the best 'our' political and trade union 'leaders' can do is call for the election of a right wing Labour Government in November. They want us to support a politically bankrupt party that has accepted that ordinary New Zealanders will have to continue to pay for the economic crisis.
Unless we reject the neoliberal policies of the parliamentary parties, a new world does not beckon for us.