'A comrade in Chicago even heard someone in the unemployment line say, "We need some of that Egypt shit over here."
The Egyptian revolution has inspired ordinary Americans, exploding the myth that Americans are politically apathetic. People are plugged into what's happening, writes Trish Kahle.
This last month, I haven't been able to get that old Cesar Chavez quote out of my head:
"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."
Our generation has tasted revolution, and we will never forget it, we will never stop thirsting for it. In Bahrain today, the government tried to buy off protesters with $3,000 each to no avail. The beginnings of protest in Saudi Arabia scared the monarchy into instituting some reforms, which will not doubt encourage protesters to continue to fight, whatever the oppressive tactics of the regime. Protests are on the upswing in Yemen and Jordan. Tunisians are still taking to the streets to make sure their revolution is not betrayed. The Egyptians say that even after the ouster of Mubarak, the strikes and protests will continue until they have freedom, democracy, and a future.
A comrade in Chicago even heard someone in the unemployment line say, "We need some of that Egypt shit over here." All around the US, our revolutionary spirits have been reinvigorated with the fire of victory. New people are being radicalized, and the timing could not be better. Today Obama announced a trillion dollars of cuts to non-defense spending (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, education, infrastructure). And even Obama's heavy austerity plan isn't enough for the Republicans, but I have no doubts Obama will once again be willing to "compromise" and "reach across the aisle." He's never failed ruling class interests yet.
Whatever the claims of the mainstream American punditry, the Americans are far from apathetic, particularly when it comes to Egypt. People I have been talking to on the street are plugged into what's happening. "If you can't do it right in 30 years," one college first year said of Mubarak, "You don't deserve any more chances. I support people in Egypt all the way." Another chimed in, "I wanna do that here." He continued, "You know, we don't need all that shit. The people there in the square, they know what's up."
Of course, you'd never know this by listening to Obama, who after supporting Mubarak as long as possible then stepped in to claim "credit" for the people's revolution. According to his narrative, this whole thing is about armies and statesmen. You might think no one else lived in Egypt and these people were all bussed into the square. If we listen to Joe Biden (though I'm pretty sure no one does) we'd think Mubarak was a democratically elected leader, not a dictator.
One thing this revolution has taught us is the importance of alternative media. Al Jazeera has done an outstanding job, as has Democracy Now!, but neither is widely available in a mainstream media source in the US. Media in our time is an incredibly important aspect of the creation of historical and political narrative. That's why we need sources like Socialist Worker, Democracy Now, Twitter, blogs, and Facebook. Just as workers are capable of running society, they are also capable of disseminating information.
As the protests continue, as the revolutions are defended, as new protests erupt, we must continue solidarity, continue support, continue communicating. The elation we are feeling at seeing what we fight for everyday actually take place doesn't have to stop in Tunisia, or Egypt. As a world, the people are better connected than ever. Clicktivism may not get you very far, but knowing what is happening all around the world is a way to build solidarity, educate, and collaborate.
Long live the revolution!
This column was originally published on Trish's blog I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit. It has been slightly edited.