Posted: 14 Dec 2011 10:56 PM PST
By Kurt Andersen Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
“Mohamed suffered a lot. He worked hard. But when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity.”
Photograph by Peter Hapak for TIME
Once upon a time, when major news events were chronicled strictly by professionals and printed on paper or transmitted through the air by the few for the masses, protesters were prime makers of history. Back then, when citizen multitudes took to the streets without weapons to declare themselves opposed, it was the very definition of news — vivid, important, often consequential. In the 1960s in America they marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; in the ’70s, they rose up in Iran and Portugal; in the ’80s, they spoke out against nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Europe, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, against communist tyranny in Tiananmen Square and Eastern Europe. Protest was the natural continuation of politics by other means.
And then came the End of History, summed up by Francis Fukuyama’s influential 1989 essay declaring that mankind had arrived at the “end point of … ideological evolution” in globally triumphant “Western liberalism.” The two decades beginning in 1991 witnessed the greatest rise in living standards that the world has ever known. Credit was easy, complacency and apathy were rife, and street protests looked like pointless emotional sideshows — obsolete, quaint, the equivalent of cavalry to mid-20th-century war. The rare large demonstrations in the rich world seemed ineffectual and irrelevant. (See the Battle of Seattle, 1999.)
There were a few exceptions, like the protests that, along with sanctions, helped end apartheid in South Africa in 1994. But for young people, radical critiques and protests against the system were mostly confined to pop-culture fantasy: “Fight the Power” was a song on a platinum-selling album, Rage Against the Machine was a platinum-selling band, and the beloved brave rebels fighting the all-encompassing global oppressors were just a bunch of characters in The Matrix. (See pictures of protesters around the world.)
“Massive and effective street protest” was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.
Prelude to the Revolutions
“My son set himself on fire for dignity,” Mannoubia Bouazizi told me when I visited her.
“In Tunisia,” added her 16-year-old daughter Basma, “dignity is more important than bread.”
In Egypt the incitements were a preposterously fraudulent 2010 national election and, as in Tunisia, a not uncommon act of unforgivable brutality by security agents. In the U.S., three acute and overlapping money crises — tanked economy, systemic financial recklessness, gigantic public debt — along with ongoing revelations of double dealing by banks, new state laws making certain public-employee-union demands illegal and the refusal of Congress to consider even slightly higher taxes on the very highest incomes mobilized Occupy Wall Street and its millions of supporters. In Russia it was the realization that another six (or 12) years of Vladimir Putin might not lead to greater prosperity and democratic normality.
In Sidi Bouzid and Tunis, in Alexandria and Cairo; in Arab cities and towns across the 6,000 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean; in Madrid and Athens and London and Tel Aviv; in Mexico and India and Chile, where citizens mobilized against crime and corruption; in New York and Moscow and dozens of other U.S. and Russian cities, the loathing and anger at governments and their cronies became uncontainable and fed on itself.
The stakes are very different in different places. In North America and most of Europe, there are no dictators, and dissidents don’t get tortured. Any day that Tunisians, Egyptians or Syrians occupy streets and squares, they know that some of them might be beaten or shot, not just pepper-sprayed or flex-cuffed. The protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are literally dying to get political systems that roughly resemble the ones that seem intolerably undemocratic to protesters in Madrid, Athens, London and New York City. “I think other parts of the world,” says Frank Castro, 53, a Teamster who drives a cement mixer for a living and helped occupy Oakland, Calif., “have more balls than we do.”
In Egypt and Tunisia, I talked with revolutionaries who were M.B.A.s, physicians and filmmakers as well as the young daughters of a provincial olive picker and a supergeeky 29-year-old Muslim Brotherhood member carrying a Tigger notebook. The Occupy movement in the U.S. was set in motion by a couple of magazine editors — a 69-year-old Canadian, a 29-year-old African American — and a 50-year-old anthropologist, but airline pilots and grandmas and shop clerks and dishwashers have been part of the throngs.
In a new book from TIME, What Is Occupy? Inside the Global Movement, our journalists explore the roots and meaning of the uprising over economic justice. To buy a copy as an e-book or a paperback, go to time.com/whatisoccupy.
Posted: 14 Dec 2011 10:50 PM PST
Joint Media Statement by DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng, DAP Life Advisor Dr. Chen Man Hin and DAP Parliamentary Leader, Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 15th December 2011:
Public spat between Karpal and Ramasamy resolved – DAP leadership to move forward as one united team to face the challenges of 13GE
On Tuesday, 13th December 2011, the DAP Central Executive Committee entrusted a three-man committee to resolve the differences between the DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh and DAP Penang Deputy Chairman and Penang Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. P. Ramasamy.
On Wednesday, 14th December 2011, Makkal Oosai Chief Editor M. Rajan issued a correction on its 28th Nov. 2011 news report, admitting its mistake and making clear that its 28th November 2011 report about DAP candidatures for the next general elections had not originated from Ramasamy and expressing sadness that its news report had been the cause of the public controversy between Karpal and Ramasamy.
Hoping that the differences could be resolved as soon as possible, the Makkal Oosai chief editor paid tribute to the leadership qualities of Karpal and Ramasamy and wrote:
"Untuk kita, Karpal Singh dan Professor Ramasamy adalah pemimpin yang terpenting. Karpal Singh adalah pejuang dalam barisan pembangkang yang amat disanjungi di negara kita. Beliau telah melalui banyak penderitaan dan dugaan. Beliau berpegang teguh kepada prinsip parti dan berjuang sehingga masuk ke penjara.
"Seperti itu juga, pemberian jawatan Timbalan Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang kepada seorang India adalah sejarah dalam politik negara kita. Pada pilihanraya lepas, Professor Ramasamy telah memenangi DUN dan Parlimen di Penang dan menjadi Timbalan Ketua Menteri. Beliau juga memberikan khidmat yang baik kepada masyarakat India Pulau Pinang dengan jawatan sebagai Timbalan Ketua Menteri tersebut."
DAP leaders, including Karpal and Ramasamy, are conscious of the high expectations and great trust of the people in the DAP leadership to create a new political landscape in the imminent 13th general elections, particularly in bringing about a genuine two-coalition system in national politics by effecting a change of federal power in Putrajaya for the first time in 54 years of independent nationhood.
Taking into account the Tamil Oosai clarification and mindful of the great concerns of the people over the unity, cohesion and solidarity of the DAP leadership, Karpal, Ramasamy and the DAP Central Executive Committee have decided to move forward as one solid and committed political team to complete the final preparations for the challenges of the 13th GE expected in the next few month.
We will address and resolve internal differences using party channels to strengthen party unity, solidarity and cohesion so that we can single-mindedly ensure that DAP and Pakatan Rakyat can take on and defeat UMNO and Barisan Nasional in the 13th general elections.
Lim Guan Eng
15th December 2011
|You are subscribed to email updates from Charles Santiago |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|