August 18, 2013

The Bangles - Walk Like an Egyptian (1985)

I was skimming around news sites and blogs to look for stories to write and it occurred to me that most of the people with the most vociferous opinions on Egypt know as much about the country as the Bangles did writing this song.

That won't keep the Villagers from opining loud and long this Sunday, all convinced that they know the answers, none of them of course know what's happening besides the most superficial "Muslim Brotherhood is bad". They have no sense of history, no knowledge of our interference both covert and open and how that has impacted Egyptians. I read an interesting and thought-provoking blog the other day that posited that we are in the midst of a world-wide revolution. Clearly, some of those seeds of revolution have taken root in Egypt and what happens there will impact the whole world in ways that we don't know. And consider this:

Is it possible that this preemptive attitude toward social movements, the designing of wars and trade summits in such a way that preventing effective opposition is considered more of a priority than the success of the war or summit itself, really reflects a more general principle? What if those currently running the system, most of whom witnessed the unrest of the sixties firsthand as impressionable youngsters, are—consciously or unconsciously (and I suspect it’s more conscious than not)—obsessed by the prospect of revolutionary social movements once again challenging prevailing common sense?

It would explain a lot. In most of the world, the last thirty years has come to be known as the age of neoliberalism—one dominated by a revival of the long-since-abandoned nineteenth-century creed that held that free markets and human freedom in general were ultimately the same thing. Neoliberalism has always been wracked by a central paradox. It declares that economic imperatives are to take priority over all others. Politics itself is just a matter of creating the conditions for growing the economy by allowing the magic of the marketplace to do its work. All other hopes and dreams—of equality, of security—are to be sacrificed for the primary goal of economic productivity. But global economic performance over the last thirty years has been decidedly mediocre. With one or two spectacular exceptions (notably China, which significantly ignored most neoliberal prescriptions), growth rates have been far below what they were in the days of the old-fashioned, state-directed, welfare-state-oriented capitalism of the fifties, sixties, and even seventies. By its own standards, then, the project was already a colossal failure even before the 2008 collapse.

If, on the other hand, we stop taking world leaders at their word and instead think of neoliberalism as a political project, it suddenly looks spectacularly effective. The politicians, CEOs, trade bureaucrats, and so forth who regularly meet at summits like Davos or the G20 may have done a miserable job in creating a world capitalist economy that meets the needs of a majority of the world’s inhabitants (let alone produces hope, happiness, security, or meaning), but they have succeeded magnificently in convincing the world that capitalism—and not just capitalism, but exactly the financialized, semifeudal capitalism we happen to have right now—is the only viable economic system.

So I want you to listen carefully to the neoliberalspeak of the bobbleheads. Stop taking them at their word and ask yourself what is their agenda?

ABC's "This Week" —Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Roundtable: Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., former White House senior adviser and Bloomberg TV contributor David Plouffe, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Good360 chair Carly Fiorina, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). NBC’s Middle East Correspondent Richard Engel, Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Robin Wright. Roundtable: Former White House Press Secretary now an NBC News Political Analyst Robert Gibbs, Editor of the National Review Rich Lowry, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton; the family’s lawyer Benjamin Crump; and President and CEO of the NAACP, Ben Jealous.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.; Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Bobby Scott, D-Va.; New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

MSNBC's "UP with Steve Kornacki" - Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); Paul Butler, Fmr. Prosecutor, law professor, Georgetown University; Phil Johnston, former Secretary of Health & Human Services in Massachusetts; Basil Smikle, Jr., political strategist, professor, Columbia University; Perry Bacon, Jr.,; Jonathan Miller, co-founder, No Labels, Fmr. Kentucky State Treasurer; Eleanor Clift, contributing editor, Newsweek/The Daily Beast; Walter Mears, Pulitzer Prize-Winning reporter, Associated Press; Bob Franken, political reporter.

MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" - (Joy Reid guest hosts) Cristina Beltran, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University; Robert George, Associate Editorial Page Editor at the New York Post; Ari Berman, Contributing Writer at The Nation Magazine; Charlie Sennot, Co-Founder of GlobalPost; Mona Eltahawy, Public Speaker on Arab & Muslim Issues / Columnist; Dorian Warren, Associate Professor of political science and international public affairs at Columbia University; Rula Jebreal, Foreign Policy Analyst for Newsweek/MSNBC Contributor.

MSNBC's "Disrupt with Karen Finney" - Christina Bellatoni, PBS Newshour; Steven Clemons, The Atlantic; Ari Berman, The Nation; Raul Reyes, NBCLatino; Susan Del Percio, GOP Strategist; Joshua DuBois, Former Spiritual advisor to President Obama; Anne Gearan, Washington Post; Robert Costa, National Review .

MSNBC's "The Ed Show" - Bob Shrum, Democratic Strategist; Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT); Zerlina Maxwell, Political Analyst; Keli Goff, The Root; Corey Hebert, Medical Physician.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich and Chris Van Hollen, D-MD; former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Ned Walker and Middle East analyst Jon Alterman. Political panel: Grover Norquist, Donna Brazile, Mo Elleithee and Cheri Jacobus.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, the Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart. President Barack Obama’s former “regulation czar” Cass Sunstein. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Chris Schroeder, author of the new new book Start Uprising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East. Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing, and Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield, author of The Myth of Choice.

CNN's "Reliable Sources" - (Guest host: author and editor Joanne Lipman) CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon, the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, Sherif Mansour. Michael Calderone & Edward Felsenthal. Founder of Verifeed, Melinda Wittstock and principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Walt Mossberg. Editor-in-Chief of USA Today David Callaway. Public Editor of the York Times Margaret Sullivan. CNN’s White House Correspondent Dan Lothian.

"Fox News Sunday" — Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. Power panel: Nina Easton, FORTUNE's Washington columnist & senior editor; Dennis Kucinich, Fmr Rep (D-OH); Kimberley Strassel, Author, Member of The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board; Evan Bayh, Former Democratic Senator from Indiana.

So what's catching your eye this morning?

Can you help us out?

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