The leaders of the Western world are caught off-guard by a people: even though the West did not order it, the Egyptian people refuses loyalty to its authorities! Wherever the ruling friends of freedom call for a refusal of obedience that leads to an overthrow of a regime, they themselves get the appropriate “revolutions” with their pretty nicknames underway. But no one in the political centers from which the free world is ruled reckoned that the masses in a country whose established, sovereign, domestic affairs are exceedingly interesting for a number of reasons would, on their own initiative, get out of hand in such a way. Hence, forming an opinion about the national uprising in Egypt takes a while, but then turns out to be all the more clear. The unanimous commentary is that it is a great thing that — and in particular how peacefully — the people on the Nile have initiated a “movement for freedom and democracy” (Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s foreign secretary); and the patrons of these high values are by no means content with a mere message of greeting to the freedom fighters. They intercede by making use of the political influence they have for the good cause that they see the Egyptians having brought under way. First, they strongly advise the ruler to practice “non-aggression” towards his rebellious subjects — and shortly thereafter declare him to be as “intolerable” as does the crowd on the Tahrir Square. Admittedly, not for the same reasons. The protesters had hardly begun to somewhat destabilize the prevailing forces of power and already the ruling friends of freedom in the capitals of the world interpreted their distress as a desire to “return to stability.” And why this return is necessary is not kept a secret: the range of interests for which the Egyptian people has functioned so well and the reason why it definitely has to continue to function well in the future, too, stretches from its role in keeping peace in this well-known problematic “crisis region” to its secure supply of oil and car parts to the conservation of cultural goods and diving sites.
World public opinion has a simple and clear concept of what’s going on in the Cape: democratization. This is supposed to be, first, a good thing and, second, a necessary thing. The whole world sees an advance of civilization when the “verkrampte [stubborn]” Boers finally sit down at the table with their blacks and extend the human right of a free and secret ballot to the black majority. The granting of universal suffrage is considered so undeniably good that the lifelong functionary of apartheid, de Klerk, is forgiven all the sins of the regime he served. World opinion thinks nothing of him, along with longstanding victim of apartheid and ANC leader, Nelson Mandela, being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
How voting rights are supposed to be so good for the blacks: this the free world, to which the irresistibility of everything democratic has finally gone to the head, does not even want to know. At any rate, the advocates of “normalization” and “modernization” of this state don’t even claim that the material situation of blacks living in poverty would improve through elections and appointments of black politicians to state offices. Democracy itself is the value that has to matter — whether or not it is good for something else.
[Translated from the weekly radio analysis of GegenStandpunkt Publishers, October 6, 2009]
After the president — considered to be “leftist” — intended to get approval from the people by referendum for a “constituent assembly” against parliament, the electoral tribunal, and the supreme court, the armed forces staged a coup and deported Zelaya to Nicaragua. For the first time, the U.S. expressly condemned a military putsch in their backyard, denying recognition to the new government, and declaring the affair to be a precedent for their new foreign policy.
I recently received a letter from a friend of mine in a developing country. An article from a famous local poet was attached, and in this article the poet offered his explanations for the causes of poverty. The poet found, among other things, the people’s own laziness, their lacking industriousness and the indolence and corruption of the ruling politicians all to be at fault for this poverty. As a solution, he recommended strict and disciplined education, so-called “character-building,” in order to alter the people’s mentality.
Democratic public opinion is ambivalent about how to treat the Pinochet affair. Professional warners point to the explosive nature of the matter and the unwanted diplomatic complications it involves. They also raise the fundamental question of what would happen if a precedent was set. On the other hand, the less commentators are guided by diplomatic calculations, the further away they are from governments when discussing the politico-moral dimension of the case, the more pleased and satisfied they tend to be. Regardless of any ideological differences between "liberal," "left," or "right," they largely agree that Pinochet's arrest was the "right signal" and the "unmistakable message" for the world community to aim at all present or future "dictators" or "criminals" as a deterrent.
For years Thailand has been the subject of international admiration. "Sensational growth rates," a building boom sending Bangkok into the ranks of the great metropolises in the shortest period of time, a never-ending rise on the stock-market, the baht as one of the most stable currencies in Southeast Asia, and annual capital inflows of billions of dollars were taken as a proof of trust in the country. It was unanimously held that the success of this "emerging market" was owed to a government that had carried out all the correct policies demanded by the G7 countries and the IMF, namely, "liberalization," "free capital movements" and a market economy. Thailand was considered a "model" that not only other "developing countries" but even Germany could learn from, especially when it came to cheap labor ; so said German president Herzog during an Asian trip. During the spring of 1997, though, "worries in the kingdom of growth" suddenly grew. Foreign investors withdrew money, the stock market slid, and speculators bet on the depreciation of the national currency. The government tried to stop the trend by wasting some billions of dollars defending the baht's peg to the American currency. After surrendering to the money market, the Thai currency lost more than 35 percent of its value within three months. Internal demand collapsed, business and banks went bankrupt, foreign producers closed plants. Moreover, the worst was still to come, as the government had to face losses of 14 billion dollars from foreign currency exchange contracts expiring at the end of the year.
The current flurry about the increasingly miserable food situation is kind of odd. After all, hunger has its permanent place in the modern world, is regularly brought into the headlines by humanitarian organizations on public holidays, is entrusted to private charity, and just as regularly taken off the agenda in favor of other topics. Nor has this particular conflict, which is centered on the price of food and arouses the current indignation, come into the world in the year 2008. Millions of people — redundant figures of the global market economy — have long since had trouble paying for their food. Statistical data exist aplenty, and are pulled out again in view of current events, as to how many millions of “households” in how many countries spend their “income” for the most part on food. Even the insight that “anyone who survives on less than a dollar can hardly feed himself, even in the face of smaller price increases” could have been had earlier.
Political powers and the business people empowered by them “grab land” — this is hardly news. Tapping natural resources in any part of the world is a matter of fact. Developing and exploiting mineral resources requires land rights, on which claims are laid. The cultivation of crops in regions privileged by nature characterizes the modern form of agriculture practiced and propagated by North American and European multinationals. Running plantations requires a sufficient supply of water and extensive land, roads, and ports at one’s disposal. The transportation of liquid and gaseous energy resources to the centers of capitalism, which uses and markets them, requires a global system of pipelines, for which entire states are defined and treated as transit territories. “Land grabbing” takes place all the time for all these cross-border politico-economic needs. And as a further rule, money is paid whenever land under foreign dominion is acquired — proof of a ‘fair deal.’ The current “battle over the Arctic” and over sea beds that have a rich potential in natural resources but no owners also shows that intentions to annex territory politically are not dying out at all — they still belong to the national rights that states both claim and deny each other.
Freedom, which according to George W. Bush is a gift that God has given to all of mankind, is realized in free, equal and secret elections. These are what separate humane rule from tyranny. According to the American messenger of God’s gift, no people shall be deprived of the privilege of free elections. No society or culture is so backward or aberrant as to be ignorant of the glory of free elections, and no people is to be regarded as unripe for the right to vote. In fact, he maintains that it would be typical Western racism to believe that we who are privileged with the freedom to vote are the only ones worthy of this universal achievement of mankind, the only ones who deserve, desire and can treasure this act of liberty.