Joy, Despair and Utter Confusion
This is mostly an apology for not writing more recently. Its been hard to get words on to my computer, even for simple things like Facebook event profiles and email newsletters, often despite the guist of the text already existing. Part of the problem has been the immense number of distractions from around the world, and the weird twisting roller-coaster that this year is already providing.
This year pretty much began on January 25th. A sudden outpouring of Egyptian anger at 30 years of rule, mostly unforeseen, brought millions to the streets – probably something like 6 million people in a country of 80 million, with thousands if not millions more providing auxiliary roles. Images of Tahrir Square filled my mind and enthused me, but I never really believed Mubarak would go until he actually went. Despite my continuing optimism, I think I’m becoming much more careful about declaring victories. Yet on Friday 11th February, I went drinking in a pub full of students toasting victory, Egypt, and perhaps prophetically, the “Domino Effect”.
The Domino Effect, the idea that one successful revolution will inspire many more, is far from a law of physics. I think when it was proposed I felt sure it would go no further. I was probably also just a bit hopefully that the days of watching Al Jazeera English (AJE as I often refer to it on twitter) might be over. Yesterday afternoon, I was most definitely watching it, and familiar nervous hope, as Benghazi fell to the protesters. I’m not comfortable with the approach being taken by the Libyans, but I cannot and will not condemn their actions for the simple reason that my privilege prevents me from truly comprehending the situation – I’ve never been shot it, barely managed to get teargassed and have no way of knowing what I would be doing in their shoes. (On the subject of AJE, this set of three documentaries on Egypt’s three weeks of uprising are worth watching).
But, as I said in my rally speech on Saturday, I’m sure I’ll say again: the Arab uprisings are not the whole show. A Chinese Dissident was forcefully arrested Saturday for placing a jasmine flower on a… (can’t remember what, it had symbolism, but its lost in my mental image of the Chinese police manhandling him moments later). If this gets going, will it be the spirit of Tahrir or Tiananmen? The footage from the Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin are also pretty impressive, as one of 15 Tea Party backed State Governors leads the charge to take down working class bargaining power so that greater inequality can be spread. Their story is almost identical to ours. Yesterday, amidst calls for people to phone pizza shops and donate free pizza to protesters, twitter reported orders from Egypt. #Solidarity really is a global affair.
And then there’s the British situation. And its pretty depressing. It wasn’t helped by snow before and rain during the march in York on Saturday. It was a good march, and made an important stop outside “Mill House” on North Street, where departments are set to lose 90 jobs just in this year alone. Today’s announcement that the government intends to all but end public services in Britain, accompanied by clear indications that charities will be forced to put competition before care, and the untold millions that will be siphoned from the public purse to fill private coffers.
It might seem to be all doom and gloom, but there are signs that things are moving even in Britain. Accounting for the rain, Saturday’s march was bigger than any event organised purely by York Stop the Cuts thus far, and protests around Britain continue to develop. A rumour reached my ears that the TUC may have caved to protests against its acquiescence to the police in arrangements around the march on Saturday 26th March. Aaron Porter is to stand down as NUS President without seeking a second term. Protesters are taking to banks to demand repayment of money stolen from the public purse.
I can’t even write a blog post in under 2 hours. Dear World, please be less complex!