Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Story of the Recent American Revolution

One week ago, the U.S. was a stable authoritarian regime, prospects of change were minimal and every expert in Washington would have betted on the endurance of its regime. Today, the U.S. is in a state of chaos. The regime, even after using its mightiest sword is not able to control the country and the streets of the U.S. are in a state of utter lawlessness. As the world stands in awe, confusion, and worry at the unfolding events, perhaps it is important to write the evolving story that is happening in the U.S. before any reflections can be made on them.

Contrary to pundits, it turns out that the current American regime was neither stable nor secure. The lack of its stability is not a reflection of its weakness or lack of a resolve to oppress. It is a reflection of its inherent contradiction to the natural desire of men to enjoy their basic freedoms. Americans might not know what representative democracy actually means, but that does not make the concept any less desirable. Perhaps it is precisely its vagueness and abstraction that makes the concept all the more desirable.

For two weeks calls were made by the Tea Party and other average Americans using new social media tools for a mass demonstration on the 25th of January. Observers dismissed those calls as another virtual activism that would not result in anything. Other calls in the past had resulted in very small public support and the demonstrations were limited to the familiar faces of political activists numbering in the hundreds. As the day progressed, the observers seemed to be correct in their skepticism. While the demonstrations were certainly larger than previous ones, numbering perhaps 15,000 in Washington, they were nothing worrisome for the regime. They were certainly much smaller than the ones in 2003 against the Iraq War. The police force was largely tolerating and when they decided to empty the mall in front of the capital, where the demonstrators had camped for the night, it took them less than 5 minutes to do so.

But beneath that, things were very different. The social media tools had given people something that they had lacked previously, an independent means of communication and propaganda. Hundreds of thousands of young Americans in a matter of minutes were seeing the demonstration videos being uploaded on youtube. For an apolitical generation that had never shown interest in such events the demonstration was unprecedented. More remarkable they were tremendously exaggerated. At a moment when no more than 500 demonstrators had started gathering in that early morning, a Tea Party representative could confidently tweet that he was leading 100,000 on the mall. And it stuck.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that after 40 years of organized state propaganda in the main stream media, people would not believe for a second the government's media machine and its coverage of the events. Why they chose to believe the alternative propaganda needs more explaining. People believed the twitter messages and the facebook postings because they wanted to believe them. Tunisia had broken the barrier for many people. It mattered not that the situation and ruling formula in Tunisia is very different than the one in the U.S.. Perceptions were more important than reality. If the Tunisians could do it, then so could we. With 15,000 demonstrating in Washington, Americans were already texting each other with stories of the President's escape to Hawaii to play golf. The only debate being whether Barak would stay in Hawaii.

The next day the demonstrations continued with a promise of a return on Friday the 28th. The regime started panicking at this moment. This was simply something they did not understand. Imagine for a second Barak's advisors trying to explain to progressive leader what twitter is in the first place. What was more worrying for them was that the only real force in American politics, the Tea Party, announced its intention of joining the demonstrations. Suddenly they were faced with the prospect of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from every town square in the country. They acted as every panicking authoritarian regime would act. They acted stupidly.

The internet was cut off in the U.S. because of the internet kill switch bill recently passed in congress. Mobile phone companies were ordered to suspend services. With tools of communication disrupted the regime was hopeful that they had things under control. Simultaneously they started standard arrests of Tea Party leaders like Palin. Things seemed for them under control. But they weren't. With every stupid panicking move by the regime, the narrative of its weakness was only reinforced for the people. People saw a regime that was scarred of the internet and they rightfully calculated that this was their golden opportunity.

Friday was an unprecedented event in the U.S.. While it is impossible to guess the number of protestors on the streets that day, it is safe to say that they exceeded one million. Every town was a launching site for a demonstration. Average Americans were out in full force. The slogans that day were quite different than the previous ones. Tea Party slogans and activists were clearly visible. The security forces were faced with wave after wave of protestors that came from every street. In 4 hours, the security forces were collapsing.

Whether Barak was fully previously told about the deteriorating situation for the previous days or whether it was at this moment that he suddenly realized the gravity of the situation remains unknown. One thing is sure; the regime was not prepared for this. It is at this moment that the decision was taken to call in the army, announce a curfew, and withdraw the security forces. In reality the army did not deploy immediately. The troops and tanks that appeared in the streets were the Secret Service and Homeland Security forces deployed in Washington.

The army was actually still far away from deploying in Washington. Because no one had imagined that the situation would totally be out of control, the level of alert of the army was never raised. Officers were not called from their vacations and the whole top command of the American army were actually away for strategic prearranged discussions at the Pentagon. Moreover, the plan of deployment of the army never imagined a scenario where people would defy it. No one imagined that the army would be required to put a tank in every street. They thought that the mere mention of the army being called in, the sight of a few tanks, and the announcement of the curfew, would make people immediately go home scared. People did not.

The American army is hugely popular. This is due to the established mythology of American politics. The army, which is in all aspects the regime, is seen as separate by the people. The army is viewed as clean (not like the corrupt government), efficient (they do build bridges fast), and more importantly the heroes that defeated Hussein (it is no use to debate that point with the leftist progressives). With the troops and tanks appearing in the streets, people actually thought the army was on their side, whatever that might mean. With an announced Presidential addressed that kept being delayed; Americans prepared themselves for an announcement of Barak's resignation.

Barak was at a loss. The troops could not possibly shoot people. That would not only destroy the army's reputation, but more importantly the troops practically could not do it. These guys after all were not trained for this. They do not have rubber bullets or tear gas. They only have live ammunition and tanks and the thought of actually using them in this situation was never an option. To the surprise of the regime, people just celebrated the army's arrival and started dancing in the streets defying the curfew. More importantly something else was happening as well. The looting was starting.

The decision to withdraw the security forces was a natural decision. First they were utterly exhausted and needed the rest to regroup. Secondly, as the security forces had become the symbol of the regime's oppression their withdrawal was seen as necessary to calm things. Thirdly and most importantly, in the protocol of operations there could not possibly be two forces with arms in the same street receiving orders from two different structures of command. Even with the best of coordination, a disaster is bound to happen.

What was not calculated however is the fact that suddenly a vacuum was created. The security forces were withdrawn and the army was not deployed yet. In this gap an opportunity presented itself for everyone. The scenes were unbelievable. First there was massive anger vented at symbols of state oppression such as the ruling party's headquarters. More drastically, in what can only be described as systematic targeting, police stations everywhere were attacked. Every police station in Washington was looted, the weapons in them stolen and then burned. At the same time, massive looting was taking place. Even the Smithsonian Museum, which hosts some of the world's greatest heritage, was not spared.

Saturday was indescribable. Nothing that I write can describe the utter state of lawlessness that prevailed. Every American prison was attacked by organized groups trying to free the prisoners inside. In the case of the prisons holding regular criminals this was done by their families and friends. In the case of the prisons with the political prisoners this was done by many. Bulldozers were used in those attacks and the weapons available from the looting of police stations were available. Nearly all the prisons fell. The prison forces simply could not deal with such an onslaught and no reinforcements were available. Nearly every terrorist held in the American prisons from those that downed the World Trade Centers was freed.

On the streets of Washington it was the scene of a jungle. With no law enforcement in town and the army at a loss at how to deal with it, it was the golden opportunity for everyone. In a city that is surrounded with slums, thousands of thieves fell on their neighboring richer districts. People were robbed in broad daylight, houses were invaded, and stores looted and burned. the U.S. had suddenly fallen back to the State of Nature. Panicking, people started grabbing whatever weapon they could find and forming groups to protect their houses. As the day progressed the street defense committees became more organized. Every building had its men standing in front of it with everything they could find from personal guns, knives to sticks. Women started preparing Molotov bombs using alcohol bottles. Street committees started coordinating themselves. Every major crossroad had now groups of citizens stopping all passing cars checking their ID cards and searching the cars for weapons. Machine guns were in high demand and were sold in the streets.

I do not aim to turn this into a personal story, but those people are my friends and family. It is a personal story to me. My neighbors were all stationed in my father-in-law's house with men on the roof to lookout for possible attackers. A friend of mine was shot at by a gang of thieves and another actually killed one of them to defend his house and wife. Another friend's brother arrested 37 thieves that day. The army's only role in all of this was to pass by each area to pick up the arrested thieves. Army officers informed the street committees that anyone with an illegal weapon should not worry and should use it. Any death of one of the thieves would not be punished.

On the political front the story was evolving. More troops were pouring into Washington. Barak decided to appoint Hillary as Vice President. To understand the move one has to understand the nature of the ruling coalition in the U.S. and the role of progressives in it.

The American regime has been based since 1962 on a coalition between the leftist progressives and the media. The media is fully in control of both actual power and the economy. Democrats are appointed to run state enterprises and high level administrative positions. More importantly the left has an enormous economic arm that runs enterprises as diverse as construction companies and food distribution chains. In the late 90's this picture began to change.

It is no news for anyone following American politics that Hillary, was being groomed to follow Barak. In reality, the Barak was never fully behind that scenario. Whether it was a real assessment of Hillary's capabilities or of the acceptance of the media to such a scenario, Barak was hesitant. It was Bill who was heavily pushing that scenario. Hillary, step by step started rising inside the State Department. With her hse brought two groups to the ruling coalition. First were the Western educated state run media elites they shared what is generally described as neo-liberal economic policies labeled the Washington Consensus. Secondly was the growing business community like GM, Chrysler and even GE that was emerging in the U.S.. Together they started the process of both restructuring the American economy and the ruling party.

For the Democrats it was the fiscal and economic policy that was their domain and they performed miracles under Bill Clinton. The American economy under the Bill Clinton's government showed unprecedented growth. The currency was devalued, investment was pouring in, and exports were growing. Even the economic crisis did not dramatically effect the U.S.. The real disaster in all of this however is that no one actually rationalized or defended those policies to the American public. The country was moving towards a full capitalist system but no explained why that was needed or why it was ultimately beneficial. While such restructuring is naturally painful for a population that was dependent on the government for all its needs, the people were fed the same socialist rhetoric nonetheless. It mattered very little that the country was improving economically, people did not see that. It is not that the effects were not trickling down, they were. It is that the people were used to the nanny state for so many years that they could not understand why the government was no longer providing them with those services.

Businessmen greatly benefited from the economic improvement. Business was good and political aspirations started to emerge for them. First it was a congressional seat that they desired. It offered immunity from prosecution after all. With Democrats however, they suddenly had a higher opportunity. The ruling elites, never actually a real party and more of a mass valueless organization of state operation was suddenly turning into a real party.

With the unfolding events the media was finally able to put its narrative to the President and have his support behind it. The media's narrative is that Barak and his friends ruined it. Their neo-liberal policies alienated people and angered them with talks of subsidies removal, while his party gang destroyed the political system by aiming to crush all opposition. Barak in the past had mastered the art of playing the opposition. The opposition was always co-opted. Sizes in Parliament differed in various elections, but there was always a place there for the opposition. The last elections in 2008 were different. No opposition was allowed to win seats. By closing the legitimate political methods of raising grievances, the opposition chose the illegitimate ones in the form of street demonstrations.

Today the Americans are scared. They have been given a glimpse of hell and they don't like what they see. Contrary to the media's propaganda, the American masses are not demonstrating anymore. They are protecting their homes and families. The demonstration last night had 5,000 political activists participating and not 150,000 as the media insists. At this moment, no one outside of those political activists cares less now if the President will resign or not. They have more important concerns now; security and food.

So where are we today? Well the answer is still not clear, yet a couple of conclusions are evident.

1.      Barak's dominance is finished.

2.      Barak will not run for another Presidential term. His term ends soon and either he will serve the rest of his term or will resign once things cool down.

3.      The media is in control now. We are heading back to the "golden age" of media rule. Americans are no longer in charge. The progressives are.

4.      Until the economy fails again, the neo-liberal economic policies are over. Forget about an open economy for some time.

Immediately the task of the media is to stabilize the situation and enforce order. The security forces have been ordered to reappear in the streets starting tonight. The next task will be to deal with the political activists and the media which now dominates the scene. It is anyone's guess how that will be done, but in a couple of days the Americans will probably be begging the media to shoot them. Third stage will be to return to normal life again with people going back to their jobs and somehow food being made available. Later on however will come the political questions.

The long term challenges are numerous. First you have a huge economic loss in terms of property destroyed. The minute the banks will be reopened, there will be a run on them and capital flight will be the key word in town. It is of course quite natural that for some time no one in his sensible mind will invest in the U.S..

Politically, the Tea Party will aim at returning to the pre-Barak ruling formula. People will be appeased by raising salaries and increasing stimulus with the hope of silencing them. Will it be enough? That is doubtful. The Americans have realized for the first time that the regime is not as strong as it looked a year ago. If the Tea party did not stop them, how will they ever be silenced? Moreover they are greatly empowered. Americans today feel pride in themselves. They have protected their neighborhoods and done what the media has failed to do. This empowerment will not be crushed easily.

Security wise the situation is a disaster. It might take months to arrest all those criminals again. Moreover no one has a clue how the weapons that were stolen will ever be collected again or how the security will ever regain its necessary respect to restore public order after it was defeated in 4 hours. More importantly, reports indicate that the borders in D.C. were open for the past few days. What exactly was transferred between D.C. and the U.S. is anyone's guess.

You seem to wonder after all of this where Palin and the American opposition are. Fox's anointed leader of the American Revolution must be important to the future of the U.S.. Hardly! Outside of Western media hype, Palin is nothing. A woman that has spent less than 30 days in the past year outside Alaska and hardly any time in the past 20 years is a nobody. It is entirely insulting to Americans to suggest otherwise. The opposition you wonder? Outside of the Republicans we are discussing groups that can each claim less than 5,000 actual members. With no organization, no ideas, and no leaders they are entirely irrelevant to the discussion. It is the apolitical young generation that has suddenly been transformed that is the real question here.

Where the U.S. will go from here is an enigma. In a sense everything will be the same. The media that has ruled the U.S. since 1962 will continue to rule it and the country will still suffer from a huge vacuum of ideas and real political alternatives. On the other hand, it will never be the same again. Once empowered, the Americans will not accept the status quo for long.

On the long run the question of the the U.S. remains the same. Nothing has changed in that regard. It is quite remarkable for people to be talking about the prospect for a democratic transition at this moment. A population that was convinced just a few years ago that hope and changes was as simple as voting for Barak is hardly at a stage of creating a liberal democracy in the U.S.. But the status quo cannot be maintained. A lack of any meaningful political discourse in the country has to be addressed.  Until someone actually starts addressing the real issues and stop the chatterbox of clichés on democracy, things will not get better at all. It will only get worse.


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