AT LENGTH-It has been five years and a few months since the young people of Egypt rose up at Tahrir (Liberation) Square to protest and ultimately depose Hosni Mubarak’s regime 18 days later.
This was an unexpected but long overdue consequence of repression in the Middle East that has fueled other upwellings of discontent. The discontent has woven its way through Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Turkey. That discontent then transitioned into the Occupy movement in Europe and here.
Some of those same voices can be heard in the Umbrella protests (photo above) in Hong Kong in the face of Chinese repressions or in Miramar’s pro-democracy movement. This is a global, universal uprising for human rights and it’s been a long time coming.
The underlying specifics in each of these countries are unique, but the thread of overarching inequality and political domination by moneyed political elites runs through them all – including here in America.
Some will even argue that it is U.S. economic domination that is the greater cause of the global corruption and greed. Others, as Naomi Klein did in her book, The Shock Doctrine, see the cause as the result of specific free market economic policies put into play during the Cold War and the expansion of global capitalism.
Whatever your take on all of these world-wide protests, the source of the current discontent expressed on both the right and left in the current U.S. presidential campaign is the same: growing economic inequality, greater awareness of corruption (think Panama papers) and an increasing sense of powerlessness by the many, while moneyed elites hide their assets in offshore accounts.
The politics that created this discontent stemmed from Milton Friedman, the Chicago School of Economics guru, whose monetary theory of free markets underpinned President Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down economics” policies 35 years ago. Friedman is also responsible for promoting such policies as the all-volunteer military, freely floating exchange rates, the abolition of medical licenses, the negative income tax and school vouchers.
Increasingly, since the Great Recession of 2008, there has been a critical reassessment of Friedman’s monetary theory on the left and a gut reaction to its unequal results on the mostly white, working class on the right.
The result is Sen. Bernie Sanders (photo right) on one side exclaiming, “enough is enough,” and Donald Trump on the other tapping into a distorted bit of nostalgia by saying “Make America Great Again.” The underlying cause of the dissatisfaction is the same for both sides, but their prescriptions for the ailments are a million miles apart. The 2016 election results will have universal repercussions and will resonate down to the smallest of neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
This leaves me with some unsettling questions:
- Can we equate the rise of the Islamic State’s anti-Christian violence and extremism in Syria to the anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment and violence of the Christian right and neo-fascists in America and Europe?
- Aren’t the Christian and Muslim extremists and neo-fascists linked to the same kind of global economic inequalities that divides the 99 percent from the 1 percent?
- Aren’t these the same disparities that cause economic and cultural exclusion, whether it’s Los Angeles street gangs battling for turf and dominance or immigrant Belgian terrorists resorting to violence as the final solution?
- Though the tactics and targets are different, aren’t the underlying causes the same?
I am unsure at this point about drawing conclusions. But I believe all of these universal uprisings are connected. They are connected to all of us.
When I hear Sanders exclaim, “enough is enough” I am drawn to that as an inclusive statement that encompasses all of the above. It has a universal appeal that in the end just might lead to a global effort for universal economic reform and make Wall Street bankers and tyrants squeal as their monopoly on the game is broken and divided more equitably.
(James Preston Allen is the Publisher of Random Lengths News, the Los Angeles Harbor Area's only independent newspaper. He is also a guest columnist for the California Courts Monitor and is the author of "Silence Is Not Democracy - Don't listen to that man with the white cap - he might say something that you agree with!" He was elected to the presidency of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council in 2014 and has been engaged in the civic affairs of CD 15 for more than 35 years. More of Allen … and other views and news at: randomlengthsnews.com.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.