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Reflecting on Relations Between the Arab Uprisings and Occupy Movement

July 22, 2012

Tax Justice Focus, the newsletter of the Tax Justice Network, has an article in its latest issue on a topic I’ve blogged about before: Are there connections between the Arab uprisings and the Occupy movement?

Obviously there are symbolic connections: Protesters in Tahrir using the web to order pizza for occupy protesters, Occupy protesters dedicating songs to their colleagues in Tahrir Square, and so forth.

This issue has an article entitled “Reconceiving Class War” by philosopher Philip Goff (University of Liverpool) in which he argues that both movements are seeking to create more perfect democracies.

The Egyptian uprising seeks to establish democratic institutions at a national level, he writes, while the occupy movement is trying to help democratic institutions that already exist in the countries it inhabits to resist the antidemocratic forces of global market capitalism.

He writes:

In a sense, then, we can see the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement as having the same goal: true democracy. While the Arab Spring seeks to attain the beginnings of democracy at a national level, the Occupy movement is trying to perfect democracy within countries and attain it at a global level.

Goff completely misses the role global markets played in maintaining the government of Hosni Mubarak, which would add to (and complicate) his argument, since it suggests that struggles at the national level are impacted by global market capitalism everywhere, not just in the Western democratic states where the bulk of occupy protests occurred.

In addition, Goff expresses interest in cooperative rather than competitive capitalism. A deeper knowledge of Egypt–attainable by reading Julia Elyachar’s brilliant book “Markets of Dispossession: NGOs, Economic Development and the State in Cairo” (2005, University Press) would give him a clearer idea of what cooperative capitalism actually looks like and how it can outperform competitive capitalism.

(thanks to John Postill for bringing this to my attention)

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