Mar. 23rd, 2011

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via : [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political Tunisia's ongoing revolution

Matt Swagler describes the attempts of Tunisia's elite to impose order--and the inspiring examples of direct democracy and workers' struggle since the fall of Ben Ali.

AN EVENTFUL two months have passed since mass protests toppled former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali--largely out of the media spotlight once the revolution spread to Egypt, but with great importance for the struggle for democracy and justice, in Tunisia and beyond.

In December and January, a nationwide movement emerged in Tunisia, led by workers, students and the unemployed, calling for the hated autocrat to go. After just four weeks, the Tunisian people achieved what had seemed impossible: they challenged a 23-year dictatorship backed by a massive, brutal security force--and won. In doing so, they also exposed the complicity of the French and U.S. governments, which were both long-time allies and defenders of Ben Ali's corrupt regime right through his final days.

When Tunisians' nonviolent demonstrations forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia on January 14, the victory immediately gave confidence to emerging protest movements across North Africa and the Middle East. In Egypt, where a struggle against President Hosni Mubarak had been brewing for over a decade, the lesson was clear: If Ben Ali and his security forces were not invincible, than Mubarak could be ousted as well.

...

But Tunisia provides important lessons for anyone who hopes to learn from the struggles, debates and conflicts within an unfolding revolutionary situation. In particular, Tunisia offer insights into what it means for hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, to actively take part in trying to transform society from the bottom up.

The movement against Ben Ali was driven in large part by demands for democratic political reforms and an end to the country's oligarchic rule. But growing anger over soaring food prices, inadequate wages and widespread unemployment--especially in the interior of the country--fueled the struggle as well.

Thus far, the interim Tunisian government, which replaced Ben Ali's administration, has proven hostile to enacting reforms that would significantly alter Tunisia's economic inequality. New political freedoms have been won, but these incredible victories have only come about because the interim government has been faced with protests and workers' strikes--on an almost daily basis.

...

If anything, the toppling of Ben Ali has proven to be only the opening round in a revolution that is now involving even greater numbers of Tunisians, who are actively and collectively tackling larger questions about what to do next.MORE

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