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Comrades in Cairo send solidarity, and advice, to Occupy Wall Street

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To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in sol­i­dar­ity. Having received so much advice from you about tran­si­tion­ing to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

(Photo: Nick turse/Alternet)

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demon­stra­tions, riots, strikes and occu­pa­tions taking place all around the world, its foun­da­tions lie in years long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repres­sion, dis­en­fran­chise­ment and the unchecked ravages of global cap­i­tal­ism (yes, we said it, cap­i­tal­ism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhab­i­tants. As the interests of gov­ern­ment increas­ingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transna­tional capital, our cities and homes have become pro­gres­sively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic devel­op­ment or urban renewal scheme.

An entire gen­er­a­tion across the globe has grown up realizing, ratio­nally and emo­tion­ally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under struc­tural adjust­ment policies and the supposed expertise of inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, indus­tries and public services were sold off and dis­man­tled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immis­er­a­tion rein­forced by a massive increase in police repres­sion and torture.

The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, cap­i­tal­ism and the austerity state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon home­own­ers find them­selves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to exper­i­ment with the new. We are not protest­ing. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaim­ing those same spaces of public practice that have been com­mod­i­fied, pri­va­tized and locked into the hands of faceless bureau­cracy , real estate port­fo­lios, and police ‘pro­tec­tion’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the bound­aries of your occu­pa­tions grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and dis­ci­plined? Reclaim­ing these spaces and managing them justly and col­lec­tively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occu­pa­tions of Tahrir, we encoun­tered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fun­da­men­tal to the pos­si­bil­ity of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting, and inter­act­ing – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inac­ces­si­ble, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, par­tic­u­larly for the mar­gin­al­ized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst.

What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engage­ment being made in the occu­pa­tions avoid the empty ideals and stale par­lia­men­tar­i­an­ism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occu­pa­tions must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ide­olo­gies of property and propriety will manifest them­selves again. Whether through the overt oppo­si­tion of property owners or munic­i­pal­i­ties to your encamp­ments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic reg­u­la­tions, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian rev­o­lu­tion was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resis­tance and even force that rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies used against the police to defend their tentative occu­pa­tions and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Bar­ri­cades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammu­ni­tion on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to par­tic­i­pate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.

If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishiz­ing non­vi­o­lence; if the state had given up imme­di­ately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after every­thing else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.

By way of con­clud­ing then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep dis­cov­er­ing new ways to exper­i­ment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in sol­i­dar­ity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo.

24th of October, 2011.

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16 Responses

  1. American on October 25, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Well said and good advice.

    “It is not our desire to par­tic­i­pate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.”

    I and some others occasionally get accused of advocating violence. I don’t think I “‘advocate it” because I’m not for any kind of violence…it there is any other way to right wrongs…if it is at all avoidable in any way …except by losing when you know you’re right.
    The problem is in the kind of fight OWS, the people, people all over the globe are in, up against powers much bigger then they are ..I don’t see those powers ever handing over the control that has benefited them so extremely. I just don’t think they will do that unless they are hurt enough or scared enough to do it. If the powers were the kind of people that had the ethics or morals to use power fairly we wouldn’t be opposing them to begin with.

    If OWS keeps on, the powers will get violent against them….then what?
    We’ve seen the government turn violent on it’s own people before, 1933, the VN era, others….if it does that, we all need to show up bodily…it will be in the numbers, the numbers will be the only way to win.

  2. Les on October 25, 2011, 4:35 pm

    We need all the help we can get if there is to be a transition from kleptocracy to democracy.

  3. DICKERSON3870 on October 25, 2011, 4:43 pm

    RE: “Comrades from Cairo.”

    MY COMMENT: Oh, dear! This is most dreadful. I can’t even begin to count the number of Congressional investigations and hearings those three words will precipitate. That first word alone is far more than enough to have Rep. Peter King (R – NY) climbing the walls of his Committee on Homeland Security hearing room.

    • thetumta on October 26, 2011, 10:07 pm

      Yes, I fear they’re lurking in my backyard as we speak! Hope they don’t shoot my dogs as their not involved! I doubt “Peter King ” will climb the walls over anything as he just sells used cars. I suspect it will get nasty, ala Woodrow Wilson. I’m old, why bother with me?

  4. muzz al atesta on October 25, 2011, 5:43 pm

    “Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after every­thing else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.”

    with highest respect & for continious international cooperation

    shukran & horeya for All

    Tahrir – coming to your city, town, village, home. east, west, south, north.


  5. radkelt on October 25, 2011, 7:58 pm

    Known as “the Mafia Mentality” Is there an alternative to “give me what
    I want or I’ll kill you, or your family. or etc” ? Not much different from
    the “Samson option”, either we achieve a “greater Israel” or we will visit
    a nuclear “holocaust” on you. See Martin Van Creveld re: deployment of
    Israeli subs armed with nuclear tipped missiles.

  6. yourstruly on October 25, 2011, 10:57 pm

    in the occupied streets
    open spaces
    in one community after another

    by popular demand

    that we* can become the changes that we seek in the world

    that this here experiment of life on earth may last forever

    *we, as in you are i, i am you, we are one

    • yourstruly on October 25, 2011, 11:20 pm

      and the difference between msm’s coverage of the tea party and its coverage of occupy america tells us what?

      that corporate america sees the tea party as an ally, whereas, it views us occupy america 99%’ers as a threat

      meaning we’re right on course?


  7. Walid on October 26, 2011, 6:26 am

    “But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.”

    Did they really? If that would have been so, the article would have been written by someone with a name rather than by an “Anonymous”. They were made to believe they did, but nothing has changed; the old regime is still in place and reinforced by the inclusion of the MB.

  8. Gogo on October 26, 2011, 12:21 pm

    No one is denying that the regime is still very much in place, but the line you’re referring to is specifically about what it will take to reclaim public space. And notwithstanding the realities of the regime, there is still a lot to be said about what public space now looks like in Cairo. It took and still takes a lot of violence on our part to win that, fleeting though it is. So ‘won our cities’ is certainly a relative statement, but you could also remember to recontextualize it, and the piece is not talking about regime change as much as it’s talking about reclaiming space, and the kind of confrontation that is going to be necessary. (cf. Oakland right now)

    Also the statement is not exactly anonymous, it was collectively written and passed through many hands before it was released, and it is being published with the same signature ‘Comrades from Cairo’ everywhere including in the mainstream wires. Phil & Adam may want to replace the ‘Anon’ beneath the header with that as well.

    • Gogo on October 26, 2011, 1:12 pm

      *defensive violence/force/fighting back I mean.

    • Walid on October 26, 2011, 2:58 pm

      Gogo, I wasn’t disparaging the comrads on their effort but just saying that the battle is far from being won and the regime that needed changing, minus Mubarak, is still in place with the added feature of now having the MB and salafists fundies siding with it.

      It’s being reported by Masry Yom that posters are being put up in Cairo and Alexandria demanding that General Tantawi run for president. If he does, you can be sure that his new religious friends that are reputed to be the best organized political forces in Egypt would be voting for him and assuring his victory. There has to be something brewing behind all this smoke. From al-Masry Yom:

      Posters back Egypt’s military ruler for president
      Wed, 26/10/2011 – 11:05
      Hundreds of posters calling on Egypt’s military ruler to run for president have appeared in several districts of Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, sparking fears that the armed forces may try to cling to power.

      The campaign is led by a previously unknown group called “Egypt Above All.” They argue that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as president amounts to “a popular demand for stability.”

      Tantawi’s council of military generals took power after a popular uprising ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February.

      Rights groups in Egypt are wary of Tantawi, despite pledges by the armed forces to transfer power to an elected civilian government in two years.

      Activists accuse the top military brass of behaving like the old regime and derailing reform.”

  9. Mooser on October 26, 2011, 12:28 pm

    “Comrades in Cairo send solidarity, and advice, to Occupy Wall Street”

    Ah, no wonder “Newclench” was in such a sweat to write that article above.
    The thought of anyone except Zionists having good relations and access to Americans must scare the crap out of him.

    Phil seems to have a soft spot, or a blind spot, for conciliatory hasbara.

  10. annie on October 26, 2011, 7:08 pm

    thanks to comrades in cairo, they have sparked a movement i hope will sweep the nation.

  11. Watcher465 on October 26, 2011, 11:22 pm

    The article is moving. I hope the people are winning but they should never be sucked in to voting for military “leaders” as the Nations leaders. The military is always the dumbest part of humanity. Yes I’m talking to you as well America. There’s an old saying, “Cream rises to the top.” Well when it does it soon becomes spoilt by polluting parasites. No, actually scum rises to the top and never gives way to new parasites. “American”, a politician once said “Power is not handed over, it has to be taken.” May the good take it and not be polluted. If I thought there was a God that would be my prayer to Him.

  12. vered on October 28, 2011, 4:35 pm

    Gee, I wonder how anything was accomplished with all of those “agent provocateurs” in the streets of Egypt (satire)? Just chiding those who kept waving this well worn out flag (about such agents) in front of me every time I post. Take a look at reality

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