It began with sparks, from Egypt to Tunisia, and then revolts spread like wildfire. But the Arab Spring’s motif encompasses more than an anti-autocratic backlash; it is an upheaval and revolution meant to clash directly with empire, carrying heavy anti-kleptocratic, and most importantly anti-imperialist, strains. Our spring is here, and with it the most important great revolution of all — our own — must bloom.
It is not like the American youth aren’t mobilizing or seeking to make the world a better place. Even here at Cornell students rally behind different causes, raise funds and in some form promote peace on earth. The well-publicized Nike campaign was brilliantly executed, where pressure and united resistance from students brought forth livable wages and protection to exploited workers. There are many advocacy and protest movements which are gaining traction and producing results throughout campuses and communities alike.
But in the grander scheme of things, a call for actual revolt comes down to scale and timeline, and an acknowledgment that within these constraints traditional means cannot solve. Time is against us; many of those in power and making the decisions now will not be around for the next 40 years, and 40 years from now neither will there be fish in the oceans. At this point it seems that we’re going to go out in a sick game; where hubris and pride allow those loyal to the status quo to burrow down and resist movements of change.
We need to weigh in on how far we should tilt and recognize fully the scope of the issues and scale of support needed. Most importantly we need to ask ourselves what is the adequate pressure to achieve results. As one groups the world’s major crises, it becomes clear that their causes can’t be pinpointed and thus you can’t target a fix. The entire system behind these harms needs to be uprooted and revamped. It is time to accept that nothing gets done behind the veil of democracy, even under the regime which labeled itself as bringers of “Change” and “Hope,” every drone strike, every xenophobic immigration law, is creating more enemies.
Obama is no saint and will not bring about any change, and hence the necessary call for resistance. In the first 20 months alone, the Obama administration along with the CIA conducted at least 126 drone strikes in Pakistan, almost triple that of the Bush administration’s total. We are not at war with Pakistan, but it does not phase the current administration that it is violating international rules of war. From the basement computers in Langley, the murder of children is coming about from controls that look no different than video games.
In Pakistan, these deaths are only the surface of the tragedies and atrocities being committed. Imagine raising a family while living with the fear that any buzzing that goes on in the sky could mean you’re next. The psychological impacts and emotional tolls on the children and youth growing up in the country are horrendous; the entire region is literally going crazy.
The current administration’s visit to Latin America earlier this year shows the farce of diplomacy. While all smiles abroad, at home Obama takes a weak stance against hate legislations like SB 1070, which are now springing up in different states, and he has also escalated deportations.
The scales are tipping, and a new world order is shaping beneath our feet. Whether America is in decline, or the rest of the world is simply rising, the U.S. needs to stray from causing so much misery or it will learn with harsh lessons that times have changed. From the environment — oceans to CO2 — to finance, trade, and inequality to foreign and immigration policy, the current American system’s externalities must be reeled in, to save both humanity, and this nation.
In 2011 the cost is too high for a nation to take such stances as being a military aggressor, meddling with countries at its will, or pervasively causing the starvation and suffering of people through economic weapons. From the rejection of American military bases to the ousting of ambassadors, Latin American blocks are no longer bowing down. African nations will continue to assert their independence and develop ties with lesser evils such as China, Russia and other flourishing economies like Brazil. The impacts are greater than just politics; there are concessions of lithium, natural gas and mega-contracts of infrastructure etc. that will no longer be earmarked for the United States.
The hoodless Klan meeting led by Karl Rove on campus last week painted a starker picture of how change will come about. An entire lecture hall was filled to welcome the man behind the White House Iraq Group. He was introduced by Dean Kent Hubbell ’67 as “The Architect,” and this title brought about praise, but there was no mention of what he architected or a single remark regarding the genocide this man and the American system are currently executing. The cheap demagoguery peddled by Rove was lauded by the seals in the audience. It was cowardly of them to stand in a crowd cheering after every joke or xenophobic remark. There are certain hearts and minds you cannot win over with logic and compassion. This realization is empowering: you don’t have to change everyone’s mind, just begin with your own.
Great revolutions don’t need to topple governments, but action can transform economic and social structures as well as political institutions. What it should look like I’m not sure, but it will demand sacrifice. Instability, chaos, why shy from them? Although one must be tactful, for it is imperative to gain and retain popular opinion, disruptions nonetheless bring eyes and with them comes the support. How far can we take it? All the way. The dynamics of people power allow for revolutionizing how we think and act. A cause gives meaning. Choose sides and fight. Be neither the anvil nor the hammer, rather a blacksmith and forge a path towards the human return to Eden.
Vicente Gonzalez is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Owls of Eden ordinarily appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.