Saturday, July 5, 2014


The cool revolutionary types pitch tents in front of stock exchanges, and they smoke pot and pound on bongos incessantly, begging for handouts from the government. They wear bandannas to cover their faces. They don’t use automobiles, they ride bikes! 


The Occupy movements of the recent past supposedly base their mass action on the Arab Spring, the uprising across the Arab world, culminating in overturning dictatorships in places like Egypt and beyond (and they’re still bubbling).

The Arab Spring, gentle reader, was not brought about by a drug induced, student loan carrier. It was NOT sparked by a slutty tattooed Gender Studies major who works as a nightclub DJ. 


As with all such kindling, the inspiration comes from a decidedly less sexier source. A revolution, which means a turning over, forms at the behest of bourgeois culture (and this will be the case in the future as well). These are the folks who attempt real revolutions: raising families, earning an education, growing a business. They’re hard-working, unglamorous. They’re not in a band. They don’t wear the latest fashions. They’re slowly deliberate in their actions. They’re careful, prudent. 

Push them too far, and you’ll feel the world shake.  

The Arab Spring was brought about in Tunisia, the Arab Berber outpost in North Africa …, opening to the Mediterranean. By way of comparison to most Islamic states, Tunisia is relatively cosmopolitan and progressive. It’s very open to the West, and geography might have a lot to do with that fact, resting so close to Italian ports (though the same could be said for Algeria and Libya, go figure).

A man, a super-small businessman, changed the Arab world forever, and it’s a compelling story.

In December of a couple years past, Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia took a micro loan in order to earn a living as some kind of produce vendor, perhaps to pilot a fruit cart. THE NEXT DAY, cops and government officials set about him, harassing him for a license, for permits, in order to operate his business. 

The police over-turned his cart, destroyed his produce, and confiscated his scales. He was slapped and publically humiliated over the incident. Undeterred, Bouazizi went to the government office to retrieve his property (he would not be able to accurately determine the price for a customer if he didn’t have a scale). As government bureaucrats are wont to do, especially when it comes to a person trying to better themselves by way of trade and commerce, they ignored him.

Bouazizi resorted to the lone protest of an individual. 

He didn’t bomb a square. He didn’t march around. He didn’t set up a tent and play bongos. He went to a petrol station, doused himself, and before emolliating, cried: HOW IS A MAN TO MAKE A LIVING?

He died on the fourth day of that new year.   

This desperate act, this individual protest against indignity, spread throughout Tunisia. 

The autocrat rule Tunisians lived under was questioned. Bribes were questioned. The entire structure of Tunisian society was challenged. And, as such, the example burned throughout the region, impacting governments and the Arab world at large. 

Though each country’s Arab Spring moment is different, the dynamics in Tunisia are not the same as in Syria, for example, the courage to do something comes from the tragic story of Bouazizi.

One man. A businessman trying to make his way amidst a gaggle of government corruption.

Government corruption and favoritism, back-slapping preference for one group over another … having the power to dole favors in the first place, is the problem.

What will become of the Arab Spring and the attitude change his death sparked? I don’t know. 

Unfortunately, like their shrill American counterparts (and I in no way equate the bravery of the Arab Spring with the baffling goofballs of the Occupy movements), want more statism. They are infected with the Western obsession toward something called Democracy, and when peoples on that side of the world exercise democratic muscle they do so in the form of odious Islamic religious governments. 

The pattern then comes full circle, and the US desires military conflict. That’s what I’ve seen, anyway. Hopefully I am wrong. Hopefully the Arab Spring is something new, something more. But I hold no hope for mass movements, popular expressions.

Real revolutions happen within the person.

Bouazizi's one mistake was giving up. I won’t completely fault him. Something about his plight touched me deeply.   

The way to honor heroes of the world like Bouazizi is to live and create in the face of numbing obstacles.

And I mean it.


Craig Edward Kelso is the author of Anarcho-Capitalism (2014), a primer on the philosophy of peaceful, stateless cooperation. His curriculum vitae include a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a Post-Baccalaureate secondary education credential in both Social Science and English Language Arts. Kelso taught for nearly a decade in the American public school system, and was voted by colleagues Teacher of the Year, twice in his short tenure, earning numerous accolades from chambers of commerce, mayors, state assembly persons, governors, congresspersons, senators, and even Wal-Mart. Currently he struggles to earn an opportunity to be employed, working as a laborer, dishwasher. He is deliriously happily married to Myra Kelso, living in Southern California with their adorable children. 

No comments:

Post a Comment