Prospects for a Palestinian Spring - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article headlined, "Arab Spring Yet to Bloom," explaining that despite months of heroic Middle East/North African uprisings in over a dozen countries from Morocco to Syria to Oman, none so far achieved change. It suggested that months, perhaps years, of sustained struggles lie ahead.
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Liberating struggles, in fact, never come easily, quickly, or without pain against entrenched power determined to keep it. However, social movements at times succeed when ordinary people sustain heroic determined efforts. In America, abolitionists, suffragettes, unionists, and civil rights champions proved it against imposing power forced to yield.
In her book, "Challenging Authority," Professor Frances Fox Piven said:
"(O)rdinary people (have) power....when they rise up in anger and hope, defy the rules....disrupt (state) institutions....propel new issues to the center of political debate (and force) political leaders (to) stem voter defections by proferring reforms. These are the conditions that produce democratic moments," but never easily, quickly, nor, in reality, long-term.
Electoral participation rarely does it faced with structural, legal and practical challenges, including the corrupting power of money, misinformation, intimidation, and voter fraud. Yet history is dotted with examples of mobilized disruptive power, achieving leverage by breaking down institutionalized cooperation through strikes, boycotts, riots, and other forms of civil disobedience.
In other words, ordinary people have enormous power when used disruptively against systemic structures, dependent on their cooperation. However, it takes much more than protests, marches, slogans, or even violence. In fact, actualizing power depends on effective disobedience, breaking the rules, coordinating efforts for strategic advantage, and staying the course long-term that often means passing the baton to others.
Journalist IF Stone once put it this way, saying:
"The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins."
In America, ending slavery was Exhibit A under a Constitution commodifying Blacks, calling them three-fifths of a person solely for allocating congressional representation. In fact, for southern states, it was a non-negotiatiable condition for joining the Union.
With it they got dominant congressional power at the time. Large slave owners had disproportionate leverage. Moreover, pre-Civil War, most US presidents were slave owners, including Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson.
Constitutional provisions protected them. Yet abolitionist disruption fractured the existing order by sustained resistance against an unprincipled system they were determined to end, culminating in 1865 when Congress passed the 13th Amendment banning slavery. Then in 1868, the 14th Amendment rhetorically granted them due process and equal protection, and in 1870 the 15th Amendment banned racial discrimination in voting.
Jim Crow laws and lack of enforcement, however, continued both practices until the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act banned racial and gender discrimination, and enacted equal voting rights. Decades later, however, hard-won civil rights and other gains are largely lost because public apathy let elected officials institutionalize inequalities, heading America toward a ruler - serf society without reinvigorated opposition to stop them, so far nowhere in sight.
Given the daunting challenges in America, what chance have Arabs against entrenched despotic regimes backed by supportive Western and Israeli military might.