All lectures are freely available on this site.

9.Contemporary Revolutions I: The Realities of Revolution Today

9. Contemporary Revolutions I

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: 9.Contemporary Revolutions I: The Realities of Revolution Today

Author: Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison

Publication date: 03/11/2012

Civilisation and Society I: Politics of Power

9. The Realities of Revolution Today

Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the Civilisation & Society Programme of the MFAS. This is the ninth of 12 sessions which make up the Politics of Power module. The entire session will last approximately 1 hour and comprise a lecture of around 30 minutes, followed by a 10 minute interval, and ending with a short question & answer period. You are encouraged to make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture.

Last time we looked at the idea of revolution and how its meaning has evolved historiographically out of the French Revolution, as well as other tumultuous socio-political events. We also examined the illusory nature of liberal democracy in practice. This afternoon, we will seek to explore the reality of revolution in today’s world by looking at a number of examples from the relatively recent, to actual, ongoing instances of popular protest, and attempts at regime change ranging from so called ‘colour revolutions’ to the so called ‘Arab Spring’. We will be taking a very different approach today because to a large extent we are leaving the realm of historical analysis, which allows us the possibility to ‘stand back’ and observe our subject from a comfortable distance; in order to do today’s subject justice we must confront the contemporary state of affairs as it actually unfolds. We have already drawn attention in previous lectures to the inescapable traps that come with our modern political legacy and the treacherous nature of the terrain we are forced to negotiate. In Lecture number 1 (Introduction to the Politics of Power) no time was wasted before arriving at the following indication of what was to come as the module progressed:

“What is necessary to make people conform to democratic government when it has already proved the instrument of genocidal and total war across the whole world? How do we keep people from noticing that money devalues in their pockets and that a decreasing number, now already reduced to hundreds, hold the greater part of all the world’s wealth? The philosophy goes under different names, and a host of books have been written propagating it, many by influential in-back members of the U.S. Administration, and many by financiers themselves. This iceberg of thought heading for the Titanic of liberal society, in that small portion forced to appear above the surface, goes by the name of post-modernism and presentism, and has an operative policing of the masses called Political Correctness.” [Abdalqadir as-Sufi, Shaykh Hukum on England’s Future]

In Lecture number 5 (The French Revolution III - A Template for Modernity) I refer to ‘… the sorry predicament of the general public with respect to the media’:

“How are we supposed to make sense of the world today? The truth is we’re not! […] Most of us rely on assorted forms of media to help us, whether large state or corporate outlets, dedicated independent media initiatives or the ‘blogosphere’; whether they be highbrow and academic or lowbrow and populist. However, the inevitable result is the ‘culturally produced ignorance or doubt’ which has become the subject of a new area of study: agnotology. Since the period just prior to the French Revolution it has been the established assumption that journalism, backed by experts and academics will keep us informed so that we can make the kind of intelligent decisions that a modern democracy assumes its citizens will have to make. However, rather than representing the healthy plurality of independent and well informed voices of democratic freedom, the awful truth is that their conflicting narratives have become a nightmare for us due to their sham independence, egregious bias and contempt for the grail of objective truth long sanctified by scientific method. From the word go we are faced with widely differing and mutually contradictory perspectives extending from the upper reaches of academia to the lower depths of popular journalism. So, we have all ended up in a global culture that claims to be rational, while confronting us with a plethora of wildly conflicting viewpoints on every single issue that affects us.” [A. Clarke and Morrison U. The Manufacture of Ignorance]

In Lecture number 6 (The French Revolution IV - The Political Legacy) I drew our attention to the predicament of the today’s citizens in the following words:

“From the cradle to the grave, the modern citizens of today’s democracies are subjected, 24 hours per day and 7 days per week,  to the combined panoply of technologically enhanced methods of advertising, propaganda, manipulation by the news media and subliminal persuasion. The almost immeasurable influence of the entertainment industry, further amplified by the possibilities of the internet, is embodied in the inescapable reach of the Hollywood ‘movie machine’. Western public education systems, from the nursery school to the most reputable universities and advanced research institutions, form a vast and coherent machinery for the mass preparation of the entire population to enter into their expected economic and social roles within the national apparatus without a deep questioning of, or effective resistance to, the undemocratic modes of coercion and the political contradictions inherent in its operations.”

It is with all of this in mind that I have gathered together a careful selection of current articles, reports, research papers and commentaries produced mainly by small specialist publishers, ‘reputable’ independent investigative reporters, academics, researchers and various non-mainstream, non-corporate, media organisations which over recent years have developed an important and growing presence in the area of access to online sources of relatively reliable interpretation and analysis. It is through a mosaic of readings from some of these materials that I propose this afternoon to convey an up-to-the-minute view of today’s ‘revolutionary’ modalities that remains consistent with the socio-political picture of modern or ‘postmodern’ society as we have traced it during the course of this module so far, without fantasy, obscurantism or crossing the border into the labyrinth of conspiracy theory. However, before proceeding let us establish two specific points of reference which have a direct bearing on our topic and for which we will require definitions reflective of the common understanding.

Colour revolution - Wikipedia currently carries the following summary:

“Color revolution is a term that was widely used by the US media to describe various related movements that developed in several societies in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans during the early 2000s. The term has also been applied to a number of revolutions elsewhere, including in the Middle East. Some observers[who?] have called the events a revolutionary wave, the origins of which can be traced back to the 1986 People Power Revolution (also known as the "Yellow Revolution") in the Philippines.

Participants in the color revolutions have mostly used nonviolent resistance, also called civil resistance. Such methods as demonstrations, strikes and interventions have been intended [as] protest against governments seen as corrupt and/or authoritarian, and to advocate democracy; and they have also created strong pressure for change. These movements generally adopted a specific color or flower as their symbol. The color revolutions are notable for the important role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and particularly student activists in organising creative non-violent resistance.

Such movements have had a measure of success, as for example in Serbia's Bulldozer Revolution (2000); in Georgia's Rose Revolution (2003); and in Ukraine's Orange Revolution (2004). In most but not all cases, massive street protests followed disputed elections, or requests for fair elections, and led to the resignation or overthrow of leaders considered by their opponents to be authoritarian.”

Arab Spring - Wikipedia provides the following:

“The Arab Spring, a term given to the Arab Revolution (Arabic: الثورات العربية‎, al-Thawrāt al-ʻArabiyyah), is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations, protests, and wars occurring in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010.

To date, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan;and minor protests have occurred in Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Western Sahara.The major oil rich nations (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman) have been able to keep their ruling families in power.

Clashes at the borders of Israel in May 2011, and the protests by the Arab minority in Iranian Khuzestan erupted in 2011 as well. Weapons and Tuareg fighters returning from the Libyan civil war stoked a simmering rebellion in Mali, and the consequent Malian coup d'état has been described as "fallout" from the Arab Spring in North Africa. The sectarian clashes in Lebanon were described as a spillover violence of the Syrian uprising and hence the regional Arab Spring. Most recently, in September 2012 a wave of social protests swept Palestinian Authority, demanding lower consumer prices and resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad.

The protests have shared techniques of mostly civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies, as well as the effective use of social media to organize, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship.”

One final matter which I think is appropriate at this point before proceeding to the readings I have selected, is to remind ourselves of the Faculty’s overall stance with respect to the primary purpose of our studies and the importance of the distinction between purely ‘academic’ learning and what we refer to in our literature as “useful knowledge”:

“The use of the term 'useful knowledge' is a necessary counter to the concept of academic studies for their own sake, since we have seen the transformation of the academic arena into a handmaiden of the powerful hegemonic political and economic forces of our age while yet maintaining the myth of scientific objectivity and academic detachment. In truth, we do not deny that the discipline of scientific method has its place but neither will we deny its limitations or the limitations of the dialectical method and gratuitous polemic as a means of philosophical enquiry. The Muslim Faculty will nurture a determination on the part of staff and students to actively engage in the vital issues of the age and to inspire a new generation to assume the mantle of responsibility for indicating and ushering in the necessary revaluations and transformations whose historical immanence we can sense, but whose emergence is otherwise neither guaranteed nor inevitable.” []

Let us now proceed. By 2011, the truly non-spontaneous character of the ‘Arab Spring’ was already exposed enough to appear in the mainstream corporate media. The following extract is from an article printed in The New York Times on the 14th of April that year under the headline: “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings”:

“Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states.The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables.

The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department… 

“Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.

‘We learned how to organize and build coalitions,’ said Bashem Fathy, a founder of the youth movement that ultimately drove the Egyptian uprisings. Mr. Fathy, who attended training with Freedom House, said, ‘This certainly helped during the revolution.’” [Ron Nixon, New York Times]

The following extract is from a report published in February 2012 by the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), an independent research and media organisation based in Canada, under the title: “Washington Reaps the Rewards of its ‘Arab Spring’ Destabilisation Campaign”:

“On February 5, 2012 – Reuters reported, “Tunisia “to withdraw recognition” of Syria government,” and specifically that newly appointed Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki made the announcement on his Facebook page. Reuters also notes “Tunisia’s decision to sever ties with Damascus carries moral weight because the north African country’s revolution last year started off the “Arab Spring” upheavals which later spread throughout the Middle East, including to Syria.” What Reuters of course fails to mention is that the “Arab Spring” was engineered years in advance, planned, funded, and directed by the US State Department, with Moncef Marzouki a direct recipient on record of such support which ultimately paved his way from obscurity to now president of the North African nation.

Last December, the BBC hailed Tunisia’s assembly and their election of a new president in their article, “Tunisian activist, Moncef Marzouki, named president.” What the BBC predictably failed to mention was that Marzouki’s organization, the Tunisian League for Human Rights, was a US National Endowment for Democracy and George Soros Open Society-funded International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) member organization… 

It was earlier reported in “Soros Celebrates the Fall of Tunisia,” that Marzouki was named “interim-president” of Tunisia and that the myriad of NGOs and opposition organizations that worked with him to overthrow the government of Tunisia were fully subsidized and backed by the US government and US corporate-funded foundations.

Marzouki, who spent two decades in exile in Paris, France, was also founder and head of the Arab Commission for Human Rights, a collaborating institution with the US NED World Movement for Democracy (WMD) including for a “Conference on Human Rights Activists in Exile” and a participant in the WMD “third assembly” alongside Marzouki’s Tunisian League for Human Rights, sponsored by NED, Soros’ Open Society, and USAID.

Marzouki, along with his Libyan counterpart Abdurrahim el-Keib, formally of the Petroleum Institute, sponsored by British Petroleum (BP), Shell, France’s Total, the Japan Oil Development Company, and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, makes for the second Western proxy installed into power either by covert sedition or overt military aggression, during the US-engineered “Arab Spring.”

Now, it is quite clear how Marzouki is reciprocating the foreign-backed plot that thrust him into power – complete servitude toward Wall Street and London’s foreign policy in backing this very same foreign-funded gambit now playing out in Syria.

Like Tunisia, Syria is a Premeditated Foreign-Funded Destabilization

Syria has been slated for regime change since as early as 1991. In 2002, then US Under Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria to the growing “Axis of Evil.” It would be later revealed that Bolton’s threats against Syria manifested themselves as covert funding and support for opposition groups inside of Syria spanning both the Bush and Obama administrations… 

In an April 2011 AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, stated that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.”

The report went on to explain that the US ‘organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there,’. Posner would add, ‘They went back and there’s a ripple effect.’ That ripple effect of course is the “Arab Spring,” and in Syria’s case, the impetus for the current unrest threatening to unhinge the nation and invite in foreign intervention.’” [Tony Cartalucci, Global Research]

A Centre for Global Research report is also the source for the final extract, which was published in August 2012 under the title: “Perfecting the Method of ‘Colour Revolutions’”:

“In 1985, a social scientist, Gene Sharp, published a study commissioned by NATO on Making Europe Unconquerable. He pointed out that ultimately a government only exists because people agree to obey it. The USSR could never control Western Europe if people refused to obey Communist governments…

Ever since the work of French sociologist Gustave Le Bon in the late nineteenth century, we know that adults behave like children when they are in the throes of collective emotion. They become susceptible, even if for just a critical fleeting moment, to the suggestions of a leader-of-men who for them embodies a father figure. In 1990, Sharp got close to Colonel Reuven Gal, then chief psychologist of the Israeli Army (he later became deputy national security adviser to Ariel Sharon and now runs operations designed to manipulate young Israeli non-Jews). Combining the discoveries of Le Bon and Sigmund Freud, Gal reached the conclusion that it was also possible to exploit the ‘Oedipus complex’ in adolescents and steer a crowd of young people to oppose a head of state, as a symbolic father figure.

On this basis, Sharp and Gal set up training programs for young activists with the objective of organizing coups. After a few successes in Russia and the Baltics, it was in 1998 that Gene Sharp perfected the method of “color revolutions” with the overthrow of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

After President Hugo Chavez foiled a coup in Venezuela on the basis of one of my investigations revealing the role and method of Gene Sharp, the latter suspended the activities of the Albert Einstein Institute which served as a cover and went on to create new structures (CANVAS in Belgrade, the Academy of Change in London, Vienna and Doha). We saw them at work the world over, especially in Lebanon (Cedar Revolution), Iran (Green Revolution), Tunisia (Jasmine Revolution) and Egypt (Lotus Revolution). The principle is simple: exacerbate all underlying frustrations, blame the political apparatus for all the problems, manipulate the youth according to the Freudian “patricidal” scenario, organize a coup, and then propagandize that the government was brought down by the ‘street’.

International public opinion easily swallowed these stage settings: first, because of a confusion between a crowd and the people. Thus, the ‘Lotus Revolution’ actually boiled down to a show on Tahrir Square in Cairo, mobilizing a crowd of tens of thousands, while the near totality of the Egyptian people abstained from taking part in the event; and second, because there is a lack of clarity with regard to the word ‘revolution’. A genuine revolution entails an upheaval in social structures that takes place over several years, while a ‘color revolution’ is a regime change that occurs within weeks. The other term for a forced change of leadership without social transformation is a ‘coup d’état’. In Egypt, for example, it is clearly not the people who pushed Hosni Mubarak to resign, but U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner who gave him the order.

The slogan of the ‘color revolutions’ harks back to an infantile perspective; What matters is to overthrow the head of state without consideration of the consequences–‘Don’t worry about your future, Washington will take care of everything for you.’ By the time people wake up, it’s too late; the government has been usurped by individuals not of their choosing. At the outset though, there are cries of ‘Down with Shevardnadze!’ Or ‘Ben Ali, get out!’ The latest version was launched at the third conference of ‘Friends’ of Syria (Paris, July 6): ‘Bashar must go!’

A strange anomaly can be detected with regard to Syria. The CIA did not locate groups of young Syrians willing to chant this slogan in the streets of Damascus and Aleppo. So it is Barack Obama, François Hollande, David Cameron and Angela Merkel themselves who repeat the slogan in chorus from their respective foreign offices. Washington and its allies are trying out the methods of Gene Sharp on the ‘international community’. It is a risky bet to imagine that foreign ministries can be as easy to manipulate as youth groups! At the moment, the result is simply ridiculous: the leaders of the colonial powers have been stomping their feet like angry, frustrated children over a desired object that the Russian and Chinese adults won’t let them have while ceaselessly wailing ‘Bashar must go!’” [Thierry Meyssan, Global Research]

The forensic aspect of reports such as these can be informative and even highly fascinating, but we must not lose sight of the ultimate hegemony of the well established banking/finance elite, the historical and political evidence for which has been one of the main recurring themes throughout this module. As serious as they are in terms of their political and economic consequences, and as indications of the “new reality” of the technological world state as prefigured in the writings of Jünger, Heidegger and Agamben that we examined in Lecture number 7 (Democracy and the ‘Post-nation’ State), the detail behind the facts and information we have briefly surveyed today are merely the traceable surface manifestations of the shadow-puppet theatricals projected by operational modalities that by deliberate design, are nigh on impossible to pin down definitively. The point is powerfully made by Ian Dallas in The Time of the Bedouin:

“… the financiers have designed their own protection system in case of siege. The financial systems themselves are tied into a complex multi-layered system that only at key points solidifies into what we traditionally called ‘capital’. The form of wealth is not anymore capitalist - it is a flow-wealth system that moves across frontiers, across corporation structures which melt into holding companies and wholly owned subsidiaries. It disappears at point A, an inaccessible bank in the Bahamas, to re-surface as fissionable material in the desert, only to be lost in the activation of a design programme for a swing-wing supersonic fighter for a nation under sanctions. The listed ten riches men in the world are simply attendant players, far from being Prince Hamlet in this play of wealth.” [pp. 132-3]

That note brings us to the end of today’s lecture. For further reading I would recommend three further articles: The US Engineered ‘Arab Spring’: The NGO Raids in Egypt, T. Cartalucci, 31 Dec. 2011;  Occupy Wall Street and ‘The American Autumn’: Is It a ‘Colored Revolution’? M. Chossudovsky, 13 Oct. 2011; and The US Sponsored ‘Protest Movement’ in Malaysia, N. Bowie, 29 Apr. 2012. The next session will be presented by the Dean of the Faculty, Hajj Abdassamad Clarke, who will be examining the relationship between the state and the market, insha’Allah. 

Thank you for your attention. 

Assalamu alaykum.

Bibliographical References

Dallas, Ian. The Time of the Bedouin: On the Politics of Power. Cape Town: Budgate Press, 2006. (Kindle Edition: B004HD6A6Oref=sr_1_1ie=UTF8&qid=1345247371&sr =8-1)


As-Sufi, Shaykh Abdalqadir. Hukum on England's Future

Bowie, Nile. The US Sponsored ‘Protest Movement’ in Malaysia - (Global Research, 29 Apr. 2012).

Cartalucci, Tony 

- Washington Reaps the Rewards of its ‘Arab Spring’ Destabilisation Campaign - (Global Research, 08 Feb. 2012). rewards-of-its-arab-spring-destabilization-campaign/29164

- The US Engineered ‘Arab Spring’: The NGO Raids in Egypt - (Global Research, 31 Dec. 2011). raids-in-egypt/28433

Chossudovsky, Michel. Occupy Wall Street and ‘The American Autumn’: Is It a ‘Colored Revolution’? - (Global Research, 13 Oct. 2011). occupy-wall-street-and-the-american-autumn-is-it-a-colored-revolution/27053

Meyssan, Thierry. Perfecting the Method of ‘Color Revolutions’ - (Global Research, 07 Aug. 2012). http:// 32261

Nixon, Ron. U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings - (The New York Times, 14 Apr. 2011). pagewanted=1&_r=2&emc=eta1

Complementary viewing

Coriolanus (2010) Director: Ralph Fiennes, 123 mins.

A film adaptation of the powerful Shakespearean tragedy of Coriolanus, the warrior doomed by his uncompromising military pride and integrity to fall foul of the venal manoeuvrings of the political class.