In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid after police prevented him from selling vegetables without a permit – a pure demonstration of the desperation of the Tunisian people. He died in early January.
For 23 years, ‘President’ Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali and his family have lived in luxury whilst the rest of the population have gone without food. A pure example of Capitalist concentration of wealth and the failure of the useless ‘trickle down’ theory.
But since his resignation, what is going to happen to Tunisia? A fair guess would be that American economists, following the example of Milton Friedman in 1970’s Argentina, wait for the country to be in chaos before they swoop in with drastic economic reforms. This ‘window of opportunity’ allows (western) multinationals to exploit that chaos:
1) Privatization of Public-owned business = leading to multinational corporations drawing all the capital from the country
2) Drastic cuts in social spending = leading to inflation, polarization and widespread poverty
3) Remove regulations on profit accumulation = leading to the minority getting richer and the majority poorer
Capitalism and democracy DO NOT go hand in hand. Market Freedom DOES NOT mean Social Freedom.
The only way that these exploitative policies can be put through is via a non-democratic means. A country would never vote for exploitation; so the measures are bought in whilst there is an emergency state in effect. Just as we are now seeing in Tunisia.
Furthermore, as many pro-democracy campaigners had feared, there are several figures from the previous regime still in key positions – including at the ministries of defence, interior affairs and the economy. All the spheres that you need in order to push through un-democratic, neoliberal reform in a country that does not want it.
“In the Southern Hemisphere, neoliberalism is frequently spoken of as “the second colonial pillage”” (Klein 2008)
When are they going to realize that under the guise of so-called democratic ‘freedom’ they will continue to be chained by economic means? Just as the South Africans found out at the end of apartheid: “hey, we’ve got the state, where’s the power?” (Klein 2008)