Comrades from Cairo respond to OWS Egypt delegation

Editor’s Note:  On November 10th, the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street passed a proposal (see the minutes here) allocating $29,000 to send an OWS solidarity delegation to Egypt on November 25th to monitor the upcoming elections.  Each working group was then contacted and asked to nominate two representatives to go on this trip.  Many urgent and important questions and concerns have since been raised.  We are re-publishing a letter from activists in Cairo expressing their deep concern with this decision the GA made.

To our kindred occupiers in Zuccotti park,

When we called out to you, requesting you join us on 12 November in defending our revolution and in our campaign against the military trial of civilians in Egypt, your solidarity—pictures from marches, videos, and statements of support—added to our strength.

However, we recently received news that your General Assembly passed a proposal authorizing $29,000 dollars to send twenty of your number to Egypt as election monitors. Truth be told, the news rather shocked us; we spent the better part of the day simply trying to figure out who could have asked for such assistance on our behalf.

We have some concerns with the idea, and we wanted to join your conversation.

It seems to us that you have taken to the streets and occupied your parks and cities out of a dissatisfaction with the false promises of the game of electoral politics, and so did our comrades in Spain, Greece and Britain. Regardless of how one stands on the efficacy of elections or elected representatives, the Occupy movement seems outside the scope this; your choice to occupy is, if nothing else, bigger than any election. Why then, should our elections be any cause for celebration, when even in the best of all possible worlds they will be just another supposedly “representative” body ruling in the
interest of the 1% over the remaining 99% of us? This new Egyptian parliament will have effectively no powers whatsoever, and—as many of us see it—its election is just a means of legitimating the ruling junta’s seizure of the revolutionary process. Is this something you wish to monitor?

We have, all of us around the world, been learning new ways to represent ourselves, to speak, to live our politics directly and immediately, and in Egypt we did not set out to the streets in revolution simply to gain a parliament. Our struggle—which we think we share with you—is greater and grander than a neatly functioning parliamentary democracy; we demanded the fall of the regime, we demanded dignity, freedom and social justice, and we are still fighting for these goals. We do not see elections of a puppet parliament as the means to achieve them.

But even though the idea of election monitoring doesn’t really do it for us, we want your solidarity, we want your support and your visits. We want to know you, talk with you, learn one another’s lessons, compare strategies and share plans for the future. We think that activists or as people committed to serious change in the systems we live in, there is so much more that we can do together than legitimizing electoral processes (leave that boring job to the Carter Foundation) that seem so impoverished next to the new forms of democracy and social life we are building. It should be neither our
job nor our desire to play the game of elections; we are occupying and we should build our spaces and our networks because they themselves are the basis on which we will build the new. Let us deepen our lines of communication and process and discover out what these new ways of working together and supporting one another could be.

Any time you do want to come over, we’ve got plenty of comfy couches available. It won’t be fancy, but it will be fun.

Yours, as always, in solidarity,

Comrades from Cairo
13 November, 2011

P.S. We finally got an email address: comradesfromcairo@gmail.com

2 Comments to “Comrades from Cairo respond to OWS Egypt delegation”

  1. I read the meeting minutes, and I’d just like to point out that when someone asked for $350 to help Toys for Tots get toys for children during the holidays, everyone brought up all these grandiose concerns about encouraging consumerism in children, supporting American-made manufacturing, and the religious implications of celebrating the holidays. Yet when someone requested $29,000 (almost 100 times that amount) to send American activists to Egypt to monitor their elections, there were virtually no objections. Besides the HUGE problem I see with this sort of mentality that Egypt needs our help, why didn’t anyone ask what kind of airlines they would be using, if the oil would be gathered in an ethical way and by American companies (that would probably be the case, right?), why we couldn’t just support activists in Egypt instead of trying to do their work for them like we always think we have the god-given right to do, the patterns of American patriarchy we are perpetuating. And people in this country don’t have money to go home for the holidays (imagine, the immigrant laborer in America not getting to see her kids for Christmas) yet OWS feels entitled to spend $29,000 for an idealistic excursion. We are sadly the perfect products of the system we are trying to take down, evidenced by this sort of entitlement about dropping 29k for our self-important travels.

  2. I’ve seen a number of hairbrained and so poorly disguised and stupidly conceived State Department meddling initiatives in Egypt over the last few months but this has got to be one of the worst:
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/26752/Egypt/Politics-/Occupy-squared-.aspx

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