Frederick Bowie in Open Democracy:
Ongoing protests and actions in places from Madison, Wisconsin, to Central London have already appealed to the Egyptian experience, both explicitly, and symbolically. American public service workers last week brandished Egyptian flags to express their rejection of the state's attempts to deprive them of their union rights, while British activists have called for a day of action in March to “bring Tahrir Square to Hyde Park”. While the nature of every act of human revolt is specific and, at some level, untranslatable, the energy of empowerment which it releases is by its nature infectious, and transgressive. How long before here, in the West, our own governments' politically-motivated “austerity” programmes create the conditions in which a thousand Tahrirs can bloom? Looking back to recent events in France and Greece, we may feel that day is perhaps not so far away.
Noam Chomsky recently claimed that what western leaders are really afraid of is not an Islamist takeover in the Arab region, but the emergence of genuinely independent and democratic Arab states which will no longer kow-tow to Washington and do its bidding. That is surely part of the story. But I believe that what they are most afraid of is not just the emergence of democracy in the Arab world. However uncomfortable and embarrassing that may be, they know they can live with it. What they are most afraid of is that, having slept through the last 60 years of democracy, their own citizens/subjects may be about to wake up again to their own power: that, having seen what it is like when a people dictate to their government what it should do for them, rather than the reverse, we might start to take our own rights back, wholesale, rather than waiting for our rulers to grant us them in homeopathic doses – or fob us off with a placebo.
More here. [Thanks to Kris Kotarski.]