From Tunisia to Egypt to Wisconsin: The New Superpower of Global Public Opinion Will Defy All Efforts to Contain It

by Anthony J. Hall

Professor of Globalization Studies    

University of Lethbridge

(20 Feb. 2011)

Countering the Incursions of the Axis of Kleptocracy

In responding to the worldwide protests aimed at stopping the US-led invasion of Iraq, The New York Times referred in 2003 to the existence of a new global superpower, that of world public opinion. Back then, however, the full potential of this force of change remained unrealized and underdeveloped as demonstrated by the outcome of the events of February 15. On that historic day eight years ago, tens of millions of anti-war protestors came flooding into the streets simultaneously in literally hundreds of large and small cities all over the planet.

In spite of this massive display of organized global opposition to the extension of the 9/11 Wars into Iraq, the mobilized superpower of global political will was not yet muscular enough to prevent the onslaughts of illegal invasion, occupation, torture, genocide and mind control to come. These massive global protests proved insufficient to prevent the expansion of the 9/11 Wars from Afghanistan to the oil-rich country ruled by Saddam Hussein, a former CIA-asset whose desire to do business in Euros threatened the global pre-eminence of Saudi-American petro-dollars.

Now, almost a decade after the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, it seems the global superpower of world public opinion is beginning to gain traction. With the help of increasingly cheap and accessible digital social networking, activists throughout the world are shaking off their subordination to the information monopolies of government and corporate-dominated mainstream media. A good number of us have devoted ourselves to building up new means of following and creating news.  The activities of the bloggers and readers at Veterans Today epitomize this trend.

The process of co-operative self-education through the New Media of Internet interactivity forms a key to unlocking our collective capacities to organize politically against the deep incursions of the criminal cabal that most menaces humanity’s global prospects for peace and prosperity. Among the leading warlords that most threaten our children’s chances for a decent future are those who direct some of the world’s largest corporations. Many of these leviathans have long been primary beneficiaries and agencies of the permanent war economy maintained in the United States since 1941.

Many of these warlords operate along an axis of kleptocracy linking Wall Street with the Pentagon. Those bankers and militarists who most effectively exploit their license to steal in the charmed inner circle of kleptocratic privilege tend to become role models for the system of crony capitalism that dominates more and more of humanity. The maintenance of this system of top-down corruption depends heavily on the actions of those corporate warlords who prove most adept at deploying state violence as instruments of elite rule.

Google Inc.’s marketing manager Wael Ghonim (left), on Tuesday hugs the mother of Khaled Said, a young 28-year-old businessman who died June 6, 2010, at the hands of undercover police, igniting months of protests against the much despised police. Ghonim, who created the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebook page, became a hero for demonstrators after he was detained on Jan. 27, two days after the protests erupted at Tahrir Square in Cairo. He was detained for 12 days.

Because of the Internet, the criminal cabal at the top of the feeding chain of global pillage and plunder are facing new surges of transnational opposition. In the political environment increasingly shaped by those communities of public opinion that sometimes coalesce on the worldwide web, something as seemingly local as the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia, or the police torture and murder of a young Egyptian man in Alexandria, can end up having huge and unforeseen consequences.  “We Are All Khalid Said,” asserted the Google marketing manager Wael Ghonim on a Facebook page now known to millions. Ghonim’s contribution to the Internet’s content was an essential part of the process of mobilizing public opposition against the kind of casual police brutality that had become commonplace in an Egypt overseen by strongman Hosni Mubarak on behalf of absentee landlords in Israel and the United States.

The worldwide spread of those spurred to revulsion and action by the ghoulish police killing of Khalid Said will probably continue on a wired planet where the lies and crimes of 9/11 continue to be exposed on the Internet even as they are concurrently exploited by interlinked oligarchs. In this sense, the crimes against humanity imposed by Egyptian authorities on their own people are, unfortunately, more the rule than the exception. Indeed, the example of Mubarak’s Egypt provides an illuminating preview of the kind of governance that more and more of us can expect if the rise of the global police state is allowed to continue unabated.

The growth of police powers will inevitably continue to grow as long as the massively entitled few seek protections from the hugely disentitled many.  These elite protections can be commandeered from the corporatist state, often through direct purchase of services from private police forces and military contractors. From New Orleans to Beijing, Moscow, Lagos, Tel Aviv, Djibouti, and Tripoli, resorts to state terror are often justified through the fear mongering essential to the psychological operations animating the fraudulent War on Terror.

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The Structure of the Great Theft Along Lines of Region, Class and Generation

The spotlight of worldwide scrutiny placed on the regime of Hosni Mubarak by the protestors in Cairo’s Tahrir Square reveals much about the nature of the global criminal cabal behind Egypt’s strongman. For instance the wide public exposure of Mubarak’s subservience to the joint dictates of Washington and Tel Aviv speak volumes about the structure of the world’s dominant kleptocracy. This kleptocracy is parasitically eating away at the life chances especially of youths not only in Egypt but also in, for instance, Greece, England, Ireland and Wisconsin.

Similarly, news that Mubarak’s entourage have amassed fortunes to the tune of hundreds of billions of ill-gotten dollars draw increased public scrutiny to the role of military expenditures in feeding the primary centers of corruption and organized crime in our times. Like Bernie Madoff, Mubarak is in fact far down the feeding chain of those kleptocrats who steal with impunity from the public purse. Where Mubarak is but a middle manager in the global structure of the world’s dominant military-industrial complex, those who rule over this apparatus of violent coercion increasingly count their stolen loot in the trillions rather than mere billions.

The transfer of these trillions to the world’s richest financiers was put on full public display when the governments of the United States and many other countries facilitated the bailouts that together constitute the boldest theft of public resources ever executed. The main beneficiaries of these bailouts are not the puppet dictators in the tradition of, to mention only a few, Mubarak of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia, Rios Montt of Guatemala, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, Sese Seko Mobutu of Congo, or King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. No, the main beneficiaries of the axis of kleptocracy linking Wall Street and the Pentagon are those whose operatives have situated themselves most strategically in the interlocked complex of personnel employed by agencies like Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the US Treasury Branch as well as the Financial Products Division of AIG and its networks of so-called counterparties around the world.

"the main beneficiaries of the axis of kleptocracy linking Wall Street and the Pentagon are those whose operatives have situated themselves most strategically in the interlocked complex of personnel employed by agencies like Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the US Treasury Branch as well as the Financial Products Division of AIG and its networks of so-called counterparties around the world."

The main beneficiaries of the axis of kleptocracy linking Wall Street and the Pentagon are those whose operatives have situated themselves most strategically in the interlocked complex of personnel employed by agencies like Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the US Treasury Branch as well as the Financial Products Division of AIG and its networks of so-called counterparties around the world.

To me the operations of AIG leading up to the worldwide financial contagion that began on Wall Street are particularly illustrative of the nature of the highest order of organized crime in these times. The tradition of corporate governance embodied by the genesis of AIG and its Shanghai-based predecessor form an iconic embodiment of the kleptocratic operations of the national security state as they have evolved through the Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War, the CIA during the Cold War, and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International during the period when the privatized terror economy began to dominate big parts of the global economy. I elaborate and document these patterns and connections in considerable detail in the culminating chapter of my most recent book,  Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization and Capitalism.

The covert activities of AIG and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York meet in the creation of two of the three Maiden Lane companies. The Maiden Lane companies were set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of NY to purchase the most toxic of the financial derivative products whose contaminating effects poisoned the global economy beginning in 2008. Two of the three Maiden Lane companies were established to purchase toxic derivative products from AIG and its hedging counterparties. These Maiden Lane entities took over and continue to own to this day some of the most poisonous of the toxic derivatives purchased by the corporate extension of the NY Fed.

Maiden Lane II became a giant dump for the most highly publicized form of derivative based on the securitization of packages of home mortgages. Maiden Lane III was set up by the NY Fed under Timothy Geitner’s leadership to pay off AIG’s counterparties in a much more murky variety of derivative contract. There is every reason to suspect that these secretive bets on bets on bets are based on activities similar to those that once dominated the business of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, where the operatives of, for instance, the CIA, al-Qaeda, Mossad, and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program conducted their transactions.

The activities of Maiden Lane III’s primary beneficiaries might include, for instance, speculation in the outcomes of covert operations like regime change in Eurasian polities. Or they might extend to the flow of laundered funds derived from massive drug deals or to bets on the planning, building and protection of oil and gas pipelines emanating from the Caspian basin. This genre of speculative transaction might also extend to the commodification and political manipulation of fear in an era when repeated false flag terror attacks help steer the movement of public funds to those private military contractors waging some of the most secretive operations in the 9/11 Wars.

The covert activities of AIG and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York meet in the creation of two of the three Maiden Lane companies.

The covert activities of AIG and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York meet in the creation of two of the three Maiden Lane companies.

The theft in and around the axis of kleptocracy linking Wall Street and the Pentagon form one aspect of a larger process that is gutting the financial viability of the United States generally and of its once-strong middle class more particularly.  The deindustrialization of a country that was until recently the manufacturing dynamo of the global economy forms the core of the kleptocratic processes that are plundering the public wealth of America to enrich a small plutocracy.

This deindustrialization of America has savaged most severely the domestic political economies especially of unionized workers. As manufacturing enterprises were rapidly relocated to China and other low-wage polities, the prospects of Middle America as well as of, for instance, Middle England, Middle Greece, or Middle Egypt, have been devastated. Those who are thus displaced from niches of economic security must join the growing ranks of the poor and dispossessed. This unearned push downward falls especially heavily on the young. In country after country the young have been saddled with lifetimes of huge national debt to pay the bailouts to the same criminal cliques that caused the financial contagion in the first place.

The growing cycles of theft were facilitated by the broad dissemination of the propaganda of Reagonomics and Thatcherism. Beginning in the 1980s the top leadership of Anglo-America popularized a philosophy of greed that facilitated the theft from shareholders and taxpayers by Chief Executive Officers and their minions in the burgeoning field of creative accounting.  The other side of this philosophical glorification of private property was an assault on public institutions, public ownership and public services of all kinds. That assault on the human commonwealth continues unabated in spite of the bailouts’ brilliant illumination of the willingness of the rich to overturn competitive capitalism in their zeal to raid the public purse.

This surge of Enron-style creative accounting in the name of deregulation helped give rise to the flood of derivative products that contaminated the global economy. As the workings of the Maiden Lane entities demonstrate, the bailouts were structured to provide massive rewards to the makers of the most toxic derivative products. This enormous upward transfer of wealth to the rich and superrich from the present and future earnings of middle class taxpayers compounded capitalism’s most mean yet characteristic attributes. This suck-up approach gave new meaning to capitalism’s propensity to privatize public wealth while socializing the liabilities of doing business.

This overview of recent history puts in context the neoliberal effort to make the public service unions of Wisconsin and other US states the scapegoats for the gutting of the domestic economy of the ailing superpower. Indeed the viciousness of the ongoing neoliberal attack on the American middle class continues the assault on the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal by undermining the legal basis not only of public service unions but of labor unions of all kinds.

"the example of self-empowerment set by the protesters in Egypt will in all probability be seen in the light of future history as an event of comparable importance to the coming down of the Berlin Wall in 1989."

The example of self-empowerment set by the protesters in Egypt will in all probability be seen in the light of future history as an event of comparable importance to the coming down of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

It seems, therefore, that the same forces that propped up the regime of Hosni Mubarak for three decades are now intent on destroying any remaining bastions in America of secure jobs with decent benefits. The result of this concerted attack starting in Wisconsin on the struggling remnants of America’s once-thriving middle class holds out nothing but the prospect of a slave future for those unable to secure places for themselves inside the walled enclaves of kleptocratic class privilege.

No Containing the Power of the Idea set in Motion by the Self-Immolation of a Street Vendor in Tunisia

The wild card in all this activity is the belated arrival of the new superpower of global public opinion, a force whose capacity to change history is only beginning to be felt. Those who are following the rise of this superpower of popular self-empowerment are quite right to notice similarities between the scenes emanating from Tahrir Square in Cairo and the State Legislature in Wisconsin. Indeed, the example of self-empowerment set by the protesters in Egypt will in all probability be seen in the light of future history as an event of comparable importance to the coming down of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

There will be no containing the power of the idea set in motion when a frustrated street vendor in Tunisia decided to dramatize the extent of the corruption he faced by setting fire to himself in public. The scenes of conflict and aspiration that have put a spotlight of global attention on both Egypt and Wisconsin will continue to ripple across jurisdiction after jurisdiction in a world where the chains of slavery and colonialism have never been fully severed. We need to do more than hope, however, that the collective force of popular self-empowerment will not be betrayed by the covert manipulations of those parties seeking to subvert this movement for global democracy in order to reinforce the unaccountable power of the world’s dominant kleptocracy.

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Posted by on February 20, 2011, With Reads Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 Responses to "From Tunisia to Egypt to Wisconsin: The New Superpower of Global Public Opinion Will Defy All Efforts to Contain It"

  1. DR.NUR  February 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Saturday, February 26, 2011
    SAS enters Libya (Mail on Sunday).

    Libya, once one of the poorest countries in the world, now has the highest Human Development Index score in Africa. (Wikipedia.)

    It is well ahead of certain countries in Europe, thanks to Gaddafi.

    On 26 February 2011, at the UK’s Independent, Peter Popham had an article entitled “Tribalism is key to the Libya’s future”. (Thanks to Blackwatch for the link)

    Popham makes the following points:

    1. Gaddafi came to power as a force for modernisation.

    2. He “turned the desert green … and raised the literacy rate from 17% to 80%.

    3. He called for an end to tribalism.

    Tribalisms influence has weakened, “as more modern ties of schooling and urban neighbourhoods gained in importance.”

    According to former British ambassador Sir Richard Dalton: “Tribal origins have no existence in Libyan institutions or in public affairs.”

    Tripoli by gordontour

    BUT, Gaddafi opposed the New World Order, and so his country has to be wrecked.

    On 27th February 2011 we read that the UK’s notorious SAS are in Libya.

    “The Special Forces soldiers landed in two C130 Hercules military transport aircraft on a landing strip … south of the eastern port of Benghazi…

    “A senior source confirmed that an advance party of SAS men had been in Libya for several days…

    “The SAS party had sneaked into Libya in plain clothes on commercial flights…

    The UK’s HMS Cumberland “is due to return to Benghazi”.

    Another Royal Navy ship, the destroyer HMS York, “has also been deployed on standby”.

    tunisia kids
    Tunisians by patduncan10

    On 26 February 2011, three people were killed in clashes in Tunisia’s capital: (ministry)

    Now that Tunisia has been wrecked, thousands are fleeing. (Chaos, militant Islam and thousands fleeing Tunisia.)

    According to the Mail on Sunday:

    On 20 February 2011 demonstrations continued in Tunisia.

    “I see one father with his son, aged five.

    “As the police fire warning bullets into the blue sky, I ask him if he is afraid for his child.

    “He unzips the boy’s jacket to expose his chest.

    “‘My son is ready to take a bullet to the heart for freedom,’ he says.

    “The child’s face crumples…”

    City Centre- Tripoli – Libya (طرابلس – ليبيا)
    Booming Tripoli by TAR3K

    “I meet 36-year-old Muhammed.

    “He also dreams of getting rich, but not in Tunisia.

    “He is unemployed and does not care about the revolution…

    “‘A few days ago, I heard from a friend of a boat going from Zarzis to Italy.

    “I paid $1,800…

    “What about the revolution? I ask him.

    “‘I don’t care about revolution. My dream is Italy,’ he says”

    The Italian government says 300,000 may try to reach Europe…

    Tunisia … was renowned for being the most liberal of Muslim countries.

    “There are troubling signs … A Polish priest had his throat slit in a suburb of Tunis…

    “The Vatican news agency said he was beheaded.”


    The Pentagon plan may be to make North Africa just like Afghanistan.

    “The gangsters, both foreign and Afghan, are the ones now in control of Afghanistan,” says General Ali Shah Paktiawol, the former head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department. (How to make a killing in Kabul.)

    By TAR3K

    World cheers as the CIA plunges Libya into chaos, part 2.

    World cheers as the CIA plunges Libya into chaos

  2. adeUK  February 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm


    Islamic banks have been eating into Rothschild profits in the Middle East because: they don’t charge interest (Shariah Law), they are growing very rapidly among the world’s exploding Muslim populations, and (in these catastrophic economic times) they are more stable than western banks.

    While it is a very good thing that people are freed from the tyranny of dictators, they also need to be freed from the tyranny of economic control and serfdom. The relevant moral question is: Do the means justify the end?.

    Ben Ali’s son-in-law El Materi at the opening of his Zitouna Bank, North Africa’s first Islamic bank, last May

    Deposed Tunisian President Ben Ali’s son-in-law, Sakher El Materi, opened Tunisia’s first Islamic bank, Zitouna Bank, on May 26, 2010. Zitouna Bank is the first Islamic bank in the Maghreb region [North Africa]. The bank was a first step toward Ben Ali’s new program of extensive reforms, “Tunisia, a Pole for Banking Services and a Regional Financial Centre”, which would have undermined the power and the profits of the Central Bank of Tunisia (privately-owned by the Roth schilds and their associates).

  3. Lars  February 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I think this is a cogent analysis. We are seeing blowback of neoliberal globalism world wide. The mainstream media ignored Wisconsin until it became such a big story on the blogs that they HAD to report on it. Americans seemed to lose their spirit in the 80s, when the “era of personal responsibility” that was ushered in meant that we the people should feel ashamed of ourselves when bankers and speculators robbed us blind and wrecked our lives. Funny how so many officials, including Mr Obama, were caught off-guard by these events; I guess the kleptocrats thought they won it all, but, as the article puts it so vividly, an unexpected new superpower has arisen – People. Right now the courage of the people of Libya is being tested as they face strafing by air craft and sniper machine fire ordered by their dictator, but it is heartening to learn of defections and desertions in the government and military – refusing to kill their own people. People all over the globe are figuring out we’re all victims of the same forces that steal and make war, and stand with each other, and find strength in each other. It is stunning that it’s not ideologically driven – the protests are all very pragmatic and reasonable. No wonder some in our gov’t want a switch to turn off the internet, lest Americans stand up for themselves, which will mean confronting those those who serve the cabal. Our gov’t makes noises of protest when dissent is quashed abroad – although dissent being quashed in Iran is a bigger deal to them than dissent being quashed in Egypt, Palestine, or even America. A year ago sound cannons were used against people peaceful protesting in Pittsburgh when the G20 Summit took place, and American citizens still are forced into First Amendment zones.

  4. william f mcdonagh3  February 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    hosni turned on israel,after taking their money for years,opened rafah border crossing,after gaza massacre,flying drones close to israel,telling israel not to attack gaza again,plus israel needs some new puppets to last them another thirty years,and this is all a side show,to a second attempt for regime change in iran,perfect cover,with thunderous applause israel places their puppets for the next thirty years,get ready for a false flag attack,israels future depends on it,all these years i have said america was zionist occupied,people shook their heads,now whos the terrorist,racist,hatefull,nazi,or should i say askenazi. the iraq/iran war was for israel ,9-11, anthrax was also their design,please show me were i went wrong?”the great heist” zionist first crowd clinton bush larry aig leehman,goldmann to many jews to fail sommers,madeoff,bernake,geithner,greenspan,even the zionist shills in california have presided over the last sixteen years of selling us off to china boxer,feinstein dont want you to own a gun for a reason,as soon as everyone finds out they been had,they want us throwing stones and getting shot by cops,ive got some good news “bring it on”

  5. Thomas  February 21, 2011 at 12:20 am

    some excellent posts and info here, thanks.

  6. Ron Paul 2012  February 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm


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