If the Social Protest Dies Out, Israel to See a New Feudalism

The U.S. has a tradition of civil protests that lead to significant changes: women's suffrage, equal rights for blacks, pulling out of Vietnam. There is reason to fear a social protest that is rapidly catching on. In Israel there has yet to be a social protest that led to a policy change.

After being arrested when helping nonviolent demonstrators to realize their freedom of expression and their right to protest, the well-known writer Naomi Wolf discovered that freedom of expression and protest in America is not what it used to be ("The shocking truth about the suppression of protest in the United States," by Naomi Wolf, The Guardian, November 27.)

In addition, she discovered that in violation of U.S. law, the Department of Homeland Security advised 18 cities as to how to suppress this protest. In fact the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were suppressed with pepper spray, beatings and arrests, which led Wolf to wonder why such a popular, hapless protest led the federal government to react with such violence.

She discovered that although the media described the Wall Street protest as unfocused, its demands are actually very focused on three legislative changes that are highly threatening to legislators and their allies: limiting the sums of money that interested parties can donate to candidates in elections, a reform in the banking system that will prevent fraud and manipulations for which small depositors pay the price, and canceling the ability of members of Congress to legislate laws concerning corporations in which they have investments. According to Wolf this third demand is the most threatening, since more and more Congressmen entered the political system as members of the middle class and emerged very wealthy - and she claims they have no intention of endangering that.

Here too, the elected exploit their status to enrich themselves and their friends. The list of MKs and ministers who have become wealthy - or at least well-off - is a long one, and here they are doing it even though it is in violation of the law.

Changes in legislation won't improve our situation. Civil servants also exploit their status to enrich those who will soon be giving them the tools to enrich themselves. The list of CEOs, senior executives and advisers of tycoons impressively coincides with the list of former regulators and senior government officials. Therefore, here too both groups are interested in seeing the socioeconomic protest disappear.

But here there is no need for violence. In the United States there is a tradition of civil protests, which have led to significant changes: women's suffrage, equal rights for blacks, pulling out of Vietnam. There is reason to fear a social protest that is rapidly catching on. In Israel there has yet to be a social protest - peaceful or violent - that led to a policy change. From the Black Panthers to the encampments this summer, in Israel the protests are only another tool with which the government can divide and rule. The government managed to split even the most recent protest, which clung to solidarity, and presented it as a hostile factor with vested interests.

In this way the Israeli controllers of money and power can simply ignore one tenth of the population, which took to the streets to express a heartfelt protest about life that is becoming increasingly hard and burdensome here - and neither their power nor their money will suffer. Also thanks to the media, which may have provided broad coverage of the protest when it was too big to ignore, but is once again describing it as unfocused at best and bizarre at worst. The media moguls are also among those who find it convenient to exploit the majority for the benefit of their own wealth.

Yale anthropologist Prof. David Graeber claims that capitalism is falling apart, and the only question is what will follow it: a system of authoritarian rule of minorities over the majority, or "a genuine democratic system, in which we will all have a genuine opportunity to decide?" ("Capitalism is based on constant growth, and we have reached the limit," Asher Schechter, TheMarker Hebrew website, November 26 ).

In Israel, already now the system is National Capitalism. If the social protest really does die out as did its predecessors, Israel will probably be the first country in which the concept "neofeudalism" will turn from an expression used by leftist economic philosophers to the name of the type of regime practiced in it: Neo-National-Feudalism.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: מקפיטליזם לניאו-פיאודלים