BTS 2/18/11: Egypt & Wisconsin

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Democracy is the watchword for the day; it implies dignity, decency, the right to meaningful work and a government that serves the needs of its population. By definition, the right today serve the interests and needs of the financial and corporate elite whose casino capitalism caused our crisis and now they want teachers and public sector workers living standards slashed, collective bargaining rights eliminated (see Wisconsin) and are blaming the unionized workforce along with the immigrants for the crisis -- and moreover are asking all of us to pay for it. For the financiers it is bailouts, for the corporations it is the refusal to be taxes and the fear to invest: they are sitting on mountains of cash they don't yet feel secure enough to invest in productive work and are loath to be taxed lest the government invest the money. So the system has seized up and is in a suicidal spiral. Tahrir Square could be coming to a city near you.

Gilbert Achcar, a leading scholar activist who grew up in Lebanon and teaches at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, is the author most recently of The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives (Metropolitan Books). He joins us for an overview on the spreading revolts against dictators in Middle Eastern States -- dictators who are using violence against the mobilizing populations. Achcar questions the neutrality of the Egyptian army, says the model for the Muslim Brotherhood is Turkey not Iran, and has detailed information of the left forces on the ground. We’ll pick his brain and learn as much as we can about the movements demanding democracy and dignity that have inspired and changed the century.

John Nichols (correspondent of The Nation and Madison Wisconsin’s Capital Times) joins us from Wisconsin’s “Tahrir” where tens of thousands have mobilized against the Republican assault on the Constitution, demanding not ‘Second Amendment remedies’ but First Amendment ones, and are leading the battle against the attacks on living standards and public sector unions in the country. Don’t miss his account of how “First Amendment Remedies': How Wisconsin Workers Grabbed the Constitution Back From the Right-Wing Royalists.” Fighting Bob LaFollette is cheering from the other side.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Gilbert Achcar is a Lebanese academic, writer, socialist and antiwar activist. He lived in Lebanon until moving to France in 1983. He taught politics and international relations at the University of Paris VIII until 2003, when he took up a position at the Marc Bloch Centre in Berlin. Since August 2007, Achcar has been Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. He is also the author of The Clash Of Barbarisms and Eastern Cauldron (Monthly Review Press, New York, 2002 and 2004) He is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, ZNet, and International Viewpoint.

2. John Nichols is the Washington Correspondent of The Nation, where he also blogs the “Online Beat”. John is also associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times, and is author of several books, including The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), and with Robert McChesney, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press).