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Lenin in Minsk
Lenin in Minsk

-OpEd-

It's hard to say no to the prospect of free money. Imagine: Regardless of your activity (or lack thereof), you get your share of the "universal income," of the nation you call home. Several hundred dollars or more, paid every month into your bank account — not to compensate your labor or reward some accomplishment, but just because you exist. Around the world, implementing a universal basic income is an idea that has been gaining ground. And it's easy to understand its appeal as inequalities continue to grow in developed and developing countries alike, with more than 50% of the world's wealth currently in the hands of just 1% of the population.

But behind the latest policy panacea uniting progressives and globalists lurks a darker impulse, and perhaps it requires a special historical anniversary to face this hard truth head on. For it was 100 years ago that the Communist Revolution was launched in Russia; and now we must witness neo-liberals trying to use what is, "in the last analysis," a Marxist-inspired measure to save capitalism and its mass consumption model that's slowly destroying our societies and our planet.

The ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution and the prospect of the End Of Work, described by the economist Jeremy Rifkin more than 20 years ago, will continue to profoundly change our societies. For those at the top, the big question is how to perpetuate the mass consumption society that made them rich. The answer is simple: by making sure that the rest of the pyramid keeps on buying, in every sense of the word.

To keep the majority happy and under its thumb, the Roman Empire had the "bread and circuses," free food and great games for all to enjoy. Our own, 21st-century version of Roman circuses are what Zbigniew Brzezinski, the advisor to several past U.S. presidents, called "tittytainment." In this context, the universal basic income, by compensating for stagnating, lower or indeed no wages, would make for the perfect bread, while allowing the masses to freely and carelessly enjoy the perpetual circus. History should teach us not to go down that road.

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Geopolitics

Women, Life, Freedom: Iranian Protesters Find Their Voice

In the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police mid-September for not wearing her hijab properly, many Iranians have taken the streets in nationwide protests. Independent Egyptian media Mada Masr spoke to one of the protesters.

Students of Amirkabir University in Tehran protest against the Islamic Republic in September 2022.

Lina Attalah

On September 16, protests erupted across Iran when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being arrested and beaten by morality police for her supposedly unsuitable attire. The protests, witnesses recount, have touched on all aspects of rights in Iran, civil, political, personal, social and economic.

Mada Masr spoke to a protester who was in the prime of her youth during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to possible security retaliation, she walked us through what she has seen over the past week in the heart of Tehran, and how she sees the legacy of resistance street politics in Iran across history.

MADA MASR: Describe to us what you are seeing these days on the streets of Tehran.

ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: People like me, we are emotional because we remember 2009. The location of the protests is the same: Keshavarz Boulevard in the middle of Tehran. The last time Tehranis took to these streets was in 2009, one of the last protests of the Green Movement. Since then, the center of Tehran hasn’t seen any mass protests, and most of these streets have changed, with new urban planning meant to make them more controllable.

Remembering 2009 triggers many things, such as street strategies, tactics and the way we could find each other in the middle of the chaos. But this is us now, almost at the back. Up front, there are many younger people, especially girls. They are extremely brave, fearless and smart.

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