My 'top ten of 2011' is a list of popular uprisings that have served to define 2011. Lest we lump them together in some racist monolithic genetically motivated thrust called the 'Arab Spring' let's do the roll call:
1. Tunisia, Dec 17th, 2010- Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian vegetable peddler sets himself on fire and dies after his cart is confiscated by a policewoman who slapped him and spat in his face. Protests explode all over Tunisia and by January,
Zine El Abidine Ben, the ruler for over 24 years is forced to flee the country.
...the "Arab Spring" is born inspiring protests demanding reforms in Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Libya, Kuwait, Morocco, Syria AND Israel
2. Egypt, February 11th, 2011-Hosni Mubarak is forced from office after hundreds died in protests the Army urges Mubarak to go.
3. Libya, February 15th- Protests explode and within days Gaddafi opponents control Benghazi the second largest city in Libya. By August the opposition controls Tripoli and by October Gaddafi is killed in the streets my opposition militants.
4. Bahrain, March 14th- Saudi and other gulf countries have to send in troops to subdue a Shia uprising.
5. Syria, March-?- In protests against President Assad that began with his forces shooting 5 protesters serving only to ignite further protests in which at least 3000 people have died.
6. Yemen, June 3rd-Demonstrations and violent battles between supporters of President Saleh lead to a bombing of the Presidential Palace in which Saleh is gravely injured.
7. Spain, May-October- On May 15th in 50 cities throughout Spain about 150,000 people came out in protest in solidarity with a movement calling itself the 'Real Democracy Now!' movement that was inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and the May, 1968 movement in France. The decentralized grassroots democratic protest used encampments and spread the word via social networking in the style of the Iranian student and election protests and Arab Spring revolts served as a template for other movements like the Greek anti-Austerity protests and Occupy Wall Street.
8. Greece, May-August- Inspired by the "Arab Spring" and the Spanish 'Real Democracy Now!' movement. The massive protests and General Strikes that were held against the Greek Government and the International Monetary Fund began in August and were met with violent police crackdowns.
9. England, November 30th- Various Trade Unions organized the biggest General Strike in the UK since the mid-80's. Two million people walked off the job and were joined by tens of thousands of supporters from across the UK. This strike was a part of the massive global anti-austerity protests that had been happening all year in protest of the IMF.
10. Iraq, December 19th- The official withdrawal of "All U.S. Troops" from Iraq 8 and a half years after the most recent invasion. Estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties stands at around 100,000 (though many estimate as many as 1 million civilian casualties) and American troop casualties at 4,415. The infrastructure of Iraq was crippled by the US invasions. Before the invasions Iraq had nearly 100% literacy and health care was widely available and affordable. Health care, education, potable water and electricity are now scarce and unreliable. Iraqi politics remain extremely unstable and the situation there seems to threaten a continuing civil war.
Honorable mention goes to:
Thee Occupy Wall Street movement, that took inspiration from the "Arab Spring" and "Democracia Real Ya!" movements, spun off solidarity protests, strikes and encampments world wide...even here in Olympia! (I was marginally involved in Occupy Olympia from the first official Occupy Olympia protest on October 15th until the encampment's eviction by 50 riot squad-clad State Troopers on December 16th. O.O. was really impressive! 120 tents wrapped around Capitol Lake for like 1/3 of a mile and boasted food, medicine, sanitation, child care, art making, concerts and daily general assemblies, organized marches and committee meetings covering everything from safety to strategies...)
Russia, December, 2011-?- The biggest anti-government protests since the early 90's began on Dec 4th and are continuing now in Jan 2012. As well as calling for annulment of the 2011 legislative elections, the protesters have demanded investigations into what is considered massive voter fraud in Russia, the freeing of political prisoners, investigations into deep seated political corruption and for transparent and democratic general elections.
Young Stalin- Simon Sebag Montefiore
Ten Days That Shook the World- John Reed
Emigrants- W.G. Sebald
Rings of Saturn- W.G. Sebald
King Kong Theory- Virginie Depentes
All the Shah's Men-Stephen Kinzer
Fun With Problems- Robert Stone
Self Defense (the Womanly Art of Self-Care, Intuition and Choice)- Debbie Leung
Orientalism- Edward Said
Gender Trouble- Judith Butler
Raw Power-Josh Bayer
Hugo Cabret- Brian Selznick
Raw Deal- Joey Alone
Sewn Leather (no fixed address)
Animals and Men (England)
Grass Widow (San Francisco)
Polly Darton (Olympia)
Craig Extine solo (Olympia)
Peter, Abby and Chad's new unnamed band (Olympia)
Portland International Film Festival-'Aftershock' d.- Feng Xiaogang, 'Silent Souls' d.-Alexsei Fedorchenko, 'Son of Babylon' d.-Mohamed Al-Daradji
True False Film Festival- 'At the Edge of Russia' d.-Micael Marczak, 'The Black Power Mix Tape' d. Goran Olsson, 'Knuckle' d.- Ian Palmer, 'Troll Hunter' d. André Ørvredal
Bermuda Film Festival- 'Gabi on the Roof in July' d.-Lawrence Michael Levine, 'My Perestroika' d. Robin Hessman, 'Shelter' d.-Dragomir Sholev
Sarasota Film Festival- 'Miss Representation' d.-Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 'The Robber' d.-Benjamin Heisenberg, 'Target Video: San Francisco, LA, NY, Europe' d. -Joe Rees
Milwaukee Film Festival- 'The Sleeping Beauty' d.-Catherine Breillat, 'The Last Circus' d.- Alex de la Iglesia, 'Nostalgia for the Light' d.- Patricio Guzman, 'How Much Does Your Building Weigh Mr. Foster?' d.- Carlos Carcas, Noberto Lopez Amad, 'Buddha Mountain' d.- Li Yu, 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' d.- Johnnie To
Savannah Film Festival- 'Inuk' d.- Mike Magidan, 'Coriolanus' d.- Ralph Fiennes, 'North Atlantic' d.- Bernardo Nasciemiento
Olympia Film Festival- 'Sprout Wings and Fly' d.-Les Blank, 'the City of Life and Death' d. Chaun Lu, 'Klaus Kinski: Jesus Christ Saviour' d. Peter Geyer, 'World on a Wire' d.- Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 'Everyone for Themselves, in Life' d.- J.L. Godard, 'The White Shadow' d.- A. Hitchcock, Graham Cutts, 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' d.-Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 'Turin Horse' d.-Bela Tarr, 'We Can't Go Home Anymore' d.- Nicholas Ray
Happy 2012...the end is a new beginning!
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