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  • on 30.08.2015
  • at 01:59 PM
  • by evelina

Tunisia year five: Caught in a tightening vice 0

Thousands of young Tunisians drown trying to make their way to Europe, hoping that the West can offer a life that their own country cannot. Thousands are going to neighbouring Libya or other countries to wage jihad against what they perceive as the Western way of life, thirsty for vengeance against the West and its values.

What these two different situations have in common is that for many young Tunisians, accepting the lives they’ve been given is not an option. The March 2015 massacre of 22 people at the Bardo Museum, one of Tunis’s main cultural tourist attractions, and then the June murder of 38 Europeans at a beach resort in Sousse, demonstrated that Tunisia can’t escape being caught between the contending forces fighting for the allegiance of people across the region. On the one hand, millions of lives and futures are stunted or shattered by the conditions created by the world market and globalised finance, while the monopoly capitalists who rule the imperialist countries prosper. On the other, Islamist political rule is represented as the only alternative to what the West calls “democracy”, the political, social and ideological institutions whose function is to stabilize this intolerable situation.

The Islamist 23-year old graduate student who shot the tourists in Sousse was striking out at a situation where youth from poor families in the interior feel cut off from the modern world as it is enjoyed by some on the coast and people in the West in general. Their fathers work, when they can, wherever they can, in back-breaking construction, and their mothers in investor-owned fields under the thumb of merciless labour contractors who act as if they own them. Workers in factories and call centres are at the mercy of overseas orders. The educational system, especially in the technological fields, fills students with a narrow “input” of skills they can hope to “output” in a vocation promising a different life than their parents – until at last, emerging with diploma in hand, they tumble into the abyss of unemployment or mindless jobs with no prospects.

The phosphate mines that bring much of the country’s wealth produce serious environmental problems and few jobs for the people who live around them. The tourism “industry” touted as the country’s hope is driven by real estate speculation and prostitution, and the huge number of people trapped in prostitution reveals what values and future the West has to offer Tunisia.

In this situation – and in a world with no socialist states and few genuine revolutionary movements, where a reality-based revolutionary vision has not yet become the property of widespread masses of people – the powerful attraction of political and jihadi Islam, now presenting itself as the main challenger to the status quo imposed by Western imperialism, is tragic but not surprising.

Continue reading on: Pambazuka news

by Samuel Albert

Photo credit: ThinkAfricaPress

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