Monday, September 27, 2010

When the lights go out

When a fuse blows in my modern townhouse in Sydney, confusion and frustration breaks out as we fumble for lighters and that flashlight we never bought for emergency situations. We fumble like fools in the dark until L finds the fusebox, D holds up a match, and I reach for the phone to call our energy company. The phone, of course, always works.

When the lights go out in Baghdad, conversations continue as though nothing happened. Generators kick in within a few minutes, and everything is normal. But for many Iraqis, the sudden intrusion of darkness and heat is at once the site of identity and class politics.

Rachel Maddow's visit to an Iraqi family during Ramadan tells the story of working class life in a country that cannot provide basic services to its citizens.

It is class politics that determines who will be in the dark. For those who sit in darkness, identity politics begins to take form. This video clip says a lot about the situation in Iraq. It is enough to warrant the possible creation of an Electricity Party in the next election if the situation does not improve.

Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities are clamping down on expressions of resistance and frustration over the lack of services for the people. More about this here.

Rachel Maddow, whose opinions I do not usually share, should be commended for her courage in telling the story of those whose voices are not readily heard. Maddow concludes her observation toungue in cheek: No one wants Saddam back... AND... during Saddam, everyone had electricity. The question of how dinner politics crystallizes in the darkness of the working class people who do not have access to electricity is an important, yet often overlooked one.

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