“Early 2011 was a dramatic period in modern Egyptian history. The
mainstream mediaa**s narrative on the Arab Spring portrayed popular
uprisings as the driving force that swept away the regime of Hosni Mubarak
and opened the door to democracy. But a closer examination indicates that
the rules of the past still apply. Concentration of power, physical
isolation from the outside world, and dependence upon outside forces for
economic security remain the trifecta that drives Egyptian society and
To understand the Arab Spring one must first understand the factors that
led to it. This is a discussion that must begin, not with the aspirations
of those that protested in Tahrir square, but with the strategic
imperatives of the military, the true vanguard of the Egyptian state.
Nassera**s plan to elevate the military as the vanguard of society worked,
but in years after Nassera**s death the military itself shifted position.
Rather than partnering with the Soviets to create a regional sphere of
influence, the military evolved its vanguard position in Egyptian society
into a system of ossified control. The state still owned nearly everything
of worth, but it was managed by and for the benefit of the military brass.
Everything from banks to import/export to agriculture — already heavily
influenced by the military under the vanguard system — was consolidated
into a series of military oligarchies. Rather than working to elevate
Egypt economically, the military oligarchs mostly divvied up the local
spoils and lived large.
This was a stable system from the late-1970s until the mid-2000s.
Egypta**s shielded geography limited the ability of any international
economic interest to challenge the military staffsa** personal fiefdoms.
Egypta**s partnership with the Americans mitigated international pressure
of all sorts, and in many ways even Egypta**s ostracism from the Arab
world due to its treaty with Israel allowed Egypta**s generals to rule
Egypt however they saw fit.
As (now deposed) President Mubarak aged, however, an internal challenge
arose to the military oligarchy in the form of the former presidenta**s
son, Gamal Mubarak, who wanted to transform Egypt from a military
oligarchy into a more traditional Egyptian dynasty. Doing this required
the breaking of the militarya**s hold on the economy. Gamal and his allies
— often with the express assistance of international institutions like
the World Bank — worked to a**privatizea** Egyptian state assets to
themselves. This process was a direct threat to the militarya**s political
and economic position at the top of Egyptian society. The military also
viewed Gamal, who never completed his military service, as a political
neophyte, incapable of understanding and managing the countrya**s security
The result was the a**Arab Springa**. In the months leading up to the
January demonstrations, Egypta**s top generals were delivering very stern
ultimatums to the president to abandon any hope of passing the reins to
Gamal while looking at their options to unseat Mubarak via more
unconventional means. The military strategically positioned itself early
on in the demonstration as the honest broker and guardian of the
protesters, taking care to avoid a violent crackdown on the demonstrators
while Mubaraka**s internal security forces were vilified on the streets.
Such a light hand was not due to lack of capacity, but due to lack of
need. The demonstrations provided the generals with the means to dismantle
the Mubarak legacy, the biggest liability to their own livelihood, while
maintaining the paramount role of the military.
But perhaps the most central indication that the a**revolutiona** was
misconstrued comes from the participation levels. On the day that Mubarak
ultimately stepped down the protests reached their peak. By the most
aggressive estimate only 750,000 people — less than 1 percent of the
population of densely populated Egypt a** took to the streets. In true
revolutions such as that which overthrew Communism in Central Europe or
the shah in Iran, the proportion regularly breached 10 percent and on
occasions even touched 50 percent. In short, Egypta**s Arab Spring was a
palace coup, not a revolution.”
“A Revolutionary Age is an age of action; the present age is an age of advertisement, or an age of publicity: nothing happens, but there is instant publicity about it. A revolt in the present age is the most unthinkable act of all; such a display of strength would confuse the calculating cleverness of the times. Nevertheless, some political virtuoso might achieve something nearly as great. He would write some manifesto or other which calls for a General Assembly in order to decide on a revolution, and he would write it so carefully that even the Censor himself would pass on it; and at the General Assembly he would manage to bring it about that the audience believed that it had actually rebelled, and then everyone would placidly go home–after they had spent a very nice evening out.”
its funny, this is exactly what occupy does. has a general assembly, declares a revolution, then goes home happy to bed or drunk and homeless on the street.
what we need is direct action like david graeber- an anthropologist and anarchist talks about. Here is how he defines it
“direct action” becomes any form of political resistance that is overt, militant, and confrontrational, but that falls short of outright military insurrection. In this seense, if one is doing more than marching around with signs, but not yet ready to take to the hills with Ak-47s, then one is a direct actionist. The boston tea party (power elite using direction action), is often invoked a classic example of direct action of this sort. Such actions tend to be militant and symbolic at the same time.
used in this way direct action can cover an encourmous range: it can mean anything from insisting on one’s right to sit at a segrated lunch counter to setting fire to one, from placing oneself in the way of bulldozers in an old-growth forest to spiking trees so that loggers who disregard warnings not to cut in certain areas risk killing themselves”
it is in this sense that direct action is very different from occupy protest. occupy protest is about spraeding information, making a greater presence to “the movement” to encourage “worldwide solidarity” for the 99 percent. but the actions themselves, do nothing to disrupt the actions of those they oppose.
they are upset that we cannot protest at city hall and the capital, not because the capital is a place to intervene evil actions, because the capital and city hall are supposedly symbolically “public forms” and in restricting the land useage of these places they are “violating rights” rather than, in the instance of the man fighting the loggers, doing an action that endangers or prevents the action you want from happening.
interesting article today in the HUMANIST by Jon Harrison called “Terra instabilis”
read an interesting article today in the HUMANIST by Jon Harrison called “terra instabilis”
“In retrospect, we can see that the boom times of the 1980s and ’90s in the United States were debt-fueled and lacked substance—they were, in other words, fundamentally different from the real, solid economic expansions that came before. The last of these true expansions began during the Second World War and ended in the early 1970s.”
“It has been clear for some decades that the era of Western world domination, a period that lasted, roughly from 1800-2000 CE is coming to an end. Even more important perhaps is the fact that the post -Wrold War II architecture built up under the aegis of the Pax Americana-NATO, the European Union, and the global economic organizations lik the World Bank, The international Monetary Fund, and The World Trade Organization–appears to be headed for dissolution.”
After working tirelessly during 1906-1909 to stage a mexican revolution, Guerrero explains his methods through a circulated pamphlet
“When we resolved to fling ourselves into the fight it is because we have ideas very well placed in our heads. The man who thinks and feels the ideas, does not fear sacrifices: he goes to them willing to give his life. You must have seen that I am uncompromising, that many times I argue details; that I appear obstinate and meticulous, and that I am not in conformity with the disciplined organization of the rebelious groups. I believe that a popular revolution should be spontaneous, without leaders. If I address you in this manner, it is because I believe that you truly love liberty… I am an anarchist; I don’t fight because I hate government, but for the love of a free humanity… Our revolution must show the manner of liberating not governing”
taken from “La vida heroica”