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Posts Tagged ‘tahrir square’

A People’s Revolt or a Military Coup?

In Creative Writing, The Revolution on July 4, 2013 at 8:41 PM

On the ontological necessity of hope, revolution, and dreams of a not-so-destructive-and-shitty apocalyptic future

ImageEgyptians’ successful overthrow of their neoliberal oppressor, Mohamed Morsi—the same man the mainstream press claimed was “elected” in a fair, informed democracy—has me feeling ambivalent. As far as can be seen from hours of Reuters videos of Tahrir Square, there is a palpable air of festiveness that radiates even thousands of miles away. It seems to have the carnivalesque feel of a true people’s revolt. But is it?

The toppling of Morsi (and of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood) brings up a renewed sense of hope that the revolution, far from being coopted by U.S.-led global capitalism, will continue the struggle against corruption and greed that were at the heart of the first upheaval against Mubarak. Following the onset of revolts in Brazil and Turkey—also central nodes in the worldwide regime of the New Economy—I can’t help but feel a palpable sense that the revolutionary momentum that was prematurely and violently suppressed in 2011-2 is surely (if not more cautiously) re-igniting.

Despite their ostensible differences, the three revolutions were all suffused with the righteous indignation of an exploited majority against a self-annihilating elite. Whether communcating in Turkish, Portuguese, Arabic, or English, the people usurped the technologies of dubious amerikkan “cyber-libertarian” origins (i.e. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter) and used them for an unprecedented subversion of the state. And despite the aggravating management of dissent that occurred at the hands of global elites in the first wave of revolutions, this new current seems to carry the lessons of hard-fought rebellions.

That these struggle continue is a testament to the ontology of hope. It is a hope that the hideous inequalities that capitalism has bred is not destiny. Perhaps this is all testament to how the contradictions of capitalism are finally causing it to fall under its own weight—the long-sought culmination of an untenable Marxist dialectic between the relations and forces of production. Perhaps this is the TINA (“there is no alternative”) principle of neoliberalism being irrevocably shaken, in a manner hardly seen outside the quasi-leftist democracies of Latin America.


Or perhaps this is yet another military-led upheaval that will succumb to the same fate as the last overthrow. When, after all, has a military coup led to the liberation of its people? How can something like a military—itself the production of a world we no longer want—lead to the formation of a free society?

Given how this has played itself out over and over again, I wonder what conversations are fueling the people of Egypt right now. I wonder what sharing of vision and reprimands of caution will take place in cafés and public squares tomorrow.

And then I’ve come to realize that dreaming is not a bad thing. Not at all. It is an essential part of the revolution. Of course, right now it’s confusion that reigns: it’s unclear whether this is indeed revolution, upheaval, or regime change. But there’s something beautiful about the confusion of a moment that has an uncertain future. In a time when we have good reason to believe we are on the verge of spiritual-existential disintegration, if not downright collapse within an irremediable climate apocalypse, uncertainty at least brings with it an air of possibility. And what I hope for, trying to maintain respectful distance from a movement that is not mine to determine, is that the people at least have a vote. An actual vote not tampered by a conditioned notion of “elections.”

I confess that I harbor a hope that the currents of life-affirming anarchism within this latest installment of “revolution” in Egypt actually produce something the rest of the world can aspire to: a complete demolition of gods and masters.

After all, rather than forecast the rise of an Orwellian state commanded by Predator drones and cyberattacks, biometic surveillance systems and genetically engineered cyborgs, why not dabble in a dream that actually sustains the human species?


Will a Marxist proletarian revolution be the telos of civilization? Or will the revolutions of the future traverse new cartographies unimaginable?

And rather than be witness to a chess match of competing dictators, war heroes and vulture capitalists, why not entertain the hope of a leaderless revolution?

Or hope that the people will begin that inevitable, if utterly anticlimactic, Sisyphean feat of dismantling walls and money-clad cages?

Or hope that the people dissolve the chains of interpersonal and internalized oppressions that undermine growth, love, and community?

Or hope that the people tap into the neurophysical possibilities of a boundless creativity and imagination, thus helping us all steer futures that actually make sense?

Or hope that the people seek liberation, not to overcome the constraints of history and geography, but to attain nirvana in the elusive, overlooked present?


Perhaps revolution is really just a dream. And in a world of grim realities, that would be a good thing.


Tahrir Square on July 2nd, 2013.

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