Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Spin Doctoring the Revolution Away!

I have watched with amazement at the state of denial that has overtaken the Egyptian regimes sensibilities. After millions have demonstrated in the streets of every major city in Egypt, the regime is still walking the ridiculously thin line of denial. 

They're charge is that the demonstrators are a bunch of youngsters, who in their youthful enthusiasm, have exploded in an embarassing display of misdirected youthful ebullience and resistance against the state, and that their parents should ask them to come home ... nicely ... you know how young people are? Give them a beatbox, a lollipop and a mat and they'll forget all about revolution and turn the protests into a big party. I am not even going to bother pointing out what a truly ridiculous interpretation this is of the events that have unfolded in Egypt and across the middle east. To downplay events in Egypt as a carnival of youthful expression is to be living in a dream world, where fairy godmothers and Peter Pan's reside alongside Goldilocks and Dorothy. Clearly, nobody is buying this particular piece of spin. 

But another one of the main charges of the regime deserves some response. It is the claim that the protestors are not representative of the greater majority of Egyptians ... that out of 80 million people, only 1-2, perhaps 3 million people have actually gone out and demonstrated. This is a highly misleading argument for two key reasons: 

Firstly, as political philosopher Slavoj Zizek pointed out in a recent Al Jazeera interview, revolutions are committed by 1 to 1.5% of the total population of a country.  In this light, the Egyptian uprising constitutes a revolution by all statistical accounts of what a revolution is and has far exceeded the 'requisite' 1 to 1.5% required for the uprisings to be defined as a revolution.  

Secondly, the fact that the protests have seen large numbers of people go out onto the streets, in their hundreds of thousands to millions, means that the protests are being renewed from a large stock or pool of dissentors within the general public that far outnumbers the actual protestors on the streets. Each day has seen new protestors, and different groups of protestors supplement the numbers of hard core protestors who are at the heart of maintaining momentum. By way of example, if you counted all the cars that are moving along on the road at any one particular point in time, it would not reflect the true number of cars in a country - only a fraction of cars are in circulation at any given point in time.  Ok, so enough of the systems theory perspective there ... it's not that difficult to work out.  

On monday, it seemed as if the protests were on the wane, and reality was beginning to bite the protestors, but the release of Wael Ghonim and the transmisson of his sincere emotions on national television changed all that. At the drop of a hat, millions were out on the streets again, many of them new arrivals, responding to the integrity and sincerity of a young man breaking down over the deaths of protestors - his great sense of responsibility and love flowed out into the hearts of people because they know the difference between sincerity and farce. After years of living within a carefully constructed and brutally implemented lie, the truth, and the expression of truth is overwhelmingly unavoidable for the greater majority of people in Egypt, and across the world. True revolutionaries are ordinary everyday people, and have always been ... Egyptians are learning this at rapid speed, perhaps faster than they would have expected, but they are learning, and pretty soon the spin doctors will be twirling from their own ropes.


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