The 18 Days of the Egyptian Revolution in February were a microcosm of what can happen when a people reach the end of their rope and say, “to hell with it, we cannot take anything more, we’re prepared to give our lives for what we believe because living this way… is no life.” Hundreds died in Tahrir Square and across Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities for democracy. Thousands are massing in cities around the USA and across the globe for the return of democracy from the oligarchy pulling the levers of political and economic power in New York and Washington.
The punditocracy are quick to declare Egypt’s revolution a ‘failure’ because the corrupt military regime under Mubarak is not releasing power to the people fast enough. It’s easy to sit on a television news set thousands of miles away and say, “look, see, there is no way it will ever work,” or stoke the fear card saying “the Muslim Brotherhood will convert Egypt into a theocratic religious state like Iran or Afghanistan.” On Wall Street it’s chic to call the protestors ‘dirty hippies and drug addicts only interested in sex, drugs and rock and roll.’
Simply, corrupt regimes and empires fail by their failure to listen and act. Now, Richard Nixon’s great silent majority is awakening and seeing the lack of balance and fairness and going to the sources of power in hundreds of cities around the country demanding change. There is an assumption that because they were cleared out Zuccotti Park in New York, downtown Oakland, Berkeley, Portland and other locations, the movement will now die out because they have nowhere to organise?
A funny thing happened on the road to that assumption, police acted with their violent, reptilian animal mind and it is rarely the action, rather the over-reaction that gets one in trouble. Since August, 1947 when Gandhi’s non-violent protests flummoxed British police, authorities around the world have failed to react to non-violent protest with anything other than violence. Patience and negotiation are not taught in police academies. Brute overwhelming force and militaristic attack formations are.
The SCAF in Egypt is moving slowly and people are protesting in the streets against detainments, speedy military trials and silencing of the people. Yet the playbook started there and if one looks at Occupy through the lens of Egypt, you see how closely tied both movements are to police and government OVER-reaction and one… can easily predict the next move by authorities.
Tahrir Square’s 18 days were a roller coaster ride, it was a highly compressed schedule the world followed on live TV. Yet if we look from my book Egypt Unshackled at the dictator’s 12-step programme and compare it to events from Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Oakland, you can see the parallels and then gauge where this is headed.Too, how quickly those in the US media forget their own democracy history. While the US Revolutionary War ended in 1776, there were many bitter internal fights and squabbles over the ultimate shape of the government ending with the adoption of the Constitution in 1787, 11 years later. Egypt has had 9-months. Occupy? 2. And sadly, it may take Kent State tragic moment in the US for Occupy Everywhere to really grab a nation obsessed with reality television over reality.
“As the Arab spring of revolt spread across the region throughout 2011, they all followed the same 12-step programme. It was referred to there as the “damage control” template by everyone from Foreign Policy magazine to NGO’s to the protestors themselves. And it was eerie how they all followed this same playbook. The order of play never mattered but they all followed these same steps.
- Send in secret police thugs on foot (horseback or camel) to beat and scare protestors into submission or make them ‘disappear.’
- Attack, beat, and confiscate cameras, phones & equipment and arrest journalists trying to cover the story.
- Shut down access to the Internet to limit their organising ability.
- Organise paid demonstrators to rally boisterously in counter demonstrations in support of your regime.
- Have snipers and police shoot protestors.
- Promise (emptily) to investigate and bring to justice those who just shot your people.
- Conduct (with great fanfare) a meaningless political cabinet re-shuffle.
- Call Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC and all foreign press ‘biased’ instigators who do not understand the fragile and impressionable nature of the country.
- Make a condescending, rambling and incoherent speech about how much you love the youth of your country, promise reforms, tell them to trust you, stop now and go back to work.
- Threaten that if you leave now, the country will slip into chaos and destruction without your loving fatherly hand to guide it through the changes you ‘promise’ to make (with your fingers crossed behind your back).
- Blame outside foreign agitators who want to see the nation fall so they can then implement their radical (Islamist, Western, Secular, Christian…) agenda.
There is one last step. And that is where the dictator is forced by events to leave. No dictator after 30-40 years in power ever wants to go. Indeed they will go to extraordinary lengths to remain in control.
Tunisia and Egypt were the two places where the dictator’s playbook went horribly awry leading to them being forced to leave after 30+ years. Both Mubarak and Ben Ali followed the brutalisation and state media misinformation playbook, but the youth and the population changed as did the playbook. Mubarak and Ben Ali were doubly unfortunate that the government and army were two separate and distinct entities. In Syria and Libya, they are intertwined, thus the higher level of brutality during their uprisings.”
While the NYPD/Oakland Police and Mayors Bloomberg and Quan think they have the upper hand and regained control, urge them to look outside their window at what they are unleashing. How many heads can you bash? How violent will you let your police become. Are you prepared for them to unleash a true Kent State moment… on your watch?
Hosni Mubarak never looked outside his window and instead listened to advisors inside the bubble. Look where he ended up. The denial bubble surrounding you Mr. and Madame Mayor will also break, then where will you be?
This is only growing bigger and stronger because these kicked down dogs are baring their teeth. They have nowhere else to go and that should worry you to listen and take real action.
* Punditocracy is the word I use to describe the so-called elite political pundits on all cable news networks (the faces and names rarely change) and who always seem to get it wrong without consequence, but can bloviate and inhabit the dial because of their colourful past.
Cross posted on UKProgressive.co.uk