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The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt

Leading analysts of Egypt on repression, dissent and the dramatic revolution

The toppling of Hosni Mubarak marked the beginning of a revolutionary restructuring of Egypt's political and social order. Jeannie Sowers and Chris Toensing bring together updated essays from Middle East Report—the premier journal covering the region—that offer unrivaled analysis of the major social and political trends that underpinned these tumultuous events.

Starting with the momentous eighteen days of street protest that compelled Mubarak's resignation, the volume moves back in time to plumb the state's strategies of repression and examine the mounting dissent of workers, democracy advocates, anti-war activists, and social and environmental campaigners. Leading analysts of Egypt detail the demographic and economic trends that produced wealth for the few and impoverishment for the many. The collection brings clear-headed, first-hand understanding to bear on a moment of intense hope and uncertainty in the Arab world's most populous nation.

Reviews

  • Middle East Report is the best periodical (in English) on the Middle East—bar none.”
  • “No person, specializing or not in Middle Eastern affairs, can afford to ignore Middle East Report.”
  • “A great way to review late Mubarak Egypt and the January 2011 uprising.”
  • “Whatever the future holds for Egypt, The Journey to Tahrir offers a useful compendium for understanding the roads traveled to this point.”
  • “A great special issue of an academic journal.”

Blog

  • "A present defaults – unless the crowd declares itself": Alain Badiou on Ukraine, Egypt and finitude



    I will say once again that I think that the fundamental figure of contemporary oppression is finitude. The strategic axis of this seminar is to provide the means for a critique of the contemporary world by identifying something within its propaganda, activity etc. at whose centre is the imposition of finitude, that is to say, the exclusion of the infinite from humanity’s possible set of horizons. At each session, from now up until the end of the year, I want to give you an example of the way in which something taking place today, or some commonplace or constantly used category, can be represented as a figure or operation of reduction to finitude. As such, each of these things can be encapsulated in terms of the general oppressive vision of finitude.

    Today I would like to take the example of Ukraine, the way in which the historic events in Ukraine serve the propagandist consensus that both constitutes and envelops it (at our next sessions I will address two connected notions, which are similarly hegemonic and bask in consensus: the notions of the republic and of secularism – and what I call false invariants: what is assumed to be an invariant, a commonplace of thought, and even a proof of what it is that unites us).

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  • What to Read on Egypt

    As tumultuous events in Egypt unfold at speed, with former President Morsi currently in custody, we present Verso's updated reading list of key titles and articles addressing the challenges facing Egypt and the Middle East.

    Seamus Milne considers the current situation in Egypt in the context of the Arab Spring and its historical precedents in the "Spring of Nations" of 1848 in his latest article for the Guardian. His latest book, The Revenge of History, follows the events of the Arab Spring as they unfold, as well as providing a rich geopolitical context for the uprisings.

    The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt
    Edited by Jeannie Sowers and Chris Toensing

    The account of how it all began, this collection of reports from the region details the causes that underpinned the revolution before it amassed in scale. Starting with the eighteen days of protest in the lead up to Mubarak’s resignation, it is a first hand account of the collective dissent of workers, anti-war activists and campaigners for social change.

    Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt
    by Hazem Kandil

    When the military turned against Mubarak, so too did the revolt, from outbursts of protest to full on revolution. Hazem Kandil challenges the siding of the military with the people, instead documenting the power struggle between the three components of Egypt’s authoritarian regime: the military, the security services, and the political apparatus. Analysing what it means for Egypt to transition from military to police state, Kandil looks toward future revolution.

    In an article in the Guardian on the recent events in Egypt, Kandil explains why liberal western critics can't simply say: "I told you so."

    You can also read an interview with Kandil in New Left Review on the Egyptian revoution.

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  • The Journey to Tahrir reviewed in New Left Project

    In New Left Project, David Wearing reviews The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt, focusing on the post-revolution resilience of Egypt's "deep state"—the remnants of Mubarak's former National Democratic Party, the Interior Ministry, state media and a sympathetic judiciary—in light of President Morsy's surprise reshuffling of the military leadership. Wearing recommends The Journey to Tahrir in order to understand Egypt's dismal revolutionary prospects:

    The French revolution lasted over ten years because a series of historical processes and contradictions simply took that long to resolve themselves into a new order that was capable of enduring beyond the short term. It is hard to discern any sustainable equilibrium in Egyptian politics at the moment. Not, at least, with any real degree of confidence.

    A collection of essays from the Middle East ReportThe Journey to Tahrir charts the advent of trade union strikes in the past decade, the acceleration of Mubarak's neoliberal policies, and the flourishing of dissent after the Iraq War. 

    Read the review in full at New Left Project.

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