Blog post

‘Egypt's popular revolution will change the world’—Peter Hallward

Tamar Shlaim10 February 2011

Peter Hallward writes in the Guardian on the potential world-historical significance of the Egyptian revolution, the consequences of which  "may well counter and exceed those of 11 September 2001". 

Whatever happens next, Egypt's mobilisation will remain a revolution of world-historical significance because its actors have repeatedly demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to defy the bounds of political possibility, and to do this on the basis of their own enthusiasm and commitment. They have arranged mass protests in the absence of any formal organisation, and have sustained them in the face of murderous intimidation. In a single, decisive afternoon they overcame Mubarak's riot police and have since held their ground against his informers and thugs. They have resisted all attempts to misrepresent or criminalise their mobilisation. They have expanded their ranks to include millions of people from almost every sector of society. They have invented unprecedented forms of mass association and assembly, in which they can debate far-reaching questions about popular sovereignty, class polarisation and social justice ...

Again and again, elated protestors have marvelled at the sudden discovery of their own power. "We look like people who've woken up from a spell, a nightmare," observed writer Ahdaf Soueif, and "we revel in the inclusiveness" of the struggle. Protestor after protestor has insisted on a transformative liberation from fear ... Such liberation and exhilaration seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago, in ancien régime Egypt. It is now the people, not the régime, who will decide on the limits separating the possible from the impossible. 

Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.

Peter Hallward is the author of Damming the Flood, which shows how the Haitian Lavalas popular mobilisation was crushed by internal and external forces. A new edition is out now with a substantive new afterword covering the international response to the devastating 2010 earthquake.  

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