Protester on top of a tank
I’ve been watching the Egyptian Revolution like it’s a cricket match, checking the score throughout the day. Right now it’s the people 1 million, Mubarak one. CNN and BBC are a joke, but even Al Jazeera is getting a bit funny, interviewing anyone with a bit of expertise and essentially rambling on air. No one really knows anything at this point. Just waiting for the shoe to drop, and speculating on modalities. A lot of the talk seems to be about Twitter and the US and Israel, which I think is besides the point. Sometimes I think the media confuses the information they can get with the information that’s important.
To quote one protester, “Fuck the internet! I have not seen it since Thursday and I am not missing it. I don’t need it. No one in Tahrir Square needs it. No one in Suez needs it or in Alex…Go tell Mubarak that the peoples revolution does not his damn internet!”
And, I suppose the same for Israel and America. I think what we are seeing from Iraq to WikiLeaks to the financial crisis to Egypt is a falling away of hypocrisy. I don’t mean saying one thing and doing another because you’re weak and you fail. I mean pretending to have beliefs you don’t actually have.
Everyone is self-interested and then selfless with whatever they have left over. America is no different. They look out for their interests, then Israel’s interests, then whoever else. In someplace like Sri Lanka they can engage in moralizing all they want because they have no actual interest to conflict with. In Egypt it’s a bit harder.
Indeed, like in the Koreas, they are still stuck in a war that never ended. Mubarak has been a reliable ally of America because of a peace deal he made with Israel 30 years ago. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are paid off in the same way. The fact that millions of people are tortured, oppressed and radicalized doesn’t make a difference because it’s about preserving the status quo of the Israel wars of the 60s and 70s. Roger Cohen’s column on this is lucid.
I was watching western statements and realizing that what matters is stability. Even if things are stable bad, that’s good enough to satisfy another country’s national interest. Essentially, everyone from the Arabs to the Israelis is drawn into this cruel detente following the end of actual war and they’ve grown attached to the status quo. Which is fine, if God didn’t have a little trick that he plays on everybody.
Everybody gets old. And young people are born that don’t give a shit. Mubarak is 82 and the people who led the revolution are like 30. He’s too old to be a proper dictator and they’re too young to give a shit. With each new generation we have a chance to be ourselves, to be our better selves. That’s why we teach our children an unreal standard of goodness and have them watch Disney movies. Things aren’t really like that, but they could be.
In Egypt we’ve seen a generation that was just like, fuck it, and walked out onto the streets. And then other people saw that courage and were like, fuck it, and walked out. Then more people saw, and it became a revolution. They’re too young to care about the status quo, they too disorganized to get paid off by the people with power, and Mubarak is too old to fight back. So this is happening.
Mainly I think it’s happening because Mubarak broke the dictator’s deal. Give us jobs and we won’t ask for freedom. But it’s also happening because there is right in this world, and people do desire to be free. And that’s not something made in the USA, it’s something human, it’s something in every child, and it’s something that only disappears when people get paid off with a little stability for dignity. When people actually stand up, it’s really quitebeautiful to see.