I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
There are, obviously, huge issues around the results of the Egyptian presidential elections and SCAF’s attempts to engineer constitutional change to tighten its grip behind the scenes. But from my perspective, one of the interesting points in coverage of the elections have been the comments about secular/progressive/leftist parties, which failed to make the presidential run-off. Comments like this one from the influential Sandmonkey blog:
Today also marks the end of the concept of revolutionary legitimacy, with all the symbolic actions that came with it and defined it. Everyone who had it, failed. People will need to actually do something except alienate people who are their allies and continue to take the dumbest route possible at all times. If you are a revolutionary, show us your capabilities. Start something. Join a party. Build an institution. Solve a real problem. Do something except running around from demonstration to marsh to sit-in. This is not street work: real street work means moving the street, not moving in the street. Real street work means that the street you live in knows you and trusts you, and will move with you , because you help them and care for them, not because you want to achieve some lofty notions you read about in a book without any real understanding on how to apply it on Egyptian soil. You have done nothing of the kind so far, and it’s the only way you will get ahead.
And this from author Ahdaf Soueif in the Guardian, in an article which has a useful summary of some of the crackdowns on dissent and the civil liberties infringements that went on in the run-up to the elections:
Around 12 million voted for the progressive, secular trend in the revolution – but that didn’t count because that vote was divided between five candidates. The progressives had done what they do best: failed to come together and make common cause against a known and clear enemy.
Lessons which have been seen, debated and then largely lunched out by the left the world over? For more in-depth analysis of this issue (albeit from a Western perspective), see Dwight Towers and his links. And for an attempt to look at why people engage and then disengage with activism, see the Ending Activism project.