Why I am still hopeful for Egypt’s revolution

The Day of Thugs (Image from Foreign Policy)

It is said that revolution is what happens when a police officer is transformed from a legitimate authority into a man with a gun. If that’s true, then what we witnessed in Egypt yesterday is a classic counter-revolution: irregular hoodlums attacking peaceful protesters, whose only defense is the military standing by. To ask for the army’s help is to reverse the transformation, returning to these men with guns their aura of legitimate authority.

And just look at how the Egyptian government is spinning the attacks:

“Mubarak’s primary responsibility is to ensure an orderly and peaceful transfer of power. We can’t do that if we have a vacuum of power.”

Robert Springborg puts it this way:

“The threat to the military’s control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Continue reading Why I am still hopeful for Egypt’s revolution

Well, now we know who to blame for Bowling Alone….

Civil society starts here, with György Konrád‘s book of essays on the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution, Antipolitics:

“Antipolitics is the political activity of those who don’t want to be politicians and who refuse to share in power. Antipolitics is the emergence of independent forums that can be appealed to against political power; it is a counterpower that cannot take power and does not wish to. Power it has already, here and now, by reason of its moral and cultural weight. If a notable scholar or writer takes a ministerial post in government, he thereby puts his previous work aside. Henceforth he must stand his ground as a representative of his government, and in upholding his actions against the criticisms of democratic antipolitics he may not use his scholarly or literary distinction as either a defense or an excuse.

“Antipolitics and government work in two different dimensions, two separate spheres. Antipolitics neither supports nor opposes governments; it is something different. Its people are fine right where they are; they form a network that keeps watch on political power, exerting pressure on the basis of their cultural and moral stature alone, not through any electoral legitimacy. That is their right and their obligation, but above all it is their self-defense. A rich historical tradition helps them exercise their right.

“Antipolitics is a rejection of the power monopoly of the political class. The relationship between politics and antipolitics is like the relationship between two mountains: neither one tries to usurp the other’s place; neither one can eliminate or replace the other. If the political opposition comes to power, antipolitics keeps at the same distance from, and shows the same independence of, the new government. It will do so even if the new government is made up of sympathetic individuals, friends perhaps; indeed, in such cases it will have the greatest need for independence and distance.

“In his thinking, the antipolitician is not politic. He doesn’t ask himself whether it is a practical, useful, politic thing to express his opinion openly. In contrast with the secrecy of the leadership, antipolitics means publicity; it is a power exercised directly over society, through civil courage, and one that differs by definition from any present or future power of the state. Continue reading Well, now we know who to blame for Bowling Alone….