Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1151, 6 - 12 June 2013
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1151, 6 - 12 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

What about revolution?

Revolutions are a time when history changes gear, indicating the best self and most powerful motivations of peoples, writes Mohamed Hussein Abul-Ela

Al-Ahram Weekly

By their very nature, revolutions are exceptional moments in people’s lives. They are moments of special value which far exceed the decades and perhaps centuries that are devoid of any heroic events. These decades and centuries only represent biological history — or history, in other words, that is not representative of the human being in all his aspirations, hopes, goals and objectives. Such decades and centuries do not allow people to enter through the gates of history, while the brilliance and pride of revolutions look more like the truth of history itself. 

As a result, the decades that pass without revolutions are the lost time of peoples, and the objective of revolutions remains to revive those dead decades and lost and squandered centuries, fulfilling them through glorious actions by which the core and originality of nations are measured. If the criteria for the legitimacy of regimes are their ability to bring about historic achievements and raise the status of the state through national strategies, then the success of a people must also be measured by the force of its positions and the degree of its willingness to protest and to call forth the winds of change. It is never measured by subordination, or by making a truce with a failed regime, an overwhelming coloniser, or a regressive situation.

If the common factors that drive on all revolutions, whatever their diverse origins, are bread, freedom, justice, equality and human dignity, then these were exactly the demands of the Egyptian revolution. But which of these demands has today been fulfilled? What satisfaction have the masses enjoyed? What purposes remain to be asked for after the legitimate demands have been overthrown? How can the Egyptians suppress the cause of the revolution within their hearts and content themselves when emptiness prevails? How can they accept the absence of a national dream? How can they obliterate the flames of the revolutionary act within themselves? What future awaits Egypt after its revolution has dimmed, or after it has left behind it just a painful memory or huge sigh?

The travails of the revolutionary tide have been undergone in all major revolutions, but the Egyptian reality has confirmed, more than ever before, how far these travails have been thwarted and become relics of the past. Will we now see former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s words confirmed, who said that the Egyptian revolution was an act that was capable of mobilising anger and destruction but that did not have the ability to build and to move forwards?

The recovery of the revolution depends on many factors, including recalling the army, which could be seen as a blow against the goals of the revolution and its achievements and even an act of outright political blasphemy. Furthermore, the re-establishment of the state on civil grounds must come about, and the revolutionary hurricane must be allowed to blow itself out. There can be no substitute for the civil state, which realises national aspirations on the levels of freedoms, the rule of law, completing the national fabric, complying with human rights, recognising the other, coexisting with global reality and mingling with it scientifically, intellectually, politically, economically and culturally. 

The psychology of people needs to be fortified, especially after a revolution that has changed the status quo and that has been based on the destruction of the old order, destroying whatever dragged people backwards and froze their will. The passion for change is in the nature of peoples, and power is in the nature of regimes; hence, conflict is controlled by time and the logic of history, and the strength of regimes paradoxically becomes the backbone and engine of revolutions. Under such circumstances, change becomes the revolution’s method and charter, aligning itself with the public will, which draws its effectiveness from the meaning flowing in its mind.

This revolutionary public will say that history is what we do in the future and not what we did in the past. No one can deny the huge difference between the regime’s faith in the past and in routine and the people’s clinging to the future’s dreams and broad hopes, with the present remaining a ring for overheated conflict. Imam Mohamed Abdu framed this in his famous saying when he said that “the status of a nation is a true legislator and a wise guide, while the ruling power always belongs to the power of its subjects. The first does not take a step forwards unless the second is in the driver’s seat.”

Revolutions are the focus of history, the path of politics and the strategic cynosure of peoples. Egyptians need not complete their contemporary history with this lost revolution, or lose their sacred altar no matter what the consequences and the inhibitions are. Revolution represents political honour, and to blur its spirit or waste its loftiness would be a major sin that would bring to nought a 7,000-year-old civilisation.


The writer is a political commentator.

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