Soldiers Without Generals


WE CAN reasonably conclude that the verdict is not yet in on Egypt’s future. Popular empowerment has so far been a thorn in the side of those trying to destroy the revolution. And it is hard to imagine that the millions who have thrust themselves so decisively onto the center stage of their own history could be dismissed so easily. Romanticism aside, however, one must realize that revolution is an ugly business. Those with vested interests in authoritarian rule will not simply step aside under social pressure, nor will they wither away over time. Their total suppression and defeat is of essence to any true revolution. As long as Egyptians find this course distasteful—preferring instead conciliatory solutions and wishing that sporadic pressure from below along with clustering around the Muslim Brothers (as a revolutionary movement by proxy) can somehow convince the military and security elite to “do the right thing”—little can be done. And as long as revolutionaries cannot organize their ranks and encourage their fellow citizens to make difficult choices, take risks, and accept short-term instability, then there is little hope that the people themselves will be able to turn their gallant uprising into a complete revolution. Reflecting back on the Iranian case in The Making of the Islamic Revolution, Mohsen M. Milani rightly noted, “Theorizing about revolution sounds romantic, but winning it is no romantic enterprise. The verdict on those who refuse to treat revolution as a furious war has been unequivocally clear: oblivion or death… Revolutions are like wars.” And the key to winning wars is organization.

more from Hazem Kandil at Dissent here.