bolekaja

The Cairo Commune

In Cities, Moments of Grace, Revolt, The Politics of Politics on February 7, 2011 at 5:22 am

by Nigel Gibson

Quite remarkable (but not surprising) that after less than two weeks
Tahrir square has developed a system of participatory. While
constantly worrying about the reaction (along the lines Marx describes
in the 18th Brumaire) people are making history and coming up with
working forms of decision making. My source is no lefty paper but the Guardian:

‘In Tahrir, the square that has become the focal point for the
nationwide struggle against Mubarak’s three-decade dictatorship,
groups of protesters have been debating what their precise goals
should be in the face of their president’s continuing refusal to stand
down.

The Guardian has learned that delegates from these mini-gatherings
then come together to discuss the prevailing mood, before potential
demands are read out over the square’s makeshift speaker system. The
adoption of each proposal is based on the proportion of cheers or boos
it receives from the crowd at large.

Delegates have arrived in Tahrir from other parts of the country that
have declared themselves liberated from Mubarak’s rule, including the
major cities of Alexandria and Suez, and are also providing input into
the decisions.

“When the government shut down the web, politics moved on to the
street, and that’s where it has stayed,” said one youth involved in
the process. “It’s impossible to construct a perfect decision-making
mechanism in such a fast-moving environment, but this is as democratic
as we can possibly be.”

“Genuine opposition politics in this country has always relied on
people taking the initiative, and that’s what we’re seeing here – on a
truly astounding level,” said Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian author who has
been closely monitoring the spontaneous political activity on the
ground. “There is more transparency and equality here in Tahrir than
anything we’ve ever seen under the Mubarak regime; anyone and everyone
can have their say, and that makes the demands that come out of the
process even more powerful.”‘
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/05/egypt-protest-demands-mubarak-departure

One example of the flowering of “groups”, discussions, statements,
reminiscent of revolutions is below from the brilliantly named
‘coalition of youths of the wrath revolution’,

Press Conference in El-Shorook Newspaper Headquarters

Fellow great Egyptian citizens … We are your your daughters, your
brothers and sisters who are protesting in Tahrir square and other
squares of Egypt, promise you not to go back to our homes until the
demands of your great revolution are realized.

Millions have gone out to overthrow the regime, and so the matter goes
beyond figures in particular to the whole administration of the
Egyptian State, which was transformed from a servant of the people to
a master of the them.

We have heard the president’s disappointing speech. And really someone
who has killed more than 300 youths, kidnapped and injured thousands
more is not entitled to brag about past glories. Nor are his followers
entitled to talk about the President’s dignity, because the dignity
life and security of the Egyptian people is far more valuable than any
single person’s dignity no matter how high a position he holds.

Our people live though tragedy for a week now, since Mubarak’s regime
practiced a siege against us, releasing criminals and outlaws to
terrorize us, imposing a curfew, stopping public transportation,
closing banks, cutting off communications and shutting down the
internet .. But if it was not for the courage of Egyptian youths who
stayed up nights in the People’s Committees it would have been a
terrible tragedy.

We want this crisis to end as soon as possible and for our lives and
our families’ lives to get back to normal, but we do not trust Hosni
Mubarak in leading the transitional period. He is the same person, who
refused over the past 30 years any real political and economic
reforms, and he hired criminals to attack Tahrir square and the
peaceful demonstrators there, killing dozens and enjuring thousands –
including women, elderly, and children.

Also, we will not allow the corrupt to remain in charge of the state
institutions; therefore, we will continue our sit-in until the
following demands are realized:

1- The resignation of the President and by the way this does not
contradict the peaceful transition of power nor the current
constitution which allows and organizes this process.

2- the immediate lifting of the state of emergency and releasing all
freedoms and putting an immediate stop to the humiliation and torture
that takes place in police stations

3- the immediate dissolve of both the Parliament and Shura Council

4- forming a national unity government that political forces agree
upon which manages the processes of constitutional and political
reform

5- forming a judicial committee with the participation of some figures
from local human rights organizations to investigate the perpetrators
of the collapse of state of security this past week and the murder and
injury of thousands of our people.

6- Military in charge of protecting peaceful protestors from thugs and
criminal affiliated with the corrupt regime and ensuring the safety of
medical and nutritional convoys to civilians

7- the immediate release of all political detainees and in their
forefront our colleague Wael Ghoneim

Last a quite moving youtube video of a (young) girl leading the chants
at the square:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvNXWk7JCkU&feature=player_embedded#

  1. […] anything near a complete overview of developments in Egypt, so I won’t try, but I think this piece on the Cairo Commune is worth a read. Of course, it’s extremely unlikely that this form of participatory democracy will last […]

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