[Marxism] Tahrir August 1- Masquerade for a Lost Legitimacy

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 5 15:39:03 MDT 2011

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Let us take a few steps back. What exactly was going on in Tahrir Square on
August 1? The participants in the sit-in that started in Tahrir on July 8
set forth some key demands, most notably “justice”: They called for the
trial of the previous regime’s ranking figureheads, none of whom have
received sentences so far with the exception of the former Minister of
Interior sentencing on secondary money laundering charges. On August 3 the
trial of the ex-president Hosni Mubarak along with his sons, former Minister
of Interior Habib Al-Adly and a number of a other former regime members
commenced in a context akin to a theatrical performance. The Egyptian public
is yet to see results of these trials in order to assess their seriousness.
The protesters, moreover, demanded the sacking of the Mubarak-appointed
public prosecutor and the current Minister of Interior Mansour Al-Issawi,
and called for independent investigations of security personnel suspected of
killing and injuring thousands of protesters after January 25. The
protesters demanded a restructuring of the police force such that it would
no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior, which has
systematically ordered police officers to suppress and torture Egyptians for
years without any independent judicial oversight. Participants in the Tahrir
Square sit-in called for an end to military trials of civilians. Human
rights lawyers estimate that at least 12,000 civilians have been tried in
military courts since January 28. Demands also included setting a minimum
and maximum wage to ensure social justice, and amending the current national
budget in order to address needs of the poor. Demonstrators also called on
the SCAF to release a clear timeline outlining the transition from military
rule to a civilian administration.

While the SCAF responded by introducing a cabinet reshuffle, on July 17, not
a single one of the above demands were met. The reason is simple:
Implementing a single one of these demand would undermine the country’s de
facto military leaders and the very essence of domination in the Egypt.
Thus, SCAF’s response to these demands highlights the hypocrisy of its
leaders who are looking after their own narrow interests while claiming to
be the guardians of the “revolution.”

Many Egyptians were fed up with the Tahrir sit-in for a number of reasons.
Some never really felt the torturers wrath on their heads, nor the very long
short end of the stick of the old regime’s neo-liberal economic policies and
thus do not feel compelled to keep on contesting the transitional
authorities’ Mubarak-era tactics. Many others are so poor and are working
day and night just to make it by that they cannot invest their time and
energy in the ongoing sit-in.  After all, why should Egypt’s poor continue
to believe in the possibility of change when they have seen so little change
in their every day lives in the past six months after enduring some heavy
costs during this revolution—a majority of the 1,600 civilians that were
killed or went missing during the uprising were from poor
communities.* *Furthermore,
state-run media and self-censoring “independent” media outlets are
continuously feeding Egyptians half-truths and lies about protestors in
Tahrir and beyond. These outlets often present protesters as thugs and cast
violent military action against demonstrations and labor strikes in a
patriotic light. The old censorship tactics are still and ever more
powerfully at play. For example, writing about the military in the press or
mentioning it on air requires military approval. Meanwhile, the media has
been spouting propaganda about how economic life and the “wheel of
production” are being halted due to sit-ins led by “thugs,” “prostitutes,”
and “spies.”
These conditions have essentially put the Egyptian public on the fence. Many
are torn between their lived experience of economic and political injustice
on the one hand, and the feeling that change is imminent and may have
already commenced following the 18 days of protest that toppled the former
president on the other. The rise of this optimistic view that change has
already taken place speaks to the lack of imagination for a different type
of society (a problem that is not unique to Egypt), in which elitist
political parties, state
“experts” and “technocrats,” and top-down political rhetoric no longer shape
the fate of millions of “ignorant bystanders.”

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