New Orleans Hardly three weeks away from our exhilarating and hopeful experiences in Cairo and all the new reports are bummers because it is becoming clearer and clearer that the military is staging its own coup to continue to act as an armed and dangerous junta ruling the country both in front and behind the throne.
The finger pointing and excuses after the deadly handling of the Coptic demonstrations in recent days is only a blooding footnote to the “deal” announced right after our departure with the parties to postpone Presidential elections for two years. Several of the parties and some candidates have been forced to repudiate the deal already. Now the headlines today seem to indicate even more promises that the military is abandoning. The military seems to want to appoint the Prime Minister until there is an elected President. Generally there seem to be too many areas where the default proposition for the military is to recreate something similar to what existed under the Mubarak regime with some different twists and turns.
Couple these machinations with the persistent reports and discouragement we heard from many activists and observers during our recent visit which pointed out that the head of the snake might be gone but the snake remained and was deadly, and it augurs poorly for the best hopes and dreams of a real democracy and fundamental change for the people. The inability to adapt new, more powerful tactics coupled to a different strategic analysis and the loss of the central core of the earlier protest in Mubarak himself, and there is no question that the revolutionaries are also facing critical challenges without the earlier unity and militancy that created their original success.
Is it possible the entire revolution could be hijacked?
The organizer in me says, gulp, yes.
The optimism in me that has allowed me to be an organizer for more than 40 years wants to still bet on the strength of the community structures that were built during the critical period as a backdrop behind the scene as the crowds were mounting in Tahrir Square. I still believe that if the roots of those formations were sunk deeply enough that the ability to withhold consensus to future military subjugation will allow the Egyptian people to hold onto concrete changes even in a hybrid so-called democracy. If people have felt the changes deeply enough at home, in their communities, and in their daily lives, the military will not be able to put this genie back in the bottle. How much escapes depends on the great ability of the newly minted organizers, activists, and even politicians of the post-revolution to adapt effectively to these new and troubling developments.
I’m certain change is still coming and some of the changes already win are permanent. Real democracy may wait another revolution in the future, though real progress has already been won that will be impossible to steal away at this point.