Optimism from an Egyptian Sandmonkey

The Sandmonkey

Sandmonkey is the name of a popular Egyptian blogger, particularly active during the revolution. He now continues to strive to make sure the revolution’s advances continue toward greater liberty, freedom, and democracy. In one post of his I came across recently, he outlines seven myths about Egypt post-revolution that have been repeated pervasively. These, he believes, are pervasively wrong.

I obviously cannot attest as credibly as he can, but I hope he is correct. I encourage you to read the whole essay, but here is a summary of his analysis.

Myth One: The Army is co-opting the revolution/trying to establish another military dictatorship.

Reality: The army should be viewed as individual generals, and these are old, conservative, and now extremely overworked. Yes, they repeat the patterns of the past, but they hardly know anything else, and are being called on to solve every problem, both domestic and international. They are tired, want to get back to their barracks, and are more afraid of the people than vice versa.

Myth Two: The NDP/Mubarak is still controlling the country.

Reality: They are terribly afraid, each one waiting for their sins to be exposed to the public. Mubarak, in particular, will be deemed the greatest traitor in Egypt’s history when all is said and done. The NDP figures around him will not fare well either.

Myth Three: The Islamists are hijacking the revolution.

Reality: Salafi Muslims are terrifying normal Egyptians with their call to return to the 7th Century, and the Muslim Brotherhood is suffering from terrible internal divisions now exposed by the light after years spent underground. These groups lose popularity by the day. People exhibit condescension when they think the ‘normal Egyptian’ will be swept away by religious rhetoric. They know better, and should be trusted.

Myth Four: New Parties are the only way to save the next elections.

Reality: Existing parties are important, and the new ones will be important in time. But the real power is forming outside this system. The same groups that protected neighborhoods during the revolution have kept their spirit and are becoming social forces seeking change from the bottom up. Not only this, but their perspective is sophisticated, yet their existence is widely unknown to the elites who think ‘awareness campaigns’ are necessary everywhere outside their own backyard.

Myth Five: Amr Moussa / Baradei is the new President.

Reality: While these may pass through the crucible, by all accounts neither figure will be able to survive and pass muster with the Egyptian population. More likely is that a figure emerges closer to the elections, after these two have been long chewed up and discarded.

Myth Six: International forces will destroy the revolution.

Reality: They are trying, but will not succeed. Saudi Arabia and Israel are pushing hard to keep Egypt in an alliance against Iran, but Egypt is now demanding its sovereignty be respected. Their opening to Iran is not a victory against traditional allies, but rather a confidence in the new realities of the region, post-Arab Spring. Regional powers desire the old order, but it is fading fast. More likely is that the old order undergoes its own significant popular changes soon as well. The virus is spreading.

Myth Seven: There is doom and gloom everywhere!

Reality: Optimism is ruling the day. Yes, the economy is ailing, but the state of Egypt is akin to a patient recovering from an extended illness. The side effects of medicine and bed rest produce discomfort, but will restore health. Among other examples, consider how many young people, children even, have had their political consciousness awakened. They see the world differently than their parents ever did. Their voices, as they age, will not be easily suppressed.

My take: In the past few weeks I have been tempted to surrender to many of these myths. Many Egyptians and international observers already have. Yet it is the isolated, contrarian voice that often sees things more correctly.

It could be, though, that this is the perspective of an activist, one who has poured so much into the revolutionary effort. Such people cannot allow themselves a hint of pessimism, lest their personal commitment, on which so much rides, come to naught.

Yet in the greater struggles of life, victory is often won simply by defining the reality in which the struggle takes place. Sandmonkey is keen to highlight positive continuations of the revolution. The negative ones, producing his ‘myths’, are equally true. The Egyptian future may well depend on which perspective moves to the forefront.

Update: Sandmonkey may be fudging a bit on Myth One. Here is his latest post.

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