Monday, February 14, 2011

What do you think a revolution is?

Look. I love IOZ, but these two posts on Egypt are just awful. I know he's going dangerously off-brand by treating concrete efforts by anyone to improve their situations with anything other than withering contempt, so, you know, I guess I should be happy that he's not writing posts about what unenlightened fools the revolutionaries are and why don't they just stay inside and post recipes on Fridays, but...

Who, exactly, thinks that now that Mubarak is gone the revolution is over? The revolutionaries sure don't. At about the same time as IOZ was prepping his second startling revelation, the people I follow in Egypt were tweeting (whatever) about striking workers, mass protests, and clashes with military police (and meanwhile others in Yemen, Bahrain, and Iran--and I think Algeria but my news out of there is hazy--were engaging in their own, frequently violent, struggles). Yes, when Mubarak left Egypt turned into a huge party. That was because Mubarak left, not because anyone thought the fight was over. Even in the midst of the celebration, every person Al Jazeera spoke with and every person online was saying "Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we get to work. If we don't get what we want, we're not going anywhere."

When I, at least, as IOZ would have it, "rush to lionize the Egyptian revolution," it's this I'm lionizing.

And, Christ:
Well, anyway, now the question remains, will there be revolution in Egypt?
I'm sorry, but this has to be the single stupidest thing the otherwise very smart IOZ has written since that time he thought he was cleverly debunking climate change science by pointing out, much to everyone's surprise I'm sure he thought, that climates change all the time.

"Will there be revolution in Egypt?" Come on now. There already has been, and there is now. Revolution isn't an end point. Even if the military stays in control and the revolution fails, there still will have been revolution during this time. I've said it before, but the revolutionaries in Midan Tahrir made their own revolutionary culture, their own revolutionary society, their own revolutionary world in less than three weeks. That is revolution.

And, once more: they're not stopping. "As to what will become of those people and their country, it's a question whose answer will be measured in years at least," IOZ comes down from the mountain to tell us, and I say no shit. But what's happening right now, that is revolution and nothing else.

IN OTHER WORDS: No, I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what's going to happen in a minute when I go pour the water for my coffee. And for all I know, it's all going to end horribly. Maybe the US and Israel are as we speak collaborating on a plan to wipe Egypt off the map. Who knows? But right now what is going on is beautiful, and smarty-pantsing about "will there be revolution" is just being a douchebag to the bravest people on Earth right now.


Anonymous said...

Could it be IOZ was aiming for a caricature of America?

I'd hope so. Otherwise I'm forced to agree with the assessment of his posts as ...well... stupid. With all that word connotes.

JRB said...


I think you guys are focused on different things.

You rightly celebrate what the Egyptians have accomplished -- and IOZ isn't denying that. His focus is on what the enemies of the revolution are trying to impose on the situation as it stands now.

I don't think he's wrong to say that if the West gets the military rule it wants, that could throw the significance of Mubarak's departure into question.

But I don't read IOZ as calling the accomplishments of the Egyptian people into question -- on the contrary. His style is to assume a counterintuitive or provocative stance in order to illustrate his points, so it helps to read him with this in mind -- for example, in how he has defined "revolution" in this case.

Jack Crow said...

Needed to be written, this. Next, take your aim of the awful Owen Paine's attack?

Anonymous said...

the awful Owen Paine's attack?

Now reading as, Paine's attack with Dawson's yappy little chihuahua nipping at my ankles.

bonobo said...

I dunno. I actually don't care for IOZ anymore, but I don't really understand why these particular posts are so irksome. He's just not as enthusiastic as y'all. Nothing he's said is undeniably false. I mean, yeah, I guess you could quibble over whether a revolution has taken place, but that's largely a difference over how you define a revolution, which is by no means obvious. At this juncture it looks like a revolution, but 6 months from now, it may not. I don't find that particularly controversial.

I certainly don't think you can interpret anything he's said as 'being a douchebag to the bravest people on Earth right now.'

BDR said...

If nothing else, perhaps getting angry helped kick the (literal) snot out of you and you're feeling better.

Anderson after Pynchon? A between courses sherbet? (I haven't read Anderson in thirty years. Does it still seem fresh?)

Ethan said...

There are so me good points in this thread, particularly JRB's, but I'm not particularly in the mood to discuss them anymore. Sorry.

BDR, it's actually Anderson after Simak after Pynchon, but I can't blame you for not keeping close tabs on my reading habits, haha. Seeing if Anderson still seems fresh is exactly why I'm reading him. I would say, still fresh, not nearly so much as I used to think. I think he got a lot of mileage out of being shocking for his time. Some interesting stuff; worth reading, not worth obsessing over, I'd say.

augustus818 said...

Sorry, I don't see urging caution when dealing with a complex situation as this revolt/revolution/strike as compatible with being a douchebag. Egypt is the birthplace of Statism. I would love nothing more than to see that ideology die where it was born, but until that day there is still much need for vigilance.