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For a few days, the imperial gang thought they had turned the tide — and their stenographers in the mainstream media followed suit. The protests in Egypt were running out of gas, we were told; now the power players were coming to the fore, in Washington and Cairo, to take charge of the situation and move things along — slowly, moderately — down a path of gradual reform and stability.
Newspapers ran pictures of the “nearly empty” Tahrir Square, sometimes in tandem with pictures of last week’s massive crowds. We saw shots of Egyptians “getting back to normal life” — going to the bank, shopping for shoes, crossing the street in suit, tie and briefcase on the way to the office. Attention was turned to the “moderate” figure who had taken the reins in Cairo, the dictator-appointed security chief Omar Suleiman. He was strongly backed by the Obama Administration as just the kind of steady, hand we needed to make judicious concessions to the opposition without allowing the country to slip beyond the control of Washington’s foreign policy agenda. The general line among the imperial courtiers and their media sycophants was that the uprising had reached its peak and was now receding.
It was all a lie, part of the remarkably witless self-delusion that has afflicted the Washington-Cairo power structure from the beginning of the uprising: the illusion that they are still in control of events, that they can tinker a bit here, recalibrate a bit there, and still end up with the same system of elite domination and corruption basically in place.
But what we did see on Tuesday? The false reality painted for us by our betters simply melted away, and Cairo saw perhaps the largest protest yet, as hundreds of thousands of people filled Tahrir Square — including multitudes who were joining the uprising for the first time. Thousands more were gathering in front of the Parliament building in what the Guardian rightly called “a second front” of the uprising. And the Cairo crowds were joined by thousands massing in Alexandria, Suez and other cities across the nation.
This was the answer of the Egyptian people to the limp package of worthless, stalling “concessions” cobbled together by the Nobel Peace Laureate in Washington and his proxy torturer in Egypt. The reply to the regime was simple, powerful, concise: “We want our freedom. You must go.”
And oh, how that stung Washington’s new lordling! Suleiman immediately resorted to the same bluster we have heard from America’s henchmen since time out of mind. He put it plainly: “There will be no ending of the regime.” He railed against the “presence of protestors in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it” — obviously a reference to al-Jazeera — and declared: “We can’t put up with this for a long time.” And he sounded the time-honored “more in sorrow than in anger” note of all two-bit tyrants, saying that he hoped the protests would end because “we don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.”
This is pretty rich coming from the man who has been directly in charge of doing just that to Egyptian society for many years. The only way the corrupt regime has kept itself in power is by “dealing with Egyptian society with police tools.”
These be your gods, O Progressives! This is the man your champion had championed to “manage” the “transition” in Egypt from the dead hand of a discredited dictator to a backroom string-puller lacquered with a new coat of PR. Of course, when world of Suleiman’s private temper tantrum leaked out, the Obama Administration began to backpedal on the firm support for Suleiman it had shown earlier in the day (which had come complete with a long phone call from Suleiman’s long-time friend, Joe Biden). Now, the White House was troubled by these “unhelpful” remarks. Unhelpful indeed — for they gave the game away too soon. Wrong-footed by this unforeseen outpouring of popular will, Washington has not been able to cobble together a proper storyline to justify a violent crackdown by the regime.
The American power structure has been set reeling by something that is simply outside the boundaries of their mental universe: a non-violent, non-sectarian, non-ideological, leaderless revolution by ordinary people. Our power structuralists know only one thing: violent domination. Since that is what they seek to impose, they believe that anyone who opposes them must seek the same. They cannot conceive of anything different. They don’t know how to react to such an incomprehensible event. There’s no one to demonize. There are no armed groups to flex their muscles against — or to make a cynical deal with, if necessary. (Violent dominationists of every stripe have much in common; they know each other’s minds, they can often come to terms, if only temporarily — like Hitler and Stalin, or Reagan and Saddam.) The poltroons on the Potomac are dumbstruck as they look at these crowds of people who have freed themselves, who just walked out into the streets and claimed their human freedom — on their own, individual by individual, with no “authority”, no leader, no armies to “grant” them what is already theirs by their birthright, our birthright, on this our common planet.
It is now past midnight as I write. This has been a great day in Egypt — a day when truth tore through the lies and made fools of the killers, thieves and torturers trying to impose their cankered will on free people. May we see more such great days ahead — in Egypt and around the world.
CHRIS FLOYD is an American writer living in the UK, and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch. His blog, “Empire Burlesque,” can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.