Notes from my father: Thoughts on Feb. 11 Egyptian Revolution

Notes on the Egyptian February 2011 Revolution

Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate in Tahrir Square when Hosni Mubarak’s resignation is announced

(Image Source:  Wikimedia Commons)

Today I woke up to the news that the Hosni Mubarak regime is finally over, that the Egyptian army has taken charge, and Egyptians all over are celebrating the departure of the Mubarak regime.  This is an extraordinary day for freedom.  It also  reaffirms what the EDSA revolt of February 1986 demonstrated:  that millions and millions of people can have the force of history, and can bring about the downfall of a well armed autocracy with nary a shot being fired.  Dozens Egyptians had to make the supreme sacrifice, but in the end, it was the masses and masses of unarmed civilians that claimed the day.  Like the EDSA revolt of  February 1986, 25 years ago, the overthrow of the Mubarak regime today demonstrates  once again the viability and effectiveness of non-violence as a strategy for revolutionary change.  Of course this assessment must also be tempered, by the knowledge, that in both the EDSA and Egyptian revolutions, the use of force, hence the threat of violence was always an option.  In fact for EDSA, it was an insurrection by a faction of the military that held the Marcos security forces at bay and enabled unarmed civilians to claim the day against Marcos.  Likewise, in Egypt, it was the Egyptian military that kept Mubarak’s security forces at bay, enabling unarmed civilians to claim the day.  So the EDSA revolt, and the Egyptian revolution is not an unqualified endorsement for the tactic of non-violence.  It does show that a genuine effort to pursue social change through non-violent means, should be pursued to the very end, and that the use of force, should only be a very, very, and absolutely last resort.  The overthrow of Mubarak’s regime, is of course only a very strategic first step for the Egyptian people.  In fact, work on the mountain is just beginning.  The long slow task of national political reconstruction has just began; let us hope that the international community will trust that the people of Egypt have the wisdom to undertake this task themselves, without international interference.

–Enrique de la Cruz Ph.D.


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