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Jaundiced view

By Owen Paine on Tuesday April 5, 2011 10:29 PM

Topic of the day: the colorless secret soul of people-powered revolutions.

Much to ponder these days, with all the tyrant topples going on in sand-dune country, eh? And yet scepticism about these affairs pervades the now miserably eclectic left of our era (see Flug's cartoon in the previous post).

Hell, we've come to doubt whether any of these dazzlingly quick upheavels, these sudden bright happenings, have a spontaneous but self-sustaining society-sublating oversoul to 'em. We get to figuring enough, and digging, and well... there you have it...just another goddamn sordid little imperial magic trick.

Apropos of just this, at the latest postings at Counterslap, I found a link through to a nice blog by one Mark Almond, a man with a keen sense of Clio's ironic pranking. He has a few erudite tie-ins and mordant refections on this recent spate of unruliness.


I'll sample a little for ya:

"Now the spontaneity of the events is being called into question. The New York Times has a track record of raining on the People Power parade - when it is all done and dusted - and setting the record straight, but only once its editorial line has won. Until the object of popular derision, who happens also to have outlived his usefulness to the White House, has been toppled, the New York Times leads the pack of sententious insistence that only the People are involved. No suggestion of external political forces or internal power-plays is allowed to detract from the purity of the morality play on the streets of captal city X. From Belgrade to Tbilisi with a sidestep to Bishkek, the Times has always told the full story only once the telling cannot influence events.

Already it has begun to name the people forming international links with training centres and cash and technical aid from outside Egypt. Before long as with the Serbs or Georgians who thought they had played the decisive role, the celebration of the backroom cadre of People Power veterans who guide the spontaneous steps of each infant democracy will be "all the news that's fit to print." Instead of Arabic names, our old favourites, Colonel Gene Sharp, the "Clausewitz of People Power," George Soros, "the Paymaster-General of People Power," and the various goatee-bearded NGO activists will get their commendations from the very media which decried any suggestion that a foreign hand might be in play."

A parallel from the annus-mirabilis anti-campus-Sovieticus 1989:
"Just as Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu offended Communist sensitivities and the ambitions of better-qualified apparatchiks by promoting his son, Nicu, as well as his wife, Elena, so Mubarak - an old friend, by the way of the Ceausescus - offended key elements in his regime by letting his son, Gamel, and other family members and cronies not only look set to succeed to the most prestigious job, but also he let them get too much of the economic pie... The people who go out on the streets - however well-justified their grievances and whatever their courage in risking the first steps of public defiance - in practice seem to act as stage extras while a coup d'etat is carried through while the world watches their defiance, not realising it is a popular pageant rather than People Power."
Romantic panels of history long past and today's daily cartoons as swept up together by Mr Almond:
"Back in France in 1789, Louis XVI's government was dispersed long before he was decapitated in 1793: none of his ministers or provincial governors were in office six months after the fall of the Bastille. Real revolutions tend to become more radical, and that it is not necessarily a good thing, but they are more than one-act teasers like our post-modern dramas. Nowadays, revolution seems to be an inverted fairy story with a happy ending at the beginning: it is all over so quickly that most of the old regime's loyal servants hardly have time to turn their coats before they resume work in the same office."

Comments (2)


Well done, Mr Almond, but wrong about the Times. They were reporting from the opposition's side from the beginning. I was flabbergasted. Then I realized, maybe that's the way Uncle wanted it. Don't we now have the model "democratic revolution" in the ME to point to?

On the other hand, I just heard that al Baradei has said if Israel attacks Gaza, he will open the border on the Egyptian side, if he's elected President.

Naturally the media, and their corporate/political managers, try to shape every event to a familiar narrative. It's not that hard, and no one really cares a month later.


almond deserves better then one lonely comment

what a self serious motley band of louts you all can be

no strike that comment
act and write here as if it never appeared

its not fair or nice or broad frontish
or in the least up to the standards of
studied indirectness favored by father Smiff

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