Egypt: Is it worth it?


Egypt Protests

Even ten months after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians took the streets of Cairo with full force. Life in Egypt post-Mubarak has definitely changed, however the element of corruption has not vacated the country. Since the end of the eighteen-day revolution, the Egyptian military council has been in power. As elections come to a close, the military council–who have managed to obtain a negative reputation with the Egyptian people during their ‘short’ reign–will be expected to step down and for the first time in thirty years the Egyptian government will be composed of individuals elected by the public.

As this is a victorious and historic time for the Egyptian people, one should review how their needs have finally been taken into account. A timeline of the Egyptian revolution really shows the day-by-day progression of protestors. Among the Egyptian colleagues that I have, none would have never predicted this fate a year ago (so, even a few weeks before the initiation of the revolution). The mindset was that Egypt would continue to have a corrupted, oppressive government that neglected the economic prosperity of its people. Even as Mubarak grew older, there was no sense of hope among the public because it was known that Mubarak’s son, Gamal, would take over with the same policies. After the mindset was finally changed, as of Jan. 25, 2011, the world’s attention was all on Egypt.

As the world became more and more supportive of Mubarak’s fall, Egyptian ambitions began to hold more media attention. The Egyptian people were finally achieving the voice the were longing for during the past thirty or so years. The military council moved in as the new ‘temporary and transitional’ leader of Egypt once Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11, 2011. This council was expected to maintain the Egyptian state until new elections were administered. Until recently, the Egyptian public began to speculate otherwise.

Protestors retook the streets late November amid political and economic turmoil that still lingered in the country. It was a general consensus among citizens that military commanders had prolonged their rule and maintained an autocratic government. As unemployment and inflation continue to be huge problems in Egypt’s economic crisis, class struggles are clearly exhibited. With this, it is feasible to consider the thoughts of Marx in his Communist Manifesto. In this piece, Marx declares that all revolutions are a result of class struggles. He implies that a society is defined by an era’s mode of production. He denounces exploitation of lower classes, which he claims to be the underlying motivation behind the Communist movement. Focusing on this underlying motivation and applying it in Egyptian context, we see that Marx’s theory is supported by the people of Egypt. They were exploited and oppressed under Mubarak and under the military council, which is why there is revolution within the country.

Considering the rulers and the ruled in this country, has the net effect of this Marxian revolution made all this worth it? Marx also talks about how each revolution is just a reorganization of class antagonisms. Well, many Egyptian men, women, and children have all lost their lives on the streets of Cairo because of the toppling of Mubarak and the military council. Even for the rulers, did it have to take all that force, money, and oppression to maintain their position and power? There is no doubt that the Egyptian people deserve fair opportunity of equality, as Rawls puts it, but does the Marxian mechanism make it worth it? As Syria’s Assad and Yemen’s Saleh are facing similar circumstances, what changes can be done to maximize the efficacy of their people?

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7 Comments on “Egypt: Is it worth it?”

  1. elyssashea Says:

    In the eyes of Marx, I would say that the Egyptian revolution has been worth it. In his Manifesto, Marx stipulated that violence was sometimes necessary in the process of class revolt. Marx urged people to “take up arms,” and therefore I could imagine he would find that the lives of some men and women would be worth it for the greater cause of class change and the overthrow of the proletariat. However, ultimately even though Marx might have thought this to be a justifiable means to and ends, I believe that it is completely unacceptable. That there should have to be violence in order to see change is not right, and I think that Marx was far too extreme in his outline of the way towards change.

  2. rpsafian Says:

    I agree with elyssashea and also believe that Marx would say that the Egyptian Revolution has been worth it. When I think of Egypt in this case, I see 2 classes fighting against each other for control: the military council and its supporters, and the rest of the country that wants a peaceful, democratic rule. With the ousting of Mubarek and subsequent, but slow, removal of military control through out country, the people are beginning to make progress in uniting and forming a government that promotes democracy, free speech, and a free market economy, all of which have been denounced by the Egyptian government for the past 30 years. I also believe the revolution has been worth it, even though some have died in the process. I hate using this overused cliche, especially when talking about people’s lives, but if you want to make an omelette you have to crack some eggs. The former military rule in Egypt was oppressive, aggressive, and inhumane, not only to other nations around the world but to their own people. I think most Egyptians would agree with me that losing a few hundred people at the sake of overthrowing the government is definitely worth it.

    In terms of Syria and Yemen, unfortunately I don’t think many changes can be made to maximize the efficacy of their people. Because both countries have similar structures to Egypt- a military nation run by an oppressive ruler backed by the religion of Islam- I’m not sure what more can be done to free these countries at little expense to the people. Perhaps the only solution to the problem is aid from outside sources, but as we’ve seen in the past in Afghanistan, Iraq, and more recently Libya, the intervention of an outside country, especially the United States, is not always welcomed by the people that live there or with citizens and politicians back home. I don’t believe that the US should intervene, but rather keep a close eye on the situation in Egypt, as I think that time will work out the kinks in a new government and that the people of Egypt will unite in their pursuit of democracy.

  3. benjadler Says:

    In the eyes of Marx, it was totally worth it as the people and proletariat class toppled the ancien regime of corrupt power and wealth in Egypt. However, keep in mind the influence of these events on us, while Mubarak was a somewhat oppressive ruler, he was pro-Western and he along with his US-trained and supplied military supported our efforts in the Middle East and even made and sustained peace with Israel. Now with him gone, radical change has taken hold by conservative groups (in Burke’s eyes, making them not conservatives, since they are making change, but based on their political views of returning to traditional Islamist rule they are conservatives). These extremist groups (Muslim Brotherhood and more hard-line Al Nour bloc) are currently fighting for the vote which will most likely lead Egypt down a very different path and completely alter the shape of the Middle East over the next decade. The rise of radical Islam in the aftermath of the Arab Spring in Egypt will lead to radical change of policy and power throughout the region. I do not know what will happen, but we should keep our eyes open.

    • ldahbour Says:

      This is an interesting point benjadler. However, I do not believe that the situation is as simple as you are making it sound. No matter who takes over the Egyptian government they have to deal with a system that was left over by Mubarak. They have to address all issues and relations that existed until his fall. It won’t be easy to just reassess all foreign relations and change them dramatically. Also, it is in the leader’s best interest to do what the people to avoid another protest. If the Egyptian are not in favor of deteriorating relations with the US then they will not deteriorate. As we do in the United States, the citizens of Egypt care more about their domestic concerns rather than their international ones. Once their economic crisis is addressed, which is at the forefront of this election, then one can begin to analyze how their foreign policy will change. The Egyptian revolution is a historic one that was ignited by a pro-Western and youn generation. To quickly remove their credibility because of presumptuous fears of region instability, which is in the best interest of no one, is premature and unfair.

  4. Obada Ghabra Says:

    I believe that Marx would see the Egyptian revolution as an improvement in some ways since it would bring about more equality. However, the revolution is not headed in the direction of communism so in that sense, Marx would still be unsatisfied with the state of affairs in Egypt.

    In response to rpsafian’s comment, I want to clarify that the situation in Egypt was radically different than that of Syria and Yemen. In Syria there is a more sectarian divide, with many of the minorities fearing a government worse than that of Bashar al-Assad. This can be compared to a Burke’s maintenance of this fear of change. Furthermore, to claim that these rulers are “backed by the religion of Islam” is simply fallacious. Almost all of these dictators in the Middle East are secular rulers.

    In response to benjadler, I personally think that it is time for America to stop viewing things from a perspective of pure American interest. I think it is irresponsible to support democracy only when the democracy brings forth rulers that will support us. Also, the Egyptian people certainly have good reason to be anti-American. The US has supported Mubarak and his autocratic rule for years, and Vice President Biden even claimed that Mubarak is not a dictator during the Egyptian revolution:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june11/biden_01-27.html

  5. kunalsaxena Says:

    To start off, I feel that the movement in Egypt was definitely worth it. I agree with your point that Marx is against exploitation of workers. This being said, the government of Egypt was broken down and there is great potential and opportunity for many Egyptians. In the short run, people may loose sight of the advantages, however, in the long run, great economic boom will come as Egypt will be more democratic and as history has shown with US, democracy has been one of the biggest advantages for economic boom and improvement of lifestyle. I feel that if people stay strong and not short sighted, they will start seeing the benefits.

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