There emerged spontaneous order out of chaos

Mohamed Elshamed @ Design Observer/

Mohammed Bamyeh reflects on the key elements of revolution in Egypt @ Eurozine.
Never has a revolution that seemed so lacking in prospects gathered momentum so quickly and so unexpectedly. The Egyptian Revolution, starting on 25 January, lacked leadership and possessed little organization; its defining events, on Friday, 28 January, occurred on a day when all communication technologies, including all Internet and phones, were barred; it took place in a large country known for sedate political life, a very long legacy of authoritarian continuity, and an enviable repressive apparatus consisting of more than 2 million members. But on that one day, the regime of Hosni Mubarak, entrenched for 30 years and seemingly eternal, the only regime that the vast majority of the protesters had ever known, evaporated.Though the regime struggled for two more weeks, practically little government existed during that period. All ministries and government offices had closed, and almost all police headquarters were burned down on 28 January. Except for the army, all security personnel disappeared, and a week after the uprising, only few police officers ventured out again. Popular committees took over security in the neighbourhoods. I saw patriotism expressed everywhere as collective pride in the realization that people who did not know each other could act together, intentionally and with a purpose. Undoubtedly this revolution, which is continuing to unfold, will be the formative event in the lives of the millions of youth who spearheaded it in Egypt, and perhaps also the many more millions of youth who followed it throughout the Arab world. Yet while the youth were the driving force in the earlier days, the revolution quickly became national in every sense; over the days I saw an increasing demographic mix in demonstrations, with people from all age groups, social classes, men and women, Muslims and Christians, urban people and peasants – virtually all sectors of society – acting in large numbers and with a determination rarely seen more