Saturday, June 23, 2012


The following are some reflections written on a fateful night for a country widely considered to be the cradle of civilization.  Everyone of course knows the crucial and vital difference between mutiny and revolution.  The subject was considered in great philosophical depth in many of the early writings of Jean-Paul Sartre before he was captured or in a sense became a victim of Mao’s idea of continuous revolution.  People do strange things when they get older and consider they are wiser.  As Sartre became older he became more radical politically speaking.  In the case of the present writer who started by and exchanged Bakunin for Albert Schweitzer and if I have a hero today, then it is definitely St. Thomas Moore, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.  Pacifism is sometimes a far more lethal weapon against oppression than anything else one can think of.  However that is not what I want to talk about. 
The present subject came to my mind suddenly during the tumultuous last week which does not seem to want to end amid the renewed threats of political unrest everywhere in Egypt particularly in Tahrir Square and Egypt started to look like a ship lost in a stormy uncharted waters.  It was bad enough for me to hear supposedly responsible people who were running for the Presidency calling for and condemning High Court decisions by outstanding judges but things did not stop at this disgraceful state of affairs.  A couple or so of disappointed presidential candidates started issuing ultimatums to the Supreme Military Council which assumed the position of a President of a country after the fall of past President Mubarak’s regime.  In fact it is clear that these people want to start a new revolution as if they have at their finger tips the possibility of switching on and off revolutions at their personal desire but what would Osborne say ‘A look back in anger at Tahrir Square’?  Do these people have any idea of what the meaning of revolution is and how it differs from mutiny?  A lesson from Britain, the world’s undisputed oldest and greatest democracy may be in order here.  To make it even more detached from the present with all its complexity, let us go to the 18th century. 
Many would remember the famous mutiny on His Majesty’s ship Bounty.  Those who are not versed in British maritime history may remember the classic film of Marlon Brando, also starring Trevor Howard and Richard Harris.  The point is that mutiny is punished by British law with hanging, almost irrespective of the reason for mutiny.  The proper way to deal with a cruel captain of a ship is to wait for the ship to reach British jurisdiction and file a case against the Captain at the Admiralty of the British Fleet.  If the Captain is then found to be in the wrong, then there will wait for him a commensurate painful punishment.  No one can take the law into his own hands.  Ask anyone who litigated or who had the misfortune to enter into the court system anywhere in the world.  In most cases both parties leave the court unsatisfied.  These are subjective feelings.  The principle of objectivity is almost exclusively guarded by the court and the concerned judge.  What happened to the great white revolution of Tahrir Square?  The strength of a nation is measured in the case of a revolution by the restraint which this nation exercises during the revolution and not the other way around.  Compared to the French revolution, the Bolshevik revolution and all the revolutions after that, the Egyptian revolution was exemplary in its peaceful, non-violent nature, befitting the oldest civilization on the planet.  Until this point of time things have not changed as far as blood shedding is concerned. However we are starting to hear some ugly voices calling for a crusade against the only remaining Institution keeping law and order in Egypt, namely the Egyptian Army.   Unlike most of the armies in the area, the Egyptian Army is the natural extension of the Egyptian people.  There are no sectarian or tribal divisions in the Egyptian Army.  It is an almost five thousand years old army and has traditions going back to Saladin and Ramses.  It will be an absolute calamity if hot headed, short sighted, religious fanatics hijack this white revolution and damage fifty centuries years of unrivaled Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic civilizations.  There is a great difference between mutiny and revolution.  A revolution is what ousted the old regime in 2011.  What is taking place now looks at least for the moment pretty much like a narrow minded, ignorant revolt, in fact mutiny for personal, political gains.  I hope I am completely wrong.  I pray I am completely wrong.
Mohamed Salah El-Din El Nashaee.
June 22, 2012

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