people & power

wie schon getweet­et, aus­geze­ich­nete + lehrre­iche 25min doku zu hin­ter­grün­den, entwick­lung, organ­i­sa­tions­for­men d sozialen bewe­gung #jan25.

yeah, now guess who:


Let’s look at the emerg­ing coali­tion, in its parts.

First, by all accounts, is the April 6 Youth Move­ment. Left­ists, social­ists and pro-labor peo­ple know that the move­ment takes its name from April 6, 2008, when a series of strikes and labor actions by tex­tile work­ers in Mahal­la led to a grow­ing gen­er­al strike by work­ers and res­i­dents and then, on April 6, faced a bru­tal crack­down by secu­ri­ty forces. A sec­ond, allied move­ment of young Egyp­tians devel­oped in response to the killing by police of Khaled Said, a uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­ate, in Alexan­dria. Both the April 6 group and anoth­er group, called We Are All Khaled Said, built net­works through Face­book, and accord­ing to one account the April 6 group has more than 80,000 mem­bers on Face­book. The two groups, which work togeth­er, are near­ly entire­ly sec­u­lar, pro-labor and sup­port the over­throw of Mubarak and the cre­ation of a demo­c­ra­t­ic repub­lic.

Robert Drey­fuss, Who’s Behind Egypt’s Revolt?, 31.1.2011

This revolt began grad­u­al­ly at the con­ver­gence of two par­al­lel forces: the move­ment for work­ers’ rights in the new­ly revived fac­to­ry towns and micro-sweat­shops of Egypt — espe­cial­ly dur­ing the past two years — and the move­ment against police bru­tal­i­ty and tor­ture that mobilised every com­mu­ni­ty in the coun­try for the past three years. Both move­ments fea­ture the lead­er­ship and mass par­tic­i­pa­tion of women of all ages and youth of both gen­ders. There are struc­tur­al rea­sons for this.

[..]The so-called “Face­book rev­o­lu­tion” is not about peo­ple mobil­is­ing in vir­tu­al space; it is about Egypt­ian inter­net cafes and the youth and women they rep­re­sent, in real social spaces and com­mu­ni­ties, util­is­ing the cyber­space bases they have built and devel­oped to serve their revolt.

Paul Amar, Why Egypt’s pro­gres­sives win, 10.2.2011

Per­haps the most over­looked fac­tor in the demise of the author­i­tar­i­an Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, and the weak­en­ing of Hos­ni Mubarak’s grip on state pow­er in Egypt, has been the trade unions in both coun­tries.

While the media has report­ed on social net­works such as Twit­ter and Face­book as rev­o­lu­tion­ary meth­ods of mobil­i­sa­tion, it was the old-fash­ioned work­ing class that enabled the pro-democ­ra­cy move­ments to flour­ish.

Eric Lee & Ben­jamin Weinthal, Trade unions: the rev­o­lu­tion­ary social net­work at play in Egypt and Tunisia, 10.2.2011

Some West­ern media out­lets dwelled on the nov­el­ty of social media while under-report­ing the longer-term social forces that pre­cip­i­tat­ed protests in Egypt. But oth­ers, crit­i­cized for hav­ing cred­it­ed the Inter­net with ush­er­ing in the wave of protests in Iran, have down­played social media’s role in bring­ing down Mubarak. [..]

A vet­er­an oppo­si­tion leader told Sedra, “The youth have done in six days what we’ve been try­ing to do for thir­ty years.”

Sam Gra­ham-Felsen, How Cyber-Prag­ma­tism Brought Down Mubarak, 11.2.2011

Sie nah­men Kon­takt zu den kampfer­probten berüchtigten „Ultras“ des Fußbal­lk­lubs al Ahli auf. Diese sind zwar unpoli­tisch, aber sie hat­ten in zahlre­ichen Straßen­schlacht­en mit der ägyp­tis­chen Polizei wertvolle Erfahrun­gen gesam­melt. Während der Kämpfe auf dem Tahrir-Platz sicherten mehr als zehn­tausend von ihnen vor allem den östlichen Teil des Tahrir-Platzes.

[..] Die Aktivis­ten hat­ten auf gewalt­freien Protest geset­zt und waren dabei auf die ser­bis­che Jugend­be­we­gung Otpor gestoßen, die in Ser­bi­en am Sturz des Dik­ta­tors Milo­se­vic beteiligt war und sich vom amerikanis­chen Poli­tolo­gen Gene Sharp hat­te inspiri­eren lassen. Der hat­te den gewalt­freien Wider­stand als Mit­tel entwick­elt, um Polizeis­taat­en zu unter­graben. Die „Bewe­gung des 6. April“, die der Blog­ger und Kifaya-Aktivist Ahmad Maher ins Leben gerufen hat­te, über­nahm sog­ar das Logo von Otpor. Maher hat­te im Inter­net über die gewalt­sam niedergeschla­ge­nen Arbeit­er­streiks vom 6. April 2008 im ägyp­tis­chen Mahal­la al Kubra berichtet.

Rain­er Her­mann, Rev­o­lu­tion nach Plan, 15.2.2011

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lead­er­ship did not endorse the call for the Jan­u­ary 25th demon­stra­tion. They usu­al­ly don’t sup­port actions that they don’t ini­ti­ate and con­trol. But as it became clear after the first day that a rev­o­lu­tion was under­way, they decid­ed to par­tic­i­pate.

They played an impor­tant role in Tahrir and else­where, espe­cial­ly on the day, Feb­ru­ary 2, when the gov­ern­ment sent its thugs on hors­es and with Molo­tov cock­tails to attack the demon­stra­tors.

It was­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly their num­bers that made a difference–they don’t have more than 15 or 20 per­cent polit­i­cal sup­port on the street, and only one out of the 13 mar­tyrs that day was a mem­ber of the Broth­er­hood. Rather, it was their lev­el of orga­ni­za­tion that helped. They act in a high­ly dis­ci­plined man­ner, and that helped in defend­ing the square.

They now intend to announce the for­ma­tion of a new polit­i­cal par­ty. Some want it formed on a civil­ian and non-reli­gious basis. Oth­ers from the con­ser­v­a­tive old guard will oppose that. In oth­er words, we expect to see divi­sions in their ranks.

We have seen the for­ma­tion of a more lib­er­al group, Eti­laf Shabab Althawra, the Coali­tion of the Youth of the Rev­o­lu­tion, which for­mu­lat­ed a num­ber of polit­i­cal demands and nego­ti­at­ed with the army last Mon­day.

This for­ma­tion includes a num­ber of activists who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the rev­o­lu­tion. But they rep­re­sent a mid­dle-class lib­er­al wing that would like to lim­it the rev­o­lu­tion to a polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion for demo­c­ra­t­ic reforms, with­out ques­tion­ing or chal­leng­ing the basic cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem. These lib­er­als see their role as advis­ing and pres­sur­ing the army to replace this or that cor­rupt per­son with this or that hon­est tech­no­crat.

Many of these lib­er­als are now opposed to work­ers’ strikes. They say work­ers are self­ish. Some are launch­ing an attack on strik­ers on Face­book. As I said, they sim­ply want polit­i­cal reforms. They oppose class strug­gle.

Inter­view of Sameh Naguib with Mostafa Omar, Con­ver­sa­tion with an Egypt­ian social­ist, 23.2.2011

And despite the claims of Tunisia being a Twit­ter rev­o­lu­tion – or inspired by Wik­iLeaks – nei­ther played much of a part. In Tunisia, pre-rev­o­lu­tion, only around 200 active tweet­ers exist­ed out of around 2,000 with reg­is­tered accounts. The Wik­iLeaks pages on Tunisian cor­rup­tion, says Koubaa, who with his friends attempt­ed to set up sites where his coun­try­men could view them, were blocked as soon as they appeared – and any­way, the infor­ma­tion was hard­ly news to Tunisians. How­ev­er, “Face­book was huge,” he says. Koubaa argues that social media dur­ing Ben Ali’s dic­ta­tor­ship exist­ed on two lev­els. A few thou­sand “geeks” like him com­mu­ni­cat­ed via Twit­ter, while per­haps two mil­lion talked on Face­book. The activism of the first group informed that of the lat­ter.

All of which left a pecu­liar loop­hole that per­sist­ed until Decem­ber, when the regime final­ly launched a full-scale attack against Face­book. This in in a coun­try that already tor­tured and impris­oned blog­gers, and where the country’s inter­net cen­sors at the Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or were nick­named “Amar 404” after the 404 error mes­sage that appeared when a page was blocked.

Social media was absolute­ly cru­cial,” says Koubaa. “Three months before Mohammed Bouaz­izi burned him­self in Sidi Bouzid we had a sim­i­lar case in Mona­s­tir. But no one knew about it because it was not filmed. What made a dif­fer­ence this time is that the images of Bouaz­izi were put on Face­book and every­body saw it.”

Peter Beau­mont, The truth about Twit­ter, Face­book and the upris­ings in the Arab world, 25.2.2011

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