Revolution versus the Counterrevolution in the Age of Social Media
By Marilyn Vogt-Downey
December 3, 2014
On Saturday, November 30, 2014, an Egyptian judge dropped all charges against former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak, with US government military and political support, had presided over nearly three decades of martial law and repression. His overthrow and arrest in 2011 had been considered a major achievements of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, a mass upsurge that began on January 25, 2011 and led to Mubarak’s overthrow on February 11, 2011. Mubarak, along with others also released on Saturday, had been subsequently tried and convicted of a number of corruption and criminal charges.
One activist told a US reporter that Mubarak’s release is “closing the fate of the January 25, 2011 ‘revolution.’” Another man, whose son was one of the hundreds of protesters murdered by Mubarak’s police during the uprising, put it this way: ”Mubarak’s regime is still in place. The January Revolution is over.” (1)
Mubarak’s release came at a time when the US-backed military government has put in place a police regime so draconian that it was confident it could “suppress any backlash.” That turned out to be true. Even to speak out in the courtroom against this ruling of the judge in the military-controlled court would have meant a year in prison. The few who dared to protest Mubarak’s release faced an overwhelming police presence; at least one protester was killed and 85 were arrested.
What was behind 2001 “January 25 Revolution” in Egypt and what went wrong? To answer these questions, one needs to know about the US government’s international cyberdissident offensive and how it worked in Egypt. An indispensable source of information about all this is a recent study by Linda Herrera called Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet. (2) An amazing power has been unleashed on the world’s people. And we alone can stop it.
What can “one man” do?
Revolutionary organizations probably exist almost everywhere in some form throughout the world. The problem is that they tend to be small, or small relative to other political parties. Meanwhile, the need for revolutionary organizations has never been greater. Every day the need expands, as do opportunities for them to do their work. Masses of people are disillusioned with the capitalist system but don’t see a way to a better, socialist transformation. It has only been recently that the very word “capitalism” has even crept back into the popular vocabulary–to finally replace abstract euphemisms such as “corporate control,” “the free market,” etc. Private ownership of the means of production is the cause of the problem. And workers control over the means of production is the solution. But, how can we move toward that vital socialist transformation when the revolutionary parties are so small and relatively isolated?