To return to the Tunisian riot, it is very likely that it is itself going to continue – and divide itself – by proclaiming that the figure of power that it will put in place it is so disconnected from the popular movement that it no longer wants it. On what criteria, then, can we evaluate the riot? In the first place, the criteria must have a definite empathy towards the riot, this is an absolutely necessary condition. It’s negative power is recognised, a lamentable [honni] power that vanishes [effrondre] fully into its own image [symboles]. But what is affirmed? The Western press has already responded by saying that what was expressed their was a Western desire. What we can affirm is that a desire for liberty is involved and that such a desire is without debate a legitimate desire under a regime both despotic and corrupt as was that of Ben Ali. How this desire as such suggests a Western desire is very uncertain [plus problématique].
I told my friends Egypt was too big to fail – words heralding some sort of nasty bailout at any cost to the livelihood of the people whose “stake” was involved. I still believe Egypt is too big to fail. Western revolutionaries sit on the edge of their seats watching Al Jazeera, biting their nails because – as Badiou says – the end of history is not yet here! We can still take to the streets and enact change through revolutionary non-violent means – a million people in Tahrir square!
Yet, I am pessimistic. If Egypt can be salvaged as a client state of the West in any way, then it will be salvaged at any cost. Perhaps the poison has already entered the veins of the people as they choose to protest peacefully for the cameras, appealing to the Western mindset of nonviolence and peaceful flower-laden revolutions. They tweet, update facebook statuses, call in to radio and television shows… their message is united: Mubarak ETLA min Masr! They forget, though, that the Western news cycle is fickle. A manufactured win, like Mubarak offering to leave office in September, will stand in for actual closure. A new story will rise up on the wave and – if conditions persist- Egypt will be forgotten in a month.
The Western media, accusing Obama now of “abandoning” Mubarak, is not abandoning the people of Egypt. CNN, FOX, etc raise the terrifying specter of Islamic fundamentalism, war with Israel (a big no-no!), and anti-American sentiments in Egypt. I intend to travel to Egypt myself in the coming weeks to prove this to be untrue and to see for myself what happens when democracy is betrayed.
Egypt is the lynchpin that holds the status quo of the Middle East in place. Our prisoners are tortured there, our oil goes through the Suez, and our catspaw Israel gets to lash out at whoever they like so long as Egypt holds a shaky peace. The West stood on uncertain feet at this strong show of displeasure and was careful to craft their responses, but their actions will speak louder than words when they install a new puppet more friendly to global economic interests at the end of 2011. Actions will speak louder than words when a new government just as friendly to Western interests is installed in Tunisia.
The one benefit of this whole exercise for the Western observer is that we have finally seen the face of hypocrisy and naked greed laid bare. Our propaganda slips and falls in a terribly undignified way with our response to Egypt. Yet this too may be forgotten in the coming weeks, as the news cycle turns over and over again, leaving the 79 million people of Egypt in the dust of the “end of history”.