Jan 2, 2012

Wishes for 2012 : The New Year

Helena Hagglund

There is no Christmas calm in Egypt. The protests and marches continue, as do the attacks and killings by the army. The second wave of revolution continues.
In less than a month, Egypt will celebrate the anniversary of the January 25th uprising. The Supreme Army Council is said to be planning its own festivities that day, something that the revolutionaries cannot accept. Many fear new controversies.
The scenes in Tahrir Square and its neighbouring streets are scary: people getting abused and killed, choking on tear gas, dying from gunshot wounds. The list of martyrs grows longer. It is easy to see pictures of this and wish for an end to the unrest.
And an end to the unrest is precisely what the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are looking for. They exhort to calm and claim to be looking for a peaceful democratic electoral process. Calm is also what the ruling military council says it wants. In a time of crisis it is easy to play the stability card if you already have institutionalised power and influence.
But for those who dedicated their lives for the revolution, for those who quit their jobs, for those whose friends or sons or daughters have been killed, for those imprisoned - for all of them calm would be devastating. If they surrender their demands for the downfall of the military council in order to gain calm and stability, the struggle will be lost. Even Mubarak offered calm and stability.
"Stability" is something the powerful incessantly call for. Stability means an end to visible violence but nothing when it comes to ending the silent violations of human rights: the starvation of the poor, the murder of the unwanted in police cells, the daily abuse and exploitation. A calm and quiet people who do not collectively organize themselves in protests are a people easy to control. Hence every dictator this year has pointed out the stability and the calm that he can provide as an opposite to the rowdiness of the revolutionaries. Calm and stability is good for business and rich and powerful nations needs calm to plan and guarantee business deals.
But stability is devastating. If this was the goal, no revolutions would have ever occurred, there would be no real political change. Chaos, unrest and instability is necessary in creating a new future. A subdued people know to expect the onward grind of oppression. But a people ruling themselves do not have a clue what the future will bring, the only thing they know is that they are taking power from the powerful.
That is why the revolutionaries of Egypt are continuing to fight. They know that a revolution is more than overthrowing a dictator. They know that it will probably take years of uncertainty and unrest to ensure that their demands of freedom, justice, social equality and bread are met. The Left in Europe needs to follow their lead and listen to their demands, and not fall for media narratives of "successful elections" or "a gradual transition to a new Egypt".
So this is why I hope for a 2012 that follows on from what the Arab Spring started. I hope for a boiling, unstable 2012 that continues to change the world.
Helena Hagglund is a freelance journalist based in Cairo and Stockholm. The piece was first published in Swedish on www.seglorasmedja.se 

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