Monday, November 19, 2012

From Tahrir to Thayer

"Egypt's momentous uprising did not happen because Egyptians willed it into being.  It happened because there was a sudden change in the balance of resources between the rulers and the ruled."
from "The Praxis of the Egyptian Revolution"

30 years of rule under Mubarak's regime ended 18 days after protests started on January 25, 2011.
Not only did this collapse catch the Egyptian government and the global media by surprise, consider the leaders of the initial protest.
The plan was to stage a mid-sized demonstration "and ended as a massive uprising against autocratic rule."

The "flash mob" we created outside the empty Tedeschi food store on Thayer street was a far cry from  Tehrir Square. However,  the exercise did demonstrate how a group that shares similar beliefs and wants, along with the right cast of "self-propelled characters, armed with courage and a new consciousness" (pg1) could create a momentum that was clearly contagious.   Although we started off a  disjointed, two minutes into the activity there was a "go with it" mood that propelled the group to move onward,  from the Chipotle onward to the second half of our plan. We had convinced ourselves we were doing it, now it was time to convince other people that there was something to be seen and we did.  My favorite moment was when pizza eating bystander #2 took out his cellphone before he asked what we were looking at.                                                                  

"The diffusion of collective action in time and space emboldened Egyptians, signaling the unwillingness or incapacity of the coercive apparatus to suppress demonstrations.  The simultaneity of protests across very different locations, especially the filling of streets in neighborhoods entirely unused to such processions, revised citizens calculations of what was possible and reduced uncertainly about the consequences of action."

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