Saturday, February 25, 2012

Echoes in Egypt

Saint Petersburg, 25 February 1917.

"Increasingly this became the pattern -- violent clashes with the police combined with efforts to win over the soldiers -- as the crowds took over the city centre. The police were 'theirs' -- hated agents of the regime. The people called them 'pharaohs' (much as some today might call the police 'pigs') and they had no doubts that the police would fight to the end. The soldiers, by contrast, were seen as 'ours' -- peasants and workers in uniforms -- and it was hoped that, if they were ordered to use force against the crowds, they would be as likely to come over to the people's side. Once it became clear that this was so -- from the soldiers' hesitation to disperse the demonstrators, from the expressions on the soldiers' faces, and from the odd wink by a soldier to the crowd -- the initiative passed to the people's side. It was a crucial psychological moment in the revolution."
(From A People's Tragedy, 1996, pg. 310)

Tahrir Square, anyone?


Maxim Gorky, February 1918

"A revolution is only a revolution when it arises as a natural and powerful expression of the people's creative force. If, however, the revolution is simply a release of the instincts of the people accumulated through slavery and oppression, then it is not a revolution but just a riot of malice and hatred, it is incapable of changing our lives but can only lead to bitterness and evil... The Russian people, having won its freedom, is in its present state incapable of using it for its own good, only for its own harm and the harm of others, and it is in danger of losing everything that it has been fighting for for centuries..."

Muslim Brotherhood, take note.

No comments: