Sunday, February 20, 2011

The revolutionary heritage

Al Ahram Weekly (Ammar Ali Hassan)

In the midst of their jubilation over the 25 January Revolution, Egyptians may not recall the train of protests and revolutions against foreign occupation, tyranny and deprivation throughout their long history. If we put all these uprisings side to side, it would put paid to the belief that the Egyptian people will perpetually tolerate inequity or that they are prey to a culture of political passivity ingrained by centuries of pharaonic-style rule and deification of the ruler, or by the power and strength of the central state derived from its control over the sources of water and, hence, wealth in an agrarian country, or by the accident of geography that gave Egypt a narrow river valley whose terrain and people were easy to control in the midst of a barren desert whose inhospitable expanse offered no opening for escape, or by an inherited misunderstanding of religion that imparted a spirit of fatalism, submissiveness and resignation to "reaping one's rewards" in the next world.

Perhaps the most salient proof of the fallacy of such notions is the fact that the first revolution in history took place on the banks of the Nile. Such was the scope and force of that revolution that it has stirred the consciences and aroused the amazement of all who have studied the ancient history and documents of the world's first organised state. The chief cause of that revolution, which occurred during the reign of Pepi II, was rampant injustice combined with a vast gap between rich and poor.

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