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Domination, Language and Popular Resistance in Egypt: A critical reflection on the current revolution
By Danny Jacobs Independent Study John Raines Religion Department Temple University March 29, 2011

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In the past few months, the world has witnessed a string of revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East that has shattered both Western misconceptions of the region s values and spread a feeling of revolutionary possibility that has reverberated around the world. At the time of this writing, popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have led to increasingly escalating protests in Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Gabon. To many in the West, these events have seemed either unexpected because the ruling hegemony appeared stable by Western norms1or purposely instigated by radical, religious sects to establish an authoritarian theocracy.2 What we have missed in our assumptions has been the hidden transcripts of those who have been oppressed. Behind the public formalities of the subordinate class has been a buried dialogue of resistance and organization. What we are witnessing now has been rehearsed in the minds and private dialogue of the oppressed for quite some time.3 For the people of these countries, these protests aren t new or inspired by a political elite but the public expression of the aggregate of individual struggles and stories. To analyze this exciting time, I am calling on the theories of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and political theorist James Scott to explain both the processes of acquiescence & restraint as well as domination & resistance. Each concludes that no matter how objective and impenetrable an image of power presents of itself, the ability to overcome prevails because the ultimate source of power presides in us. This does not imply that structural constraints don t play a role in limiting or influencing agency. Instead, both scholars seek to transcend the traditional structure vs. agency debate, towards a more fluid concept where a

Mazel, Zvi. Tunisia First Popular Uprising in Arab World. Jerusalem Post. 17 January 2011. Web. 18 February 2011. <http://www.jpost.com/>. 2 Wheeler, Scott. One Nation Under Islam. Big Peace. 19 February 2011. Web. 20 February 2011. <http://bigpeace.com>.
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Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Print. 8

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structure exists but is voluntarily indoctrinated; Bourdieu calls this the internalization of externality.
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I will begin by detailing their schemas of human interaction and then apply them to the modern history of Egypt, going back as far as Napoleon s colonization of Egypt. The goal of this paper is to achieve more than simply post-hoc analysis of the current wave of revolutions in the Middle-East but to try to answer or at least improve our comprehension of much broader questions: Why do revolutions take place? What social and linguistic structures create the authority needed to rule? Can these be resisted? And finally, why did the Western world specifically bureaucrats in Washington - miss the revolutionary atmosphere boiling in the region? My approach is to synthesize both these methods, incomplete by themselves, to provide a fuller understanding of why and where domination happens and, how constraints are imposed that appear invisible to the eye of the outside spectator. I conclude that it is the marginalization of people in more than one space economic, political, cultural, etc that allows power to create a hyperbolized image of its strength and authenticity to hide its true dependency on subordination. Finally, I explore the way in which a popular democracy could be used to both to break free from self-oppression and to establish a new identity.

Bourdieu and Markets How can years of small, daily resistance infrapolitics
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so effectively avoid

sending the signals of impending revolution? World focus on other issues (the Recession) could be argued to have drawn attention away from the case at hand but even had someone observed the Middle-East for several months leading up to the revolution, it would be very possible that this could still go unnoticed. A country
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Bourdieu, Pierre. The Logic of Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990. Print. 45 Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 19

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assessment report by from September 2010 stated that despite tension over who would succeed Mubarak, there was no threat present that could seriously destabilize the regime and that the ruling party would continue to hold power in face of what was considered legitimate oppostion.6 Credit for this veil does not lie entirely in the ability Egypt s leaders to control their subordinates but also in the subordinates tendency to censor themselves. It is here that Pierre Bourdieu s analysis can explain this phenomenon. Bourdieu s system of language and interaction is analogous to that of an economic market. As we interact, we produce ideas, using our stock of social/cultural capital and then sell them on the market of dialogue for profit. In the same way that markets set prices by the forces of supply and demand, the situation and audience present during our speech sets the value of our spoken word. Speech that is favored in those conditions because of its social value, its correct use of dialect and/or the prestige that it carries, is valued highly on the market. That which steps outside of its bounds, tries too hard or violates any of the standards of the market is chastised, the producer being disciplined by suffering a symbolic loss one of respect in the eyes of others. The totality of these effects creates the habitus7 of a speaker, a sort of feeling and understanding of the market that guides what we say and how we say it, shaped by both past experiences and anticipated profit. 8 Thus, we learn when we can speak up and when we must restrain ourselves. Those whose habitus most accurately aligns with the market possess a power because they can more freely express themselves. In the eyes of those who

Economist Intelligence Unit. "Outlook for 2010-11: Political outlook." Country Report. Egypt (2010): 4-5. Business Source Premier. Web. 27 March 2011. 7 Bourdieu, Pierre. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991. Print. 123 8 Ibid. 76. For an analogy, think how an experienced investor buys stock they appear to possess a sixth sense that guides their choices.

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struggle in the field, this appears inherent.9 The effect of this is exponential; those with lots of cultural capital speak/act in a way that is more valued and therefore, accumulate reputation or symbolic capital amongst the public.10 Yet, because they gain more respect, their words hold more validity, so they can make even more profit in the field. This new factor symbolic capital - acts as a multiplier on the effectiveness

of the language used. The problem is that those who lack prestige such as the lower-class population- often experience a negative multiplier effect when they attempt to use more advanced language, barring them from the ability to move themselves up in the social hierarchy. Bourdieu terms those who step outside of their social place as petit bourgeois and describes their appearance as hypercorrective and anxious.11 The consequence of this is that those who do not possess the appropriate grasp of the dominant way of speaking can be minimized or even shut off from certain markets (silenced), and stripped of their ability to participate in a democracy.12 As one can now infer, control over the market trends is a locus for an exploration into what institutes domination. For Bourdieu, this control involves more than what is just said but also what is not said. Boundaries are situated not just by what positively confirms an identity but also what negates the same thing something that is unnameable in the sense that it isn t spoken of in a formal setting but is still tacitly recognized in the absence of its voice.13 The act of speaking about circumcision embodies this concept. Circumcisions do not divide groups between males that have had one and males that have yet to go through the procedure so much as they divide males as a sex from
Ibid. 94 Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. 14 11 Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power 24 12 Ibid. 97 13 McCumber, John. Philosophy and Freedom: Derrida, Rorty, Habermas, Foucault. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Print. 38
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women, something that is felt but suppressed through the enunciation of the act because it does not characterize their identity.14 However, I believe Bourdieu leaves something out. We can only signify something else if the other concept has a way of being located in the lexicon of the market. Otherwise, we will most likely confuse our audience and possibly look insane. Even when someone introduces new meanings for old vocabulary like a Richard Rorty ironist, they still define the form of the new proposal through familiar language.15 Didi Khayatt has written about her experience searching for a lesbian in Egypt. What she finds is that there is a significant difference in behavior between lesbians from the upper class and lower classes, because of their access to certain language. Amongst the lower classes, who only speak colloquial Arabic, there doesn t exist a word for lesbian (at least not as a value-free identity she

mentions that there is a derogatory word similar to faggot that is used), and thus, the development of this sexual identity and the confidence to have this sexuality has been subdued as perverted in this lower-class.16 This is in stark contrast with Didi s meeting with a group of women from the upper-class of Egypt who spoke classical Arabic (and many spoke English or French), which does include a neutral word for lesbian, mussahaqah.17 By having a word which could explain their feelings as an identity, the women felt that they belonged to the same group and felt permitted to openly engage in intimate behaviors.18 Still, we may ask how do these markets arise? It is here where James Scott s brilliant concepts of power can be utilized.

Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. 118 McCumber. Philosophy and Freedom. 66 16 Khayatt, Didi. Terms of Desire: Are there any Lesbians in Egypt? Language and Socialization in Bilingual and Multilingual Societies. Eds. Robert Bayley and Sandra R. Schecter. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2003. Print. 218-219 17 Ibid. 223 18 Ibid. 228
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Scott and Resistance James Scott analysis of domination and resistance focuses on the gap between what is said and done in public (hegemonic) settings versus what actors say while in settings that allow them to speak their mind more freely (private). Contrary to Bourdieu s, Scott specifically mentions how both those who hold power and those who are subordinate must act or perform in public essentially, even the most powerful are dominated by the nature of their relations, which force them to uphold an image of finesse. Thus, the image of a perfectly in-tuned habitus might be a faade. As Scott shows, much of the elite choreograph their performances in public and in doing so, impose speech markets in favor of their behavior and accent.19 While Scott s description of interaction might seem conflicting at first because of its claim that sociological relations are divided only between the hidden vs public transcript as opposed to markets,
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the spectrum of open

communication can still be applied to this analysis. In fact, Scott s contribution shows how the markets are created. The best way of adapting his system to Bourdieu s is to view it as the difference between markets inhabited by hegemonic powers and those by the underclass. Often that which is said by people of similar ranking holds more candor than more heterogeneous spaces of interaction. The difference in openness between these two transcripts, in a way, can be a quantitative measure of oppression. The more those dominated have to hide, correct or euphemize, the more burdensome the public transcript has become on their lives, leaving them to plan retaliation in their hidden transcripts. Borrowing once again from economic terminology, we can say that the discursive black market is indicative of the level of repression.

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Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 12 Ibid. 5

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One of Scott s most useful contributions is his explanation of how revolutions come about. Usually, the first sign of an uprising comes in the tendency for rebels to test the limits of public sphere.21 Such actions can include things such as making a back-handed compliment, grumbling under one s breath or using symbolism in arts to make political statements. Furthermore, if any of these actions appears suspicious, use of strategic naivety basically pretending to be a fool who couldn t possibly be planning something more sinister to deflect attention is often utilized. Acts that are seen as dangerous to the hierarchy are immediately attacked and made an example of to the public.22 These public statements, if they succeed, act as de facto proof that such actions are acceptable and an escalation of tests soon begins. It is possible that one of the determining factors for why the revolutions in the Maghreb were so successful was because it was commonly believed that such uprisings would never happen in that region and thus, signs that could have been taken as warning signs were disregarded; power blinds itself by its own myth. Scott s system differs from Bourdieu s also in his rejection of hegemony. For Scott, if hegemony existed, meaning that the elite class owns the material basis of production [And] the means of symbolic production, then it becomes impossible for a revolution from below to happen without any external tremor.23 Violent revolution can still happen within the dominant ideology, however, it remains narrow in its scope. Scott mentions the peasant s of the French revolution never expressed a wish to abolish the Monarchy but simply their wish for reforms within the system.24 Still this begs the question is amelioration of material and political conditions enough to set one free? In his critique of Nietzsche s concept of freedom, Heidegger claims that Nietzsche fails to really go anywhere because he is trapped in
Ibid. 192 Ibid. 197 23 Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 78 24 Ibid. 77
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the inheritances of his German language ultimately, his ideas must conform to hegemonic tools of expression and thus, his thoughts as well.25 One may change their position in the field but remain confined by the same fence. Egypt s history too displays this trap. Despite eventually reaching physical independence, they continued to oppress themselves with traces of colonial thought even when they control the means of cultural and symbolic production.

Egypt: Desire for the Other Through Mimicry and Language When Napoleon first colonized Egypt in the 18th century, he handed out pamphlets declaring that he was a servant of God and an admirer of the prophet Mohammed.
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While clearly trying to win over the people of Cairo so that they

should accept him as a liberator who freed them from the Ottomans, his plan embarrassingly backfired. A local cleric, Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti, mocked the pamphlet for his poor grammar and obvious lack of stylistic norms.27 The pamphlets were dismissed as cartoonish and Napoleon became enraged. Echoing the importance of controlling the dominant style of speech, we see here how even those with physical power can fall victim to linguistic pitfalls.28 Despite their quick expulsion, the French did manage to establish a prominent influence on Egypt. The judiciary soon adopted Napoleonic code as well as French legal thought.29 The judicial system also became characterized as possessing a large amount of French lawyers. It is here that we begin to see the creation of Egypt s elite class and the lingering effect of Western thought on Egypt. The upper-educated elite of Egypt
McCumber. Philosophy and Freedom. 6. Maghraoui, Abdeslam M. Liberalism without Democracy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006. Print. 39 27 Cole, Juan. Napoleon s Egypt: Invading the Middle East. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print. 32.
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Sonbol, Amira El Azhary. The New Mamluks: Egyptian Society and Modern Feudalism. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2000. Print. 69

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went to France (and later England) to study law and were highly influenced European Classical liberalism. During the 19th century, especially under Muhammad Ali (1805-1848) and Khedive Ismail (1863-1879), the government repeatedly pushed through reforms that mimicked the structure of European countries.30 Peasants were uprooted and their communal land privatized,31 while religious institutions were centralized and purged of their traditional behavior.32 The reason behind this was articulated as removing leftover Turkish influence but it is quite clear that they wished to be recognized and praised by Europe as a modern country.33 The European influence was also exhibited by the new rulers in their dress a change to the frock-coats characteristic of Western European rulers. This change happened without any foreign, aggressive pressure; as E.W. Lane wrote about the reforms, the march of European innovation [Had] become a gallop. In 1879, now under British rule, we begin to see one of the first public expressions of peasant resistance to this foreign imperialism during what came to be known as the Urabi Revolt (named after the soldier Urabi Pasha who led the resistance).35 The peasant support for this revolution did not come out of nowhere; incidents of vandalism, cattle poisoning and murder existed prior to the revolt but because they were done by individual peasants, they lacked both the legitimacy of elite resistance and enough organization to scare those on top.36 Still, the atmosphere created by these escalating acts had the ability to effectively unite those
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Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy. 43 Sonbol. The New Mamluks. 93. 32 Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy. 42 33 Abu-Lughoud, Ibrahim. The Transformation of the Egyptian Elite: Prelude to the Urabi Revolt. The Middle East Journal. Vol. 21, No. 3., 1997: 328. Web. 19 February 2011. 34 Rodenbeck, John. Dressing Native Unfolding the Orient :Travellers in Egypt and the Near East. Eds. Paul and Janet Starkey. Reading: Ithaca, 2001. 84. Print. This is taken from Rodenbeck quoting E.W Lane. 35 Sonbol. The New Mamluks. 91 36 Brown, Nathan. The Conspiracy of Silence and the Atomistic Political Activity of the Egyptian Peasantry, 1882-1952. Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance.Ed. Forest D. Colburn. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1989. 94. Print.
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who were previously independent of one another.37 What is particularly interesting is how the rise in the feeling of resentment that a colonizer feels is often balanced by an increase in displays of complacency by the subordination. The use of a tactical smile has become the preferred method of deference by many of the soon-to-revolt population hoping to calm the nerves of their ever anxious superiors.38 In an article by the

experience with this phenomenon during the Urabi Revolt: We may be justified in denying to the passions of the multitude the name of patriotism but a multitude of facts have made plain to us that neither the peasants of Egypt nor the Bedouins regard our presence in the country with great complacency. They may smile approvingly with festivities with which we celebrate our victories in Alexandria or Cairo but although their words may be softer than butter, the poison of the asps in their hearts.39

Despite popular support for Urabi Pasha, which included peasants giving what little money they had to the rebels, the leaders of the Urabi revolt held remarkably different views than that of the peasants. The revolting elite, made up of officers in the Egyptian army, were more concerned with receiving equal pay and privilege as the foreign members in the same service.40 This would not be the first time that the peasant class is betrayed by a bourgeois revolution. Nearly four decades later, another revolt breaks out in 1919. Under pressure by Saad Zaghul and members of the nationalist Wafd party, the British granted independence to Egypt but only under the condition that British help write the constitution and that the Zaghul and his followers not gain power.41 Despite

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Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 222 Ibid. 3 39 Summary of the Week. Manchester Times 1288 (September 16, 1882): 4. 19th Century British Library Newspapers. Web. 28 March 2011. 40 Sonbol. 91-92 41 Maghraoui. 54

anchester Times from 1882, an unknown journalist illuminates their

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claiming sovereignty, the new khassa (the ruling class who promoted Egypt s new European liberalism), sought to purge themselves of their Orient image and create a new one that was much closer to the Europeans. Much like how Martin Heidegger favored nearness as the requirement for authenticity,42 the Egyptian intelligentsia sought to establish themselves as closer to the Europeans than to that of the ArabOriental character. Of course, while striving for this individuality and demarcation from the Arab world, they only ended up conforming themselves to Western norms. The binary of West/Orient, embraced by the Egyptian elite, imprisoned them in the narratives of Europe and in doing so, suppressed other non-Western narratives of identity and development;43 the false dilemma created by the intellectuals of the time concerning what Egypt can and cannot be, blocked any chance to establish an original identity. Comparing Egypt to an infant, Abdeslam Maghraoui reads this situation through the lens of Jacques Lacan. According to Lacan, as an infant develops its identity, it comes to a stage of tension between it and its Father, still unable to disconnect its body from that of its Mother.44 It is here that the child can to do one of two things: either they can accept their Father s presence and the law that comes with it (i.e. incest taboo) and be accepted into the social order or, they can reject the father (and the norms) due to its desire to be with the Mother and fail to assimilate into society.45 For Lacan, this is the definition of a sociopath, meaning one who cannot understand social norms by themselves and instead, acts simply acts by

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McCumber, Philosophy and Freedom. 20. Nearness does not literally mean which is physically near to but that which is near to our true character. Thus, the Egyptians, by using revisionist science and history, tried to prove that the European or Greek heritage was closer to their true being than the Arab character. 43 Chowdhury, Savvina A. Everyday Economic Practices: The Hidden Transcripts of Egyptian Voices. New York, NY: Routledge Press, 2007. Print. 5 44 This is the classic Oedipal Drama, where a boy infant seeks to be with his mother and kill his father (For more, see Sigmund Freud. The Interpretation of Dreams. New York, NY: Avon publishing, 1980. Print.). 45 Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy. 34.

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logical calculation.46 To use the extended metaphor, Maghraoui contends that Egyptians wanted to be European so badly that they rejected the Father (in this case, indigenous Egyptian culture) in favor of becoming part of Europe, its former Mother.47 Their denial of their inability to ever become fully European only pushed the elite of Egypt to the point that they tried to destroy any trace of their true self. For example, the late 19th century and early 20th century is known as the period of the Pharaonic revival movement in Egypt. In 1928, Salama Musa published an archeological report claiming to prove that that ancient Egyptians and ancient British shared similar bone structure and thus, shared the same ancestry.48 Relics of Ancient Egypt were also re-examined to determine their true nature by the Western-influenced elite to prove that Egyptians were in fact, European. Far from being rejected as ludicrous, this scientific proof was widely accepted and further encouraged by those on top.49 At first, this revival appears to be a celebration of Egypt s rich cultural history but upon further inspection, the meaning becomes clear. The revival of Ancient Egyptian culture worked not just because it linked Egypt to Europe but because it distanced them from the Arab/Islamic culture at the time; Ancient Egyptians were considered Greek and were also not Muslim.50 The intellectuals of the time continued their conquering of the Egyptian identity, both by denouncing local activities antagonistic to European culture, such as mawalids or traditional celebrations, as social illness
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or, declaring the historical boundaries of

Egypt, so as to homogenize all the ethnic groups found within the borders as Egyptian.52
Zizek, Slavoj. Empty Gestures and Performatives: Lacan Confronts the CIA Plot. How to Read Lacan. New York, NY: W & W Norton, 2007. Print. 47 Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy. 36 48 Ibid. 78 49 Ibid. 80 50 Ibid. 75 51 Ibid. 98 52 Ibid. 69
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In 1952, during a streak of economic crisis and political instability, Gamal Nasser comes to power under a coup d etat promising change.53 Like the revolutions prior, popular support for the revolution came from the anti-colonial protests that had preceded Nasser s insurgency, from peasants that were once again rejecting what they saw as the unfair imposition of an outside influence. Nasser s period in time is interesting because it appears to break itself from European influence; for example, public intellectuals began to refer to themselves as Eastern, different from American and European citizens.54 Still, this new feeling of Pan-Arabism inspired only a superficial demarcation and really signified the Soviet Union s temporary influence. The same backwardness that was criticized by earlier intellectuals was attacked by Nasser s regime, all in the name of creating modern citizenry.
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The cultural hierarchy was transformed only in image and language but

retained its same values. When President Nasser spoke to the elite-intellectual crowd, the khassa, he spoke using fusha or classical Arabic. When he would speak to the amma, he changed his dialect to ammiya or the colloquial slang used by the working class.56 The divisions had not only remained but where further deepened. What we see in the 20th century is the elite class of Egyptians seeking to claim three characteristics over Egypt s Being its physical boundaries, disposition (control

over its boundary), and initiative (who and what is legitimate).57 What the privileged leaders of Egypt did in this era was seek to validate their view of the Being of Egypt to the point that they, above the lower classes, knew its true essence. They set the boundaries of the country (territory both physical and

Bier, Laura. The Family is a Factory : Gender, Citizenship and the Regulation of Reproduction in Postwar Egypt. Feminist Studies Vol 36, No.2, 2010: 404-432. Print. 54 Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy. 415-416
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Ibid. 406

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Sonbol. The New Mamluks 217 McCumber. Philosophy and Freedom. 7-8. This is based on Aristotle s theory of being.

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cultural), established the law (disposition) and determined who voices counted (initiative). This third factor was determined by the structures of Egyptian language. Like most former colonies, Egypt s class structure has been reinforced by its use of language. Up until Nasser, the language spoken by the elites of Egypt was either French, which they considered the language of prestige and sophistication
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or

English, which was favored by universities and entrepreneurs.59Arabic was seen as a coarse and crude language only used by the underclass. By mastering these foreign languages, Egyptians could receive higher-education, make military connections or grasp the arts and culture of the Western world. Yet access to this education was only available to a few. Borrowing from economics la Bourdieu, one can say that this requirement to speak acceptable French/English was a barrier to entry into the dominant market and thus, excluded those who did not have the privilege to attain such ability. This divergence can and has been exploited to maintain hegemony; that which is signified through the use of a specific dialect can be used to neutralize resistance and retain hegemony. Indeed, the recently ousted President Hosani Mubarak was praised by many of the working class for his grasp of the peasant language, a fact that he flaunted.60 This skill wasn t something mastered by Mubarak to show his cultural knowledge it is instead an approach to reification that Bourdieu calls the strategies of condescension.
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When the common press lauded Mubarak s use of these popular

idioms, they didn t just end up praising Mubarak but also tacitly recognized their position in the country s hierarchy. By acknowledging that Mubarak was using their common dialect, the amma made it clear that they were not dominant, because the
Sonbol. The New Mamluks. 216 Ibid. 90 60 Ibid. 218 61 Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. 68
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dominant dialect did not appear. Instead, by pretending to negate the hierarchy through the use of common language a symbolic negation Mubarak actually got

the public to acquiesce to the structure of relations. In effect, Mubarak is symbolically speaking down to them. It is important to realize that the praise for knowledge of the dialect of the underclass would not have been given had a peasant worker got on TV and made a speech in ammiya they would be ridiculed for lack

of sophistication or just ignored. Even more so, a reversal of this class privilege would not be possible- relationships of power do not necessarily open up the avenue for the lower-class.62 If a member of the lower class attempted to speak classical Arabic, they would most likely be chastised as a petit bourgeois or tryhard because they lack the years of training that the khassa posses.63 Fear of this sanction alone limits many attempts to learn the dominant dialect; the expected loss of misspeaking outweighs the expected profit. This distinction between those who can speak freely and those who are silent becomes so great that the dominant s ability to make returns on the market seems to be based on the qualities of the person alone, rather than the underlying social relations. 64 Control over who gets credit is powerful and Bourdieu expands upon this by introducing the idea of Political Fetishism
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Power, he argues, isn t one party

dominating the other but is in fact a product of a constant circular relationship one is dominated by both an authority and themselves. People who submit to power do so because they believe it exists; however, leaders only exist because of a group treating them as dominant figures.66 By delegating one individual to the position of authority, a group endows the person with a symbolic Skeptron, allowing the whole

A peasant speaking fusha might appear as superficial. Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. 62. Formal and informal education. 64 Ibid . 72 65 Ibid. 202 66 Ibid. 192
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group to be legitimized and heard in political or formal situations. This relationship becomes full-circle when we realize that it is in this act, the act of speaking for a group, that the group is named and created.67 Essentially, the group produces its own symbolic capital and, exploits itself for its own symbolic profit. The performance of power one individual representing the feelings of an amount of people that would be physically impossible, unless granted gives the Skeptron a magical property, that launches them to the a celebrity-like standing in front of the group and gives them credit for great outcomes. Since individuals fail to recognize their role in creating a power, it appears to them as objective and external, and ergo, positions of power are explained by features that appear internal to the dominator i.e they possess great enthusiasm, sharp wit, etc. Any attribute can be hyperbolized to justify the relationship. Mubarak, a former military man, maintained the nickname holder of the wilaya,
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meaning guardian. In this case, it

was his military background that was used as defense of his role. Interestingly, during the recent uprisings, Mubarak referred to himself as the father whose children wanted to become orphans in other words, the revolutionaries are

misbehaving and should listen to their moral but compassionate superior.69 Unfortunately, cultural and symbolic barriers do not just show themselves in antagonistic situations, but in mutual ones as well. Looking at recent history we see that there have been several attempts to revolt in Egypt in the last 7 years alone. Specifically, in 2004 there was the start of the Kefeya Movement in Egypt (means enough ), a group made up of radical socialists and Nasserites basically university intellectuals who come from middle-class backgrounds. One of the biggest criticisms of the movement was its inability to connect with those outside of its own circle,
Ibid. 207 Sonbol. The New Mamluks. 190 69 Hitchens, Christopher. What I don t see at the Revolution. Slate. March 2011.Web. 11 March 2011. <http://www.vanityfair.com/>.
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leading critics to label it as a group of intellectuals screaming and shouting in public forums and magazines.
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The lack of connection is the result of a huge

cultural chasm between the classes the use of intellectual, Marxist language like class consciousness and commodity fetishism simply does not spark interest in the minds of rural peasants. This group essentially isolated itself off from lower classes with lower cultural capital, even though it shared a similar objective. In fact, there is a difference in their word for culture; the intellectual crowd has been known to use the word thaqafa or high culture, whereas rural peasants tend to resort to saying turath [or] adat or heritage and customs.71 While those with resources have an advantage, pressure from the bottom still has the ability to chip away at those norms under the noses of the elites. Egypt in particular has had a history of being dominated by multiple colonizers but also a history of resistance. What we are witnessing now is a cumulative representation of the hidden angst held by the Egyptian people over the last century and a half, something one could call the safety-valve breaking.72 While it is unwise to point to specific events as being the final catalysts for a revolution, we can point to conditions that tend to incentivize action. One of these circumstances can be a general feeling of frustration, as Fouad Ajami points out: Dreams of national power and deliverance visited Egypt no less than four times in its recent history and they all ended in frustration This is part of the country s self-image. To rule Egypt is to rule against the background of these expectations and disappointments Egyptians are not blind to what has befallen their country. They can see the booming lands in Asia, countries that were once poorer than Egypt, digging out of the poverty of the past...The

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Osman, Tarek. Egypt s Phantom Messiah. Open Democracy. 12 July 2006. Web. 18 March 2011. <http://www.opendemocracy.net/>. 71 Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. xxiii 72 Ibid. 178

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dreams of liberal reform, the hopes for revolution from above, the socialist bid of Nasser [have] all withered away.73 Take heed of Ajami s use of the word disappointment; one does not feel this emotion when encountering the failures of those we see as oppressors but instead, something felt when one sees the letdowns of those we identify with ourselves. While the Egyptians, kicked out foreign rule, they often failed to realize that their own fiascos were the result of their tendency to [embrace] colonial culture and subject themselves to the norms of the West.
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In an optimistic sense, the

implication for all of this is that domination is just as much a product of the slave as it is the master. This is something of which is aggressively concealed as knowledge of this can prove hostile to dominant hegemony. One might argue that coercive action (violence, imprisonment) has the ability to force an objective truth upon the subordinate, but in reality, the subordinate must still come to the conclusion by themselves. Extraneous direct oppression is not only futile but often counter-productive to establishing dominant hegemony. The force at which a group of people can strike back with is extraordinary when they are pushed to their emotional edge.

From Mimicry to Revolution Several theories behind what causes the start of revolutions exist and their still is probably plenty missing if we were to combine all of them. For one, Theda Skocpol influential theory from her seminal piece State and Revolution states that the prerequisites for a successful revolution are internal economic inequality and

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Ajami, Fouad. The Sorrows of Egypt. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 74, No. 5, 1995: 72-88. Pg. 83-84. Web. 18 March 2011.
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Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy. 5

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external pressure from stronger countries.75 Without economic problems, populations will often acquiesce to political repression in order to maintain their living standards. On the other hand, if international bonds remain strong, any rebellion can easily be put down with help from outside military forces. For Kusha Sefat, this is reminiscent of Egypt. Egypt, as discussed, possesses both a defined class gap and a large dependency on foreign influence.76 Sefat argues that the recent recession in the United States limited its ability to step in and control the uprising and that this only irritated the social chasm. Yet, if this was the case, then wouldn t one would expect revolutions in many other countries outside of the immediate region?77 Skocpol s argument is strong but incomplete. Instead, we must add our insights from both Bourdieu and Scott to understand, as I argue, that because domination happens along multiple spaces, it is also resisted and overthrown along multiple avenues. Revolt is not the product of simply material domination, but also an attempt to restore autonomy and dignity.
78

The problem is many times this

second objective is only acquired by those who gain power, leading to the despondency that has plagued Egypt. I will support my theory that certain conditions strongly influenced the outbreak of this revolt through various examples; However, do not take these events as final causes in their own but more as cases of larger antagonisms showing themselves. As the days of the revolution continue, I am sure we will learn of more events that changed the momentum and do not want to limit the scope.

Skocpol, Theda. State and Revolution. Theory and Society, Vol. 7, No.2, 1979: 7-95. 8. Web. 15 March 2011. 76 Sefat, Kusha. Kusha: Iran vs. Egypt: Qualitative Differences in Capabilities. Informed Comment. 1 March 2011. Web. 11 March 2011. <http://www.juancole.com/>. 77 Egypt s economic condition is comparable to other countries, like Vietnam, that also are facing international pressure. (For an example, see Carl Robinson. Why Vietnam Won t Fall. World Policy Blog. 7 March 2011. Web. 13 March 2011. <http://www.worldpolicy.org/>.) 78 Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. XI

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Humiliation A general feeling of cynicism amongst populations has been subtly encouraged by those seeking to retain status-quo throughout history, but it is a tactic that is used only to distract the population, rather than provoke a pronounced responses. It is not enough merely to evoke distrust, as one can just choose to not participate and live tolerably. What set s something off is the instance an individual decides they are willing to die to maintain their dignity. Humiliation, which has played an important role in most histories of authoritarian oppression, is the ingredient which is often combined with this misery to produce open displays of struggle. On its own, it is perhaps not enough because if one accepts a system, then they will shift the blame to themselves. Dominant figures who denigrate often do so in a manner that situates them but still convinces them their interests lie in maintaining the hierarchy. While examples of Egyptian intellectuals belittling the poor and rural of Egypt have already been mentioned, a very recent example of state-instituted degradation illuminates the view of the recently ousted Egyptian government on its own people. In the past few decades, the Southern part of Egypt has developed an extensive tourism industry. Surprisingly, this area is called Upper Egypt, a relic of the Pharaohs who named that area after the direction in which The Nile flowed as well as a way of distinguishing their hierarchical order; today, it is home to some of the poorest population of Egypt. Since the liberalization of the tourist industry under Sadat, the villages surrounding the historical sites of Ancient Egypt have become booming tourism industries. In fact, tourism is the largest source of foreign income in Egypt and an economic heavyweight for Egypt.79 Yet, beneath this gain

Gray, Matthew. Economic Reform, Privatization and Tourism in Egypt. Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 34, No. 2, 1998: 91-112. Web. 14 March 2011.

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has been a policy of resentment towards the local people, to the extent that they treat them almost like animals. For years, the tourism industry of Egypt, with help from the Mubarak regime, has relocated the people living around the historical landmarks of Ancient Egypt from their houses so that the industry could expand.80 In a narrative similar to that taken by the liberals of the early 20th century, Egyptian authorities claimed that the residents of the area were destroying valuable artifacts that did not belong to them, but to world heritage.
81

The tourism industry of Egypt

has also emphasized Western-influenced narratives and silenced others. Modern Egyptian resorts and tour packages repeatedly stress Pharoanic imagery in their advertising, emphasizing Egypt as the land of royal tombs, golden pyramids and rich treasures rather than of the amma culture that surrounds the pyramids in towns like Luxor.82 Even after all this modernization, what remains a legitimate object of culture is what appeals to Western desires and tastes. As the economy has boomed in the area, the indigenous residents have received very little of the gains. Due to this, when tourists visit the local towns, they are often approached by beggars looking to receive something of what had been excluded from them. The tourism industry has responded to this, under the guidance of the World Bank, by creating separate transportation pathways everything from bus routes to walkways for the tourists to protect them from the indigenous masses.83 For the people of these communities, they have become dominated not only by lacking a voice or presence in the political and economic realms but by being treated like animals. Such a factor, more so than even

Chowdhury. Everyday Economic Practices. 89 Abu-Laghoud, Lila. Television and The Virtues of Education: Upper Egyptian Encounters with State Culture Directions of Change in Rural Egypt. Nicholas S. Hopkins, ed. Cairo: The American University Press. 162. Print. 82 Bryce, Derek. Repacking Orientalism: Discourse in Egypt and Turkey on British outbound tourism. Tourist Studies Vol. 7, No.2: 165-191. 175. Print. He is quoting a brochure from Sovereign Holidays. 83 Chowdhury. Everyday Economic Practices. 112
81

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conditions of economic depression, creates the circumstances for opposition. To resist this, the members of the community have created an informal tourism sector, where they offer tours of their local houses and neighborhoods, in contrast to the artificial tour routes that are set-up by the resorts.84 Probably the most accurate indicator of wide-spread denigration is the presence of public suicide, specifically in the form of self-immolation or selfmutilation. Sandy Cornish, a former slave, became famous for mutilating himself with a knife in public to protest his slave-owner.85 Cornish did not do this because he wanted a higher wage; he did this because he didn t want to be treated as property. Self-harm protests domination because it expresses a sense of control. After being stripped of ownership of everything in their life, the self-harming protestor seeks to reaffirm themselves as the final causes of their existence, even if it means hurting themselves. Within several days of Mohammed Bouzazi selfimmolation in Tunisia, several individuals from Egypt followed suit.86 The burning of one s body signaled the ultimate defiance of authority if I can t own my body, nobody can!

Technological and Generational Change Besides the factor of humiliation, Skocpol and other material theories miss the influence of both generational and technological change, things that can happen independently of outside pressure or rampant inequality. It is well known in the field of economics that the power of adopting a new productive technology gives an

Ibid. 118 Kachun, Mitch. Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations 1808-1905. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006. 107. Print.
85

84

Zayed, Dina. Egyptians set themselves ablaze after Tunisia unrest. Reuters. 18 January 2011. Web. 11 March 2011. <http://www.reuters.com/>.

86

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entrepreneur a head-start until the innovation diffuses throughout the market;87 the same holds true for technology in opening opportunities for revolutions. Oppressive regimes often encounter a series of critical junctures
88

during their reigns; these

can consist of anything from a military challenge to power, to a technological change. A ruler s image and policy is put under public scrutiny during such a trialby-fire and it is up to them to prove that they still possess their mythical being, whether that is one of infallibility or omnipresence. Scott borrows from George Orwell's essay Shooting an Elephant to explain this phenomenon. In the essay, Orwell relates an experience from his time as a colonizer in Burma, during which the local Burmese asked him to shoot an elephant that had killed several members of the tribe. When Orwell finally confronts the elephant, he realizes that he not only has to kill the frightening elephant to avoid ridicule, but that he must play the role of power that he projects upon his subordinates; he must live up to his own name.89 It is not clear whether or not Orwell's audience, the Burmese villagers, would have behaved differently if he did not kill the elephant but their presence alone is enough to check his behavior. Philosopher Slavoj Zizek metaphor for powers ability to fall describes a cartoon character walking off a cliff; it is only once the cartoon looks down and realizes that it is walking on air that it falls down.90 Leaders too, have the ability to overstep their reality and fall into catastrophe but their arrogance to realize they have lost their base often proves fatal. Anything that gives the impression of weakness or naivety cracks the image of complete domination and invites largescale resistance. For the leaders of the Middle-East, it was their failure to control the
Chang, Ha-Joon. Windows 98 in 1997: Is it wrong to borrow ideas? Bad Samaritans: The Secret History of Capitalism. London, UK: Bloomsbury Press, 2007. Print. 88 Rutherford, Bruce K. Egypt After Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam and Democracy in the Arab World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008. 24. Print. 89 Scott. 11 90 Zizek, Slavoj. The Parallax View. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006. 236. Print.
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explosion of social networking, something that exploited their word against them. The new technology opened the door for the hidden transcript but it did so, because it trapped the dictators under their own words. Both Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia attempted to block social networking but eventually backed off because they thought that banning it would cause more problems.
91

Mubarak, as well as

other dictators in the region, stressed during their reign that they were for liberalizing their countries both politically and economically but their promises ended up biting back.92 Despite power knowing that it is in the position of dominance, it will often try to dilute its public image of oppression so as to convince the general public that they have more freedom than they have in reality. While it was mentioned earlier as a failed movement, Kefaya is an example of something that Mubarak would later regret. Kefaya helped to bring the hidden transcript to the public transcript. A declared refusal to comply is one of the key turning points in overthrow of a power relationship, because it dispels the myth of underclass fear of authority and becomes the first instance which alerts many outsiders. Kefaya was not the only group to do so but part of a larger instance of Egyptians testing the public transcript. Following this step foward, Egypt faced a series of labor strikes in 2006, 2007 and 2008 over wages in its industrial cities, eventually leading to an estimated 800 labor strikes alone in the period of 20082009.93 In early 2008, textile workers in El-Mahalla el-Kubra began striking in protest of the working conditions in the city. In itself, such an event would appear insignificant but it energized the Egyptian youth so much, that they decided to

Beaumont, Peter. The Truth about Twitter, Facebook and the uprisings in the Arab world. The Guardian. 25 February 2011. Web. 11 March 2011. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>. 92 Chowdhury. Everyday Economic Practices. 72 93 Jay, Paul. Roots of the Revolutionary Egyptian Moment. Real News. 29 January 2011. Web. 11 March 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/>.

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participate in solidarity with the workers. On April 6, 2008, members of the future Egyptian Youth Movement created a Facebook page calling for all workers of Egypt to skip work for the day, in support of the striking workers in El-Mahalla el-Kubra.94 The immediate result was an increase in the minimum wage but more importantly, the event disclosed that challenging this authority and winning reform was possible. What blooms from this and other incidences is another important factor in influencing revolutions: generational change. In science, as Simon Singh argues, generational change often coincides with paradigm shifts because older scientists tend to have a more realist or conservative approach to new theories. They have seen new ideas come and go, and thus, are perhaps more cynical of so called revolutionary ideas.95 In a similar vein, the memory of past failures has haunted the older demographic of Egypt but for the younger generation, of which make up around 65% of the population in the Middle-East,96 much of their life has been met with escalating success. To sum it up, Time itself is often the enemy of power, as it continues it exposes more and more holes in the phantom of power s objectivity. An individual s attitude towards power can play a partial but important role in its existence and as they come in contact with these gaps or exposures to freedom, they become hungry. Power relies on the people it dominates to hold it up, like pillars to the roof of a building. Subordination is essentially a learned characteristic but one

94

Efrat, Yacov Ben. Egypt: The distance between democracy and social justice. Challenge Magazine. 7 February 2011. Web. 11 March 2011. <http://challengemag.com/>.
95

Singh, Simon. Big Bang: Origin of the Universe. New York, NY: Fourth Estate, 2008. 328. Print. Laquer, Walter. Will Egypt s Youth Meet History s Challenge? CBSNews. 17 March 2011. Web. 18 March 2011. <http://www.cbsnews.com/>.
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that works the best when we feel that we are hardly secondary. Frederick Douglass described the power of this effect, using his own experience as an example: I was kept in a perpetual wind of excitement, I could think of nothing, scarcely, but my life; and in thinking of my life I almost forgot my liberty. I have observed this in my experience of slavery, - that whenever my condition was improved, instead of increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me thinking of my plans to gain my freedom.97

98

Douglass, Frederick, and Angela Y. Davis. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself: A New Critical Edition. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2010. 99. Print. 98 Schorr, Bil. March 11, 2011. Cagle Cartoons. 11 March 2011. Web. 12 March 2011. <http://cagle.com/news/>.
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What can be done? For this to be a successful revolution, it is important that the people of the Middle-East achieve their goals, one of which I believe is the creation of democracy in both the political and economic realms. These protests weren t just responses to the authoritarian political rule but to the neo-liberal reforms that began in the, which both marginalized a large portion of the population and deepened the tension between the classes. The most recent events at the time of writing confirm the urge to reform all aspects of life. The workers in El-Mahalla el-Kubra, the same ones who went on strike for a rise in wages in 2008, have now replaced the former statesponsored unions that existed at their factories. The protesters clearly see the structural flaws that oppress them, rather than put the blame on an individual. As one Egyptian worker put it, we want an overthrow of this whole system, not just the removal of one person.
99

The marginalization of the majority of citizens in

Egypt has not just been the result of actions by the ruling government but the behavior of the opposition as well. The three strongest oppositions to Mubarak s the Judge s Club, the Egyptian Businessmen s Association and the Muslim Brotherhood have expressed anti-popular politics for some time now, despite pushing for various political reforms. Both the Judge s Club and the EBA have been supporters of neo-liberal reform, for different reasons. The EBA was concerned with creating an attractive market for foreign investment and competition,100 whereas the Judge s Club is a relic of early 20th century elite liberalism. The colonial influence clearly remains today. James Scott calls this the Mark of Oppression.
101

They have

accepted the Western model of development as the only viable form of economy,
99

Gopal, Anand. Egypt s Cauldron of Revolt. Foreign Policy Magazine. 16 February 2011. Web. 18 March 2011. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/>.
100 101

Rutherford. 210 Scott . Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 32

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even when they claim opposition to the West and in the process, discredit alternative forms of development.102 The Muslim Brotherhood is an even better example of this contradiction, especially because they often criticize Western culture and claim some sort of populism. For strategic motives, they are for general public participation in elections but this is simply because it is their best route for attaining power.103 Despite their vocal support for participatory politics, the MB has criticized democratic means as possessing the ability to quickly cause mass disorder amongst the public and hold the potential of disobeying the ethical precepts of Islam.
104

The position they take

has become one where democracy is good if it elects their leaders but mob rule if it elects the opposition. In reality, their political values are more in line with the ruling NDP than that of the public. In fact, if we look at why the MB and some of its militant followers have become generally popular, we see that it is the symptom of state policy. As the Structural Adjustment Plan,105 was introduced under Mubarak, a wave of mass migrations into the urban cities of Egypt sprung up as small-farmers lost various social expenditures and common land (shared by multiple farmers) was bought up by larger, agribusinesses.106 One of the outcomes of these policies was the creation of large, dense Sh abi quarters or neighborhood slums of extreme poverty within cities like Cairo.107 In effect, the Egyptian government had created the conditions for mass resistance and it was here that the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing
102

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and Ruccio, D. After Development: Re-imagining Economy and Class Re/Presenting Class: Essays in Postmodern Marxism. Eds. J.K Graham-Gibson, Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001. Print. 103 Rutherford 2008, 176. 104 Ibid, 235 105 This is a neo-liberal economic development program strongly recommended by the IMF/World Bank as a condition of receiving a short or long term loan. The program recommends many free-market reforms such as balancing the state budget, privatization of public services, deregulation and floating of the country s currency. (See Ha-Joon Chang. Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capital. London, UK: Bloomsbury Press, 2008). 106 Chowdhury. Everyday Economic Practices. 127 107 Ibid, 126.

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the opportunity to gain support, stepped into these neighborhoods. The MB quickly offered social services through local mosques to fill the gaps that were created during the liberalization period. As the Egyptian state saw the MB gain popular support, they cracked down on mosques and replaced the Imams with statesanctioned clerics.
108

The problem with this is that it backfired and made the

Muslim Brotherhood and its followers more militant. Once again, when power expresses derisive oppression, it tends to push the oppressed to the point that they are willing to lose their life.109 What I believe is needed in Egypt is not simply a new leader but a change in social relations towards something of a local, participatory democracy. This will not only mobilize the marginalized citizens of Egypt but might be the best hope for preventing another authoritarian State government. Christopher Hitchens recently wrote that he didn t believe Egypt had the chance of truly overcoming a tyrannical government because Egypt has yet to have anything that resembles a genuine opposition leader and those groups that claim to represent the opposition are nothing but emancipated hulks.
110

I basically agree with Hitchens; to us in the

West there doesn t appear to be a genuine opposition leader but that is because we are considering only that which fits our norms of legitimate. Frankly, it is very rare for changes in history to be caused by the people rather than by a change in the composition of the elite but this is perhaps an expression of our beliefs of what is suitable.111 In contrast to this, the Jasmine Revolution is important as it stands as a

108 109

Ibid. 84 Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 37 110 Hitchens, Christopher. What I don t see at the Revolution. Slate.
111

Ferguson, Thomas. "Party Realignment and American Industrial Structure: The Investment Theory of Political Parties in Historical Perspective."Research in Political Economy. Ed. Paul Zarembka. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1995. Print. Ferguson s research shows how the issues that make up the discourse of elections are usually the result of differences and/or splits in the business sector.

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strong expression of popular opinion (both positively and negatively). However, one may ask is that even necessary for a successful revolution? Should the Egyptian people need to put their future in the hands of one person? If Bourdieu is right, that power ultimately resides in the persons who elevate a selected individual to something that transcends the common mortal, than it should be true that the resources necessary to effectively govern do not need a hierarchical figure.112 This hypothesis, that a hierarchy is not essential to governance, can be argued but only under conditions in which resource disparities do not hinder the attainment of the symbolic or cultural capital needed for every individual s opinion to be accepted as meaningful. This does not imply that only under a Habermasian ideal speech situation, or one of perfect equality, can this be achieved but that people should not be effectively silenced by structural or economic constraints that have prevented them from being able to establish themselves in their communities.113 As John Plamenatz explains, that what makes a choice reasonable is not because the actor can give a satisfactory explanation for why they made it but because if [he/she] could give an explanation, it would be satisfactory
114

In sum, the average individual

has the ability to give answers that are deemed rational and reasonable if they possessed the means (whether knowledge, verbal or economic) necessary to produce these credible statements. However, the very creation of these markets that exclude, came about not in a democratic manner but as the result of stratification of access to the necessary cultural, language and symbolic capital needed to engage with one s neighbor.115
112

Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. 202

113Habermas,

Jurgen. Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990. 86. Print. 114 Bachrach, Peter. The Theory of Democratic Elitism. Washington, D.C: University Press of America, 1980. Print.
115

Schwartz, Joseph. The Future of Democratic Equality: Rebuilding Social Solidarity in a Fragmented America. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing, 1997. 55. Print.

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Of course, some might argue that without a dominant power, there is no order or, that a direct democracy will devolve into mob rule. Great thinkers from Plato to Joseph Schumpeter have argued that democracy is inherently unstable and will most likely end in an invasion on individual rights. The only solution, they argue, is to establish an elite class who can maintain order and subdue the irrationality of the masses.116 What is interesting is the basis for most of this political thought or political realism, comes from an account of another revolt relayed by Greek historian Thucydides.117 In his History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides remarks how order dissolved upon the Corycians war breaking out, and was instead replaced by irrational mobs of citizens who carried out violence, simply because they could not control their violent human nature.118 Following the outbreak of riots in Cairo, echoing this realist viewpoint, news media almost immediately expressed concern over predicted ethnic conflict in the region in a similar manner.119
For more on this view see either Plato The Republic or Joseph Schumpeter s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper, 1950. Print/
116 117

Sahlins, Marshall. 2008. The Western Illusion of Human Nature. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Print. The Revolution that is alluded to is the Corcyra Revolt. Thucydides writes In the confusion into which life was now thrown in the cities, human nature, always rebelling against the law and now its master, gladly showed itself ungoverned in passion, above respect for justice, and the enemy of all superiority; since revenge would not have been set above religion, and gain above justice, had it not been for the fatal power of envy. Indeed men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required. (See Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War. Trans. Richard Winn Livingstone, and Richard Crawley. London, UK: G. Cumberlege, 1946. Book 3.82-85. Print.).
118

Champion, Marc. 2011. Coptic Christians Worried About Future Without Mubarak. Wall Street Journal. February 1, 2011. Web. 12 March 2011 <http://online.wsj.com/ >. The Pew Research center also published a report at the beginning of the uprising, showing that the use of words like theocracy or extremism were often used more frequently than other words like democracy (Also see Marc, Jurkowitz. The Fall of Mubarak and the Media. Pew Research Center. 7 February 2011. Web. 13 March 2011. <http://www.journalism.org/>.)
119

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The current revolution, at least in Egypt, appears to contradict this theory. In fact, cooperation between groups that have been conventionally thought as permanently hostile towards one another (Muslims and Coptic Christians) has become a feature that has defined this revolution. Stories of Copts protecting praying Muslims and vice-versa flooded the blogs during the beginning of the revolution but were ignored in many mainstream news outlets. Images of this new unity such as the pictures of Imam s and Priests rallying together to chant We are one hand have defined this revolution as not just revolting against an authoritarian government, but against prejudices of the West.120 In fact, many of the incidences of sectarian conflict in Egypt are being examined, as they contain the marks of instigation by Mubarak loyalists, perhaps as a way to break up the unity of the revolutionary forces.121 This mutual aid shouldn t come as a surprise but the idea that cultural diversity leads to conflict has become so ingrained in modern thought that it dominates our assumptions. India, a country much more diverse than Egypt and with a similar colonial past, was predicted to devolve into totalitarianism upon the introduction of popular democracy because of the belief that competing ethnicities would seek to destroy the opposition.122 Instead, it regularly shifts between different ethnicities holding power with no dissolution of the State. What many political theorists fail to realize is that instead of reducing to irrational mob rule, Democracy has the ability to push individuals to collaborate and encourage non-violent, sensible discourse.123 In fact, contrary to the expectations of political

120

Cole, Juan. Christians, Muslims One Hand in Egypt s Youth Revolution. Informed Comment. February 7, 2011. Web. 13 March 2011. <http://www.juancole.com>. 121 Afify, Heba. In Atfeeh, sectarian clashes might be a conspiracy. Al-Masry-Al-Youm. 10 March 2011. Web. 13 March 2011. <http://www.almasryalyoum.com>.
122

Harrison, Selig. India: The Most Dangerous Decades, New Delhi: Oxord Press, 1960. 338-339. Print. Bachrach. The Theory of Democratic Elitism. 103

123

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theorists about India at the time, Democracy appears to have acted as a pacifier for ethnic conflict by allowing groups to mobilize from within a system rather than attacking it from the outside.124 Returning to the factors that influence revolutions, one can deduce that ethnic conflicts are often the result of situations where one lacks a voice, rather than during cases where one has a voice but perhaps does not get along with others.

124

Das Gupta, Jyotirindra. Ethnicity, Democracy and Development in India: Assam in a General Perspective Democracy in Developing Countries: Asia. Eds. Larry Diamond, Juan J. Lintz and Seymour Lipset. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishing, 1989. 167. Print. Empirical evidence also appears to support the idea that Democracy reduces the chance of a terrorist attack within a country (see Quan Li Does Democracy Promote or Reduce Transnational Terrorist Incidents? Journal of Conflict Resolution Vol. 48, No.2, 2005:278-297. Print.)

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125

Even if one doesn t accept the belief that diversity will lead to conflict, they might still harbor the view that hierarchy is still needed in order to run something efficiently. Many might hold semi-technocratic views, insisting that complicated tasks like finance or engineering remain in the hands of those who hold university degrees in order to maximize success. It is definitely wise to rely on those with expert skill to complete a task but talents can be developed in many different situations. Egypt has a history of hidden resistance that not only challenges this view, but introduces a whole series of variables that are usually not considered as a
125

Zyglis, Adam. February 12, 2011. The Buffalo News. 12 February 2011. Web. 14 March 2011. <http://blogs.buffalonews.com/adam-zyglis/>.

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traditional economic indicator. For Egyptian women, it is one of the several informal credit associations or gam iya that allows them to maintain valuable family occasions (like weddings or funerals) and keep money within communities.126 Despite never receiving formal training by banking institutions, many of these community credit organizations operate extremely effectively, often circulating large amounts of money around at extremely low transaction costs while still possessing a very high repayment percentage!127 A superficial reading of this outcome would praise only the economic effectiveness of the gam iyas but the real victory is the autonomy and meaning given to these associations. They build trust, they provide formerly excluded resources, they invest in that which is valuable to the locales they become tools for the construction of identities. Instead of following the development path already forged out, they become the force of their own creation. It is empowerment which should be stressed, especially when it comes to the question of breaking free from cultural domination. Thus, our final question: how can the Egyptians find their own identity in language and rid themselves of their colonial past? Several philosophers, such as Richard Rorty or Jacques Derrida, have tried to answer this question of language and semiotic hegemony. Their conclusions often range from resisting the traditional ranking of the word128 to simply the creation of a new vocabulary and meanings.129 Bourdieu mentions that there is a tendency for language that meant one thing amongst the old rule to become transformed into something with a new meaning during revolutions but he doesn t explain how.130 It is due to this that I reject these
Chowdhury, Everyday Economic Practices. 127-129. Ibid. 21 & 124. 128 McCumber. Philosophy and Freedom 23. In this manner, Egyptians of the ammiya could reject the cultural binary between thaqafa and turath or the difference in the words used for culture by the different classes in Egypt. Derrida suggest the hierarchy between the words be flipped and then synthesized in a new word. 129 Ibid. 63. 130 Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. 47.
127 126

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options as solutions on their own because they approach the problem as one that can be solved simply through exit mechanisms rather than through one s which empower the voice of Egyptians. While these tools may be useful in overcoming language barriers as a group, individually they self-censor. As Scott says, The hidden transcript never becomes a language apart but retains mutual intelligibility with that of the dominant transcript, as if it was itself a former colony of the public transcript.131 There is no doubt that the hidden transcript is important in both providing a platform for airing of anger and establishing group cohesion but simply choosing to drop out of dominant transcripts and create new meanings for traditional words fails to overcome the power structures propagate the transcript. No matter how many words are reinvented, as long as the dominant lingual markets exist, unequal relationships will continue to establish material and social inequality amongst populations. Pensively, I approach this question with apprehension. Often attempts to help give voice or create identities lead to the same homogenization that one was trying to prevent I am not Egyptian and do not know their individual experiences. What constitutes their distinctness should ultimately be a product of their own will. One of the great critiques of modern postcolonial theory, by Gayatri Spivak, is the tendency for outside intellectuals to imply complete comprehension of the subaltern s experience or the persistent constitution of the Other as the Self s shadow.
132

Our predisposition towards truth often causes us to speak for

individuals and suppress them in the same manner that colonialism originally functioned. This is even more apparent when we consider the symbolic and cultural capital gap between a Western scholar and a baladi peasant.133 Instead, we must
131 132

Scott. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. 135. Spivak, Gayatri C. Can the Subaltern Speak? The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Eds. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. London; New York: Routledge, 2006. 24. Print. 133 Baladi means local. (See Khayatt. Terms of Desire: Are there Lesbians in Egypt? 219).

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speak to the people of Egypt, so that we may listen to them and show that their voices are valued. What is needed is an organization where voices are felt equally, free from the restrictions of the markets or suppressive transcripts, where people do not feel they need to possess any sort of cultural or capital to participate and are free from any kind of intimidation (intellectual, power, etc). The best starting point for overcoming this, even if it is still incomplete, would again be the creation of a more inclusive form of democracy (rather than just a liberal democracy), where individual s voices hold equal weight and are not significantly constrained by any economic, political, cultural or symbolic factor. The very act of establishing a more direct democracy will decentralize power but this does not imply a fall into anarchy or dissolution similar to Yugoslavia. Instead, one can adopt what already appears to be happening (for example, the democratization of the factories in El-Mahalla El-Kubra) and apply it to a new, more inclusive form of governance through the use of democracy in the workplace. Since corporate institutions already play a big role in a citizen s life both through economic control and social authority,134 as well as possess perhaps the biggest influence on the outcome of elections,135 it would be only fair that Egyptians be given the right to greater democratic control over their jobs. This could be anything from something as radical as worker cooperatives to simply a vote in which candidate their place of work supports during an election, either through finance or endorsement. When direct democracies exist, they confront individuals to operate cooperatively in the solution of concrete problems affecting [themselves] instead of weakly through representations created by stronger interests (or not at all). Regardless of this more popular approach, one need not fear that this will

135

Bachrach. The Theory of Democratic Elitism. 69 For more see (Ferguson. "Party Realignment and American Industrial Structure: The Investment Theory of Political Parties in Historical Perspective.").

134

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undoubtedly lead to homogenization of opinion.136 I strongly believe that as discourse happens, differences will naturally occur and inspire reevaluation of one s position or perhaps, investigation into further evidence of their position.137 Either way, such a process reveres the innovation of new conceptions, a goal of which our vocabularies play a role in creating.138 Thus, it is under these conditions of open debate and cooperation, demarcated from the barriers to entry, that linguistic and semiotic freedom can be sought as expressed by the previously mentioned poststructuralism thinkers. It is now clear why a democracy can serve as a means of breaking free from past-language constructions. Under general equality, each individual becomes a possible producer of legitimate language but still retains a need for camaraderie with others; a unity of solidarity and pluralism.

Conclusion In conclusion, what is not seen or even hides itself plays equally an important role as that which flaunts itself on the public stage. Domination works on multiple spectrums to project an image greater than itself, often as a deterrent from its real weaknesses. It is our responsibility to avoid jumping to hasty generalizations, especially now that we understand there that we me consider a whole multitude of transcripts that we do not see. I cannot claim to know what Egyptians want but if their history is any indication, than a direct democracy could not only work but flourish in the region. Ultimately, our role should not be to sit back and analyze the situation through our scholarly lens but to respond and support Egypt as members our world s family. Perhaps the biggest finding I learned from this series of event is that power is a two-way street and that relationships of power are never
Bachrach. The Theory of Democratic Elitism. 103 Difference of opinion leads to enquiry and enquiry to truth Thomas Jefferson. (See Thomas Jefferson and John P. Foley. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia. New York: Russell & Russell, 1967. 660. Print.) 138 McCumber. Philosophy and Freedom. 71
137 136

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permanently set. Such revelation is not only optimistic but also empowering if the protests in Yemen and Bahrian (and soon to be transitioning Libya) are any indication, it is that the actions by just ordinary people in one country can change the world. The Jasmine Revolution should provide motivation to the world s oppressed that their ability to overcome is not something fictional but a very real and a very possible now.

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