Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Arab Winter

Protesters keep coming to Tahrir Square. The scenes, thousands of people chanting, camping up, are now part of our daily lives. The silent Egypt, oppressed and tortured by Hosni Mubarak and his thugs, is as much a history now as the Pharaoh's one. As no futurist would have crystal-gazed the scenes of a tragicomic Muammar Qaddafi, with a tattered silk robe and wielding a golden gun, being lynched by a mob, they would not have envisioned the whole Arab world enthralled by a permanent state of revolution, which seems so self-evident and self-propelling now.

In a sense, twitter revolution is over. We are now in serious territory. Freedom is no longer a word in political spin, but a real aspiration. Obama recognizes that his rhetoric is catching up with him, the monster he wanted to selectively peek into has now been unleashed on the streets. This is no longer a right-wing American politician's mid-afternoon fantasy, but real blood and sweat revolution. And, if it goes on, it has a chance to change the world.

We seriously thought we can control a revolution. We knew how much freedom is permissible. We wanted to change a little - allow the valve on the pressure cooker whistle a bit - and let a few out-of-date, out-of-touch expendable dictators perish. We knew when to televise, when to issue statements and when to uncork the Champagne. The life-and-death questions of ordinary Egyptians were only a small detail in our Geo-political ploy, in the great game of controlling oil through controlling the minds. We knew better to bomb Libya but not Yemen, televise Syria but not Bahrain, and talk about Iran but not Saudi Arabia.

Yet, for all our control of twitter stream and English language, people fooled us by talking to the Taxi drivers, or, in front of them. They spoke in any language they could, as long as the message was of empowerment. The little people, who seemed beholden to daily bread and left the Geo-politics to us so far, suddenly gathered in a faceless bodiless monster formation in Tahrir Square, no less menacing than a merciless Aircraft Carrier. They chanted together, and noise submerged the fighter planes we could muster. And, by doing so, it seemed they took the aspirations of freedom a little too far.

You can now almost imagine the red faces in the liberal gatherings. You can almost see cold tea being served in those posh middle class tea parties, or even, what scandal, broken china! You can feel the confusion in various aesthetically shaped offices. You can hear political spin in search of a new language. The world we imagined has gone beyond itself, and by doing so, opened up questions that we didn't want to ask.

Welcome to an Arab winter. 


1 comment:

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

With NYPD waiting for winter to really kick in, and 2012 prophecies filling the hearts of the faithful with dread, it promises to be a season of change all over the world. Very nicely written, and a welcome stylistic break from your otherwise scholarly posts.

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