Thursday, August 15, 2013

Observation v. Illusion

Events in Egypt (at this point marked by Square Cleansing of Brotherhood Supporters), had me asking myself this morning: “Did anybody really win the French Revolution?” The boiling eventually stopped, but looking for a winner—as in who achieved power in that endless flux— the best answer is that Napoleon Bonaparte was the victor. He gained ultimate power and ended the Revolution when, in a coup, he dispersed the so-called Directorate and replaced it with the Consulate (1799). He was then a mere 30-year old self-made general of genius.

Refreshing my memory of the Revolution by reading the highly-condensed Wikipedia article on the subject, I though that the text sounded like instant commentary describing the boiling of a stew. You want chaos? There it is. In 1789 France had a population of 28 million—a large enough number to produce the kind of chaos that is not really describable. Egypt today has a population of nearly 83 million.

The parallels are many—because, in fact, upheavals such as the French or the Egyptian revolutions are best described as natural events. They happen when social structures reach a certain social paralysis and then, quite spontaneously, rearrange themselves—not unlike tensions in the earth’s crust that produce periodic quakes. In that process, inevitably, chaos results. And the chaos eventually ends when order is restored, always by military force.

While the chaos rages, all manner of illusory ideas will lend color to the madly rising steam that rises from the bubbling pot: such as progress or the fervently sought arrival of millennium. The deep intuition in the human soul—that all of us are destined for a better realm—gets projected to the here and now. But here and now is not where that takes place. But what is going on, here and now, is much better described as the mechanics of society. When these have frozen up while life’s energies continue to push demanding change, chaos happens.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... A tough topic. You present a very interesting picture, it has the ring of truth to it.

    I'm afraid that my thoughts on the topic&Mdash;after the sadness of what the violence is meaning to those caught in the midst of it&Mdash;have been nasty and cynical of late. I keep wondering, where are Twitter and Facebook? They were credited with empowering the revolution, enabling it if some were to be believed. Yet now, nobody is asking, where are Facebook and Twitter now?

    I also can't help but wonder how enthusiastic, American supporters of the Egyptian revolution might be reacting if they were suddenly confronted with a government made up of very conservative, religious types who wished to implement some more moral standards on the laws under which we live...

    Your description of what is happening in Egypt these days is one of the best I've seen... I view it within a framework of realpolitik and the Suez Canal.... and then it becomes clear what the U.S. will do. No bid mystery. Realpolitik will win.

    Mostly, we should pray for all those whose lives will be directly harmed in Eygpt's upheavals, in Syria's, and all across the middle east. I really feel for these people.

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