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RANYA KHALIFA: "Democracy Digest"...


From Revolution to Evolution & "Political Consciousness"

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (44)

From Revolution to Evolution & "Political Consciousness"

Was Egypt's Revolution hijacked? Did the Revolution fail to meet people's aspirations? These are questions being asked ever so often, and incessantly, in cafes, living rooms, and most of all, in people's minds in Egypt, and beyond.  Revolutions require ample time to run their course before being subjected to judgments of success or failure.  But, thinkers, political pundits and historians can infer from the past and attempt to predict a future outcome. I am of the opinion, however, that Revolutions succeed when they bring about the onset of evolutionary socio-political discourse, which in turn, metamorphose into a more acute political awareness and finally, a heightened sense of  "political consciousness".

Let me begin this essay by defining "Revolution" as a "radical transformation from one state of affairs to another...the ancien regime or "old order" must be dysfunctional to provoke discontent...and hence make itself vulnerable to revolutionary activity...nevertheless, the ancien regime must have some semblence of legitimacy to provide a focus for energies of the revolution".  Within this context, January 25th was no doubt a Revolution and not a mere protest or show of "unrest".

Egypt's January 25th Revolution has made Egyptians think of what they want, instead of being told what's good for them.  The fact that there are numerous newly formed political parties, a Constitution Referendum, parliamentary elections, and impending presidential elections, is tantamount to a crash course in democratic "modus operandi".  Egyptians are getting more connected to what's happening on the political field after decades of apathy and political malaise.  Is that not a revolutionary change in and of itself? The fact that Egyptians are joining marches, planning sit-ins, monitoring labor strikes and attending debates and panel discussions, choosing between 13 presidential candidates, openly and overtly discussing whom is best-suited for the top job, isn't that all a revolutionary evolution?

"Evolution" theory is utilized to sketch the outline of a performance based perspective of political "thinking"...within this context of evolutionary perspective, consciousness at the individual level is shown to develop...as a result of interaction of biological and environmental variables including among the latter, elements of the social environment, like ideas, values, and intentions as well as institutional patterns of conflict and authority..."  Losco, "Political Behavior", 1985.  Evolution in a broader sense is defined as to "develop, expand, grow, mature, progress, unfold, work-out".  In this context, I do believe that Egypt's current state of flux and political rigor is a sure sign of political evolution post January 25th.

Revolution and evolution demand "reconfiguration", because change will be met with forces of opposition.  The course to evolution commences when opposing parties agree to disagree, consequently recognizing their differences.  More importantly, however, is the dire necessity of working on similarities in order to forge a path forward out of the chaos.  Each party need not succumb to the will of the other, but rather recognize that collective action is needed at times, all the while fine-tuning their own political objectives.

Marx described "Political Consciousness" as "a person's political sense of self...consciousness describes a person's awareness of politics."  And do you not agree that many Egyptians have in a political sense, become "politically conscious", i.e. awakened to a different political role post January 25th ?  Have not many Egyptians become in tune with a consciousness which breaks with the ancien regime's political and economic discourse and rhetoric?  This conscious break with the past and active quest for a "Second Republic" is a nascent transition from revolution, to an evolution in "political consciousness". 

Is this not a historical watershed?