A global drumbeat of revolt

A fine example of how revolutionary Wahn resonates internationally came in a report in The Guardian on Friday February 25.

A young protester in Winsconsin, USA, opposing insidious anti-union legislation, was asked where his inspiration had come from.

He replied that it was “from student demonstrations in Britain in Britain and protests in Tunisia and Egypt”.

And in turn, the sight of major demonstrations in favour of workers’ rights in the USA will no doubt inspire others in who knows what corner of the world, amplifying still further the thrilling drumbeat of global revolt.

The resonance of revolution

The Egyptian Revolution, though not quite over yet, is remarkable and inspiring in more ways than one.

Much has been made of the fact that it was largely peaceful – the violence was all on the part of the state’s thugs – and sheer mass people power won the day.

But this commendable fact hides an even more interesting aspect.

In media interviews with protesters, the same phrase kept cropping up time and time again: “If we want freedom we have to be ready to sacrifice our lives.”

The revolutionaries made it clear that they had passed through the fear barrier that keeps us in thrall to the lower instinct of individual self-preservation – and into a higher state of being where the individual finds real meaning through connection to the whole.

We need to see, or rather to understand deep inside, that the narrow road to personal happiness and self-indulgence is, literally, a dead end, as Tolstoy often pointed out.

And we have to be aware not only that we are parts of a greater whole, but that this greater whole will not be healthy without those parts fulfilling the biological roles for which they have evolved.

A human collective cannot be free unless it contains fearless individuals who are not afraid to risk their lives to ensure that freedom.

Note that this is not the same as deliberately dying for a cause in the manner of a suicide-bombing death cult.

The Egyptian protesters were “ready to sacrifice” their lives – but obviously would have preferred not to be called upon to do so.

The courage of the Egyptian revolutionaries must surely be beyond the understanding of most people in countries like Britain.

Many of us are deterred from standing up for justice and freedom by the fear of losing our jobs, getting arrested or being whacked by a police baton.

Under the Mubarak regime, it was a question of torture and death, not just for the individual but also for their family.

How did they find the strength to shake off their fear and thus inspire their fellow citizens to do the same?

It could be argued that, while the revolution was not islamist in nature, the religious faith of many of the insurgents (Muslim or Coptic Christian) eased the natural fear of death.

A sense of self-sacrifice on behalf of the whole Egyptian people could also be highlighted.

This is uneasy territory, of course. In this country, as in France, Germany or the USA, identification with the nation is taken as meaning identification with the state and thus with the very system which oppresses us.

But in countries that are victims of imperialism the concept of national identity takes on a more liberatory aspect, despite all its inherent dangers.

There is also the factor that the extreme poverty of many in Egypt, and the sheer nastiness of the regime, gave people a sense of having nothing to lose that we, in our pampered consumer existences, can barely imagine.

I do feel, however, that something more powerful has manifested itself on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and across Egypt, as well in the cities and towns of Tunisia during their revolution.

We are seeing the crackling of a revolutionary energy, an electric field of courageous defiance rising up from a new generation of human beings whose spirit has not yet been dulled and crushed by decades of miserable subservience.

This was the ‘Wahn’ described by the great German anarchist Gustav Landauer, who explained: “Wahn is not only every goal, every ideal, every belief in a sense of purpose of life and the world: Wahn is every banner followed by mankind; every drumbeat leading mankind into danger; every alliance that unites mankind and creates from a sum of individuals a new structure, an organism.”

There is no reason to think that the effects of this Wahn will be confined to the Arab world, even though the more immediate ramifications are likely to be felt in that region.

While the positive energy created by the Tunisian uprising was enough to inspire thre rest of North Africa, the resonance from the February 11 revolution is so powerful it will be felt all across the world.

We already have signs – in the vibrant student protests in Britain, Italy, Greece and elsewhere – that something very powerful is emerging from today’s youth.

All like-minded people I have spoken to (of all ages) have been enormously inspired by the events in Egypt, even though it is geographically and culturally remote from us here.

Every subsequent uprising will simply charge up the atmosphere still further and encourage us all to believe that anything really is possible.

I am filled with hope that the human race is at last producing the antibodies needed to destroy the disease of global industrial capitalism which risks choking the planet to death.

These human antibodies are always there, in every generation, but again and again are blocked from performing their role by the cancer, or system, in all the various ways I mention in the booklet.

Perhaps now the human race is throwing up tougher, more resistant forms of antibodies that cannot so easily be defeated by the disease.

The way that any living organism regenerates itself is through the replacement of its physical parts with fresh growth. In the case of humanity, this means the emergence of new generations (it’s even the same root word).

The most important thing now is that this generation is allowed to fulfill its regenerative potential and is not blocked from doing its job.

We can all help with the process, by amplifying the resonance from the revolutions, by casting aside cautious self-interest and opening ourselves up to the collective surge of transformative energy that humanity is releasing to rid us of the malignant growth of capitalism.

And most of all we must, like the heroes and heroines of the Nile, cast aside our fear of what lies ahead.