Chaos Without Collapse

The Egyptian Revolution will continue to offer a classic example of the vulnerability of government to human pressure for change, and yet the infallibility of the system in the midst of chaos. For eighteen days of vicious and vitriolic attacks for the Mubarak regime to caput, the Egyptian nation did not witness systemic failure. There was no power outage. No potable water problem. No food shortages. No gas problems. Transportation was intact. Indeed the transport sub-system and all other sub-systems were effectively utilized for the sustenance of the soul of the revolution.


Incredibly, the internet and communication sub-sets were actively functional until the government had to cut them off. Mubarak realized that the availability of these essentials were instrumental in the intensity of the demonstrations. The ICT had facilitated social-networking for communication, planning, agenda-setting, meetings, rallies, and overall execution of the protests. The television, radio and newspaper services were also uninterrupted and when that happened, it was quickly restored to normalcy. As a matter of fact, the consistency of the cable television and radio services aided the revolution.

For instance, the regular update of events from such services reached the nooks and crannies of Egypt. These mobilized more human and ideological muscle and constituted a morale booster, as hopes were kept alive and social and political consciousness was galvanized. It also aided the systematization of the revolution: all sections and parts of the nation realized that they were working in concert, and what more, that they were having an upper hand. Hence, they became more resolute and poised to win.

Also, the news flow sustained Egypt’s visibility in the global system. The inflow and outflow of information helped the cause of the revolution. Egyptians realized from the inflow how much of international support and sympathy they were getting; while the world had first-hand knowledge of happenings in the embattled country. The global attention and the systemic effect the revolution was having for change in other parts of the Mediterranean and indeed the entire world, was known among the revolutionaries. They knew that by removing Mubarak, one of the longest serving national rulers in the world, they would not only be changing Egypt, but also the world.

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The systemic order was thus a major factor in the success of the revolution. The power, water and food availability; ICT intervention and communication flow from far and near; information flow into and out of Egypt; and a resolute populace bound by a common cause; all went a long way in accomplishing the main purpose of civil-society: positive change agent.

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So far, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are the most successful 21st century political changes. They recorded minimal disorder and yet monumental change. The power of the people worked. The changes are a radical improvement on what happened in Sudan in the 80s/90s when the Sudanese leader was chased out of office by stick and cutlass-wielding masses. The North African revolution was also a more sophisticated experience than the hurling of Said Barre out of power in Somalia in the late 80s. Although people were killed in both Tunisia and Egypt, the casualties for such a fundamental change of probably the world’s worst cases of sit-tights, are remarkably minimal. The most significant feature however is change without collapse.

More importantly, the seamless change in Egypt should serve as a big lesson for other nations. Removing government should not imply multiple destruction of properties and infrastructures. It should not mean lives can be wasted at random. State terror or assassination should not be an accompaniment. Neither Ben Ali of Tunisia nor Hosni Mubarak was assassinated. Nor did any of the leaderships pour soldiers to the streets to carry out mass murder of the citizens they swore to protect. The killings in Egypt were though unfortunate, but in any case, such is inevitable in violence, particularly when there are dissents and rival clashes, or when there are trigger-happy elements in the ranks of a detachment.

We in Nigeria-our leaders and us-have a lot to learn from the Egyptians. We must understand the language and poise of civility in our planning and execution of mass demonstration. Consistency and resolve in an atmosphere of order should characterize our action. Pulling down houses, setting buildings and public infrastructure ablaze, burning petrol stations, vehicles, tyres, and engaging in acts that would pollute the air and our environment are certainly not acts that can translate to positive change. Food prices do not have to be jerked up because of demonstrations. Actually, food should be made much available and cheaper if truly we want to help ourselves by changing an undesirable political system. We do not have to attack one another or make life difficult for ourselves in the name of fighting the status quo or seeking to remove it.

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In a similar vein, the leaders do not have to send killer squads after protesters or the opposition leaders. Also, life should not be snuffed out by troops of soldiers and policemen who are meant to protect the protesters and control acts of violence. Again, power outage or national darkness does not have to occur. The excuse that the protesters vandalize these things is not tenable. If the structure of every infrastructure has a firm foundation, like having underground cables and not electric and telephone poles as we presently do, there would not be an easy recourse to vandalization by an angry mob.

The water system, as telecoms, information, and transportation systems do not have to break down whenever there is any small or big crisis. Egypt has belied the fact that social disorder is recipe for systemic failure.

Dr. Folarin writes from Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria. purchase stromectol onlineStromectol 3 mg tablets

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