[ilds] The Egyptian Revolution

Ken Gammage Ken.Gammage at directed.com
Wed Feb 2 08:59:34 PST 2011

An article about protests in Alexandria from today's Los Angeles Times mentions two places in the city: the Ibrahim Mosque and Masr Square:


-- Ken

-----Original Message-----
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Lee Sternthal
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 12:26 PM
To: gifford at fdu.edu; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Subject: Re: [ilds] The Egyptian Revolution

One thing I'm fairly certain of: H.M. And L.D. would have had as little faith in "the people" as they would the government to determine they're collective fate when the system broke down.  

What I'm not sure of is what the next step in their thought process would have been; H.M. might not have like revolution, but what to do when you're caught up in the middle of one?  I've often felt his anarcho-political philosophy was created as if sitting on a perch, high above, unconnected.  How much can you trust a political observation made from that vantage point?  Is it just another editorial, full of hot air, but of little use.  L.D., of course, lived through, and was directly affected by an Islamist revolution of his own time, but I wonder if the nature of the people has changed. If they fall into fanaticism...democracy used to vote in totalitarianism...is there a term for that other than irony?

Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 31, 2011, at 8:44 AM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 31/01/11 7:40 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> Recall how the Lenin and the Bolsheviks took
>> control.  In the Egyptian situation, the ones
>> who appear incorruptible and beyond reproach
>> may end up ruling.  Robespierre was known as
>> "the Incorruptible."
> In a sense, this is what I mean by turning to the "antiauthoritarian" in 
> Durrell's works, in particular during the 30s and 40s, and I think it's 
> where there's common ground with Henry Miller's explicit anarchism:
> "I am against revolutions because they always involve a return to the 
> status quo. I am against the status quo both before and after 
> revolutions. I don't want to wear a black shirt or a red shirt. I want 
> to wear the shirt that suits my taste." (Miller's "Open Letter to 
> Surrealists Everywhere" 160).
> Miller wrote that essay in response to Herbert Read's short lived 
> support for Communism while boosting Surrealism:
> "[Surrealism only succeeds] in the degree to which it leads to 
> revolutionary actions" (8) and "work[s] for the transformation of this 
> imperfect world." (13)
> Durrell responded to precisely the same issue in his first letter to 
> Miller describing the Heraldic Universe, which was in reaction to Miller 
> sending him a copy of Read's above speech:
> "the Heraldic Universe.... will never be chic because it is my personal 
> property and I don't want any movement made up of people who agree with 
> each other even on first principles" (Durrell & Miller Letters 20).
> The last few words are directly from Read's speech. Yet, for Durrell, 
> the matter is slightly different, his problem being Read's suggestion:
> "That the artist must be a socialist, for example. That he wants to 
> transform the world. (He wants to transform men.)" (Durrell
> and Miller Letters 18).
> The rebuttal of Read's "transformation of this imperfect world" is 
> fairly clear there.  Eventually, however, he got to "No Clue to Living" 
> in 1960:
> "One supposes that the Artist as a public Opinionator only grew up with 
> the social conscience -- with Dickens, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.... 
> [T]here come hundreds of letters asking him to take up public positions 
> on every conceivable matter.... But it is very doubtful whether he has 
> anything to say which could be more original than the other 
> pronouncements by public figures, for apart from his art he is just an 
> ordinary fellow like everyone else." (17)
> One can't help but wonder if we're all just ordinary fellows, and hence 
> the kind of power vested in a Lenin, Robespierre, and so forth is ill 
> advised...  They have no greater incorruptibility nor immunity to 
> temptation than any of us.
> Best,
> James
> On 31/01/11 7:40 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> I think the Egyptian people want their impoverished lot improved and
>> are tired of being rule by a corrupt oligarchy (the Memlik types).
>> Doesn't this remind you of the French Revolution?  Whether or not a
>> democracy can provide that in the short term is questionable.  I fear
>> that the Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, are better
>> organized and better capable of seizing power.  They also have great
>> religious fervor and appeal to a strong religious impulse.  Recall
>> how the Lenin and the Bolsheviks took control.  In the Egyptian
>> situation, the ones who appear incorruptible and beyond reproach may
>> end up ruling.  Robespierre was known as "the Incorruptible."
>> BR
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