by Nizar Manek
As the area around the fenced-up Meidan Tahrir pulsed with what felt like a gigantic fascist carnival for the cult of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the shadow of Gamal Abdel Nasser seemed to rise from the pages of history. It was 25 January 2014, the third anniversary of the beginning of the end of Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s rule - and the start of the protests that sought to end six decades of military rule, which had begun with Nasser and the military junta that deposed King Farouk. The Free Officers’ putsch of 1952 not only dispensed with constitutional monarchy and removed Egypt from the orbit of British colonialism; it also set loose Egypt’s army as autonomous agents answerable to no one.
During the period of the 25 January 2011 revolution, hundreds lost their lives and thousands were injured as a result of clashes between protestors, security forces and Mubarakists. Three years later, the referendum for Egypt’s military-backed amended constitution was complete: this January a 38.6% controlling swath of voters turned out to vote, striking a Faustian pact with the army with a virtually unanimous Yes. The document exempts the military from any oversight, financial or otherwise. As Karl Marx wrote in The Class Struggles in France, revolutionary progress forges ahead “not by its immediate tragi-comic achievements but, on the contrary, by the creation of a powerful, unified counter-revolution.”
There had been popular clamour for the so-called ‘second revolution’, the term for last June’s military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. Military aircraft flew across the skies in apparent coordination with the mass protests of Tamarrod, the grassroots movement of opposition to Morsi. But it was not a unified counter-revolution.