Defeat?

I write this an an outsider and with no apologies for that.  For one thing,  what is written should be criticized for its faults but not for the characteristics of its author.   For another,  I have noticed that all too often, Egyptians are listening to all sorts of crap from outside, especially defeatist horror stories about Islamists.   Better, frankly, to hear me out.

If the Egyptian revolution is crushed tomorrow, it will still be perhaps the most inspiring event in many decades.   Before Tahrir, it seemed obvious that against a ruthless, determined state, bolstered by a huge police force, pervasive informers, a huge army and a contented establishment, resistance was impossible.   Only - as in Iran, as indeed in the rest of the Arab world - an actual revolt within the army could lead to a change of rΘgime.  We did not know that unarmed civilians, faced with snipers, could do anything but run away.   We did not realize that a crowd could muster enough resilience to destroy the ruling party, invade the headquarters of a feared intelligence service, and send the police running.   Tahrir was proof of concept:  a people can still, even in the modern age, overthrow the government.   This lesson will survive whatever the future brings.

Above all, we did not dream of such courage.   It is beyond admiration - but where has it gone?

In one round of voting, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists have come out on top, gained between them a majority that is unlikely to unite, in an assembly that may never come into existence, exercising powers that may prove utterly hollow.    Yet the most constructive thing we hear is that, given the problems of government, the Brotherhood may discredit itself.

Is this really the time to speak at your own funeral?   Are secularists who faced bullets unable to face a first-round election victory?  Has it occurred to anyone that maybe, possibly, they could fight back on the electoral front, as they fought so bravely in the streets?   Yes, it seems futile, I know.   So did resisting the government a year ago.

The secularists do not exactly lack resources.   They count in their ranks some of the wealthiest and most prestigious personalities in Egypt, as well as a host of capable, courageous, energetic individuals.  They have good connections with the trade unions.  They have extensive international sympathy and support.   There are all sorts of reasons why the Brotherhood and the Salafists are strong, but is it necessary to obsess about these reasons, to the exclusion of any serious attempt to counter that strength?   Even if not one Islamist voter - or rather, voter for the Islamist parties - could be convinced to change allegiance, those who didn't vote are numerous enough to put the secularists in the majority.   Even the Salafists are just people, living in extraordinary times, presented with a world an opportunities no one, not long ago, knew existed.   Must these human beings be abstracted into some spectre, a historical inevitability?

Remember, not one of the people who with great authority predict the triumph of  'fundamentalism' had any idea that a non-sectarian uprising would transform Egypt.   The truth is, no one knows what the future holds.   To accept defeat now is not only unjustified, it is as self-fulfilling posture.  C'mon folks.   Remember what you have achieved, and don't stop now.