Let’s NOT play Follow the Leader

In Uncategorized on February 4, 2011 at 6:21 am


From the above linked NYTimes article:

A dentist from Aswan, Mohamed Mustafa, traveled 600 miles to be at the antigovernment protest. “I was expecting to find the Wafd were the leaders, or the Brotherhood were the leaders,” he said, speaking of two of Egypt’s best-known opposition movements. But what he found was far better, he said.

“There are no leaders at all.”


An anarchist’s dream come true:  no leaders, but peaceful efficiency and community…that is, until the thugs arrived…. yet even still, remaining determinedly leaderless, but engaging in sustained resistance with rocks, warning systems, and sheer numbers….

Even, a libertarian’s dream come true: utterly no government, just people.

I was watching a documentary called “Berkeley in the ’60s” recently, and the most striking part of the film was that a free speech movement initially sprang up from a coalition of student groups from all over the political spectrum…it was that unity that led to the near unraveling of the university for a while…

Ronnie Reagan’s  (then governor of CA) distortions of the protesters as a bunch of  “out of state” rabblerousers became a very effective means of marginalizing them, and securing his political future….Never mind that student groups in other states should rightfully feel every bit as indignant at a double standard for free speech, and that state lines were hardly the point for people attempting to experience the highest manifestation of unadulterated freedom possible…attempting to purge the hypocrisy of only promoting speech the university approved of,  these students passionately wrought for themselves a world where ALL speech was as “free” as the birds on the wind…

Witnessing even mere snippets from Tahrir square, all of them are powerful.  (http://video.nytimes.com/?src=vidm)

To hear Egyptians say they have not lived for 30 years, and that they are just now alive…that this event is THEM, not any group, whose very nature would be limiting, stifling, and never comprehensive enough to encompass something as fundamental and expansive as sheer humanity, and the ache for freedom….stirs, too, a deep ache for freedom in me.

There is an idealism and inspiration that seems bound across centuries, cultures, movements….it is at core so human, too fundamental to need to express: it is as obvious as the sky and water, but it is a moment when the common becomes extraordinary because a spiritual shackle is suddenly lifted….

…water suddenly tastes like you have been walking across a desert for centuries when you start to carry it not merely to your own lips, but also to the bleeding wounds and parched lips of dear countrymen who only yesterday were pure strangers,  and whom you very well may have snubbed out of the common discourtesy that the conceits of large cities and police states fester.

…food that nourishes not merely the selfish accomplishments of the private family, but cheers and esteems the stomachs of those thousands who all join to raise their voices together as loudly as possible…going hoarse together, and feeling jubilant that bravery is not one person sticking his neck out, but hundreds of thousands manifesting a collective ache for freedom that soars beyond the reaches of bravery’s scope…

It is this assured, confident peacefulness whose very resourcefulness is the definition of freedom… freedom by nature does not seek power, but simply wants to exult in humanity stripped to our essence…a mutual, multifarious recognition of  freedom soaring so high and waving so deep it depends on nothing but itself, and cannot be diminished or tampered with by surrounding hierarchies.

  1. Thanks for these good links to the best things from the ’60s — to movements then and now which unite otherwise very different, disparate, and too often marginalized souls. The one big difference between Sproul Hall then and Tahrir Square now is that we then never felt marginalized — in fact were quite the opposite, quite the center of all marketers’ happiest dreams.

    Maybe our center-of-the-world conceits came because our Depression-era parents wanted all that for us, in all their best sincerity. But it allowed in a materialism, and a corporate delivery culture, that we never saw coming, or scarcely saw for the hegemon in all ways it would become. Maybe back-to-the-landers saw it. Maybe alternative culture others did, too. But the tentacles of the military-industrial complex were then reaching far, far — eventually to Tahrir Square.

    So thanks again for your good celebration of these there now whom we, or some of our worst, allowed to be throttled by just another of all the dictators that our dear Corporate America has so long been inflicting on so many millions, tens, hundreds of millions, so widely.

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