New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Revolutionary Egypt

August 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Matt Meyer, Politics

The Worst of Times, the Best of Times…

by Matt Meyer

There is a reason why so many internationalists have had hard times writing clearly about Egypt since the end of June 2013. There is a reason why in English the words “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” resonates so. The cultural chasms and the political complexity of Egypt’s ongoing revolutionary moments will not lend themselves easily to short statements or translated sound bites . . . but we remain distant from, declarative regarding, or dispassionate about these events at our own grave peril. Nothing less than our collective, twenty-first century understandings of such terms as “democracy,” “revolution,” and “violence/nonviolence” are being forged on the streets of Egypt today.

Events are unfolding too quickly for a report from an outsider to be of much use. But hopefully some definitional reflections, from the perspective of an independent solidarity activist/academic committed to revolutionary nonviolence and socialist/anarchist viewpoints, might provide some context for future conversation and work. (more…)

No Tears for Tahrir

January 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Matt Meyer

Mutual Solidarity and New Nonviolent Campaigns on the 2nd Anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution

by Matt Meyer

War Resister staff person Ali Issa in front of a mural stating, in part: "Oh regime which is scared of a paintbrush and a pen. You oppress us … If you were doing what you should be doing, you wouldn’t be afraid." (photo by Tamar Sharabi)

War Resister staff person Ali Issa in front of a mural stating, in part: “Oh regime which is scared of a paintbrush and a pen. You oppress us … If you were doing what you should be doing, you wouldn’t be afraid.” (photo by Tamar Sharabi)

Amid high-level Cabinet shuffles among Egypt’s ruling elite, and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for billions of dollars of loans, the casual international observer can easily forget that in late December popular demonstrations filled the streets of Alexandria and Cairo’s Tahrir Square. As January 25, 2013 marks the second anniversary of the dramatic protests at Tahrir, Egyptians are well aware that this year is far more than a symbolic anniversary; it is a time to focus attention on the new phase of the struggle which must be intensified. (more…)

From Dictatorship to Democracy

October 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Guest Author, Matt Meyer, Politics

New Visions for Egypt’s Ongoing Revolution

By Sherif Joseph Rizk (adapted from an interview with Matt Meyer)

There are many myths about the Egyptian Revolution — first and foremost that it was a success story based completely on the principles of strategic nonviolence. The main fact is that, though it was a mostly nonviolent effect, our only success was in getting rid of the dictator. The rule of the dictatorship, however, continues.

It is important to understand that during the uprisings of 2011, there were elements of confrontation that could be considered “borderline violence” — if you consider throwing back tear gas canisters or Molotov cocktails violent. There was plenty of that. I think there is a threshold that has to do with the proportionate use of force: if the force that is used to counter the opposite force is proportionate, it may not be appropriate to deem that force as violent. In the case of Egypt since 2011, I would say that the force used against the security state was disproportionately small, and therefore, by my standards, should be considered nonviolent. To confront a security state, one needs to throw back tear gas canisters, and though I wasn’t personally involved in those activities, I was close to others who were. I don’t think that’s violent — it is part of the ground tactics needed in confronting a security state.

Fortress Tahrir, during the 18 days when the square was occupied by the Egyptian people, faced many complicated tactical issues. One was how it might best be defended; it was being attacked on many levels by all sorts of challenges. (more…)

Libya’s Silver Lining

March 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Matt Meyer, Politics

Challenges and Lessons for Western Peace Activists

by Matt Meyer

In a week of bombing and bloodshed, I have been amazed and saddened at the amount of confusion, arrogance, and paternalism from supposedly progressive people of the so-called global north. Perhaps I should not be so surprised: the US “left” is an under-developed country, and we would all do well to take some serious lessons — in democracy, nonviolence, and revolution — from our counterparts in the southern hemisphere. Perhaps the silver lining is to learn from the lessons of Libya:

On Revolution and Nonviolence

The good news, of course, is that these two concepts, so often pitted against one another as opposites — the false dichotomy of our era — have, in 2011, been rehabilitated. (more…)

Nonviolence, from Mecca to Montgomery

February 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Culture, Politics

The Convergence of Thought in Islam and Dr. King’s Teachings

by Ahmed Afzaal

As recent political events suggest, invaluable resources for creating a more just and peaceful world can be found in the Islamic religious tradition. In this essay, I will present one possible model of how to identify some of these resources, by highlighting the Islamic relevance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For a Muslim, encountering the legacy of Dr. King can elicit an intense experience of déjà vu. His goals and approach, his confidence that he’s doing God’s work, his trust in the success of his mission, his refusal to hate his opponents — all of these can sound eerily familiar. In some powerful yet subtle way, there seems to be a not insignificant overlap between certain aspects of the Islamic tradition and the ideas and activism of Dr. King. Muslims who are in tune with the highest values of their own heritage can hear many an echo of the Islamic religious tradition as they listen to Dr. King’s voice.

I fully expect the above judgment to sound meaningless, if not absurd, to many readers. After all, what possible connection could there be between the theology and ethics of a black Baptist minister from the American South and the teachings of the Islamic religious heritage? Indeed, at first glance there appears to be absolutely no common ground between them. (more…)

What Can We Do to Support Egypt?

February 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, John Clark, Politics

Address in Solidarity with the Popular Revolution

by John Clark

We have all been moved by the courageous actions of the Egyptian people in recent weeks. In response to their inspiring example, we might ask the following question: What effective steps can we take to support their struggle for liberation, and to support similar struggles throughout the world?

There is a very easy, and very bad, response to this question. Unfortunately, it is also the one that is most popular. This response is to express our great sympathy and admiration for their struggle, and then to go on acting as we have in the past. I propose that a more constructive response would be, first,  to become better educated about what has made their struggle necessary, and, next,  to begin to act in ways that that will make it, and similar struggles, more likely to succeed in the future. (more…)

Cairo Sunshine All Around

February 03, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

Reflecting on the Rebirth of My Birthplace

by Raffi Cavoukian

A siren song is this Cairo freedom fire, the Tunisian spark now a roaring flame. A new Mecca in Tahrir Square.

I close my eyes and wander to the city of my birth, and I’m just eight years old in the heliopolis my Armenian family called home, playing in the Cairo sands, my father’s 1940s Studebaker winding up the road to the pyramids. And I’m now back in this moment, wondering what exactly is this social media liberation hour we’re in? The words come like this: (more…)