From my #Jan25 #Egypt notebook

There are two specific moments, or passages, in the Robert Fisk interview I linked to in my last post that, to my mind, constitute the beginnings of a materialist historiography of the uprising in Egypt.  These are as close to dialectical images, in Walter Benjamin’s sense, as anything that has passed before or under my eyes in the past eventful week.  I transcribe them below; you can read the full transcript at

 “The key that I’ve seen over the last few days has been the way in which the army on Friday [28/1/2011] was told by Mubarak to clear the square, and the individual tank officers refused.  I actually saw them tearing off their tank helmets, where they were receiving orders on their own military net, and using their mobile phones.  And in many cases, they were phoning home, because they come from military families.  They wanted to know from their fathers what they should do.  And, of course, they were told, ‘You must not shoot on your fellow citizens.’  And that, I think, was the moment when the Mubarak regime broke.  Or if we look back historically, that’s what we’ll believe.  So I think it is broken, it’s finished, whatever Mr. Mubarak may dream about in his pantomime world.  And I think that was a very critical moment.”

“And it’s been interesting watching the behaviour.  I mean, I’m right up right next to the tanks and, you know, where stones are falling and so on.  Yesterday, for example, a young soldier was standing in tears as the stones went in both directions past him.  And he was obviously torn apart by what he should do between his duty as a soldier and his duty as an Egyptian.  And in the end, he jumped down from the tank, crying and throwing his arms around one of the protesters.  And that – you know, that was a very significant moment, I thought, in this.  You know, if big history is made on the streets, this was a little tiny microcosm of what was actually going over.”

1 Comment

Filed under Current events, History and historiography, Journalism, Media, News, Reading and writing

One response to “From my #Jan25 #Egypt notebook

  1. ! A fine image for our moment, and I hope one we can hold onto as long as we’ve clung to the angelus novus: a soldier jumping down from a tank to embrace a protester.

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