Features Projects

2011: Occupied

The following is a list of essays and features appearing on during 2011:

January 8, 2011
A Counter-Conference: Strategies for Defending Higher Education
organized by Bob Samuels; video by Cameron Granadino

The 2011 MLA Counter-Conference took place during the annual Modern Language Convention in Los Angeles, January 8th, 2011 at Loyola Law School.  While thousands of people were meeting at the traditional convention, this one-day event centered on discussing actual strategies for making higher education more just.


January 10, 2011
A Socially Anti-Social, Dialogically Autonomous, Psychedelic Social Practice
by Marc Herbst

Occupy Everything because everything has already been occupied.
Occupy Everything because everything is a site for contestation.


January 11, 2011
knowledge commons, power, pedagogy, feminism and collective practices
interview with Cara Baldwin by Paula Cobo

 Art institutions have historically operated as corporations, with varying effects/affects. At this particular moment what interests me in terms of collective practices are those that are incredibly open.


January 30, 2011
Masks, or The Illusion of Power
by Ken Ehrlich

So… when our actions become too rehearsed, we search for ways to re-animate our own sense of what constitutes collective, direct action. We try to shake off the distracted paralysis and the tormented mask. We look for ways to inject into our cynical narratives moments of off kilter gestures, we try to most of all to surprise ourselves.


February 22, 2011
Operational Aesthetics: Briefing Script
by Michael W. Wilson

An operational aesthetic is perceptual capacity in movement. Rather than seeking the productive end (communism), it seeks the procedural dynamic (communization). In doing so, it moves its focus to systemic functionality without fetishizing design. This dynamic is, by necessity, located within a system of exchange. When the operative threatens the circulation of existing goods, services and/or values, (s)he risks losing a position within that system.


March 4, 2011
Ask About An Autonomous University: 5 Exam Questions For Life
by Louis-Georges Schwartz

Common university ideology makes us feel that our work is a labor of love, yet resentment and fear fill our days. Exhaustion grips us to such an extent that we have no choice but to withdraw, but rather than fleeing into our families, the latest 3D entertainment or the hippest new bar, perhaps we could collectively seek refuge in an autonomous school we might tolerably call our own.


March 9, 2011
Notes on Labor, Maternity, and the Institution
by Jaleh Mansoor

How do others less lucky than I make it in the global service industry (in which education and so called higher education now takes it place, now that Professors at State schools are classified as mid level managers?) How do women who have babies and work make it? They pay to work; they pay with their children. Sacrificial economies.


April 13, 2011
OCCUPY EVERYTHING [I]ntimacy and Scale
by Cara Baldwin

I am first struck by the foreign impression of my own hand hitting paper. To set out to write in this way is to see my own handwriting for the first in a very long time. It’s grown sloppy. I dreamt last night I was looking at my writing from years ago. How clearly cloying my penmanship was then. It expressed a sincere desire for legibility and understanding–even approval.


June 17, 2011
Three Crises: 30s – 70s – Now
by Brian Holmes

What we face is a triple crisis, economic, geopolitical and ecological, with consequences that cannot be predicted on the basis of past experience. Can we identify some of the central contradictions that will mark the upcoming years? Which institutions and social bargains have already come under severe stress? In what ways will the ecological crisis begin to produce political responses? How will class relations within the United States interact with crossborder and worldwide struggles? Is it possible to imagine — and work toward — a positive transformation of the current technopolitical paradigm?


July 7, 2011
by Stephen Wright (introduced by Sean Dockray)

The first issue of Contents is a contribution from Stephen Wright on “Usership.” For the past few years I’ve been fascinated by Stephen’s ideas about invisibility, use, and redundancy, all of which come into play in the writing below. In particular, I’ve wondered about the relationship between “the user” and “the worker” – on the one hand, the difference is one between playing the role of a consumer and that of a producer; but on the other hand, as users, our activity is producing value somewhere (websites, telecoms, IP holders).


July 22, 2011
The Summary Execution of Kenneth Harding and Reaction to Police Terrorism in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Timeline
by Louis-Georges Schwartz
August 5, 2011
An Introduction to Tahrir Documents
by Tahrir Documents

Tahrir Documents collects printed matter from Cairo’s Tahrir Square and its environs. Since the first week of March, volunteers in Cairo have gone to the square, usually on Fridays, to gather documents distributed at protests and rallies. The archive continues to grow as new groups emerge, rallies continue, and the production of printed material keeps pace. We also accept scanned or  photographed submissions sent in by individuals not directly involved in the project, such as friends in Alexandria documenting the appearance of printed material there.


August 5, 2011
Tahrir Documents: A Guide
by Tahrir Documents

The following is a sample of some of the documents we have collected from Tahrir Square, translated, and published in English alongside the Arabic originals. They are arranged here alphabetically by title and linked to the full-length translated document, along with a PDF of the original, on our website.


August 9, 2011
Tolerance or Universality
by Kailash Srinivasan

In August 2010, The Guardian ran a graphic segment on female genital mutilation, which represented extremely violent imagery of victimized women and girls. The piece produced, however, a mix of fascination and guilt.


August 16, 2011
CONTENTS #2: they are several
by Cara Baldwin (introduced by Sean Dockray)

An introduction to Cara Baldwin’s contribution, they are several. At the end of April, when Cara was compiling links related to a situation in which Facebook shut down the pages of dozens of anti cuts groups in the UK, I invited her to use the platform of CONTENTS (at that point more of an idea than a platform) as a tool to organize and make public this research.


August 23, 2011
Notes from Tehran (a Green Movement after the Arab Spring?)
by Milad Faraz (introduced by Jaleh Mansoor)

Two years after what has emerged as a “Green Movement”, it is the author’s critical understanding of the movement, its historical significance and the threat posed to it by what is characterized as its liberal and secularist articulations. The piece draws on critical reflections on conceptions of “religion” and “secularism” and argues for a historical understanding of such concepts in making sense of Iranian modern politics.


August 31, 2011
Eat the Rich
by Brian Holmes

Americans like to keep things simple and direct, so here it is: they rule. For the simple reason that they (the ruling class) have all the money. The top 5% of US citizens own almost 2/3 of the country’s wealth, or 63.5%. Compare that massive share to 12.8% for the bottom 80% — that is, “the rest of us,” as Rhonda Winter puts it in the excellent article from which this pie chart is taken.


October 4, 2011
The Time of Crisis
by Joshua Clover

 The class is not that of Multitude, of dematerialized labor, but is the class of debt — and the politics of time, I think this is an inevitable conclusion, is that of debt default. Debt default — and perhaps this is my only claim — is the temporal complement to the specific or general strike, and is the route of solidarity with material labor, with the place of exploitation.


October 10, 2011
Open Letter Re: OccupyLA—Solidarity, Critiques, Reinventions
by paracaidistas collective

Many of us are not shy about expressing our hatred for capitalism itself, and the entrenched institionalized inequalities that stem from it. We do not believe that a legislative solution will lead us out of this crisis; the entire legislative system exists in the service of structures of power designed to privilege the few at the expense of the many, and based on profound disrespect for the needs and perspectives of the majority of the humans on this planet (not to mention the planet itself).


November 1, 2011
The Oakland Commune
by Louis-Georges Schwartz & Michael W. Wilson

 The Oakland Commune doesn’t grow by seducing public opinion in order to enlarge its membership. It grows by showing what it can do. The Oakland Commune can make Oscar Grant Plaza habitable for a large number of people; itcan run a library; it can resist assault by the police; it can fight other factions in the 99% for the right to actively defend itself against state violence; it can retake the territory from which it had been evicted by the brutal force of the police; it canspark direct action by 0%ers as far away as New York City; it can declare a general strike.


November 22, 2011
The “Pepper Spray Incident” and the Inevitable Radicalization of the UC Student Body
by Eric Lee

The participation of thousands of students across the state in the anti-Wall Street movement represents the rapid radicalization of California students, which in itself is indicative of the quick move to the left by millions of movement sympathizers. The radicalization of the students manifests itself on the busses, in the restaurants, and in the coffee shops on and around my campus, where discussion of political strategy dominates. Of course, these anecdotes mean relatively little—but the politicization of the student body is significant nevertheless. Though the process of politicization is experiencing its birth pangs, it is emotionally moving that the process has finally begun.


December 15, 2011
How Many Sexual Assaults Happened at #OccupyLA?
by Micha Cardenas

To those who would say this is a peripheral issue, I absolutely disagree. I propose that the question as to whether we can create spaces which challenging existing institutions of violence, such as economic inequality, without reproducing and even worsening other institutions of violence, such as a patriarchal rape culture, must be central to the occupation movement. Whose liberation and equality is this movement about?


Tahrir Documents: A Guide

The following is a sample of some of the documents we have collected from Tahrir Square, translated, and published in English alongside the Arabic originals. They are arranged here alphabetically by title and linked to the full-length translated document, along with a PDF of the original, on our website. We’ve also provided a short excerpt from each document to give readers an idea of the general purpose and content of each piece of printed material. These documents offer a cross-section of Egyptian political writing, and are only a fraction of what can be found in our archive, which grows larger every day.


25th of January Pact (Poem) 

“Lift up your heads, for you are Egyptian

You are now streaming live on television.

The whole world is watching us

And how we carry out the revolution, the broom is now in our hands.

They thought we were the generation of ‘The New Look’

But now the whole world sees we are the generation of Facebook.”


‘Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves 

“Listen, oh people, to my words:

Hang the pharaoh—and live in peace.”


Beware of Sectarian Strife 

“The Revolution began, and has not finished, and the houses of worship that have been destroyed, and all the sedition that has occurred, all of these are biased actions undertaken by the supporters of tyranny and the agents of the regime, along with State Security forces.”


Call for the Foundation of an Egyptian Council for Relief 

“The Egyptian Council for Relief is a popular charitable organization… [whose] primary goal is the protection, rescue, and relief of Egyptians wherever they may be, whether in Egypt or abroad… Currently the highest priority is to save more than a million Egyptians stuck at the Libyan-Tunisian border without shelter, food, water or medicine, which poses an imminent disaster for them, their relatives, and all of Egypt.”


The Call of Al-Aqsa: We Will Meet in Jerusalem 

[Handwritten notes:]

“80 million people are waiting for the day of the final crossing to liberate Palestine

80 million wait patiently at your borders

They light your candles

And rejoice at your return…”


Coalition of Youth Revolution: Invitation to Save the Revolution Friday 

“Yes, we will build and continue to build, but without speedy, resolute purification and trying the heads of corruption, our effort will have been in vain.

Yes, we will build and continue to build, but building won’t make us forget the demands of the revolution that have not yet been fulfilled.

So let’s stand together on ‘Save the Revolution Friday,’ April 1, 2011 in Tahrir Square, so that the revolution is not stolen from us before our eyes.”



“Muhammad Yasin maintains relations with thugs from Alexandria, and he is in communication with these same thugs who are planning to steal cars and sell them. Yasin is the man who attacked the Christians at the Radio and Television Building, and he works in Intelligence at the Ma’adi department under the supervision of General Muhammad Yas.”


Culture of the Revolution 

“Maybe you will agree with me that the essence of revolution is an upheaval in concepts and ideas and its resultant change in circumstances, methods, programs, policies, plans, styles, and ways.  All of this is in turn reflected in the individual and society.  If an upheaval in concepts and ideas is not realized, then the revolution will not reach its desired goal, despite its overthrow of the former regime…  Consequently, the matter of the revolution becomes limited to the substitution of one person with another, or the changing of some laws.  However, as an escape from this dilemma and a means of securing the final success of the revolution, what if we proposed new revolutionary ideas for the revolutionary vanguard to adopt and learn from and for the great multitude of this ancient people to rally around?”


Egyptian Socialist Party, Labor Day Document 

“Labor protests have taken place since the end of 2006, which were the real foreground to union freedom. It came about in the formation of the real estate tax union and the pension union which were forerunners to the revolution of January 25th. Likewise, the birth of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Unions came from within the heart of Tahrir Square. This reflected the precedence of the workers of Egypt in defending the freedom of unionization as a primary part of the movement of the Egyptian revolution. Since the fall of the head of the regime it has continued into a movement to shape the independent unions and deposit its’ papers in the Ministry of Labor as a step on the way to restoring the freedom to unionize in Egypt. The freedom to unionize is the heart of political freedoms.


Final Communique of the Shura Council of the Society of the Muslim Brothers 

“The Shura Council of the Society of Muslim Brothers convened in an atmosphere of brotherhood, love, and a prevailing sentiment praising God for His blessing and bounty, during the Friday and Saturday 26th/27th of Jumada I, corresponding to the 29th/30th of April 2011 at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.  His Eminence the General Guide… praised the revolution of the blessed Egyptian people and urged the safeguarding of its vitality and momentum and the preservation of its goals… He also hailed the souls of the martyrs who gave their lives on behalf of God and His religion for the sake of liberating the nation… He lauded the role of the armed forces in preserving the revolution… He also commended the government’s decision to open the Rafah crossing, its contribution to the Palestinian national interest, and the revival of national interest in the Palestinian issue by all Arabs and Muslims.”


Gamal ‘Abd al-Muhsin: “Medical and Scientific Circles will be Amazed with My Ways” 

“The people’s pain is intensifying and their sicknesses are becoming more potent. Medicine for disease is becoming a difficult issue, both economically and medically. The lord, the glorious and almighty, blessed me with a simple and effective way to treat the majority of incurable illnesses and to reduce the amount of bone pain… This simple and effective cure happens in a time period no less than five minutes and no more than 8 minutes.”


Get to Know the Captive Shaykh ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman 

“To every proud, free man from among the sensible and the distinguished, and to everyone who has mercy and humanity in his heart and stands up for human rights, get up and join us in the campaign to free Dr. ‘Umar ‘Abd Al-Rahman and demand that the Military Council intervene to release him.”


Gurnal (Newspaper) Page 10: Mu’ammar “I’m delivering an address to an empty square” Gaddafi 

“Mu’ammar Gaddafi is the leader of the Great Libyan Revolution, President of the Great Libyan-Arab Communist Masses, and King of the Kings of Africa, so what would he do if he were just a general? What’s so great about him is that every time he opens his mouth he proves that he couldn’t even be the official speaker for an elementary-school class. He used to say that the English writer William Shakespeare was of Arab descent and that his name was Shaykh Zubayr. When he was defining democracy, he said that the Arabic origin of the word was ‘dimu al-kirasi’ meaning that the rulers would remain (‘idumun’) in their seats (‘al-kirasi’).”


Is it True?  State Security’s been Dissolved?  (Poem) 

“Really? State Security’s been dissolved?????!!!

Listen everyone, I don’t believe it

Does this mean I’ll sleep comfortably, unworried

Do you remember, my friend, when we were standing at the train station

And someone holding a misbaha looked us up and down

And after he left someone else showed up

(Egging us on) Where’s your identity card?

Here, Sir

And before we could take it out

Come here, come here


State Security, five minutes

And we stayed for a week”


Letter from Shaykh Ahmad Sa’id 

“Oh sons of Egypt the protected, it is no shame for men to live under the rule of any leader, even if he is an enemy of the Merciful. It is, however, a disgrace to follow the ruler’s deviations and stray from the religion of the Merciful.

Oh sons of Egypt the protected, God’s prophet Yusuf was under the rule of the Egyptian King Akhenatun, and Mu’min was under the rule of the Pharaohs, but they were some of the best of the believers among God’s servants.”


The Liberation of Cairo is Not Complete without the Liberation of Jerusalem 

“Egyptians and Palestinians have long promoted the slogan “the liberation of Jerusalem begins with the liberation of Cairo.” We have long believed that the path to the liberation of Jerusalem depends on the Egyptian populace rising up to break their shackles and liberate themselves from the oppressive regime that supports the Zionist entity.”


National Archives: Commission for Documenting the January 25th Revolution 

“The Commission for Documenting the January 25th Revolution is calling for volunteers from those who teach the humanities, those who are experienced, and those who are interested in recording oral heritage to participate in a project of collecting oral testimony from the public about the Revolution.  The goal is to to preserve these testimonials as historical evidence and then offer them immediately to the public and researchers on the internet and through various other media.”


Principles of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party

Human Rights: Guaranteeing full political, civil, economic, social, and cultural rights; respecting personal freedom and the rights of women; achieving humane development, creating more opportunities to achieve a better life and more diverse choices for all, releasing people’s full creative and productive energy.

Citizenship: Established on the basis of a modern, civil, state wherein all citizens enjoy equality of rights and duties, regardless of sex, color, religion, ethnicity, wealth, social class, or political affiliations.

Democracy: Democracy is the power of the people that guarantees the ability of the people’s representatives and public opinion to oversee and hold accountable the government and its leaders with complete transparency, along with the right to form political parties.  Democracy means that the basis of the state is law, respect for the rights of political minorities, implementing the principle of the transfer of power, and the separation of powers.”


Return of Treachery: a dialogue

A young man awakens from sleep in a state of terror, his mother at his side.

Young man: I seek God’s refuge from Satan the accursed; I seek God’s refuge from Satan the accursed.

Mother: Goodness Gracious!! What’s wrong, son? You’ve had a lot of dreams these days.

She hurries handing him  a cup of water. The son drinks then collects himself, says:

That was no dream, Ma, that was a nightmare.

Mother: What nightmare, son? Lord have mercy!!

Son: Ma, I saw that thief Son of Mabruka the Miracle-Worker after the big judge gave him a chance and he hid his money and destroyed the evidence. He got off innocent.

Mother: Innocent!! Innocent how, after all that??

Son: I dunno, Ma, that’s what I saw.


Revolutionary Egypt

Volumes 1-6 of this very well-organized and well-written newspaper, published by the Popular Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.


Foundational Announcement of the Popular Committees for the Defense of the Revolution

“During the darkest days of the revolution, the time of the attacks from gangs of thugs and the organized withdrawal of the police, the Popular Committees were born.  They were formed spontaneously and automatically, assuredly united together—and originating from—the Egyptian people who insisted, courageously, on standing against intimidation, robbery, and organized killing.  These Committees, which were the safety valve for society and a method of protecting and advancing the revolution, were formed firmly, with all bravery, against the ruling regime of gangs.  Hold on, for our civilization is not just words in history books, but also struggle and steadfastness in the face of killing and the robbery of the daily bread and property of the people.”


Salute to the Martyrs of January 25th and to the Military and the Police 

“Beware of Strife!!!!!!!!!
Muslims + Christians = Egypt

We welcome the return of the honorable men of the police.”


Save Egyptian Families 

Our goals:

  1. Guaranteeing our sons’ right to a good upbringing and to go out into the world unimpaired and fit in with their peers, and teaching them about their roots and their religion.
  2. Rescuing the Egyptian family from Suzanne’s laws and her agents (the National Council for Women) that destroyed the Egyptian family.
  3. Reconnecting the Egyptian family after its separation and the end of the division between children of divorce and their families and loved ones on the paternal side.
  4. Allowing fathers’ supervision over the upbringing of their children at all ages and phases, including the nursery period.
  5. Working to close the gap between fathers and mothers for benefit of children.


Signs from Tahrir: “We Need a Miracle” 

“We are in need of a miracle at a time when there are no miracles, because the national economy is truly in dire straits.  Everything has been stolen from us; the country is sinking in an ocean of problems, not within sight of the shore. The people are the sailor that could take the wheel, saving the nation before it drowns, leading it to the shore of safety.”


Start with Yourself First 

  • I will not pay bribes to traffic officers again, or to the government bureaucracy
  • I will not throw my trash on the street
  • I will not harass girls or even flirt with them

Tahrir Fashion, Discount Prices 

” ‘Ala’ fashion is, as usual, a starting point for cheering up Egyptians in our beloved Egypt. Its shops are located at 199 Tahrir Street, and its surprise is smashing prices.”


A Tomorrow without Landmines 

Campaign Goal: A lasting and final solution to the problem of landmines on the northern coast that grants us the ability to make use of the region’s resources.

“Number of mines planted: more than 17 million

“Mined Area: 500 square kilometers on the northern coast and extending down into the country a distance of 400 square kilometers until the Siwa Oasis, for a grand total of 262,000 square kilometers or 22% of Egypt’s total area.

The Human Losses: 696 Egyptians killed, 7,617 Egyptians injured”


An Untitled Demand of the Egyptian People: Run for President, ‘Amr al-Laythi 

“The Egyptian people demand that ‘Amr al-Laythi present himself as a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic. He is a courageous intellectual with popularity among the people of Egypt.”


Urgent Announcement from the Protesters in the Tahrir Sit-in 

“We are those sitting-in at Tahrir square who have been exposed to successive waves of violent attacks ever since February 26, 2011. These included suppression of the participants in Tahrir Square by groups of thugs bearing knives, Molotov cocktails, sticks, and clubs. They used all of these to attack the sit-in participants in order to reign in the Egyptian revolution that called for freedom, dignity, and social justice and in order to prevent the realization of its goals.”


What if We Choose Islam? 

“My honorable brothers: When the revolution took place in our country, I looked at the slogans that the youth and others raised, most of which were: justice–security—combating corruption—equality—economic reform—freedom— and they ranged to many other great and true slogans besides these. When I examined them, I saw that all these slogans are from the great qualities that Islam, that is, our religion, calls for and urges.

Indeed, my brother, don’t be surprised by this. The bases for political reform in Islam are “Counsel—Justice—Freedom—Equality.” This, by God, is Islam…This is God’s law and His path…This is God’s religion.”


Why a Sit-in at Tahrir Square? 

“Questions Which Have Been Directed at Us
and the Response to Them

• Why are you sitting here?

Well we are staging a sit-in in order to effect our demands. Sit-ins are a guaranteed legal right in every constitution in the world and an inalienable human right as part of freedom of expression

• How long?

Until the status of this country is improved and our demands are met”


Yes or No to Constitutional Amendments? 

“These People Said No: 
Advocate ‘Amr Khalid
Dr. Ahmad Kamal Abu al-Magd
Consultant Hisham al-Bastawisi
Consultant Zakaria ‘Abd al-’Aziz
Dr. ‘Amr Hamzawi
Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei
Naguib Sawiris
Mr. ‘Amr Musa
Advocate Mu’izz Mas’ud
The Judges’ Association
Coalition of Revolutionary Youth
Families of the Freedom Martyrs

These people said yes: The Muslim Brotherhood, the Remains of the National Democratic Party”




An Introduction to Tahrir Documents

A man sits with signs in tahrir square

Fueled by mass participation across disparate demographics, and by excitement over Tunisia’s recent uprising, the January 25th protests in Egypt unexpectedly transformed into a revolution. International news sources described this transformation as one made possible only through the use of new social networking media, and so the events of late January and early February were variously branded “Revolution 2.0,” the “Facebook Revolution,” the “Twitter Revolution,” etc. Yet so many acclamations of new social media and its liberatory potential overlooked the persistence of print in the revolution and its aftermath, from the earliest protests up through present efforts at political mobilization. Tahrir Documents is an attempt to address this other, less-examined element in the remaking of political life in Egypt.

Tahrir Documents collects printed matter from Cairo’s Tahrir Square and its environs. Since the first week of March, volunteers in Cairo have gone to the square, usually on Fridays, to gather documents distributed at protests and rallies. The archive continues to grow as new groups emerge, rallies continue, and the production of printed material keeps pace. We also accept scanned or  photographed submissions sent in by individuals not directly involved in the project, such as friends in Alexandria documenting the appearance of printed material there. On one particular Friday, editors who went to Tahrir Square decided not only to collect printed documents, but also to take photographs of the many poems and signs on display. These photos then became “documents” of their own on our website.

Our editorial board is made up of four people, all of us students of Arabic who came into contact in various ways, whether as colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania or while living in Cairo. Initially, we assembled a group of volunteer translators from among our personal contacts, academic or otherwise, who then suggested colleagues of their own whom they thought might be interested in participating. Eventually, we put together a group of over seventy translators, who continue to contribute their work as time and personal interest allows. Translations, once submitted, are then sent on to our reviewers, who check for both accuracy and English style. The editors then post the reviewed translations online alongside PDF’s of the original documents. The project is not affiliated with the documents’ authors nor with any political organization, Egyptian or otherwise. We also have no institutional affiliation. Our goal has been to disseminate political conversations more articulate and more developed than those possible in tweets or Facebook wall posts, yet which remain overlooked amidst the press’ rapturous and uncritical celebration of new social media. We are also concerned with the establishment of a permanent reference for the revolution’s participants and researchers alike.

As the political situation in Egypt changes, so does the project. We initially translated tactical pamphlets (such as the now-famous “How to Revolt,” a translation of which was first published in the Atlantic), lists of demands leveled at Hosni Mubarak and his regime, and explanations of the motivations behind the popular uprising. Yet single-minded and unified opposition to the previous regime have now given way to the more fractious work of re-assembling Egyptian politics, and we are now encountering a wild proliferation of genres, subjects, and styles. Recent translations have included new parties’ manifestoes, statements on sectarian strife, and calls for solidarity with Palestine and Libya in addition to poems, plays, and even personal rants and admonitions regarding moral conduct. Lists of demands have not disappeared entirely, but have multiplied and diversified as new groups develop. Whatever papers appear in Tahrir and its environs are collected and translated, regardless of source, content, authorship, or even quality. We hope that the collection, however limited,  provides a point of entry into the kinds of serious political thought and action now underway throughout Egypt.

The documents selected for reproduction at Occupy Everything offer a cross-section of Egyptian political writing. In addition to the types of texts mentioned above, these documents place great emphasis on Tahrir Square’s “martyrs,” the brutality of the security apparatus, and the importance of religion and family values in Egypt. Yet because our archive is not limited to purely political writings, we have also selected some of the more eccentric documents found in Tahrir, such as a fashion price list/housing advertisement, a homeopathic solution for sectarian strife, and a “complaint” accusing a specific individual of having relations with thugs, stealing cars, and stalking women. While these documents are not necessarily at the heart of the project, they nevertheless give a glimpse of the kind of diversity we have seen and continue to see. Where more explicitly political writing is concerned, we have included issues of such revolutionary newspapers as “Revolutionary Egypt” (Misr al-thawriyya) and “Gurnal.” These publications, and especially “Revolutionary Egypt,” which is published by the Popular Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (groups formed across Cairo and elsewhere in early February 2011), provide some of the more eloquent expressions of grievances with the former regime, demands for change, and propositions for a democratic future. Though the views they express certainly do not represent the opinions of all sectors of revolutionary thought in Egypt, they nevertheless provide some of the revolution’s most cogent writing.

As of this writing, we have posted translations of nearly two hundred documents, together with the originals in PDF or JPG form on our website. Although not active during the early days of the protests, we have worked hard to collect documents from that period, and will continue our efforts at least through September’s parliamentary elections, the first of the post-revolutionary period. We expect to eventually archive some five hundred documents and their translations.

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Tahrir Documents, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter @TahrirDocuments for updates regarding newly posted translations.

Recent History Repeated

Yesterday, without warning, Tahrir square was stormed by a hundred or so soldiers who swarmed towards the encampment in the square’s middle, closely followed by a crowd of perhaps a thousand plain-clothes cops/thugs/citizens—who knows anymore. They beat peaceful protestors, destroyed tents and then—once the majority had either fled or been arrested and dragged into the Egyptian Museum compound opposite the square—destroyed the memorial raised for the martyrs of the revolution.

By roughly 9 P.M. we had gathered some of the names of those detained and received eye-witness reports that those inside the Museum numbered around 150, being forced to lie face down on the ground while they were whipped, shocked with stun batons and beaten.

This day of army-led violence happens in the midst of numerous shootings of Christians protesting their unequal and unfair treatment as minorities and the burning of a church a few days ago just outside Cairo. Thugs were present at these attacks as well. The Christians’ calls for dignity and equal treatment under law and in society were met with bullets and other violence. Many reports from the protestors confirm that the dead were shot by the army.

As this was occurring in different parts of Cairo, a demonstration of women in Tahrir Square celebrating International Women’s Day and promoting the cause of civil rights for women in the “New Egypt” was also beset upon by thugs. Women and men standing in solidarity with them were sexually harassed (verbally and physically), heckled and ultimately attacked by thugs as the army stood aside. Calls for help and protection from women being attacked were met by casual shrugs from military police.

More aggression took place outside the interior ministry on Sunday. Protestors, seeking to search the interior ministry for prisoners and evidence of state-led violence were greeted by a salvo of shots above their heads by the army, then a rushing onslaught of plainclothes cops/thugs/citizens throwing rocks, bottles and brandishing swords and machetes.

A new pattern seems to have been established in recent days combining the reckless violence of plainclothes thugs with the systematic attacks, detentions and torture by the army and military police. The coincidence of these two aggressors is too common to suggest anything other than complicity.

The testimony of one of those held last night is below. Others face years in prison after being rushed through kangaroo-court military tribunals for vague and trumped up claims of thuggery and violence.

Testimony of Rami Essam on what happened to him yesterday on the hands of the Egyptian army:

A lot of protesters are still under arrest in a military prison pending court-martial. Their photos are being displayed on TV as “thugs arrested” in Tahrir Square. State TV is trying to portray the arrested protesters as thugs, and by this distort the public opinion and take advantage while they continue to torture the detainees. Please spread and share this news (email this to your local media and to human rights organizations)

For those who don´t know Rami Essam, remember this video? It is of him in the first days of the Egyptian Revolution, singing in Tahrir Square. How can this young man who was nicknamed “the singer of the revolution” by the Tahrir Square protesters be a “thug” attacking people as the army and state TV claim?

Video of Song

“My name is Rami Issam, I´m 23 years old. I was in Tahrir Square with the rest of the people on Wednesday, March 9th 2011. At approximately 5:30 pm we were suddenly attacked by the military and a large group of civilians armed with sticks, batons and bricks. Together they destroyed the tents, tore the banners, beat everybody who was in the middle of the square and started arresting people. A group of soldiers dragged me towards the museum´s building and handed me to army officers who tied my hands and legs up and started kicking me all over my body and face. Then they started hitting me on my back and legs with sticks, metal bars, wires, and hoses. After that they brought the electric taser that was used in demonstrations before and used it on various parts of my body, then they started using more than one taser at the same time. The officers insulted me and stomped with their feet, jumped over my back and face, and threw shoes in my face. Then they cut my hair (it was long) and put my face in the dirt before burying my body neck down.

His video testimony is being edited and will be posted soon as will a more in depth analysis of the recent state (read army) led violence.



source: Recent History Repeated |


The Post-Revolutionary Road

After eighteen days of a peaceful, democratic, participatory Revolution, President Hosni Mubarak fled Cairo – and left us, the people of Egypt, to begin fixing our country. On Friday night – one month on from that first, astonishing Tuesday – the Army entered Tahrir square wearing balaclavas and wielding machine guns, batons and tasers.

The next few months will decide whether or not the Egyptian Revolution takes its place among the great, transformational moments in history. Or if it joins the list of ever heavier disappointments weighing down on the land. We made a city square powerful enough to remove a dictator. Now we must re-make a nation to lead others on the road to global equality and justice.

We showed ourselves, and the world, something no-one had ever seen before, and we need to use it. We have a responsibility, to those who died, to those now living with hope, to get this right.

Tahrir Square worked. It worked because it was inclusive – with every type of Egyptian represented equally. It worked because it was inventive – from the creation of electric and sanitation infrastructure to the daily arrival of new chants and banners.  It worked because it was open-source and participatory – so it was unkillable and incorruptible. It worked because it was modern – online communication baffled the government while allowing the revolutionaries to organize efficiently and quickly. It worked because it was peaceful – the first chant that went up when under attack, was always selmeyya!peaceful!. It worked because it was just – not a single attacking paramilitary thug was killed, they were all arrested. It worked because it was communal – everyone in there, to a greater or lesser extent, was putting the good of the people before the individual. It worked because it was unified and focussed – Mubarak’s departure was an unbreakable bond. It worked because everyone believed in it.

Inclusive, inventive, open-source, modern, peaceful, just, communal, unified and focussed. A set of ideals on which to build a national politics. A set of ideals to hold on to.

But what exactly are we building?

The Army recently announced eight reforms to the Constitution. But how can you legitimately reform a Constitution when the Prime Minister was put in place by the deposed President, when Parliament is suspended? The Constitution is fast becoming a focal point of the transition, but the transition needs to be about so much more. The millions of people who filled Tahrir were not risking their lives to trying to fix a rotten system, they wanted to build a new country, and still do.

So before we race to build our new country in the shadow of out-dated and fallible Euro-American democratic systems, let us learn from Tahrir Square.

The Revolution is creative, and now we need to create the system that works best for us. We need to consider if political parties are the right tool for the rhythm of Egypt’s politics. Do we need political parties, when skilled individuals can clearly pull together for a collective cause? People are scrambling to try and put parties together. But putting together a political party with a national reach by September requires an incredible amount of resources, and so is both exclusive and a fortification of the economic structure of Old Egypt. A political party, by default, is full of politicians. But if we can take it as a given that the Minister of Defence will be appointed by the Army, can it not also be guaranteed that Ministers be experts in their field with proven track records? Why has being a party member, in some Western democracies, become sufficient qualification to oversee the needs of a nation?

Western party-politics turns on the right-wing/left-wing politico-economic line. In the West, it is the push and pull between Socialism and Capitalism, between tradition and modernity that sets the political rhythm, but those tensions are not as keenly felt in Egypt. In Egypt, global Capitalism arrived as a top-down phenomenon that has been disastrous for the majority of the population, with food prices and unemployment soaring over the last decade while the new ultra-rich built villas in the desert. A communalist socialism is the more natural mode of the country, while tradition and the push for modernity are woven together more comfortably – cross-communication between generations, time spent at home, with family, with one’s grandparents is a fixture in Egypt but an increasing irregularity in the West, where each generation seeks to actively break with its antecedent in the name of fashion and progress.

Egyptian politics does not turn along the same axes as the West’s. Egypt has its own tensions and frictions – but if allowed and encouraged to steer its own course, these issues will be worked out in a way that is right for Egypt and, ultimately, for the world.

The Egyptian Revolution is leaderless and open-source and inclusive, and we saw in Tahrir that if people feel involved in the running of their own lives, if their sphere of control is expanded beyond their own body, if they are empowered, then the country will reap dividends. To that end, we need to decentralize administration and decision-making. Cairo cannot continue as the suffocating home of 20m people and as the heart of all political decision-making. We need to localize and communalize politics wherever possible. Create smaller, community groups, organized within the 27 governorates; devolve as many decisions to as local a level as possible with access, accountability and transparency for the populace.

The Revolution is unified and focussed. Though power and decision-making should be de-centralized, there is also now a need for unity of national cause and ambition. Egypt has always rallied around great national projects, from the Pyramids to the High Dam. It is time to utilize that which we have most of – the sun.

Inclusive, inventive, open-source, modern, peaceful, just, communal, unified and focussed. The Revolution is many things, and it is clearly far from over. Through continued peaceful protest, through the brave insistence of the women and men still sleeping in Tahrir Square the people are insisting on pushing through not just reform, but on building a new country.

There are not many governments in the world that wanted this to happen. But if we use what we all taught each other over those 18 days, if Tahrir is kept alive, then surely nothing can stop us.


source: The Post-Revolutionary Road |