I first heard of yesterday’s failed “National strike” on March 24th, through a blog post on a friend of a friend’s blog, this guy was going on about why he will not be participating in yesterday’s strike, but mind this guy, I too decided that I will have none of it, but for different reasons.
The invitation to the strike read:
“All national forces in Egypt have agreed upon the 6th of April to be a public strike.
On the 6th of April, stay home, do not go out; Don’t go to work, don’t go to the university, don’t go to school, don’t open your shop, don’t open your pharmacy, don’t go to the police station, don’t go to the camp;
We need salaries allowing us to live, we need to work, we want our children to get education, we need human transportation means, we want hospitals to get treatment, we want medicines for our children, we need just judiciary, we want security, we want freedom and dignity, we want
apartments for youth;
We don’t want prices increase, we don’t want favoritism, we don’t want police in plain clothes, we don’t want torture in police stations, we don’t want corruption, we don’t want bribes, we don’t want detentions.
Tell your friends not to go to work and ask them to join the strike.”
Which sound pretty good, in concept! But, first things first, what is a strike?
A strike is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal by employees to perform work. It is illegal or partially illegal in most parts of the world.
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of citizens in a city, region or country. It can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants. It is very rare to occur and the successful or notable ones are only handful of ones.
These two are forms of direct action, which is basically a form of political activism which seeks immediate direct changes to social injustice, as opposed to indirect actions which is mainly participating in elections.
The main problem with direct action is that it includes both, nonviolent and violent activities. And in a society like ours (and actually most societies), it usually takes the later form. Remember what happened in France a couple of years ago?
And that is why I deemed yesterdays strike will be a failure, simply because:
1. With the current lack of true political awareness, things were bound to go wrong.
2. It seemed very unlikely to succeed in achieving anything as the invitations for the strike was targeted at members of the middle class and upper middle class, via mobile phones, e-mails & facebook invitations!
3. As much as I resent the government (and all governments for that matter) I’m not going to be someone else’s doll.
And I believe that that is what was taking place; the strike was called (outside Egypt) “the Kefaya general strike”. And I hate the fact that someone or some organization would exploit the latest national strife on account of achieving their own goals and hidden agendas.
The strike invitation listed that the strike was “scheduled” after a meeting held and represented by Egyptian people forces: Ghazl Al-Mahala workers (who are striking since last year expressing their demands to increase their wages to be in line with price hikes, their strikes were followed by a series of strikes by many working sectors in Egypt); Al-Karama Party; Al-Wasat Party; Labor Party; Kefaya Movement; the Bar Association; Educational Workers Movement; Grain Mills Workers; they expect a positive response regarding Muslim Brotherhood participation and support in the strike.
However it didn’t list one party of those mention above as the leader or main “inciter” of the strike, not to mention that there was no single unified set of goals or demands that the strike aims to achieve! The ones written in the invitation are so broad and vague, they can’t possibly all be met as a result of a limited strike!
Why this strike was bound to fail in my opinion is, that outside Cairo and 4 or 5 other major cities, no one even heard of the so called general strike, and even in the cities that did, citizens beyond a certain payroll didn’t hear or care about that strike. (and these are the people who are actually standing in the bread queues)
The strike was not organized action, and in a lot of its aspect a continuation of INACTION.
For the most part, people who participated in yesterday’s events, didn’t have any idea on what they were participating in, didn’t have a clear outline of what they should do, and more importantly didn’t have a goal or set of objective that they hope to achieve by their strike.
Thus it lacked all the forms of civil disobedience, it was not a successful general strike, nor was it a public demonstration. It didn’t convey any message to anyone. And the real people of Egypt, (most of which don’t have an email or facebook account) were not affected or even emotionally touched by the strike.
What the strike was however, is a meaningless and tasteless half cooked meal of half strike/half demonstration and combo police force. It was a boring episode that didn’t catch the attention of anyone on the 9 o’clock news. And at the end of day, was reduced to another set of disturbing pictures that are circulated by email, to prove how bad our government is, which we already know!
I don’t claim to know the solution to our national strife, I don’t claim that I offer a better solution, however, based on personal experience, I know that lacking organization and ideology, civil disobedience is often reduced to a band of barbaric mob, and I know that the hard way.
And this I don’t approve of, and will not take part in.
If you really want to be positive, and show your solidarity with the people of your country, consider “charity” and if that’s not enough for you and you feel that you are bigger and more capable than that, lead and ORGANIZE a “Peaceful Revolution”, a people’s revolution, and then and only then, I guarantee you will get the Egyptian people on board as well as myself.
With that said, and because i hate to be a disappointment to the readers, here are the circulated photos of yesterday’s unfortunate events.