What Would Edmund Burke Say?

From a Jazeera “open letter to Obama” arguing against turning over the gov’t to Suleiman…this vision of the public sphere in action is so appealing, and if I were a Noam Chomsky-head the narrative would be so simple: the good guys are always the ones who look most like they’re storming the Bastille.  (Simple except for the fact that somehow the Times is telling the right story instead of supporting Suleiman, as the Chomsky analysis of the media would suggest it would.)  But it’s just so odd to think of what is essentially an extra-constitutional military coup as any kind of a good thing.  Constitutionality doesn’t guarantee justice, of course, and neither do elections (blah blah, Hitler was democratically elected, blah blah), but neither does populism, either… I am confused.

Listen to the voices of hundreds of people, each one, with her or his own megaphone, shouting out their particular philosophy, ideology or agenda, while tens of thousands of people parade by, stop for a few minutes, and move on to hear the next one. What has been created here is the perfect amalgam of a pre-modern and postmodern public sphere — high-tech tweets meeting the most intimate forms of human communication. It is a glimpse of politics at its purest.

Yes, technology is crucial — it seems everyone here is either on their mobile talking to someone or snapping photos or video with their phones and updating their Facebook pages. But that’s actually incidental to the most important dynamic, which is that people are talking to each other in ways that has rarely if ever happened here (and sadly hasn’t happened in the US in far too long).

Americans could learn a lot from the respect and tolerance people here are showing to one another, never mind the incredible artistic creativity being displayed by long suffering Egyptians as they celebrate their freedoms and attempt to tell other Egyptians, and the world (including you), not to turn their backs on them.

LeVine, Mark.  “President Obama, Come to Tahrir!” 2/9/11


One response to “What Would Edmund Burke Say?

  1. Yes; though you do sound confused, I share your exasperation with the blind bias toward revolutionaries, and our elected leaders’ eagerness to intervene in the Middle East.

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