ROGER COHEN 文 ruiheng 译
在军方声明发布前的几小时，我遇到一个42岁的投资银行家，他毕业于哈佛商学院，以前在高盛公司供职，现在在伦敦有好的工作，在伦敦南肯辛顿 South Kensington有很好的住处。他从电视上看了1月25日的大抗议，就扔下一切事物，回国投入埃及的自由事业。他说这是要么行动要么闭嘴的事业。有很多像他这样的人此时回到了祖国，这些专业人士代表着埃及的潜力，他们也发动怒火了。总是被一个老人随意支配，他们已经感到无法忍受。这位银行家星期三这样写给我：“真是个讽刺，西方国家花了几十亿到埃及，通过非政府组织，政府间协助，试图帮助提升我国的教育，提高公民责任感，创造公民社会价值，推进业主权益，推进人权；但是他们从未认识到他们真正该做的是给帮助我们埃及人获得自由，在一天一夜间你已经看到了转变—-我们自己能做好上述事务，为我们自己、靠我们自己，只要我们感到真正获得了公民选举权。”
Egypt’s Victory of Values
By ROGER COHEN
Published: February 10, 2011
CAIRO — As I write this from a 9th-floor apartment overlooking a packed Tahrir Square on Thursday evening, an immense cheer has gone up. The Egyptian armed forces, issuing what they call Communiqué Number One, have declared that the demands of the Egyptian people will be met. There was no sign of the man who has long been their commander in chief, Hosni Mubarak. He now appears to be leaving office after 30 years of repressive rule.
“Mission accomplished,” tweeted Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive whose organizing powers and shattering interview after 12 days in detention were an important galvanizing force. Later, he said it was important to await further clarification from the army.
The square below me is a great illuminated sea of people circling the tent city that grew up in its heart over the past couple of weeks. The Egyptians gathered here, young and old, secular and religious, meant it when they said they would not leave until Mubarak left.
What the statement from the military means, how the people’s demand for freedom will be satisfied, will only become clear in the coming hours and days. Egypt has lived under one form or other of dictatorship since 1952.
But it is already clear that Egyptians, like Tunisians before them, have won an extraordinary victory over despotism and corruption in the name of freedom, self-empowerment and human dignity.
This is a seismic event in a long-dormant Arab world, reflecting at last the modernizing urges of the region’s overwhelmingly young populations. They are questing, Facebook- and Twitter-empowered, to become citizens rather than cowed subjects; they have learned that the utopias proposed by fanaticism are empty.
President Barack Obama, after his hesitations, after entertaining the unworkable idea that the anti-democrat Mubarak could somehow deliver democracy, must now put all America’s influence to work to try to ensure that a society worthy of these people’s aspirations for freedom and representative government emerges in Egypt. Once the vibrant hub of the Arab world, a country at peace with Israel, Egypt can assume once again a pivotal role in the region.
There are dangers, of course — of a vacuum, of a new form of authoritarianism, of Islamist extremism. But the tired binary view of the Arab world where only despots can hold off fanaticism is exhausted. The Muslim Brotherhood, no fanatics, can be part of the fabric of Egyptian society, like religious parties and organizations in other democracies.
A few hours before the army’s announcement, I had met a 42-year-old investment banker, Harvard Business School, ex-Goldman, with a good job in London and a nice place in South Kensington. He watched the big Jan. 25 protest on TV, dropped everything, got a leave, and came out here to devote his energy to Egyptian freedom. It was a case, he says, of put up or shut up. There are plenty like him, professionals fired up with their country’s potential, sick of being told what to do by an old man. He wrote this to me Wednesday:
“It’s ironic, the West spent billions on Egypt through NGOs, government assistance, trying to help improve our education, improve the sense of civic responsibility, create civic society values, ownership, citizenship, human rights; but they never realized that all they really needed to do was give us our freedom and in literally a day and a night you saw the transformation — we would do all these things for ourselves, by ourselves if we felt enfranchised.”
The revolution in values is startling. It’s been brought on by a sudden sense of ownership in the place of powerlessness. Cairo was the place of pushing and shoving and shouting and disorder par excellence. Now long lines form to enter Tahrir Square. There are even separate garbage cans in the square for organic waste!
I spoke to a 24-year-old professional, Perihane Allam. She was struck by the change in attitudes. Sexual harassment has been a big issue in Cairo. “Men were always hitting on me in the street, saying stuff,” she said. None of that in Tahrir Square, she told me, or elsewhere in the city these days. Dignity is transformative. So is the discovery of an Egyptian identity cutting across class and religious lines.
It’s easy to romanticize. This heady moment cannot last forever. Poverty and illiteracy will not vanish in a burst of goodwill. But Egypt strikes me as a good bet for a viable democracy for several reasons. Unlike Iraq, it is a unified nation state — the world’s oldest — with no big ethnic fault lines. Transformation is being born from the bottom up, unlike in Iraq, where it was imposed. There is a large educated and professional class, proud of Egypt’s heritage, shamed by what it has become under Mubarak, determined to bring the nation into the modern world.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been adapting fast to the give-and-take of this uprising, it has long been the only source of opposition, sustained just enough to make it a credible specter in Mubarak’s propaganda arsenal. If you were religious, or if you hated the regime, that’s where you went. Now, if other credible opposition parties are allowed to form, they will compete for that vote.
There have been lots of scenes in the square of Brotherhood supporters embracing the unveiled women hurling rocks at Mubarak’s goons. A kind of osmosis — fashioned in shed blood — has brought together secular and religious Egyptians. Hany el-Hosseiny, a science professor at Cairo University, told me he’s been talking to a senior Brotherhood figure who expressed the conviction that Western democracy was sufficient for the society he seeks. That remains to be seen. What is clear here is that the cyclone of Islamism born in Iran in 1979 feels like ancient history to the people of Tahrir.
The investment banker is busy organizing with three businessmen friends, burning CDs of Wael Ghonim to distribute around the country, refining the message, getting it out by any means.
He writes me: “Many people are doing this anonymously — like feeding into the zeitgeist of the group consciousness. Why? Because it’s about the outcome and the actions — not the people. It’s like this group consciousness (will) has been formed and everyone in their own little or big way is finding their way to contribute, leading to huge things.”
The West is tired and the Arab world is awakening. The West must not be so tired as to fail to see — and back — this “huge thing.”
You can follow Roger Cohen on Twitter at twitter.com/nytimescohen.