I’ve been complaining for the past two weeks about the virtual Twitter Revolt in Egypt and the lack of a transition to a physical, organized movement that brings about real change. My concerns arise from the lack of a formal organization and a transformational leader to guide the social movement to achieve real objectives beyond protest.
Well, yesterday may have been the most important day so far in Egypt. I’m very fired up about Wael Ghonim, Egypt’s Google executive recently released from detention. His evening news interview and subsequent speech may have finally provided what this uprising really needs: a transformational leader to get behind. Ghonim brought the intensity of protests back over night and truly inspired people. While I’m more optimistic today than yesterday, there remain many questions.
- How does the U.S. and the West get behind Egypt’s Google dude? The West is used to getting behind old, stately characters that promise stability and mirror the appearance of Western Democratic leaders. Ghonim is not the traditional type, and I’m not sure the West knows how to support him.
- How does Ghonim’s inspiration join with the security and stability the Egyptian military must provide? This is a tough one. Hierarchical (vertical) military apparatus linked up with flat (horizontal) protest leader-this is a really tough one. The military is the key to a successful/peaceful transition.
- Is there an opposition organization or two that can join in with Ghonim’s inspiration to move this along? I don’t know, but am interested if anyone has some ideas.
- How does the opposition expand beyond the young students? I’m in Europe right now, and the coverage is a bit different from what I’ve been seeing in the States. In the U.S., it’s just nonstop coverage about Tahrir square and Facebook. In Europe, I’m seeing a lot more coverage of disgruntled Egyptians in the countryside that want life to return to normal and believe the entire protest movement is the work of the West. The NY Times article noted that the protesters were largely students and children of wealthy families. Long-run opposition and change will need more buy-in from those outside Tahrir Square.