Upheaval in Egypt: Apparent causes .. and real causes.

Watching live coverage of the confrontation between the anti-Mubarek and pro-Mubarek forces yesterday, I noticed that the focal point of the clash was outside the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.  The museum has sustained some considerable looting and vandalism including, according to reports, the beheading of two mummies.  One wonders if the mustering of a ‘pro-Mubarek’ group to counter the protestors is an indication of something deeper and more profound.  Could it also be composed of people (some but certainly not all), who are fighting back to save their very history, their support for Mubarek merely incidental?  We have the misfortune of observing a pro-democracy movement being led by the Muslim Brotherhood and the vast repository of history and Egyptian heritage being defended by a heavy-handed dictator.  I hold out the hope that this uprising will bring more freedom to the Egyptian people –  freedom from the tyranny of a police state and freedom from islamo-fascism.

The great upheavals which precede changes of civilizations such as the fall of the Roman Empire and the foundation of the Arabian Empire, seem at first sight determined more especially by political transformations, foreign invasion, or the overthrow of dynasties. But a more attentive study of these events shows that behind their apparent causes the real cause is generally seen to be a profound modification in the ideas of the peoples. The true historical upheavals are not those which astonish us by their grandeur and violence. The only important changes whence the renewal of civilizations results, affect ideas, conceptions, and beliefs. The memorable events of history are the visible effects of the invisible changes of human thought. The reason these great events are so rare is that there is nothing so stable in a race as the inherited groundwork of its thoughts.

–Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd


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