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The ‘Viral’ Revolutions of Our Times – Postnational Reflections

The Arab Turmoil

According to a  report in The Guardian, the movement in Egypt that overthrew the regime of Hosni Mubarak is “a movement led by tech-savvy students and twentysomethings – labour activists, intellectuals, lawyers, accountants, engineers – that had its origins in a three-year-old textile strike in the Nile Delta and the killing of a 28-year-old university graduate, Khaled Said”. It has emerged, says the report, “as the centre of what is now an alliance of Egyptian opposition groups, old and new.” The April 6 Youth Movement (primarily a Facebook network), came into existence in in 2008, in support of the ongoing workers’ struggle in the industrial town of El-mahalla El-Kubra primarily on issues related to wages. The struggle in the past few years, also moved towards a restructuring of unions with government appointed leaders. The list of demands for the April 6 strike also included a demand for raising the national minimum wages that had remained stagnant for over two and a half decades. Increasing workers militancy over the past few years was a direct response to the World Bank imposed ‘reforms’ that had pushed lives of industrial labour to the brink. It was this sharpening conflict, consequent upon the serious impact of structural adjustment policies, that provides the backdrop in which the middle class youth decided to rally in support of the April 6 2008 strike. It was they who converted the call for an industrial strike into a general strike, according to some reports.  It is virtually impossible to get a sense of any of this in the ecstatic reports of the ‘networking babalog’ making a revolution that is now all over the Indian media.

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