Totalitarianism and dictatorship has been a large part of the Middle East for a long time; due to lack of organization by the people who wish for greater freedom in their own country, it was nearly impossible to foment a successful revolution that would facilitate change. However, in the case of Egypt in 2011, an increase in resolve, as well as greater connectivity due to the Internet and social media, allowed the Egyptian people to rise up against their president and demand he be removed from power. The Arab Spring, and the Egyptian Revolution in particular, was the product of a Marxist theory of social revolution, in which a put-upon peasantry stood up against a corrupt dictatorship and fought for their rights to free elections and the end to military rule.
The lead-up to the Egyptian Revolution stems all the way back to the rise to power of Hasni Mubarak, who had been President of Egypt for 30 years. Prior to February 2011, Egypt was ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, who won every election since his appointment in 1981. There are many political observers who purport that these elections were fare from free; government regulations stated that political parties had to be approved by the government, and there was an official ban on political parties that were based on religion. He participated in an authoritarian rule that effectively ensured his continued reign of power for the rest of his life, regardless of election votes or citizen approval, which had dwindled significantly. The 2010 elections were accused of fraud, due to the almost unanimous victory of the ruling party that occurred despite the low public approval. Police brutality had increased under Mubarak's rule, with numerous instances of torture and human rights abuses on the part of the police, which was paid for by Mubarak's reign. In addition to all that, Egypt's economy was in shambles, leaving few jobs and even fewer chances for improvement in the country (Caglayan, pp. 4-5).
In the wake of successful revolutions in Tunisia and other countries, the Day of Revolt started on January 25, 2011. The furor surrounding Mubarak's obviously fixed and corrupted election system, as well as his oppressive rule, led many Egyptian citizens to stage a revolt asking for his resignation. Tens of thousands of protesters assembled in the largest cities in Egypt, decrying Mubarak's government and asking for change. This revolution was perpetuated mostly online, using Twitter and Facebook to organize protests. The government shut down the Internet and mobile net services, leading to increased protests and military presence. Civilian casualties were high, as the military resorted to violence to attempt to quash protests. After several weeks of oppressive crackdowns and police action, Mubarak stepped down as President, and a military council took over provisional rule of the country (Caglayan, p. 11).
Once Mubarak was taken out of power in February of 2011, the existing parliament of Egypt was dissolved, with the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces holding power for six months while a different government was established. There were residual protests to combat the slow progress of the changes following the revolution. To date, the area remains relatively unstable, and a permanent government has yet to be established (Caglayan, p. 12).
According to social theorist Karl Marx, revolution is "an unstoppable historical force growing out of class inequalities that are rooted in the ownership of the means of production" (Handelman, p. 221). In essence, the bourgeoisie, who are the ruling elite, controls through various means all the power and resources that are available to the detriment of the working class. This leaves the 'proletariat' unable to rise above their station or gain any agency in the government or nation to which they are dedicating their hard work and resources. Marx predicted that, in any such system like this, conditions would gradually get worse and worse for the proletariat until such time as they became sufficiently class-conscious (aware of the rights and agency they are being denied).
In the case of Egypt and the Arab Spring, leaders like Hosni Mubarak were seen as the bourgeoisie - the leader of a military dictatorship that constantly denied the ability for the people to actually participate in democratic elections, and whose inability to provide jobs and resources were slowly starting to stifle and strangle the rights of Egyptians. To that end, revolution from a Marxist standpoint was inevitable; Egyptians slowly started to realize their own visio (class consciousness), and began to take steps toward revolution. Weakened by a stagnant economy and an increasingly riotous people, it became inevitable that the military dictatorship would soon face an angry, disenfranchised proletariat that would seek to depose them through the weapons of social media and impassioned dedication.
The effect of the Egyptian Revolution on a worldwide scale was massive; along with the Tunisian Revolution, it brought about a series of other revolutions in different Middle Eastern Countries, including Algeria, Iran, Libya, Yemen and other countries experienced large protest movements after the process was finished. This further cements the notion that Egypt's revolution was a Marxist one; due to the interrelated economies and social issues of many groups of proletariats in the Middle East, the rash of revolutions and riots that took place in that region was inevitable. Furthermore, its ability to inspire numerous riots and revolutions throughout the region is indicative of its status as a revolutionary movement; in the modern age of globalization, the citizenry chose to rise up and fight against the old forms of leadership, which depended on dictatorship and attrition to keep its people in line. With social media and sufficient anger, that was no longer possible to accomplish.
In conclusion, the Egyptian Revolution was a revolutionary movement fuelled by Marxist ideals of rising up against an uncaring, unfeeling military dictatorship. While the move was not strictly one of capitalism to socialism, the need for the oppressed peoples of a nation (or nations) to rebel against those who deny them agency is very much rooted in Marxist philosophy and sociology. The Arab Spring as a whole is indicative of a greater sense of connectivity between the oppressed peoples of a nation, who used the Internet and social media to organize a widespread revolution to fight for the freedom that they sorely asked for. Where the future holds for Egypt is unclear, due to the instability of the current government; however, their search for change allowed them to fight for what they believed in, and allowed the world to see the power of an angry and rebellious public drawn to revolution.
Caglayan, T. (2011). Post revolution civil society in Egypt. Advisory Panel on Question of