Wall Street protests need plan to avoid chaos

The results of protests in Cairo can teach us about Occupy Wall Street.

Andrew Johnson

Friday will mark the 30th anniversary of Hosni MubarakâÄôs election to president of Egypt, a position he held until resigning in the midst of the Arab Spring. Looking to Tahrir Square as inspiration, Americans are taking to the streets in similar fashion, from Wall Street to Minneapolis.

Back in Egypt, with Mubarak locked up and the military still in power, this week alone saw 26 Coptic Christians killed, the political unbanning of terrorist group Al Gamaa al-Islamiyya, resignation of ministers, and EgyptâÄôs withdrawal as host of an African soccer tournament, all as a result of political and social instability.

At the time, many supporters, from Cairo to Coffman Union, were blinded to these and other potential dangers by the emotion and excitement surrounding the protest rallies. MubarakâÄôs offer to not seek re-election couldâÄôve provided revolutionary leaders with time to develop and organize a new structure to replace the old one, but it was turned down.

The aftermath of dramatic change in response to mass protests can be the buzz kill at the end of the party; a period known as the âÄúReign of TerrorâÄù followed the French Revolution. As rousing as it is to jump along for the ride, itâÄôs important to know how to drive in case the reviled driver is convinced to get out.

With Occupy Wall Street this semesterâÄôs popular movement, adherents must be wary of the costs of ousting the ways of old to implement something new, as the eventual outcome can end up being even more unfavorable. While reforms are sometimes needed, simply acting on that without direction is not enough.

âÄúChange is not a destination,âÄù Rudy Giuliani once said. Activists need to fully understand what it is theyâÄôre calling for, because ultimately, the future might be just as unsure and unclear as their demands.

 

Andrew Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]