Compared to the Egyptian revolution’s extraordinary toppling of the dictator Mubarak, the people’s occupation of the country’s public spaces, the workers’ strikes and the array of emotions pouring forth (everything from anger to exhilaration), Britain appears to be in a state of denial, despite the fact that revolutionary impulses may well be the only valid response to the coalition government’s unprecedented assault on almost every aspect of British society — hard-pressed middle class and working class people, students, schoolchildren, the working poor, the unemployed and the disabled; everyone, in fact, except the rich and the super-rich.
Rarely do our rulers look more absurd than when faced with a popular upheaval. As fear and apathy are broken, ordinary people – housewives, students, sanitation workers, the unemployed – remake themselves. Having been objects of history, they become its agents. Marching in their millions, reclaiming public space, attending meetings and debating their society’s future, they discover in themselves capacities for organization and action they had never imagined. They arrest secret police, defend their communities and their rallies, organize the distribution of food, water and medical supplies. Exhilarated by new solidarities and empowered by the understanding that they are making history, they shed old habits of deference and passivity.