Paolo Gerbaudo



The Impermanent Revolution: The Organizational Fragility of the Egyptian Prodemocracy Movement in the Troubled Transition

This article analyses the process of organizational transformation of the revolutionary movement in Egypt during the transitional phase. It covers the period between the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and the first months of presidency of the Muslim Brother Mohammed Morsi in the summer of 2012. It argues that because of its cult of leaderlessness and self-organization during the transitional period the revolutionary movement became progressively marginalized by the joint pressure exercised by solid organizational structures such as the military and by the Muslim Brotherhood. The defeats suffered by the revolutionary movement during this phase soon inspired an organizational rethinking, which has progressively led to the creation of new parties and formal organizations, to give more solid foundations to mobilizations for social justice and civil liberties. The Egyptian case thus provides a cautionary tale for the Western activists who have been inspired by the movement of Tahrir and highlights the continuing importance of combining informal mobilization with an emphasis on spontaneity with formal organizational structures.

Arab Spring, organization, leaderlessness, formalization, informal mobilization, revolutionary process, transition to democracy

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 39, No. 1 (2012): 8-23


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