The revolution in Egypt is fascinating on so many levels that watching and listening to the protesters, I felt a stirring inspiration – the kind that goes beyond the politics of the situation or its implications, and touches a fundamental truth about solidarity in the face of oppression.
Most of the reports from the ground focused on the economical and political demands of the protesters
who swarmed the streets, defying the authoritarian rule of their government. In one of the more compelling reports from Tahrir Square, journalist Anshel Pfeffer quotes a young male protester: “We don’t like to talk about it…but the economic situation and the conservative values have turned us into a generation of sexually frustrated virgins. That frustration is one of the driving forces of the demonstrations.” Wow.
This revealing statement by an unnamed demonstrator is a rare glimpse into the roots of the Egyptian revolution and is charged with the underlying currents of oppressed societies. The common phrase in the United States contends – “All politics is local,” but it’s even deeper than that – all politics is personal.
In People in Trouble, Wilhelm Reich wrote that “Sexual suppression engenders timidity toward authority and binds children to their parents… it paralyzes the intellectual critical powers of the oppressed masses because it consumes the greater part of biological energy… it paralyzes the resolute development of creative forces and renders impossible the achievement of all aspirations for human freedom.” This explains the personal, familial, and societal psyche, which enable any and all authoritarian regimes.
Sami Moubayed, makes a similar connection in Sexual Repression in Syria: “When men become obsessed with sexual desires, and have no outlet for these urges… they can neither work or think properly, affecting overall production in society” – in effect, diminishing the society while perpetuating the power of its leaders. That is, until they fall.
If poverty and sexual oppression are the fertilizers of the Egyptian revolution, and protests spread to other countries, perhaps this could be a tipping point in world history. To quote Reich again, “Authoritarian dictatorship exists not only in totalitarian states… It is a general human tendency which owes its existence to the suppression of the living function; it forms, in all nations, the mass-psychological basis for the acceptance and establishment of dictatorship.”