Sandmonkey gives us a compelling rant about events up to last Thursday, and commenter Pablo at Protein Wisdom extracts a money quote:

This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive.

Mikey NTH, on the same thread, differs:

Without a strong, disciplined force on the ground or nearby the destruction of an autocracy can lead to worse tyranny as the only people with that sort of discipline are usually the worst people ever – the wanna-be tyrants who are not only because they were suppressed.

In the Age of Alinsky I wonder about that, I really do.

Certainly Mikey NTH has internalized the way it’s gone, with some slight differences in detail, throughout the Twentieth Century. The Revolutionary Forces coalesce around the Great Leader, who inspires them to overthrow the Tyrant; the Great Leader then is installed as head of State, from which eminence he gradually tightens control over the people until another Revolution is incited to overthrow the Tyrant. From Lenin to Mugabe is no distance, and it is, after all, how Egypt ended up with Naguib to Nasser to Sadat to Mubarak in the first place.

But revolutions have also failed, and their failure reveals the weak spot: the Great Leader. Identify, Isolate, Target! People like Sandmonkey get tossed in jail, or worse, because the Tyrant and his goons can read ol’ Saul as well as anybody, and may well be smart enough to invent the procedure from first principles, even if they can’t condense it to aphorism. In the Standard Model, if you can prevent the Great Leader from arising in the first place the Revolution never condenses from an inchoate fog of resistance to a force capable of sweeping away the Old Regime, so you try to identify proto-Leaders, isolate them, and target them for assassination or incarceration. Sandmonkey might be such a proto-Leader, and in any case there are plenty of jail cells and bullets are cheap. If a Leader arises anyway, it becomes vital to take him out by any means necessary, because then the Revolution will disperse back into its component individuals.

Here in the U.S. the tea parties have handled this by simply not having identifiable leaders. Sarah Palin is an important inspiration for the tea parties, and so is Glen Beck, but shooting or jailing either or both of them would have no perceptible effect on the organization of the tea parties, which is dispersed to the point that when people with Führerwünsch arise, they get slapped down by the tea partiers themselves. (This is what’s really at the root of the controversy over CPAC.) The tea partiers don’t want an identifiable leader, because if one such existed he or she could be isolated and targeted. Maybe somebody should write a book about the principle.

Without knowing anything at all about Egypt other than superficial crap like pyramids, I would have to recommend something like that to the Egyptians who want change. Don’t organize using the Standard Model, with a Leader and cells and an identifiable thrust. You don’t kill an amoeba by poking it with a sharp stick. You don’t need a notochord, let alone a backbone, because they can be cut and the organism dies. You don’t want a vertebrate Movement, you want a slime mold that gradually takes over. Keep it simple, keep it fluid, keep it chaotic in the modern mathematical sense, with orbits individuals will follow as a consequence of the situation rather than pursuing a detailed Plan that can be disrupted.

In Sandmonkey’s followup he proposes something of the sort:

…start registering the protesters. Get their names, ages, addresses & districts… with such Proper citizen organization and segmentation, we’ll have the contact information and location of all the protesters that showed up, and that could be transformed into voting blocks in parliamentary districts…

Yep, that’s the way to do it, with an important addendum: no Great Leaders! Local committees need chairmen and identifiable figures to rally around, but don’t let it get farther than that. Make the organization wide, not tall; the organizing principle should be the visit to somebody’s house, the tweet, the Facebook post — the Internet can facilitate it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. You can plot over coffee in somebody’s house just as well or better than you can using the Web, and even with curfews there’s no off switch for that procedure.

Sandmonkey also cites, without identifying them, the two hazards likely to frustrate this: impatience and reliance on the Standard Model. He exhibits the impatience himself:

Mubarak is still President, Emergency law is still in effect, the parliament hasn’t been dissolved, new elections haven’t been called for and the constitution is still that flexible document that the ruling party can change whenever they see fit.

He wants the changes right now, and that isn’t going to happen. Organizing into voting blocs of neighbors and acquaintances who can reassure one another is the right way to do it, but it won’t take visible effect for a long time.

The other protesters haven’t understood yet, but the Government does:

The participants will start complaining about the lack of direction or movement leaders. The government will start complaining that the protesters haven’t offered a single person to represent them and negotiate with the government for them…

In other words, the protesters want a Leader to make speeches and rally around, because they want Standard Model reassurance and don’t understand that that creates a weak spot. The Government, too, wants the protesters to name and rally around a Leader, because once they do, a single 7.62 round (or bribe/intimidation/threat against family) breaks the Movement into nonthreatening individual bits.

The only thing that might work is the bottom up, leaderless approach, and the real danger there is that people will give up and stop pushing — which is why the lists and low-level organization are needed. I don’t know if it will work. I’m pretty sure the classic approach won’t.

Hope, like the inspiration for this, comes from Tunisia. After all the hooraw and scrambling, I still haven’t seen the name or picture of an identifiable Tunisian Great Leader in the Press, which is as or more anxious to identify one as the Government must have been — and for the same reason: it allows them to simplify their approach because only one person or a small group need be addressed. If the Egyptian protesters can build their organizational strength without creating a Leader for the World to identify and attack, they might have a chance.

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