Explanations of the authoritarian retrenchment after Egypt’s 2011 Revolution invoke either the regime’s repressive advantage over ‘leaderless’ mobilisation and civic activists, or insufficient preparations and radicalism on the part of opposition groups. Both explanations are unsatisfactory. First, because despite being ‘reformist’, opposition groups’ demands were perceived as radical challenges to regimes before, during and after the uprisings. Second, because appeals to regimes’ coercive capacity contradict explanations of opponents’ rise to prominence before the uprisings: if activists eroded Egypt’s authoritarian regime before 2011, what made them unable to continue doing so afterwards? Conversely, if activists’ agency was effective before 2011 despite gross imbalances in coercive capacity, then those imbalances alone cannot explain activists’ post-revolutionary decline. In short, if activists’ agency cannot be denied before Egypt’s ‘eighteen days’, it must be accounted for in their aftermath. To do this, the authors draw on Gramsci’s original texts and Italian-language scholarship to develop his neglected notion of disgregazione.

Gramsci’s ‘Southern Question’ and Egypt’s authoritarian retrenchment: subalternity and the disruption of activist agency

Teti G
2023-01-01

Abstract

Explanations of the authoritarian retrenchment after Egypt’s 2011 Revolution invoke either the regime’s repressive advantage over ‘leaderless’ mobilisation and civic activists, or insufficient preparations and radicalism on the part of opposition groups. Both explanations are unsatisfactory. First, because despite being ‘reformist’, opposition groups’ demands were perceived as radical challenges to regimes before, during and after the uprisings. Second, because appeals to regimes’ coercive capacity contradict explanations of opponents’ rise to prominence before the uprisings: if activists eroded Egypt’s authoritarian regime before 2011, what made them unable to continue doing so afterwards? Conversely, if activists’ agency was effective before 2011 despite gross imbalances in coercive capacity, then those imbalances alone cannot explain activists’ post-revolutionary decline. In short, if activists’ agency cannot be denied before Egypt’s ‘eighteen days’, it must be accounted for in their aftermath. To do this, the authors draw on Gramsci’s original texts and Italian-language scholarship to develop his neglected notion of disgregazione.
2023
Les explications du repli autoritaire après la révolution égyptienne de 2011 invoquent soit l’avantage répressif du régime, soit une faute de radicalisme de la part des groupes d’opposition. Les deux explications sont insatisfaisantes. D’abord parce qu’en dépit d'être « réformistes », les revendications des groupes d’opposition étaient perçues comme des défis radicaux aux régimes avant, pendant et après les soulèvements. Deuxièmement, parce que les appels à la capacité coercitive des régimes contredisent les explications de la montée des groupes d’opposition avant les soulèvements : si les militants ont contesté le régime autoritaire égyptien avant 2011, qu’est-ce qui les a empêchés de continuer après ? Inversement, si l’action des militants était efficace avant 2011 malgré les déséquilibres flagrants de la capacité coercitive, ces déséquilibres ne peuvent à eux seuls expliquer le déclin des militants après la révolution. En bref, si l’agentivité des militants ne peut être niée avant les « dix-huit jours » égyptiens, elle doit être prise en compte après. Pour ce faire, nous nous appuyons sur les textes originaux de Gramsci et sur la recherche en langue italienne pour développer sa notion de disgregazione.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4816362
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