Let me tell you about Mohamed, a secular young Egyptian revolutionary.
When I first met Mohamed, in Alexandria, he told me how the first contact he had with the ruling party was not a threat, but an invitation. If you want to be involved in politics, they said, why not join the ruling National Democratic Party.
He had shrugged them off, and faced down tear gas and live bullets and been amongst those who stormed the central security forces headquarters in the mediterranean city.
Now I see Mohamed sharing propaganda videos, with drone footage of glistening US supplied warships, and images of clean-shaven light skinned Egyptian officers, in crisp uniforms whose eyes blaze with an intensity bordering on rage as they work high-tech control panels. His profile pic has a frame featuring the Egyptian flag.
I do not know whether these expressions of jingoistic patriotism are made “ironically” or not. It could be like how Alaa Abdel Fattah was only “ironically” participating in the anti-brotherhood June 30 protests in Tahrir Square, while the defenders of the democratically elected government gathered across the city in Rabaa al Adawiya square, where, after the military announced its coup and the fireworks burst over Tahrir Square, they would be victims of the bloodiest massacre in Egypt’s modern history, as a minimum of 800 killed, and mosques filled with the dead (and some say, the still dying) burned to the ground.
So even if he shields himself from contact with the reality of the situation, with condom thin irony, in the end, the NDP got what they wanted. Mohamed has been coopted, completely, by the regime and used for their ends. Such is the sad end of the Tahrir revolutionaries.
Some of them are in jail. And from their jail cells, they repeat the regimes lies.
The 2013 alliance between the military and the urban secular youth was not “revolutionary”, but catastrophically counter-revolutionary. The brotherhood were not the threat to Egypt’s democracy, they were its best hope. Rather than being the violent oppressors they are painted as, they are a peaceful movement and are overwhelmingly the victims of violent oppression.
Egypt’s future is dark, as all hope rests on the capacity of these various counter-hegemonic groups to unite against the overwhelming power of the military and the deep state. That requires a level of introspection and self awareness that the young heroes of 2011 seem unable to muster.