Hitchens on the Egyptian - what - revolution? uprising? troubles? No-one knows.
So multifarious are the sources of grievance in the Arab world that it could have been any one of a host of pretexts that ignited a revolt, or revolts. This ought to make one beware of too glibly selecting the ostensibly crucial one. Poverty and unemployment? These are so pervasive that they could explain any rebellion at any time—and in any case Tunisians are among the richest per capita in North Africa. Dictatorship and repression? Again, these are commonplaces, and so far the most conspicuously authoritarian despotisms—Syria and Saudi Arabia, for instance—have been spared the challenge of insurrection. (May these words of mine go out of date with all speed.)
I think that the factor of indignity and shame, . . . makes a more satisfactory initial explanation. And one of the cheering and reassuring things about dictatorship is the way that it consistently fails to understand this element of the equation. How gratifying it is that all such regimes go on making the same obvious mistakes. None of them ever seems to master a few simple survival techniques: Don't let the supreme leader's extended family go on shopping sprees; don't publicly spoil some firstborn as if the people can't wait for him, too, to be proclaimed from the balcony; don't display your personal photograph all over the landscape; don't claim more than, say, 75 percent of the vote in any "election" you put on. And don't try to shut down social media: It will instantly alert even the most somnolent citizen to the fact that you are losing, or have lost, your grip.
People do not like to be treated like fools, or backward infants, or extras in some parade. There is a natural and inborn resistance to such tutelage, for the simple-enough reasons that young people want to be regarded as adults, and parents can't bear to be humiliated in front of their children. One of Francis Fukuyama's better observations, drawing on his study of Hegel and Nietzsche, was that history shows people just as prepared to fight for honor and recognition as they are for less abstract concepts like food or territory.
I was a tourist in Egypt in 1993. A young guy got talking to my partner and me and asked us to meet him at a café. I can’t remember much of the conversation but he was talking in a low voice about Mubarak - “we have to pretend to be happy”.
I hope a change is going to come so he can bitch about the government as much as he likes.