The Socialist Equality Party and the University’s chapter of International Students for Social Equality held a lecture last night about the impact of social revolutions and the implications of the current turmoil in Egypt.
David North, national chair of the Socialist Equality Party, spoke at the Michigan League last night before a crowd of about 40 people at the event titled “The World Significance of the Egyptian Revolution.” His speech came a few hours after Egypt President Hosni Mubarak confirmed he would not be stepping down from his position despite rumors yesterday morning that claimed he would.
North began by providing an overview of Egypt’s political history and the impact of revolutions on various societies. He added that the current political unrest in Tunisia and Egypt may potentially spur future government overthrows worldwide as countries strive toward democratic governments.
“This is not a uniquely Egyptian phenomenon,” North said. “This is a global phenomenon. What is happening in Egypt is the beginning of a global revolutionary process.”
As Egypt entered into its 18th day of violence yesterday, rumors circulated that Mubarak would step down from his post. Instead, he announced he would remain in office, but reallocate some of his powers to Egypt Vice President Omar Suleiman. In response to the rumors, the military mobilized, preparing for violence from the dissenting public.
The events in Egypt parallel certain social and economic situations in the United States, North said. He added that it is essential for college students to have an understanding of global revolutions, since this generation has yet to experience a social uprising of this magnitude.
“You are growing up in a world that is going to be shaped by revolution,” he said.
He added that global events like the revolution in Egypt also educate many citizens about countries’ political issues in various countries.
“The masses learn more about politics in 24 hours than they would otherwise learn in half a century,” North said.
LSA and Art & Design sophomore Micaela McCabe said she was drawn to the discussion because of her studies in international development.
“I think it is incredibly important for students to know what is going on in the world,” McCabe said. “Seeing how other democracies and other governmental systems work, I think is important to know.”
LSA freshman Zoe Crowley said she went to the event to broaden her knowledge about the Egyptian conflict.
“(The media) is not necessarily addressing the issues that I am interested in,” Crowley said. “I came to get a more worldly perspective on what is happening in Egypt right now. This sort of social unrest is all around us, and people just choose to close their eyes to it.”
LSA freshman Anthony Green said it is important for students to have an understanding of global events like the Egyptian revolution.
“It is incredible to watch so many people taking destiny into their own hands,” he said.
Rackham student Nicholas Niemuth said he viewed the event as a means for students to develop an understanding of social systems and how to improve them in the future, especially in the context of world revolutions.
“I think it is extremely important as a starting point, to have a basis, have someone to point you in the direction to do the learning yourself,” Niemuth said, “and to come to understand the actual social structures that exist and why they exist … and the motivations that they have to keep things the way they are or to try to change things for the better.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.