Square Zero: The State, Counterrevolutionary Paranoia, and the Withdrawal of Activists
2023. "Square Zero: The State, Counterrevolutionary Paranoia, and the Withdrawal of Activists", Revolution Squared: Tahrir, Political Possibilities, and Counterrevolution in Egypt, Atef Shahat Said
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The chapter starts with many examples of the dramatic closure of political space after the military coup in July 2013, including the banning of street protests, a farcical election process, the targeting of all forms of political dissent, and the rise of what he describes as digital repression. Atef Shahat Said proposes that to better understand the complete closure of political space, we ought to analyze the counterrevolution in Egypt in a historically sensitive and disaggregated way. Said then examines Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's rise to power and theories such as Bonapartism and Caesarism that have been leveraged to explain it, and proposes the notion of the paranoid regime to make sense of how the regime has been viciously invested in targeting all symbols or memories of the revolution. The regime has January-phobia, as he describes it. Said argues that many Egyptian revolutionaries chose to withdraw amid the escalated widespread repression.