The rush and tumult of events makes it hard, sometimes, to draw the most important general conclusions from their significance. This said, the revolutionary tidal wave, which began in Tunisia and Algeria, reached its crest in Egypt and is currently sweeping other countries such as Libya and Bahrain, offers a unique opportunity to watch how people can reshape history as they reconstruct their fates and futures. It also offers a rare scientific window to observe the birth of the new from the old and to study a moment of qualitative transformation that culminated from a long process of quantitative accumulation and that manifests the dialectical laws of social dynamics with utmost clarity.
What happened in Tunisia and then in Egypt, and what will certainly follow in other places, cannot be produced or fabricated by a political party, movement or force, domestic or otherwise. The uprisings are the product of a long cumulative evolution, lasting years, decades or perhaps even centuries in some areas, that eventually erupted into millions-strong grassroots protest movements of a magnitude unprecedented in the modern history of the Arab world, and perhaps in its entire history. Perhaps the only moment of similar size, scope and breadth is the first popular Palestinian Intifada, in its first year (1987-88). Sadly, the Oslo Accords undermined the magnificent initial results of this uprising and destroyed a historic opportunity to end the Israeli occupation. We should add that this Palestinian revolutionary moment was never sufficiently documented, first due to the differences in size and strategic importance compared to the Egyptian case, and second due to the lack of media coverage and unprecedented sophistication in communications technology that was available to Egypt today.
The events in Egypt today — as was the case in Tunisia and in all great revolutions, such as the French and Russian revolutions — epitomise what sociologists call a "revolutionary moment". Such a moment occurs when the governed refuse to be ruled as they had been and when th