This is a fantasy.  I know that.  So please don’t write in telling me “it will never happen” or “the Egyptians aren’t anarchists”, etc.  I know it’s probably not going to happen.  I’m not saying it’s going to happen.  I’m saying I’d like it to.

What’s happening in Egypt is breathtaking.  Not only the courage and stamina of the protesters, but their civility.  The (apparent) fact that, with the exception of violence initiated by police and police-pretending-not-to-be-police, these demonstrations have been completely peaceful.  Wouldn’t it be great if the Egyptian people looked around, recognized this, and said to themselves something like the following:

“Hey.  Wait a second.  This is working pretty well.  We haven’t gotten rid of Mubarak yet, but we’ve been out here for more than two weeks now, filling the streets, moving around, feeding ourselves, sheltering ourselves and even setting up our own security systems to keep out pro-government agitators.  We’re doing alright.

“We know, and Mubarak knows, that his days in power are numbered.  Things could get really ugly before he goes, but he is going.  The big question is: Who will replace him?  There’s been a lot of angst in the foreign press about our movement lacking leadership, about the fact that we don’t have ready a person or persons to present as a viable alternative to Hosni Mubarak.

“Well wait a second… why do we need one?  Why do we need someone sitting above us telling us how to live our lives and taking our money from us?  To protect us?  We’ve been doing a pretty good job of protecting ourselves these past days.  Why couldn’t we continue to do that?  And to protect us from who or what?  The only threats to peace have come from the government’s police forces themselves.  Perhaps they are the problem.  Protection from foreign aggressors?  It seems to us that our foreign enemies have been running our government for the past 30 years.  Maybe they’d have a harder time doing that if there was no head of state.  No one lever to grab hold of.

“To run the economy?  Our government has run it into the ground, and Egypt is one of the poorest nations in the world for no good reason.  It seems to us that the economies that provide the most for the people are those that aren’t “run” by someone.

“So maybe our answer to the ‘who will replace Mubarak’ question is: no-one.  Or rather, all of us.  We will all replace him in making decisions about how to run our lives, how to trade with each other, resolve our conflicts and protect ourselves.  Not another foreign puppet, not the military, not even a “legitimate” democratically elected head of state.  No thank you.  We’ve been doing a pretty good job of living our lives these past 16 days and we believe we can continue to do so.  We’ll do this ourselves.”

Originally published on On the Banks, February 10, 2011