Book Review: 'Revolution Continues' by Salama Moussa

Reuters, Sunday 20 May 2012

Egyptian thinker and writer Salama Moussa warned sixty years ago about the dangers of counter-revolutionary forces – he has important lessons for today

Salama Moussa


Ketab Al-Thawarat (Revolutions Book) by Salama Moussa, Cairo: General Organisation for Cultural Palaces, 2012. 216pp.


Following the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians began repeating the slogan "the Revolution Continues" and that is exactly what Salama Moussa (1887-1958) wrote nearly 60 years ago in his Revolutions Book. He stressed the importance of protecting revolutions after their success because dictators and despotic rulers are similar the world over, and as soon as a revolution removes one, another can appear.

Salama Moussa was an Egyptian thinker and socialist. He was imprisoned for 12 days when he said, "In Egypt, there are those who live off LE1000 a day and those who live off 3 piasters [1/100 of a pound] and may not even find them."

According to Moussa, revolutions need "continuous resistance and constant guarding and renewal until they educate humans to be human."

The book was first published in 1954, and states that dictators are the fruit of corrupt societies, providing the example King Farouk I, saying, "If he had found a healthy society, he wouldn't have become corrupt."

For Moussa, revolutions always follow the same patterns: Persecution that doesn’t allow for negotiation, followed by an explosion that leads to change and the elimination of oppression… One class calls for the revolt and is joined by the rest of society when they see the fairness of their cause and their demand for justice.

History records that revolutions move forward and continue despite lapses, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, who wasn’t honest to the cause of the French Revolution but nevertheless could not abandon its values, and the French people rushed to restore the revolution's ideals after he fell.

Illiterate slaves don’t think of their oppression, according to Moussa, so revolutions emerge from free thinking people, and therefore the responsibility is on intellectuals to be the ‘voice of conscience’ in society.

Writers are important for promoting the values of freedom and democracy, but “our writers haven’t risen above the level of the corrupt society, and if they had only said ‘The People’s Majesty’ instead of ‘The King’s Majesty’ they would have at least saved the people the dishonour of years of injustice during the era of King Farouk,” Moussa said.

Moussa mentioned a number of Egyptians who “didn’t bend their heads” and suffered in defence of the peoples' rights but without their names being recorded in the history books. He hails European thinkers like Jean Jack Rousseau and Voltaire who “inspired the idea of freedom … giving revolutions a language.”

He explained why history hails these names more than the actual people who led the revolution, stating that, “Maybe writers are closest to the prophets who carry a message of good to all. And these are the writers who stand next to the people and fight for their fights… no prophet appeared in history who was not a revolutionary against injustice. No prophet thought to speak to people in a difficult language.”

The Revolution Continues was the logo of a number of parties and movements in Egypt's parliamentary elections, and is the slogan of Abul-Ezz El-Hariri's presidential election campaign.


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