Egypt. Remembering Hani Shukrallah, the activist-journalist | MadaMasr
As Egypt’s journalist and political activist communities gathered on Thursday to mourn the loss of prominent journalist and leftist activist Hani Shukrallah, we take his remembrance to our pages.
Although he didn’t have direct ties to the institution, Hani was a beacon for us at Mada. As a political activist who challenged the comfort of those in power and a journalist who believed in speaking truth to power, he represented a combination that inspires us and was an embodiment of the ethos that guides us.
Hani was 69 years old when he died. His activism began to take form during the student movement of the 1970s, in which Egypt’s university campuses became a hotbed of resistance against the government’s ambiguous stance on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
But Hani’s pursuit of political issues was not limited to joining effervescent, preexisting movements. It also included attempts to fundamentally shape a thinking behind a type of contentious politics that was slow to form in Egypt, from the 1980s onward. In a generous effort to highlight these endeavors, Amr Abdel Rahman, a political thinker and activist in our generation — a generation one step younger than Hani’s — synthesized Hani’s writing on a possible new communism in Egypt in the early 2000s. This writing was marked by the proposition that a capitalistic oligarchy, formed in the early 1980s, with the rise of the Mubarak government, has direct control of the state and has instigated the process of privatizing it as a whole. This process did not develop into a full-fledged capitalist project — à la the Four Asian Tigers model — because of the accumulation of a massive surplus in its hands, given the direct state control it exercised and the absence of any pressure to invest this surplus into some form of economic development. This oligarchy has also defined the possible modes of opposition to it, one that must steer clear from the presidency’s power establishment and its main economic model. In this mode of opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, which would later become a subject of Hani’s vehement criticism, managed to find room to maneuver. Unless a democractic movement stands against this oligarchy — by reactivating ties with the labor movement and the middle class — the opposition would slowly be eliminated, Hani argued. Post-2011, he would write about the ominous death of politics, saying, “The defeat of the revolution was destined to expand into a trouncing of politics.”