The riots in Cairo over the last weeks have focused us on the impact of social media. But what we must not forget is that deposing the ruler is an ancient rite. Mayans, Germanic tribes, and others around the world have performed ritual replacement of their leaders by openly sacrificing them–often dismembering the leader and eating their parts. It is presumed this ritual cannibalism was a way of passing the leader’s courage and wisdom through the tribe.
What’s curious about Egypt is that although Mubarek has capitulated to the mob’s demands to step down (although he remains seated as President) as well as make the political and economic changes they cry out for, the crowd is hungry for more. They want Mubarek’s immediate removal.
For the rational, the crowd has already gotten what it wanted: the Egyptians have deposed their leader in the eyes of the world. But the emotional context has deepened. Over the past weeks, the Egyptians have developed a frenzied appetite for change, and they want it now.
We will see what happens to Mubarek in the next hours and days and weeks to come. And since Mubarek’s regime has routinely rid itself of possible successors, we’ll also witness how successfully the nation transitions to new leadership. The world will be watching to see who’s next on the menu.