Listening to at least two sides of an argument is usually a good thing. But when it comes to sustaining mass public action, this may not be the case. For most people, the willingness to take a stand in the public arena, despite the risk of injury or death, requires clarity, courage, and the dogged pursuit of a vision shared with like-minded others. If saddled with the weight of competing considerations, people might just decide to stay home.
What do the ongoing social revolution in Cairo, Egypt and the 1957 movie, An Affair to Remember, have in common?
The answer: Thomas Schelling.
It has been nearly impossible not to watch transfixed to a television or listen raptly by a radio to the unfolding news about the demands of Egyptians from all walks of life for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. One aspect of this remarkable bottom-up demand for accountability has thus far received little attention: Why Tahrir Square?