The leader fed disorder in an attempt to delegitimize the protesters among most Egyptians
"They are trying to create chaos," said Mohamed Ahmed, one of the Cairo protesters, "This is what Mubarak wants."
Usually, it's the revolutionaries who deliberately instigate disorder. In the early 20th century, the Russian revolutionaries even had a slogan: "The worse, the better."
Mayhem delegitimized the regime. The greater the disorder, the brighter were the prospects for the revolution. The radicals wanted failed harvests and poverty. They wanted government repression and bloodshed. They wanted to see the roots of society ripped up.
More recently, al-Qaeda in Iraq adhered to the same strategy, hoping to foment a full-scale civil war. In the smoking ruins of Iraq, they could construct a brave new world.
As W.B. Yeats wrote in his poem "The Second Coming," when anarchy is loosed upon the world, "things fall apart; the center cannot hold."
But in Egypt there's been a role reversal. In the main, the protesters have shown restraint. The Atlantic's Graeme Wood reported that Tahrir Square in Cairo "reminded me of Burning Man," with children getting their faces painted, and protesters clearing up the trash.