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Egypt is an ancient land and its history is so old it goes back to pre-historic times. Up until the ascendance of 20th century militarism, it was the ancient dynasties of the pharos, followed by various kingdoms and outsiders that run the show on this ancient land of our continent. Fast forward to 2011. The recent mass uprising that was hardly led by any one party or any one-movement, we believe, still remains a genuine expression of the Egyptian people for meaningful democratic and equitable governance. Nevertheless, however much this project is desired by the general populous, what has been witnessed (at least so far) is only a mere shuffling and reshuffling of old politics led by old institutions and old personalities, though it is being presented as a new 21st century political accord by powerful interests that just don’t want to see democratic change in Egypt! But given Egypt’s age-old tradition and experience in self-administration, why the obvious shortcoming?
Since the decline of Nassirism, (Arab Nationalism) mostly as a result of Egypt’s defeat by Israel, Egyptian society as a whole became disillusioned by the ideologies that initially reaffirmed national objectives. These were mainly Arab nationalism in the spirit of NAM (Non aligned Movement) and a sort of Arabian Socialism. Once the grand disillusionment descended upon the mere mortals, the gate for other doctrines was widely opened and these managed to take center stage with vengeance. Like many other countries that more or less found themselves in the same predicament, the neo-liberal god assumed the throne in the world of economic development while the dictat of empire became the de-facto religion in the sphere of politics. After three decades of vigorous attempt to improve situations on the ground via these constructs, the development objective failed to deliver the desired goods and non-goods to ordinary Egyptians, hence the uprising. Enter the demise of the modern world system!
The world system that has been around for quite a while is now collapsing; economically, socially, politically, environmentally, etc. On the other hand there is no readymade paradigm that can provide guidance to the plebeians, a sort of road map in search of nirvana. As a result, going forward will be treacherous, as many inside the Arab Spring are already finding out first hand. What has exasperated the situation in these countries (first and foremost) is the long absence of free debate and engagement amongst their populous, be it in the arena of politics or otherwise. The systematic suppression of views/articulations, to say nothing about institutions (political parties, movements, etc) by previous regimes, like that of Mubarak’s, has left huge gaps on all fronts and has become very difficult to fill. When the preaching of the state/ ruling party is the only thing that is considered the truth and the whole truth, critical thinking takes an extended leave of absence and soon it is replaced by official mediocrity/mendacity. In addition, sensible discourse will end up going underground as if it were a criminal vocation! Unlike many of its Middle Eastern and North African neighbors, Egypt always had a rich and relatively open culture. A while back this tradition tantalized the imagination of all good willing people by promising to dominate public culture in its entirety! The years between 1919-1967 come to mind.
The routine muzzling of public voices by modern states had detrimental effect on the body politics, the consequences of which we are now privileged to witness in action. In Egypt (today) there exists literally no organized movement outside of the old establishments (the military and the likes of the brotherhoods) that is realistically aspiring for state power. Though the objective condition in Egypt is more than ripe for social transformation, there is no credible movement to take charge and lend a leadership hand. Unfortunately, this is essentially the case in almost all of the other African countries.
For better or worse, humanity must pursue clear thinking in all its engagements. We believe, liberated/emancipated and inquisitive minds are urgently needed to help un-fathom the whole global mess, which affects each and every person/country in one form or another. The global beast (human mass) has been suffering from the malicious suffocation and indoctrination of entrenched interests for a long time and hence is in dire need of physical, mental and spiritual liberation.
The old Scottish Baronet accurately characterized the vicious machination that exists within the power structures of the nation-state system, long before we saw the light of day: “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832.) Good Day!