There is a particular issue I take with the notion of a people’s revolution. In actual fact I take issue with most things referring to ‘the people’, but current reporting of events unfolding in Egypt have particularly wound me up. Essentially, the following story has been pedalled by most media outlets and the social networking bandwagon that has been rolling for the past few weeks. Hosni Mubarak and his government are the source of the all the world’s evil and corruption and are the great enemies of the Egyptian people, and in this stand off now between the two mutually exclusive parties, Mubarak and the people, Mubarak has now emphatically lost and the people have won. Hurrah for Egyptian freedom, boo to Mubarak and his inherent evil, now Egypt can go and enjoy a wonderful future in which the people will construct a marvellous society with all those inherent goods in the world, most notably democracy. While this may be a caricature of the story being constructed, it is a rather accurate one, and the story is unfortunately a very bad one.
While there are wide variety of issues that could be addressed with regards to this story, there are two in particular which require immediate work, the first being this representation of Mubarak. The President has been cast in the role of pantomime villain and has lost even the support of his perennial allies in the US. It must first be said that few people have as much disdain for the reign and actions of Mubarak more than me, but that is it you see. But we need to put things into perspective. To attempt to make the claim that Mubarak was an evil man who cared not for the ills of the nation he governed is false! Hosni Mubarak was not just sat there giggling (or cackling, whichever you prefer) away to himself while thinking of as many sadistic measures to take as president, he was simply a man who had a vision for a nation, a vision which most feel was the wrong one. Due to his military background he clearly believed that taking such strong security measures against his own people was an acceptable step, with one of his only goals as president clearly being to keep stability and order within the nation. As stated, most did not see things his way and the rest is history.
But at this point it links into the second major problem with this story that needs to be tackled, and this is the hope everyone has of everyone living happily ever after. This folly must be tackled by first getting rid of this term, ‘the people’. The people are not one unified body that acts together and shares the same goals and intentions. The human body for example works in such a way that everything works in unison. This is the nature of a body. It has one mind, and one mind only. ‘The people’ however, are, in the case of Egypt, roughly 80 million minds which all have different views, aims and expectations. With Mubarak gone, all you have to unify people are the political/religious ideologies they subscribe to. There is no one vision of how to proceed, there are several conflicting visions, each of which will fulfil the aims of some, and infuriate and crush the dreams of others. Even with the resignation things are the same. However small a minority they may have been, there were clearly those you believed Mubarak was the best leader around, and his vision the correct one. In actual fact, Mubarak himself is one these ‘people’ you speak of. Therefore once this idea of Egypt being a body of people with shared dreams, ambitions and fates is out of the way, a different tale can be constructed.
Egypt has been under the rule of a man whose vision has become less and less popular as the years have gone by. It has become a society where many different people are unhappy in many different ways. With the departure of Mubarak, it is expected that Egypt will have elections. There can be several outcomes here. Egypt may have a particular party governing the country, in which case those who support it will be satisfied, and those who didn’t angry. Egypt may have a national unity government, which will result in a government with no real identity and a mix of different views which probably have another similar mix of satisfied and angry individuals being governed.
Therefore the change that is taking place in Egypt is not that of crisis and corruption to prosperity and unity. The change is not one of a people being oppressed by their rulers to that of the people becoming their own rulers. The only meaningful statement that can be said of events here are that the number of people who will be dissatisfied with the direction of government will be smaller. Just don’t forget that this voiceless mass do still exist if you happen to be sympathetic to whatever direction this new government takes.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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