As the situation in Egypt escalates with Mubarak’s pointed refusal to step down despite the clear and outspoken wishes of the Egyptians for democracy, one can’t help but worry about the fate of a people so clearly unused to real democracy and the responsibilities which that ensues.
“As we watch another country struggle for democracy or at the very least new leadership. We have to remember that with freedom comes many voices and that we will not always agree with every voice.”
Just he history of the 20th century in Europe (and former British colonies such as Burma and India) is a clear example of the extreme caution required in political climates such as these. A nation cannot simply jump from totalitarian dictatorship (in the poor disguise of a presidency) to democracy overnight with nothing set up to replace Mubarak and his cronies, any more than Russia was even likely to have survived the sudden switch from communism. The Russians are no better off now under un-checked capitalism than they were under the previous regime and the same could be said for the Chinese. Western meddling in these affairs and simply deciding to step in and topple a regime is not helpful. A more recent example would probably be our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have become so complacent over our own good fortune that we forget the centuries of turmoil, blood and hard earned changes in attitude by our ancestors (not us) that has brought us what we think of as democracy, that we have become infected with the same form of blind chauvinism we accuse the out-of-touch wealthy few of: we feel so superior about our way of life that we become convinced that the rest of the world is green with envy and wants to be like ‘us’.
Now to responsibilities. The Egyptian people have a responsibility to set up a proper system with multiple parties and proper well-considered manifestos before even considering a sudden change like this, lest they leave themselves open to becoming a twin to Iran. As yet it is unclear if they really have anything to put in Mubarak’s place We have a responsibility to learn from our past mistakes (and there are plenty of them) and leave the Egyptians to make decisions for themselves. If they ask for advice, then we may give it but only then (it’s always okay to ask). That is the only way they will ever achieve anything which is truly theirs.
- Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
- Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card