EGYPT: Myth and Reality


I have seen so many ignorant comments on and speculations regarding Egypt currently to last me a lifetime. People tend to disregard that Egypt is a heterogeneous and demographically complex region, a fact that seems to totally escape most of us who have a history of a millennium to gradually develop democratic systems to varying degrees and efficiency. Egypt has existed as a physical and symbolic power for 7000 years. The different modes of governing have continuously been executed by autocrats, theocrats or military juntas. The power has in reality been in the hands of some twenty prominent families ranging from the Pharaonic and or Ptolemaic dynasties to present day military oligarchs and it still is, thus conserving a continuum upheld during Egypt´s entire history.


The naiveté of many of us to believe in the potential for in an instant change to a system governed by human rights, an even distribution of wealth and a benevolent bridging over the immense differences in the socio economical modes of living, from the illiterate and poverty stricken rural areas, the enormous shanty towns of Cairo and Alexandria to the highly educated and sophisticated religious and secular elite at famous universities, mosques,residing in houses or apartments overlooking the Nile or the Alexandrian delta, is overwhelming. Egypt, in spite of being one of the world´s oldest agricultural regions, cannot support the population since long before the downfall of king Faruk and the Nasser Era to contemporary Egypt and relies heavily on continous import for the daily bread in a fatal dependancy on the exterior.


To plan for general and free elections, which is alleged to be on the agenda of the interim military administration, once the operetta performance was disqualfied, when the vast majority of the Egyptian people are virtually ignorant of politics or parliammentarism since millennia and, in addition, used to submissiveness to charismatic leaders ranging from Achenaton (Echnaton) the pious to the hard core dictator Nasser in megalomanic personal cults, copied by every autocrat including Ivan the Terrible, Stalin, Honegger, North Korean leaders, Ceacescu and Mao Dze Dung, to mention a few, since the earliest era of something called an Egyptian nation, preserved by a system of informers on every block, village or street will not dissolve because of Occidental shallow democratic fervour and, to be honest, maybe that is not even what we, the Westernes and guardians of other countries´ human rights, have in mind, if closely examined. To prepare people for an electoral process means a massive project of education and to come to terms with a delicate balance between an increasingly educated people who will want a change or who will serve the system is a Gordian knot observed by Hegel and Marx and still a threat in any political system, no matter the Rhetoric.


 The Muslim Brotherhood, a chameleon like movement, has a tendency to adapt skilfully to local conditions according to prevailing normative sets and we know virtually nothing of the movement´s agenda in Egypt, since their only paramount goal is the Islamization of the whole world but by very sophisticated, sometimes brutal and different strategies ranging from Saville Row tailored distinguished men in suits and ties represented in parliaments to clandestine heavily armed terrorists. I fear we may face yet another African Syndrome: By empty rhetoric we keep encouraging nations to rapidly embrace “democracy” by appointing local leaders, often with little interest in genuine democracy and heavily dependent on the exterior. The small percentage of highly educated and sophisticated people at the top of the pyramid, which has been a persistent pattern in Egypt for thousands of years, does little to ensure a popular participation built on true insights in politics and the dynamics of a political discourse. The historical gap between the Egyptian State of the Art Academism and the wide spread ignorance of the masses is a pattern which has prevailed throughout Egyptian history.


Despite all the flaws, Egypt plays an important role as a symbol of sovereignty and superiority in the Arab world, resting on her long-termed former glory, and I am worried, to say the least, what the future has in store. The falling down of the structures of power in Algeria, Tunisia and Yemen may seem encouraging to the western world, but rests on very little substance and knowledge of what to be expected. The ongoing genocide in Syria has left the whole UN system powerless and insignificant, the Russians obstinate and the US impotent and the old world order has been caught with the trousers down. I feel uncomfortable with the paradox of the fervent lobbyism and advocacy for speedy democratic changes and what I fear to be the true agenda of the current superpowers and Europe, namely to keep the region stable at any cost, including no substantial change in the distribution of power in order to safeguard the oilexport to the "correct" receptors, something which overshadows a genuine paramount interest for a popular take over.


Nasser and the nationalization of the Suez Canal has not been forgotten and between fierce Islamists or docile domestic autocrats I am convinced that the West will be pleased to accept the latter. You know what you have but not what you will get...The Rethorics can continue, democracy be favored but only to a degree., which, by the way, is a reflection of the political set up of the EU and thus by no means controversial.


Douglas Modig 2012