Being loud does not mean being right, but since Egyptians value loudness over logic, millions of citizens are trapped into believing that their arguments are correct—simply because their voices are loud. Many of the ruling regime’s supporters live under this unfortunate delusion; they compete with their peers by loudly regurgitating the regime’s false arguments. Endlessly repeating these arguments loudly does not make them valid. Sound arguments will prove themselves on the ground without any noise.
Culturally, Egyptians are a loud society. When they celebrate, they tend to play extremely loud music and when they mourn, they raise the volume of the Quran recording to overcome people’s chatter. Egyptians engaged in a friendly conversation tend to raise their voices to drown out those of other speakers and ensure that everyone is tuned in to what they are saying. Even when using personal speakers, Egyptians often turn up the volume to an extent that is damaging to their ears. Egypt’s loudness is conspicuous everywhere.
Regrettably, Egyptians believe that discussions are meant to end in either victory or defeat. They do not engage in discussion for the purpose of broadening their minds, fine-tuning their ideas or learning something new. In an autocratic country, allegiance to the ruler empowers the ruler’s fans—but it does not make them any smarter. When citizens are empowered by the state, they tend to talk more and think hastily, wrongly believing that they are making progress by outshouting others.
In Egypt, there is an impression that loudness creates dominance; in reality, dominant personalities derive their strength from the state’s backing. Senseless citizens who lack the rudimentary ability to think and understand are gradually turning into mindless citizens who talk continuously, while saying nothing of any substance. Nevertheless, their loudness and rusty minds are highly appreciated by the state, which appoints them to key political positions and encourages them to express their views in the media on a daily basis.
The state is aware that its manipulation of the media gives it a marked advantage over its opponents. Egypt’s media battle is all about who raises their voice highest to drown out other voices. Although most Egyptian talk-show hosts present their programmes unaccompanied, they still tend to raise their voices to get the viewers’ attention. The aim is to make citizens tune into their respective channels by creating the impression that they are making important statements. In this realm of loudness, anyone who attempts to express an alternate viewpoint in a calm voice is quickly lost.
In a recent speech, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi urged citizens to listen only to him, to believe his arguments unconditionally. The president’s followers are directed to defend his narratives, loudly and noisily. The minute these followers begin to pass judgment on the ruler’s narratives, they are immediately dismissed from his entourage. In Egypt, loudness advances citizens’ wealth. TV presenters who are louder than their peers earn more money, MPs who speak frequently in parliament gain more social recognition, which has a positive effect on their private businesses. In this meaningless environment, citizens who raise their voices highest are rewarded the best.
Many Egyptians wonder why Egypt is not progressing in spite of the numerous projects completed within a short timeframe. Actually, these projects are meant to help the state create more noise—not to build an effective nation. Loudness per se will not transform Egypt into a developed country; on the contrary, it is distracting the entire society from thinking clearly. The Egyptian state has managed, for a number of years, to misguide its citizens by its policy of loudness, diverting discussions and disconnecting us from the fundamental challenges that we are facing. These tactics might be working for now, but they are definitely unsustainable.
Mohammed Nosseir is an Egyptian liberal politician working on reforming Egypt on liberal values, proper application of democracy, and free market economy.