“Neutering is the solution”, a precept that most authoritarians believe in and work towards realising. A quiet, dull, passive society better suits the needs of authoritarian presidents than does a vibrant society that has large numbers of initiators, innovators and, obviously, leaders. Egypt’s main dilemma is that the task of driving and influencing an extremely vibrant society is assigned to a number of unqualified, passive executives in leadership positions – who are clearly not equal to the challenge.
A couple of decades ago, Egyptian football fans only cheered their respective teams if they scored goals. Nowadays, fans have a completely different attitude. They support their favourite teams energetically and unconditionally. Ironically, this change in the Egyptian mechanism of backing sports teams, as well as many similar behavioural changes in various fields, have concluded in empowering Egyptian society at the expense of the state’s manipulative power and, obviously, to its chagrin.
Ideally, nations should evolve by capitalising on citizens’ ideas and energies. Egypt vibrates by default. Two-thirds of its population is under 40 years of age (though the ideas they offer may not always be beneficial). Rather than take advantage of this vibrant society by working with citizens and assorted national entities, the Egyptian state is working towards bringing the entire Egyptian population to a standstill. Sadly, this is the only policy that enables the state’s bureaucracy to apply its obsolete ideas and policies and to rule an evolving nation effectively.
Regrettably, the majority of Egyptian society does not recognise the vibrancy of their country. Older members of society continue to live and function happily in conformity with ideas that expired decades ago, the state believes that it can control citizens as easily as it used to do in the past, and the ruler wants to gradually drag the nation back to the authoritarian dynamic of the 1960s. Meanwhile, Egypt’s youth are still dreaming of changing their country’s well-established traditional mechanism and of transforming Egypt into a modernised country.
The state has been working on neutering entities by weakening their overall status and disengaging entity leaders from their followers. The objective behind invalidating entities, institutions, or even authorities, is to prevent them from being perceived as organisations capable of expressing opinions that may diverge from those of the president or of mobilising citizens, who could eventually challenge the regime. Thus, the state always works on sidelining entities and disparaging their respective potential leaders.
Attempting to render Egyptian syndicates and civil society organisations dysfunctional will not, in itself, lead to the neutralisation of Egyptian society. It will most likely transform citizens’ ideas and energies from constructive opinions of possible benefit to the country expressed through proper channels into destructive views and clandestine forces that work against the state. The Egyptian state is already worn out by the thousands of lawsuits raised against Egyptian citizens; at a certain point, the state will no longer be able to accommodate this destructive structure and harmful negative environment – that it created in the first place.
Sadly, large numbers of Egyptians have bought into many of the state’s arguments, such as: Egyptians must blindly follow their ruler without expressing disagreement; Egyptian authorities and institutions should always support the president’s perspective, regardless of whether his policies are beneficial, and finally, the claim that no alternative to the president exists. These citizens have decided, of their own free will, to self-neuter their minds by maintaining that a nation of 91 million inhabitants can be merged into the mind of a single person.
“Egypt’s reality and its evolutionary process” are certainly difficult for many Egyptians to understand, digest, or adhere to. The country is evolving rapidly, favouring its youngsters who have better ideas and are much more at ease with technology. Even if the new trends are not good enough for certain segments of society, holding on to obsolete ideas and habits will not make them more functional. Citizens who channel their energies into arresting the country’s progress are simply suspending their minds’ ability to grasp the natural progression of life.