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Egypt between mediocrity and suspension of disbelief

By Wael Eskandar Very little has changed with regards to Egypt’s trajectory of descent into a social and political abyss ever since its security forces dispersed the Islamist sit-ins using great force and even much greater impunity. The slope of decline into a more oppressive police state has indeed been very slippery and while there’s …


Wael Eskandar
Wael Eskandar

By Wael Eskandar

Very little has changed with regards to Egypt’s trajectory of descent into a social and political abyss ever since its security forces dispersed the Islamist sit-ins using great force and even much greater impunity. The slope of decline into a more oppressive police state has indeed been very slippery and while there’s room for more damage, what has already transpired will take years and years to fix.

This bleak picture is what any distanced observer may have painted after having followed some of the major events that unfolded over the past one and a half years since the military takeover in July 2013. Yet equally important to point out, is that many Egyptian nationals overcome with emotions, fail to see the picture for what it is.

Continued oppressive measures will not bring about real social stability. Yet many wait in hope of some sort of miracle that fixes economic grievances, reforms the police force, and roots out corruption.

Unfortunately those in charge of running the country may be suffering from what is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, where those who are incompetent are incapable of recognising they are incompetent. What’s more, they don’t recognise competence in others.

Objectively speaking, Egypt is no closer to the promised democracy sought since 2011. The police are unable to efficiently stop crime or even disperse a sit in without killing hundreds of unarmed protesters. The military has promised a laughable cure to AIDS and failed in containing violence in Sinai. Terrorism and acts targeting security personnel are at an all-time high. Even cover-ups aimed to manipulate the judiciary with the help of the Ministry of Interior were not properly safeguarded when conversations of leading SCAF army general were exposed.

Yet, despite all that, many Egyptians are unmoved by such failures and incompetence. One explanation is that they themselves do not recognise their own incompetence or the competence in others, but another is that they are suspending their disbelief.

The idea of being deeply immersed inside what you know is fiction, aware of the reality that contradicts the presented narrative but ignoring such conflicts is known as the suspension of disbelief. This happens when reading a novel knowing full well that it is fiction or that there are things that don’t add up. You keep yourself in a state close to that of hypnosis, ignoring the faults and flaws of the plot and the contradictions with reality in order to complete the novel at hand.

Such seems to be the case with Egyptians experiencing their own stories, but following a faulty, improbable state narrative that offers fictional hope which many desperate, frightened and frustrated Egyptians want to hold on to.

The Mubarak verdict was no real surprise as it was in the making for some time, ever since Mubarak was forced into the cage to appease the public. There was no way that a regime trying itself would ever find itself guilty and that is why Mubarak needed to walk.

Reactions celebrating his release came as further entrenchment into a fairy tale that justice could be served through a politicised judiciary. The most recent alleged leaks show that corruption and politicisation seems widespread when a small sample of what happens behind doors shows an army general asked by the public prosecutor to issue a decree with an old date declaring a military facility as an MOI prison.

Yet despite heavy army presence on the day of the sentencing thousands turned up outside a cordoned off Tahrir Square to protest the ruling chanting against all forms of oppressive rule whether that of Mubarak, Morsi’s or Sisi.

The response was brutal as is now customary. The protests were dispersed and two people were killed for objecting to a judiciary sentence they feel was manipulated or politicised. The regime could not risk the public exposed to too much reality so as sustain their narrative. That is why critical media voices have been silenced in one way or another.

Stable countries have established credible justice systems that offer its citizens a shot at fairness without forcing them to take matters into their own hands. This was not done out of the goodness of their hearts but as a necessity for continued governance. The continued absence of justice will eventually lead to collapse as courts become even more glaringly tools of oppression, and as failed security policies affect all sectors of society, yet those looking on will continue to look the other way.

Despite the constant failings, a great many are not yet ready to acknowledge the shortcomings of current leadership to help avoid the damage. The signs are clear to those with an open mind but no amount of signs or books about history or the present can tell you about the current reality if you choose not to see it.

Some argue that the revolutionary dream was just as much of a delusion as ignoring the failed trajectory we’re on today. But there’s a difference between the revolutionary dream and delusions. The revolutionary dream was a result of an acknowledgement of current realities and aimed for something greater by fixing these problems. Present delusions may be as imaginary as dreams but are harmful because they completely ignore the current reality. The current regime is not only forgiven for grave failures but encouraged. In effect, the state of Egypt will probably worsen in the absence of a proper wake up call. Sadly, the suspension of disbelief may continue until the final curtains, but by then the damage to the nation may be more than anyone can bear.

Wael Eskandar is an independent journalist and blogger based in Cairo. He is a frequent commentator on Egyptian politics and has written for Ahram Online, Counterpunch, and Jadaliyya, among others. He blogs at notesfromtheunderground.net

 

END

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  • Boss

    I’ll tell you what the problem is. The biggest problem is that people like you are allowed to write in a bunch of crap in the newspaper! Such people as you tearing up the wounds to re-rub salt in the wound again! These assholes like you! You want to crack the desire people have to write a few lines in a newspaper! Your dirty filthy traitor! You are nothing but a traitor Wael Eskandar !!

    • george

      I second what you are saying.

    • Illuminati

      I
      tried, and for few times, to evaluate your statement about the salt and wounds to understand
      its metaphorical dimension. I arrived at one conclusion: What on god’s earth
      are you talking about? What “wound” and what “salt are you referring to? More
      importantly, what does “crack the people’s desire” freaking mean?

      How is a
      statement of opinion that criticized a government based on material facts and
      evidence constitutes treason. If we applied your principles, there should be no
      courts, no law, justice, or even a police

      • Boss

        You seem to be a cunt that does not have anything to say for yourself and just want to fuck with People! What I can tell from your useless posts, is that you are an asshole who want to see chaos. And if you do not understand what I mean by salt in the wound, I think you should STFU !!!!!!!

  • The Thawra will never die

    This is an especially great article; incisive, clear, and tells it like it is succinctly. It is important to keep calling spades as the spades they are.
    One day, it will finally be acknowledged that what you said is true. Furthermore, the psychologies underlying the murderous ruling cliques will be exposed for what they are. Future generations will mock those who condoned repression due to the abdication of reason and courage.

    • Guest

      Unless you want Egypt to become another Libya or Syria, Security needs to be the main focus So please, STFU.

      • The Thawra will never die

        If you don’t have any cogent objections to the article, it would be best if you stfu.
        If you can’t be more specific, no one will really care what you say.
        Btw, do you approve of the continued practice of virginity tests and do you believe the torture produces reliable and actionable information? If you are the type to say “yes” to either, then not only should you shut up, you should also take a good long look in the mirror.

        • Guest

          I don’t bother arguing with ignorant people such as yourself. You cant comprehend basic logic and there for cant be argued with. So again just STFU.

          • The Thuwar will never die

            Your response is a classic example of someone who has lost an argument before even starting. It is not that you choose not to discuss points of disagreement; it is that you cannot. This is why you rush to employ ad hominem attacks.

            No, torture victims will not shut up, nor will those who desire to see real freedom be silenced.

            Seeing as how you accept kofta-gate, corruption, torture, and state-sanctioned rape, it has been established that you are the ignorant one. Not only that, you are being disingenuous since you realize that these atrocities cannot be intellectually defended.

            You still do no comprehend how the article accurately described the phenomenon of the Dunning-Krueger effect as it applies to politics. Well, you do prefer to be duped by Kofta-gate hucksters.

            I would request that you stfu, but it would be interesting to hear how you try to justify virginity tests, medieval torture techniques, the acquittal of Mubarak, the Maspero massacre, sectarian religious bigotry against Bahais, and ineffective security and economic policies. Since you are incapable of defending, them you likely will lack the courage to try.

            If you support those regime policies, it may justly be said that you are not just ignorant (as is this troll account thumbing you up), but also a scumbag. No wonder atrocities are committed all the time by governments. Guillible sheep who prefer such a mode of existence provide support for them.

            Good day.

      • Illuminati

        Can’t you people come up with any new tactics? McCarthyism died out in the 1960s, but thanks to the likes of yourself, it’s torch is still lit!

        • Boss

          You seem to be a cunt that does not have anything to say for yourself and just want to fuck with People! What I can tell from your useless posts, is that you are an asshole who want to see chaos. I think you should STFU !!!!!!!

          • Illuminati

            Judging by how aggravated and irked my comments made you, I must have done a good job fucking with you, won’t you say? Haha

  • Ahmed A.El-Sherif

    Your article is not balanced because it fails to point out that no political system could function with the disruption of life on a daily basis and the terrorism practiced by Ansar Beit Al Maqdis and others whose ideology is similar to that of the Brotherhood .
    Your article fails to point out that the Brotherhood is responsible for the position Egypt is in today . DEMOCRACY WAS NOT FLOURISHING UNDER THE BROTHERHOOD , ON THE CONTRARY . Egypt was being turned into a THEOCRACY , and pushed backward into the DARK AGES . Is this the democracy you are mourning ??!! A democracy under which the concept of citizenship has no place , but only , ” My fellows and clan … ( ahly wa ashiraty ) , under which women were being marginalized , and churches were being torched . And the constitutional court was being beleaguered in order to prevent it from being convened . And ALL economic indicators : inflation rate, unemployment, foreign reserves, FDI , budget deficit , foreign debt were rapidly deteriorating .
    Mr. Eskandar , when a political system is facing daily violence and security personnel are targeted , that political system needs MAXIMUM POWER . And as Kissinger mentions, ” There is an inversely proportionate relationship between the magnitude and scope of power and legitimacy .” Consequently, that political system finds it difficult to move towards democracy . I AM NO LESSER A SUPPORTER OF DEMOCRACY THAN YOURSELF ; and I strongly believe that it is the best system . But it was the Brotherhood that pushed Egypt into the military’s embrace !!

  • omega pal

    How an ignorant can realise that he is ignorant that means he is not ignorant.That the most Egyptians case.Nothing can reason them because they do not know in first place.Most have grown up with that mentality.For them they found natural what Mubarak and his band did.They have used to it:corruption, abuse of authority a facil gain.It is not easy to come out from years of dictatorship which limit your deep thinking because been conducted like livestock and his owner.Authorities of dictatorship are sacred,untouchable.I am not surprised about silly comments below about that article with facts.Enjoy your Al-sisi dictaroship when outsiders are just laughing.West does not care about you.West have nothing to loose.Are they still using canal of suez or not?
    Do not blame us because the day you were puting down Morsi government in such manner by calling military aid those with brain not carbonised by Mubarak dictaroship know that you are going to lunghish under another dictatorship.
    Some have said another revolution is underway.Now you have abstracted alcohol it is time to drink.

    • Hate MB

      Listen asshole, you can try to argue and try to fool us with all your nice words. But everyone can see through you asshole! We are more than happy to live under military rule and Mubarak again if needed, then to leave the country to MB and other terrorists !!

      • omega pal

        You are then a proof of my short analysis and good luck for you under military and mubarak.

        • Hate MB

          Hahahahahaha.. analysis! Hahahaha.. Ok Whatever man!

      • Ras Lanuf

        The Mubarak era did not inhibit terrorism but instead spawned new waves of terrorists. Better to have a democracy to dissipate terrorism and its support bases than to have a dictatorship, state violence, and corruption fuel it. This is one reason why the Jan 25 revolution presented a far better model for security than did the failed Mubarak regime.

        Democracy will break the cycle while the Mubarak guys will just perpetuate the problem by generating new rounds of terrorism. Pro-Mubarak thugs want terrorists to exist so as to try to justify their own rule. Democrats, by contrast, can seriously address the terrorism problem.

        • Ras Lanuf

          Another problem is that the Mubarakists are themselves largely terrorists. This means that fighting terrorism also means fighting and throwing the feloul in jail.

        • Hate MB

          You are quite wrong !!

          • Ras Lanuf

            I am quite correct

          • Hate MB

            Your quite retarded!

          • Ras Lanuf

            No, you are incredibly retarded. You don’t care about terrorism, all you care about its getting rid of human rights.
            Nothing contradictory about opposing both terrorism and unsavory corrupt, dictatorial politicians.
            It is strange the post bothered you so much when it wasn’t even insulting to you, it just pointed out a flaw in the present state of affairs.

          • Ras Lanuf

            There is really no other reason that you would get so hot and bothered by criticism of the feloul unless you love them. It is idiotic to believe that not accepting the MB’s ideology means one must condone the feloul. That is just stupid.

          • Anonymousity

            It is not “retarded” (misapplication of the word also) to note that the feloul have been a source of terrorism.
            You have made a right ass of yourself on this article’s comment section and have weakened your side’s cause by driving away people sickened by your immaturity and bigotry. You act like your age is less than 10.

          • Hate MB

            Shut the Fuck up asshole!! Is that spelled correctly??

          • Anonymousity

            I altered the spelling a bit for no particular reason. Maybe to give a certain edge or feel to it. Anonymity is similar a legitimate word but not what I was aiming for.

            And it is long over due that you shut up, asshole. Having so many comments draws more readers to this article and makes it more likely that the arguments presented therein will be accepted by large segments of the broader public.

https://dailynewsegypt.com/2014/12/11/egypt-mediocrity-suspension-disbelief/
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