Many would argue that Egypt is the birthplace of civilization. We know that different civilizations have popped up at different times, in places far and wide. Yet it certainly can and should be said, that of all these other civilizations, none were born with such grandeur or majesty. The monuments and museums full of antiquities attest to the staying power of such worthy beginnings, or perhaps I should say, used to attest to. For as I write these words, the Cairo museum of antiquities burns.
I think it's is likely that the museum will survive the molotov cocktails that clashing pro and anti-Mubarak protesters toss at each other. In the next few days, maybe we will even have some sort of change occur in Egypt, there is promise of good things, for it seems that it's what the people want. (We will presume the people are correct and the story, as we are told it, corresponds with the truth.) For me, the drama unfolding is of a valid nature, as is my desire to examine it, I also have a more selfish concern. I was spurred to make this comment because of a Cairene woman quoted by a reporter on the scene, “I have a nineteen year-old son. I don't blame him for protesting. This is my generation's fault. We have let corruption rule for thirty years because to change it would cause instability.”
This human tendency is something that is addressed in Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self. We suspend our moral objections, we confuse our intentions, this is the semantic deception of dialectical theses exemplifying the rampant ineptitude of modernity. The status quo trumps change if said change is deemed “difficult” to achieve. To put it another way, citizens look to their leaders to lead, but when the leaders are prone to fulfill their own, often personal and corrupt agendas, we say “Oh well, what are you gonna do?” Then we get back to slogging away at whatever it is we do to survive, continuing to provide to a system that supplies to its own demands. (Whether or not we share those demands.)
There are many questions to be asked here. My favourites are akin to the subliminal rumblings that only dare to have periscopes break the surface in the paranoid conspiratorial circles where someone as liberal as I am becomes conservative. Is this the beginning of some form of governmental accountability, as was predicted by myself, on this very site, for 2011? Is this the first domino in a new modern Enlightenment of human possibilities? Will the power of the people prevail? Is this all a trick?
Of all the possible questions, one sticks out more than others. Given the despotic nature of Mubarak's thirty year rein over Egypt, and having removed any consideration of heavy-handed methodologies, what are we left with? Simply put, a totalitarian aristocracy of military might, doing what it wants, despite the intentions of its people or its peers. How is this any different than America, Canada, Britain, Russia, China, numerous South American countries, in fact, almost any nation you'd care to mention?
There are only quasi-democracies.
The problem isn't one of government or the practice of rule. The problem is in supplying to human needs of a population. The necessary corrections are not going to be achieved by switching one leader or one party for another. We still must all work from within a system that is unfair. Power, greed and corruptibility are the hallmarks of our problems, but to think that changing the players in the game will make us winners is faulty. The game is rigged.
There are only two solutions to this problem. Change the game or stop the game.
The players are irrelevant.
Realizing this and developing solutions define the 21st Century Enlightenment.