There isn’t anything more saddening on the Egyptian political scene than the loss of value that we are being thrust into. Our debates remain at a superficial level never meaning to scratch the surface. Everything around us seems to be generic. I call it “Generica”; a land where everything is topical, every piece of news is new joke material and every initiative is destined to fail before it is even properly launched. Enough with the dose of depression, let’s get down to business and attempt to analyse why mediocrity is ruling supreme.
There are many reasons why things are degenerating in the way they are, but I will only list three reasons off the top of my head for now.
Loss of specialisation
Everybody seems to be at ease talking about everything and debating anything whether they know enough about it or not. We call this freedom. It is technically true. However, one must remember that chaos is also a loose form of freedom! In the midst of the information overdose that we suffer from, we feel compelled to take a position on every subject without proper information. The end result is premature judgment in the absence of good data to make decisions. A big problem is that the viewers reward this type of behaviour. The political scene has become full of orators who talk absolute nonsense but keep a large group of followers which grants them the right to keep talking more nonsense. Perhaps a prime example of such notorious nonsense is the “fuzzy math” that disqualified presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail used to describe his economical plan. It is the kind of nonsense that would get anyone shunned from political life for good. But not here!
Mistaking motion for action
We are all about moving now. From time to time, a new initiative is launched with no careful planning as to what exactly is the purpose behind the initiative. While initiatives or grassroots movements are designed to challenge a system, we need to have a system to start with. The problem here is a pure bastardisation of the cause. We are continuously exhausting all available options by insisting to pressure a system which does not respond to the types of pressures that we are exerting. The party currently in power has chosen the electoral process as its tool of choice while other parties are still talking demonstrations and pressures. The curse of the 25 January Revolution is that many people have become infatuated with it while simply forgetting that it is only a means to an end. What has worked in 2011, is simply not working now. However, that is something we refuse to accept.
Disconnect between ideas and support base
While many people may have great ideas, the ideas are often drowned in the continuous flow of ideas from everywhere. This is not simply the time of good ideas. It is the time of idea diffusion. If the idea does not sell and is not adopted by the masses then it is really not worth having. Several opposition figures never seem to make this connection between what they consider to be viable alternatives and the need to have those alternatives strongly supported to grant them a political win thus giving them a mandate. That is simple politics 101! However, our current version of political progress is merely about pontifications. It is as if we are trying to score political wins through talk shows or in the blogosphere. That is a hobbyist approach at best!
If we stand any chance to escape from “Generica”, we have to understand that while discussions and debates do promote inquisitions, civilisations and progress are brought about by specialised knowledge, a path of viable change and sufficient broad support. It is really common sense that we are lacking here. However the fundamental problem of common sense remains in the fact that it is often not so common!
Mohamed A. Fouad is a global expert on service quality as well as a political and social activist