Let us look at how pro-regime forces, or rather pro-1952 family forces, perceive the people through their explanations for the reluctance of the majority to participate in the parliamentary elections.
Firstly, we will notice that the people remain a “sacred” entity to them. However, the people may sometimes behave unfavourably and not meet their expectations. In very few cases, the people may behave or move in a surprising manner, in a confrontational manner. This is why they revere people, but simultaneously believe they are mysterious and confusing.
Their idea of the people is similar to the traditional masculinist Eastern perception of women. For a masculinist, all women are the same, even if they are of different social classes or education levels. The concept of the woman, any woman, is the same – a general flattering and indispensable object, albeit mysterious and very difficult to understand and predict. This masculinist trend believes women should be loved sometimes, and hated at others. Moreover, women could be the source of all risks and scourges. However, women are nonetheless indispensable.
In their eyes, when a woman is seen as a source of evil, she is probably deluded. This may lead some to believe that such men are attempting to defend women or justify their mistakes. However, the truth is that these men simply perceive women as victims. They believe women are easily deceived and cannot be held accountable for their actions. Hence, women should be protected from making mistakes by limiting their liberty and preventing them from going to work, etc.
Let us then replace “women” with “the people”, and re-read the paragraph. The people seem to be a deaf homogenous block. There does not seem to be much of a difference between classes or categories. The people are mysterious and unpredictable. They are nice and good, but easily deceived and seduced.
This is why some senior police officers say the people can be assembled using a whistle, and dispensed with using another. Therefore, the state or the president are fond of the people, but still believe them to be a nuisance. Through the concept of indispensability, the people are sometimes believed to be a source of evil when they are eluded and deceived. While leaders may believe they are defending them, they are actually demeaning them and describing their own people as a herd that cannot be held accountable.
According to this viewpoint, the president should then be able to interfere, vote on their behalf, and ban them from forming parties or syndicates, to avoid contamination. In this case, the president is also mandated to protect the people from the “evil” media, to ensure the people are not deceived.
In light of this perception of the people, how did the family of 1952 explain the people’s reluctance to vote in the 2015 parliamentary elections?
Observers can note that the elite of the 1952 family seems to have been divided. Some praised the people, while others condemned them.
Those who praised the people said that not voting is tantamount to a new mandate for the president, and a message to spies, traitors, and thieves who wish to obstruct progress and prosperity. They said this is a message to the world to “give the man time to work”. This man here is the president, and this team believe that politics, politicians, democracy, and elections are nothing but useless. This camp believes elections will divide Egyptians into parties and trends. They believe Egypt should reject the “orders” coming from the West, and instead line up behind the president.
The second camp condemned the people for not voting, saying they have betrayed the president and let him down. They say the people do not know what is best for them, calling them ignorant, but nonetheless will never call for their execution. Why is that? Because they perceive the people as victims of misinformation and ignorance.
The first camp believes the people are fundamentally good, while the second rejects this. Both camps are the flipsides of the same coin. One transcends the people, and the other demeans them. The first praises them for supporting the president and avoiding decision-making, while the other condemns them for not being able to represent themselves. Is there a difference?
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party