Strange enough, rather ironical sometimes, is the Arab understanding of democracy in the age of Arab Spring. Ironical may be, as well, the understanding of the new class of the conceited "revolutionary intellectuals'" who look on from high ground at the rest of the ‘illiterate’ fellow citizens who, allegedly, know nothing about democracy. It is truly incomprehensible, in the post-revolutionary era of the Arab Spring, the understanding of both the elites and the masses for democracy with or without the ballot boxes.
Democracy, in the totalitarian understanding of the long standing Arab dictatorship, has not been exceeding the constant authoritative forging of the people's will and kidnapping their right to choose freely their representatives and preserve their hope for a better life. Exchanging positions and changing governments have only been constrained to the same faces belonging to the same club of the ruling elite where Mr. X is succeeding in the political scene Mr. Y, or this person that one no difference is there at all. No real discernible change took place in the political atmosphere to banish the political ‘congestions’ or even paving the way for a reasonable approach to manage rather skillfully the long everlasting crises on all levels of politics, economics, education, and human development in general. No sincere effort has been exerted to give people a minimum relief that a kind of change is deservedly coming so that the aspirations of citizens and the common interests of the country will be maintained.
In the traditional ‘game’ of authoritative democracy players, referees and the crowds should all play according to the rules of the dictatorship. It was truly absurd to expect different results, or scores, than the prearranged ones. All should dance to the same tunes of the same piper and the outcomes have been always 99.99% of total enjoyment!
Those were not the old days of the Arab dictatorship. Still are there, unfortunately, in today’s fields of the Arab Spring, some new revolutionary referees and key players who insist to play the democratic game according to the infamous traditional rules of the dictatorship. All are enchanted and loudly shouting: we want democracy. Few, nevertheless, are bowing to the rule and choice of people. They simply accept the results if they win. They will decidedly refuse them if they lose! What a democracy!...
The Arab Spring is critically encountered with a number of worries among which the political narrow-mindedness and limited understanding. Threatening enough though the apparent and appalling desires of different revolutionary political parties to monopolize power, exclude or eradicate others from the political scene.
The current political situation of the Arab Spring brings again to the mind of the people what the memory of torture can hardly escape: dictators have always believed that the people, being succumbed under an immature stage of political consciousness, are not yet ready for practice democracy. Decades are there to be waited for, if not centuries according to some intelligentsia, to enable the long oppressed peoples to comprehend in depth the meaning of political participation and democracy. Those cultured revolutionaries suddenly woke up to the shocking facts that the majority of people participating in the democratic process is illiterate and cannot possibly assimilate the dry ingredients of the burnt cooking of democracy! If we take the Egyptian case and the recent developments into consideration we see the two elite classes, of old traditional dictatorship and the new Arab Spring revolutionaries believe that crowds, whether literate or illiterate, are only good to be rallied for the causes of the powerful elites. Such crowds are considered good citizens whenever their votes are easily guaranteed for those who bribe them better either with money or illusionary promises.
A group of the so-called intellectual revolutionaries argued lately in Cairo that their political opponents are nothing but a crowd of illiterate ignorant citizens who are not able to read and understand the constitution thoroughly in depth. Those crowds, who are not supposedly able to understand the political discourse of the elite, should not be part of the political transformation and ought to be excluded from the political arena since they are unable to deal with the maneuvers of the political parties.
In both cases of the exclusionary political culture and the eradicating dictatorship, democracy would be acceptable only if the outcomes were consistent with what they were looking for: if we win and they lose. If we are the party to lose, democracy then is not suitable for Arabs, or for people who lack the necessary base of enlightenment and enough knowledge about the developments of ideas in the history of human being. Still more exams are there for the new democratic experience to succeed, among which, according to the political ElBaradeism, the exams of music and the holocaust!
The Arab understanding of democracy still needs to be redressed. This is an educational prerequisite of knowledge not only a political one in the age of the Arab Spring. The weak approach to democracy among the elite and the masses is critically threatening the outcomes of the Arab Spring. It is evident that the peoples of Arab Spring are still reading the first chapter of democracy.
The tendency for exclusion, eradication, and superiority is threatening the Arab Spring revolutions. Also is a critical challenge the worrying trend to monopolize power and tarnish the political scene with one color. The challenges and the problems faced by countries of the Arab spring cannot be overcome or solved by one political party or group. Instead, all players in the political arena should come together to treat the deep wounds of dictatorship.
The revolutionary situation is withdrawing in some Arab countries to a critical stage where a kind of reconciliation is forged between some political powers in the opposition and the remnants of the deep state of dictatorship to exclude the opponents from the political scene. As if the Arab Spring only blossomed not to fight the dictatorships and build the state of freedom and justice, but for different democratic political parties to eradicate each other replacing a totalitarian dictatorship with another dictatorship of the opposition.
Neither Naserism and Baathism, nor nationalist and leftist parties, nor the political experiences of Sudan or Hamas created a civilized case of democracy, development or progress. Economic development deteriorated where dictatorships of any kind or color ruled. Corruption and injustice flourished. Education has worsened in most Arab countries whose regimes were busy tightening their grip on power in the name of Palestine and other causes.
Despite the hopes and promises created by the advent of the Arab Spring to change the existing situation for the better, there are lots of worrying concerns associated with the new political transformation in many Arab countries. It is frightening to contemplate a situation where the predictions of dictatorships and their remnants might be fulfilled due to the political conflicts between the emerging ‘democratic’ players. Democracy is but a solution for a better cure of the sickness of the political body of many Arab countries suffered terribly from the oppressions of dictatorships. Some new political players are unfortunately only enhancing the claim that democracy is not a solution for this part of the world.
Mohammad M. Alomar is the Editor-in-Chief of Robb Report Arabia. He can be reached at: email@example.com