Egyptians affiliated to the ruling regime often accuse their critics of being traitors, while the state’s opponents tend to define them as flatterers of the leadership. Between the two of them, these political opposites create many inflated narratives aimed at undermining one another. The result is that we are distancing ourselves from any kind of methodical assessment and are certainly missing many opportunities to apply good ideas and projects that could advance our nation.
The dilemma of having a destructive attitude is that we tend not to value what we have or to take note of certain government successes. The Egyptian government’s tendency to overinflate its achievements is naturally mirrored by its opponents, who work on criticizing its fictitious developmental achievements. Nevertheless, if the government was more transparent and presented its successes and failures truthfully, Egyptians would be better able to concentrate on remedying their failures and taking pride in their successes.
Nations generally measure their success by their ability to move forward. We Egyptians are still living in the past, debating the effectiveness of concepts and ideas that should be defined as obsolete. The Egyptian government’s attitude of pursuing its development projects and ignoring its opponents’ criticisms would be advantageous if government projects were entirely successful, which is not the case.
Society needs to make a clear distinction between being critical and being destructive — the former helps to develop a better society, which the government should encourage, while the latter drags us down.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stated that one aim of the new Suez Canal waterway was to raise the Egyptian people’s morale. In light of the current social polarization, however, Egyptians fall into two groups: Supporters of the current ruling regime (whose morale is naturally high without the need to invest billions in hard currency) and the regime’s opponents (to whom this project is simply a waste of state resources). The existence of two clear-cut sections whose perceptions of a mega project are diametrically opposed aggravates the destructive nature of society.
Furthermore, the president’s recent announcement that the state has implemented 11,000 projects over the last three-and-a-half years depreciates the value of such projects and opens the door to harsh criticisms of the government. There is no need for our government to be constantly obsessed with large numbers that can easily be challenged. If government projects are successful, citizens will notice their impact on society without the help of exaggerated propaganda.
Egyptians, inclusive of our government, need to make a clear distinction between being critical and being destructive. The former helps to develop a better society, which the government should widely encourage, while the latter drags us down. Just as the general attitude of discrediting any kind of achievement is a destructive stance, the government’s refusal to allow a methodological assessment of its projects strengthens its critics’ arguments.
True achievements in Egypt will be realized when we have a flow of collective consciousness that enables us to constructively define our national projects in tandem with differentiating between success and failure. The state should play a more efficient role in engaging Egyptians constructively by listening to its critics more. Those who believe that they have better and more effective ideas than the government should be given the opportunity to put them forward. The entire Egyptian population is sailing aboard a single vessel — we should all work to keep it shipshape so that we can stay alive and move forward.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.