Can Egypt discipline its chaotic society?
When I asked an Egyptian police officer a hypothetical question about what would happen if the locked vehicle blocking the entrance to my garage had been parked in front of the presidential palace, he replied: “We would blow it up instantly.” Blowing up an abandoned vehicle parked in front of a presidential palace is a correct course of action that would happen in any civilized nation. The obvious defect in Egypt, however, lies in the government’s lax attitude toward citizens who violate the law.
In fact, not a single person in our large population of almost 100 million, whether from the privileged well-connected elites or the marginalized masses, would dare to leave a parked vehicle in front of the presidential palace; both groups are well aware of the consequences of such an act. Driving the wrong way down the entire Cairo-Alexandria highway (roughly 200 kilometers) is doable, however, because people know that, very probably, the authorities won’t notice the misdemeanor and the gravest possible consequence would be an affordable traffic ticket.
The segment of our society that suffers the most is made up of the few people who adhere to a disciplined lifestyle and who have to live in this messy system
Some tourists visit Egypt hoping to escape the strict regimentation in their nations and spend a few enjoyable days experiencing our laid-back society. We are able to please those few tourists, but in doing so we sacrifice the happiness of a substantially greater number of visitors who prefer to deal with tourism personnel through clear-cut transactions. An orderly, disciplined society will economically boost our state’s modernization efforts, helping us to attract more investment and tourists. No nation where chaos was widespread has ever managed to make an economic turnaround.
Egyptians are not a disorganized society by default; the invalidation of the rule of law can easily spoil any disciplined, orderly nation. The segment of our society that suffers the most is made up of the few people who adhere to a disciplined lifestyle and who have to live in this messy system. Obviously, corruption that has been expanding substantially over the past decades is the main factor that has led to our current chaotic life. Corrupt citizens who benefit from the current chaotic system, and who keep defending it, constitute a burden on our national economy.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” is the brief response directed to those who believe that reforming our chaotic society is difficult. To give a glimpse of the solution: We need to begin by reforming the regulatory forces that govern our society. There is no need to attempt to fully reform all government departments; privileging a small segment of government with true reforms, then empowering it to better regulate society will lead to the required changes within a short timeframe.
- Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir