You are here

Why Democracy?

Primary tabs

Mindbleed asks why democracy

So if the bane of our existence is in the condition of our nation, how will the 'ideals' of democracy translate into real improvements?

first it must be said, to me democracy is a matter of belief, with a democratic system there is always a way for people to take matters in their hand and try to improve their lot, non of us (and none of the experts) know how to solve all Egypt's problems but IMO it will be easier to live with the consequence of our choices than the consequences of imposed choices (just because they're ours).

this is not a logical argument, this is a hypothesis, a dogma if you want, something I simply believe in.

but I must say minbleed raises two good points:

  • the illiterate can never truly participate in a democratic system; one needs to be educated and a large portion of society needs to be involved in grass roots activities for democracy to be real, if 40%-60% are illiterate (and thats not talking about how educated the rest are) then how will they be able to choose candidates and form opinions about laws and what have you?
  • upper middle class types believe that if their needs are met then the country is fine; I can relate to this, I spent 12 days in South Africa and I was appalled at how such a strong democracy can abandon its poor in this way.

but apart from that I've got some answers, not to how democracy will improve our lot, but how lack of it is making it worse.

first one of the biggest problems in Egypt is police brutality and torture, to me this is concern #1, there is no way to stop this without a real democracy, truly independent courts and prosecutors, transparency etc.

and don't assume only political activists are targeted, torture now is standard procedure in Egypt, everyone is at risk and the poorer you are the more likely you'll get abused. and its not only torture, random abuse in the street is now so common place no one even considers it a problem.

this alone is worth all the trouble IMO

but what about education, poverty, standards of living, unemployment etc.

Egypt is full of people who are working on improving their and others lives, from entrepreneurs to development NGOs to activists.

many of them cannot get anything done due to corruption, unfair laws, disregard to due process, lack of transparency and so on

even worse, almost anything that involves anything requires security clearances, the whole regime is concerned mainly with protecting itself, anything that involves organizing people, or deals with young people worries them.

what about education, a major reason behind the deterioration of universities is for political reasons, last month in Faculty of Science, Cairo Univ a young graduate student was denied his job as an assistant because he ticked off some Amn El Dawla officer, we are not talking about a job that should be his here, we are talking about a job that was actually his, the president of the university had already signed his papers.

In Aswan an acclaimed local botanist was fired from her job for daring to report on plagiarism.

not to mention total lack of student activity because of intrusive regulation and police abuse.

or what about development projects, we can't connect rural schools in upper egypt because using WiFi to cross property is illegal.

we can't use community radio to organize citizens of a Giza suburb to clean their water channel because broadcasting is illegal.

you can't run a small business and feed your kids by improving the lives of hundreds of Egyptians in your local neighborhood by allowing them to call their sons and daughters abroad using VoIP cheaply because the government telco can't stand loosing profits and what the telco wants is law.

I personally know of several small engineering companies that had to shut down due to unfair and unclear Tax legalization.

with real democracy we can cap corruption, free the judicial system (the prosecutors are the big problem actually), clean up our institutes, live without fear and humiliation, maybe we'll get a chance to review old laws and procedures and improve them.

and next time the USAID suggest improvements to basic education and high school system we can say no.