4 Feb 2011

The Egyptian Uprising: on the universal aspiration for freedom

The sheer exhilaration that I felt in response to the  Egyptian uprising, admittedly as a voluntarily-implicated observer, has been somewhat dampened by the reaction of Western elites to this phenomenal display of courage and yearning for change. On the one hand, it seemed that the Egyptian people have managed, despite extremely adverse circumstances, to translate the universal ideals of liberty and autonomy into concrete political actions that have inspired millions around the world. But on the other hand it seems to have exposed how little faith in those very same ideals there is in the West today, as exemplified by the strange debates that are being conducted about the prospects of the Egyptian uprising. The most bizarre suggestion that I have heard is that this uprising somehow vindicates the neo-con position that democracy is possible in the Middle East! This confirms the impression that I had about some in the anti-Iraq War camp: their opposition to the War was not based on a principled rejection of Western intervention but on their lack of faith in democracy and liberty as universal values.