A few days ago, a group
of citizens attacked the premises of the Labour Union in Tunis in order to
prevent the celebration of a syndicate leader's martyrdom from taking place. A
number of union members were beaten and subjected to verbal attacks by people
who claimed they were defending the achievements of the revolution, and who
accused union members of being remnants of the old regime. This is an old,
broken record being played over and over again by groups formed from the masses
who are unconsciously being led by political leaders with limited awareness
themselves and who, regardless of having won or lost in the elections, believe
that resorting to intimidation and violence belongs to political dialogue and
What has and is currently taking place in Tunisia is coupled with acts of violence and distrustful speeches in Egypt – occurrences that will undoubtedly be repeated in all the countries experiencing change. What becomes clear through these counter political practices is the political “elite”’s lack of culture in public work. This inevitably reflects, and with tremendous negative impact, on the general public. Such lack of public work understanding is also at the basis of the misunderstanding of the democratic process of voting and the belief that favorable voting results are equivalent to a blank sheet of paper onto which the winner can inscribe whatever he wishes, using an ink at his discretion with the script that pleases him and a language to his liking, or even yet to dispose of it whenever he chooses. Losers on the other hand are to remain quiet, resort to defeat, regret and waiting. This is a superficial understanding of the meaning of democracy, and constitutes authoritarian abuse, in thought and in approach, of a collective activism that broke down the barriers of fear and acted as a bulwark for the interests of various social classes with their individual political and ideological orientations.
The Syrians, who are waging their revolution with their activists and apathetics alike, are observing events in Egypt and in Tunisia with concern and apprehension as to where the situation is leading. Because of the fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of politics, the elected political majority is gradually changing into an authoritarian hegemony that antagonizes, marginalizes and excludes the other, to the point of placing their patriotism and their faith in question. On the other hand, those who lost the elections are reduced to the position of dismissed critics, devoid of a role to contribute in the stimulation of the political process and active participation in the incremental learning process of politics.
Alongside the continuation
of armed struggles in Syria and the delay of a facilitative and fundamental
political framework, anxiety is growing about political, security and moral
violations carried out by the stronger force on the ground, which considers
itself to have forestalled election results. Far from a real understanding of
the nature of the Syrian people, miscalculations and flawed projections can
lead to a divergence from the fundamental path which is based on popular
consensus, and which is remote from the politics of division and the language
of the victorious and the authoritarian.
The lessons learned from Egypt and Tunisia are that the only solution for the successful handling of transitions, away from the reproduction of authoritarian models – even those with good intentions – is a collaborative approach during the fundamental building stages, regardless of the outcome of the ballot boxes. The concept of a democracy does not end at the ballot box, and those who deem it as decisive in the initial stages should work on expanding their political culture.