Secular intellectuals have to face Egypt’s new political reality. The ideological service intellectuals used to offer previous regimes is no longer needed. Consequently, the support previous governments used to offer for intellectuals should not longer be expected. The challenge currently facing Egyptian intellectuals is to generate sufficient independent resources and societal demands to sustain cultural production. This challenge is part and parcel of the greater challenge facing Egypt’s secular opposition seeking to generate support at the grassroots level.
Intellectuals in Egypt effectively contributed to the anti-Mubarak revolt. Ironically, the post-Mubarak regime is posing an existential threat to Egypt’s intellectuals and their professions. The answer to the challenge raised by Islamic rule is only partly political. While all kinds of political activism should be mobilised in such a struggle, political activism need to be guided by a new vision, addressing the philosophical and sociological questions of modernity, identity and democracy in a society where the state is no longer interested in the modernisation of national culture.
It is a struggle in which the contribution of intellectuals is more than needed, but this time within arrangements different from those prevailed not only in the last 60 years, but also in the past 200 years. And this is a struggle that is much more serious than facing the minister of culture.
(Cartoon by Fathi Abul Ezz)
The cancer of Egyptian society is the deep sociologycal lasitude towards change and the responsibility of self-deciding… it was clear the day they elected Mohammed Morsi to head a government of “good pietous men with moral strength” which allowed them to be relieved of the task of thinking or deciding abt all the incertitudes that the post-Tahrir times brang to them.
The day individual Egyptians learn and put massively in practice how to think by themselves, behave by themselves and decide by themselves independently of what they are told to think, do, and decide by someone else, that will be the day of victory for those who defend culture, art and education.
That should be the war of intelectuals, their revolution, far harder and deeper than gathering in public squares to protest (with absolute legitimacy) against a rule that sends Egypt culturally back to 19th century.
Silent task of education and culturisation of a widely incult people (every people deserves the rulers they got) must be their main objective in nowadays Egypt.
In fact…. it should have been their main aim since always. But who mattered by then about Egypt’s cultural levels … if egyptians themselves didn’t.