Lim­i­ta­tions of il­lu­sion and cheap pro­pa­ganda

The Daily News Egypt - - Commentary -

Give me my free­dom, re­lease my hands

In­deed, I’ve given you yours and did not try to re­tain any­thing

Ah, your chains have blood­ied my wrists

I haven’t kept them, nor have they spared me

Why do I keep prom­ises that you do not hon­our?

When will this cap­tiv­ity end, when the world is be­fore us?

This was how Om Kolthoum sang Ibrahim Nagy’s poem Al At­lal” (The Ru­ins). While I was look­ing at Alexan­dria’s an­gry sea, I was stunned by the words when Om Kolthoum said,“your chains have blood­ied my wrists” and“why do I keep prom­ises that you do not hon­our?”

Maybe she vol­un­tar­ily left her­self in this il­lu­sion­ary cap­tiv­ity, which she could free her­self from, es­pe­cially that her lover is keep­ing her cap­tive without any­thing in re­turn. What I found weird, though, was how she asked for her free­dom in­stead of ac­tu­ally prac­tis­ing it. I then stopped the song.

My think­ing took me to a tra­di­tional story,a para­dox of the fa­mous char­ac­ter, Djoha.

The sto­ries about Djoha and his don­key are ge­nius, prob­a­bly made up by peo­ple to of­fer cyn­i­cal hu­mour in­spired by life’s sto­ries to crit­i­cise au­thor­i­ties in dis­creet mock­ery, at a time when the price of overt mock­ery was get­ting killed and im­pris­oned.

If you look back at the his­tory of most of the older civil­i­sa­tions, you will find Djo­has in Is­tan­bul,Ana­to­lia, Rome, Baghdad, Iran, Ar­me­nia, Bul­garia, Kur­dis­tan, In­dia, and China. Wher­ever there were tyran­ni­cal rulers, peo­ple’s wrists were tied by chains that blood­ied them and spoiled their lives.

I thought of one of the sto­ries told by peo­ple about Djoha. The story said that a farmer went to Djoha to ask him for a rope to tie his don­key in front of his house. Djoha did not have a rope, but he gave ad­vice to the farmer, say­ing,“you have to make this don­key think that you tie his neck with a rope. Pre­tend you tied him, and this don­key will not leave his place. That is what I did sev­eral times with my don­key who even­tu­ally be­lieved the trick.”

The farmer lis­tened to Djoha’s ad­vice. The next day he found his don­key right where he left him. The farmer pat­ted the don­key and moved him to take him to the field; how­ever, the don­key re­fused to move.The farmer tried re­lent­lessly un­til he felt de­spair.

He re­turned to Djoha to ask for his ad­vice. He asked him, “did you pre­tend un­ty­ing the don­key?”

The farmer re­sponded, “it was not a tie.”

Djoha said, “but the don­key thought he was tied.” The man re­turned and pre­tended to un­fas­ten the rope, so the don­key moved with him de­lib­er­ately.

It in­spired me an un­fair com­par­i­son be­tween the chain of “Ru­ins” and the chains of “Djoha’s don­key”. There is no big dif­fer­ence be­tween what hap­pens in the wild and in the world of hu­mans. We do not mean to com­pare the don­key to na­tions and peo­ple.We want to say that the peo­ple may fall un­der false pre­tenses that re­strict their minds and seize their souls, bring­ing them de­spair and frus­tra­tion. It hap­pens per­haps be­cause of wrong habits, un­con­scious­ness, or some­one who seeks ev­ery day to con­vince peo­ple that it is im­pos­si­ble to do better. The me­dia also tells them that they are very poor and that the whole world con­spires against them.

The govern­ment con­tin­ues its bias to­wards sav­age cap­i­tal­ism through tax ex­emp­tions, fi­nan­cial poli­cies, and laws formed by the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in favour of busi­ness­peo­ple.

The new In­vest­ment Law re­turned the pri­vate free zones wast­ing bil­lions of pounds of taxes and cus­toms. Pro­pa­ganda stupidly harms the regime when it fools the peo­ple and tells them that all these mea­sures are in favour of the peo­ple, while the cit­i­zen is ac­tu­ally suf­fer­ing from chains.

Does the me­dia re­alise its crimes’ im­pact? Does it not know that a na­tion whose gen­er­a­tions al­ways talk about the weak­ness of the state and the fail­ures of its in­sti­tu­tions will stay des­per­ate? Does the pro­pa­ganda re­alise that the peo­ple know well that me­dia ty­coons get paid mil­lions of pounds while they de­mand them to be pa­tient and en­dure low liv­ing con­di­tions?

Gen­tle­men, you should give the peo­ple hope and free them from the il­lu­sions of fear, poverty, and weak­ness. Egypt will never die, and you should not stig­ma­tise the state of dis­in­te­gra­tion.

Do not com­pare Egypt to Iraq,Ye­men, Syria, and Libya, as you should com­pare it to Ger­many and Ja­pan af­ter World War II.You should also show some re­spect and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the peo­ple, and free your­selves from the re­stric­tions and delu­sions of Djoha’s don­key.

Prof. Dr. Muhamed El Saadany


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