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21/02/2011

Comments

Bjorn Karlman

Martin, I very much enjoyed your post. I'm intrigued by your suggestion that an adherence to tradition could help ease the transition out of authoritarian power and into whatever is coming next. Do you feel that the current rush of popular opposition to established power in the region is fueled out of this need for a return to ancient and religious tradition or is more a product of desire for Western-style democratic reforms? I hope there is a culturally-appropriate third way that will emerge...

Martin Kralik

Thank you Bjorn for your thoughtful comment. My apologies for a belated reply.
You raise an excellent point regarding tradition vs. Western-style democracy, both of which hold considerable appeal to many non-Western countries including Egypt.
In very broad terms, I would suggest that a "return" to tradition has yet to be successfully executed in any modern-day society. This is just as true of post-traditionalist Egypt as it is for instance of eastern Europe where 40 years of communist rule undermined much of the local religiosity as a key source (indeed, often the only source) of tradition.
Ever since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, many predominantly-Islamic societies have been searching for this elusive "return". In most cases, the outcome has been rather reductionist - i.e. censoring and prohibiting selected Western cultural practices and artifacts but without necessarily putting forward new and creative solutions to replace these.
Even the much-celebrated examples of a 'new way', e.g. Turkey's Islamic but secular state, are fundamentally flawed: The very idea that one can separate one's religious values from one's civic duties and day-to-day activities militates agains the notion of [God's] one-ness ('wahid') that lies at the core of Islamic belief.
Amidst this vacuum, I have a sense that people are drawn to what 'works' - safety and stability regardless of ideology. That is why many pious Egyptians continue to aspire to see their children relocate to the United States and other Western countries.
Having said that, I also feel that in terms of vocabulary and other cognitive tools, the non-Western world has done a lot of work over the past 20 years (see e.g. the writings of Syed Farid Alatas on social sciences in developing societies). Who knows, this might just be the ammunition that will make the 'third way' more and more of a viable option - especially against the current backdrop of the West's collapsing economic and social structures.

Coach Outlet

Martin, I very much enjoyed your post. I'm intrigued by your suggestion that an adherence to tradition could help ease the transition out of authoritarian power and into whatever is coming next.

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