We are All Machiavelli | #Egypt


Dr Bassem Youssef

Article by Dr Bassem Youssef, originally in Arabic, published by ShoroukNews, on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. Translated to English by Operation Egypt.

The week preceding July the 30th.

Anxiety, tension, fear of the future.

A foreign journalist asked me: “What do you think will happen next week?”

I repeated my favorite answer: “If there’s anything that we have learned from the last two years, you must make sure that you can’t predict what will happen in Egypt”

Then I added what was really concerning me: “I do not know what will happen but I can tell you that if June 30 passēd without a real change, the Brotherhood will be more emboldened against us”.

That was the general feeling. Whether you are happy about deposing Morsi, or had objections about what happened later, I am confident that this was the prevailing sentiment: What would the Brotherhood do to us? Even the opponents of military intervention in politics were concerned about what might the Brotherhood do if they crossed the “ambush” of June 30.

I remember that in the last week in June, I have watched a video on YouTube filmed and produced by Brotherhood youth. That was clear from the name of the producer, which has filmed other clips in favor of Morsi, as well as, of course, the obvious dullness and the Brotherhood’s killer sense of humor.

The video shows someone looking like “scum” who is supposed to represent those who would respond to the “rebel” campaign. Whenever he chanted against Morsi, a young Muslim Brotherhood with a well built body and well groomed clothes emerges to slap the June 30 supporter. The video goes on until the young religious man eliminates the other guy in a way that is supposed to be “funny”. However it is a clear incitement of violence and even murder. But in fact they were not in need of this video, as the climate in the presence of Morsi was already charged with threats and intimidation. Their programs were filled with accusations of apostasy that spared no one.

I remember the private media condemning and deploring this aggressive and inciting style. I remember how “our” channels used to rise up to attack those popular assemblies, the incitement of violence and murder in the name of religion.

I also remember how “our channels” used to ridicule the use of religion in favor of the Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sentences such as “God have sent Morsi to [save] Egypt” and “What could the Prophet do in a hundred days so that you question Morsi now” and “He’s the grandson Omar ibn al-Khattab” and others were the subject of mockery and strong criticism.

Today, what a surprise, the image is completely flipped. However you do not find private channels (frankly, it is the only ones remaining) moved by the spreading calls of murder and incitement and without any evidence.

Today religious scholars and preachers come out to say so confidently that voting “yes” on the constitution is a religious obligation, and that God has sent Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for us. That anyone opposing him is a sinner and that the constitution “pleases God and his messenger”. That Al-Sisi is of the descendants of “Al-Hussain” and that he and the Minister of Interior are from the “Soldiers of God”.

These statements get to pass while “our channels” are as if not there. It seems that after confirming that Morsi is not the grandson of “Omar ibn al-Khattab”, maybe they are still investigating the possibility that the Field Marshal is the grandson of “Al-Hussain”.

I remember the incidents of the cabinet sit-in when Khalid Abdullah (Morsi supporting preacher and broadcaster) used to broadcast leaked videos from security surveillance cameras there to defame the protestors and those in the opposition. So, a man in the media displays videos supposedly from surveillance cameras controlled by the security authorities, and displays it to the public in blatant violation of privacy, is a clear conviction for the authorities that allowed the display of these clips.

Today our channels do not mind if the propagandist broadcaster, close to the authorities, violates the privacy of the same people and in a filthier manner. So if the authorities leaks surveillance videos for the bearded guy yesterday, why not leak private phone calls to today’s propagandist. In both cases their argument is caring about the country.

We did not mind throwing Molotov cocktails at the palace of Morsi, but we will not tolerate those who raise their hands with the four fingers gesture (Rabia).

We have mobilized channels and analysts to attack the constitution written by the Brotherhood, however we will not allow anyone to show his opposition to the current constitution.

We turned the world upside down about the Nile dam in Ethiopia, and Morsi used the subject for domestic (political) consumption and mobilized his supporters in a conference that’s not less idiotic than his handling of the crisis. In the end, we got nothing from it but a headache and a few nice jokes about them.

Today the authorities tell us that the Ethiopia dam issue is just fine and there comes out a strategic analyst and says that Ethiopia was terrified of our Constitution, and once again we use the dam crisis for domestic (political) consumption, but in style.

In the meantime, the construction of the dam continues in full swing while our media is not there.

The Brotherhood who now complain to everyone of repression did not care about the killing of opponents in front of the presidential palace of Ettihadeya or in Mokattam, and have we been in their place after June 30th, they wouldn’t have spent a single tear on us. Then they would have used the argument by the British Prime Minister, which is now being used against them: “it is related to the national security don’t talk to me about human rights”.

By the way, they have used this argument before in their programs, so this is not some kind of a crystal-ball revelation or prediction.

Also by the way, this argument is taken out of its context.

Although we are all talking about ideals, the fact is that each and every one of us has a small Machiavelli inside. Ideals and ethics concern us only when we are the weaker party.

We like the U.S. newspapers when it attacks the Brotherhood. We highlight the investigations by Fox News about terrorism and extremist groups. However, we accuse the same U.S. media of treason and bias and unprofessionalism, whenever it criticizes the current interim government and the repression of the police.

You attack this writer or that one, then you use their articles that attack your enemies on your Facebook page, when the content matches your mood.

Brotherhood said that I am a clown and that sarcasm is forbidden by religion, and “do not make fun of other people”, yet now they publish my content on their pages when it serves their case. Now their youth are using sarcasm “which was a taboo”, insults, and even improper words against the military and against those who are described as coupists. On the other hand, those who stood by us during Morsi time, today accuse us of being clowns and traitors because we did not take their path.

The Brotherhood used to attack their opponents and accuse them of burning their headquarters and of attacking the police, during Morsi time because it abuses of the prestige of the state. Yet now their pages proudly publish videos where police cars are being burnt and Molotov cocktails are being thrown at police officers in their armored vehicles. To hell with the prestige of the state until Morsi is back.

Brotherhood were strongly cheering for the Minister of the Interior. They even said that he has presented his approval credentials by suppressing the opposition demonstrations. Those anti-Brotherhood accused him of belonging to the Brotherhood, and even accused Al-Sisi of the same thing too, long before falling in love with them now.

It’s all about who the majority are and who has the power. It has nothing to do with ethics or ideals. It’s a jungle where the country, the region, and the entire planet are for the triumphant.

We love human rights, but for which humans? We love democracy, but which democracy?

The humans who is on our side and the democracy that only brings us to power.

I will not be fooled by the Brotherhood, their bragging, whining, or their false apologies such as: “let it go this time and we will be nice”. The only difference between them and the current authority is that they had not been well enabled yet.

I will not be fooled by the pretenders of liberalism and freedom. Their tailored liberalism and selective freedom. If they dispute they transgress, just like their Islamist enemy.

I’m not criticizing or attacking you. I am just like you, and I don’t try to brag with false idealism. Maybe if I was in charge I would have turned into another Machiavelli. Maybe I was going to coat my fascist actions with sweet talk about patriotism or religion. As I told you, we are all Machiavelli. Banners that we raise about our love for Sharia and Liberalism, are nothing but attempts to beautify ourselves in the mirror and a justification to please our consciences with, while breaking the most basic principles of Sharia or the finest degrees of liberalism.

Maybe it is better to stop pretending. Maybe it is better to try to justify our actions by appending a description to the sentence that describes Egypt, such as an Islamic state or a civil state.

Maybe it is better for us and for future generations that we change our name to “The Machiavellian Republic of Egypt”.

The name alone explains a lot.

About Operation Egypt

Global standing in solidarity with the people of Egypt in their peaceful struggle for their rights.
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6 Responses to We are All Machiavelli | #Egypt

  1. Bassem has touched on all the Machiavellian parameters of comparison in the world between MB and and the coupist camp except the more essential ones:
    1. The number of people shot or killed in each period.
    2. The number of opponents imprisoned in each period.
    3. Newspapers and Tv channels closed
    4. Foreign journalists killed or imprisoned
    5. Schools or charity hospitals closed or confiscated
    6. Women and child prisoners in custody
    7. How many mosques have been closed etc

    He has mentioned everything except the essentials. To me he has failed to make

  2. Pingback: "Nous sommes tous des Machiavel", par...

  3. bemacomber says:

    I am not an Egyptian. I am a westerner who has reported revolutions for 40 years. My job is to observe and pass along the story with a 360 degree perspective. The Egypt story is convoluted and besmirched from Nile garden entry, to street cafe, to apartment elevators and staircases, to backdoor exits, at corner stalls, next to market merchants, and even inside hovering helicopters. My experiences are out of tune with the lay of the Arab African political social arena. What I know about revolutions does not fit in Egypt. I feel I am floating inside a matrix of electrified cross-wires with others cast aside and adrift fried from the on-going turmoil of all is unknown. Many times I read and reread, watched and re-watched, asked and re-asked, and listened and listened again attempting to find rivers or a few threads in a cultural whole cloth. A centered clarity, a grounded solidarity, or even an incident reality is illusive. One budding observation is Egyptians in mass are easily led by a planted psychology of indoctrination and peer pressure not unlike what happened in Germany in the 30s. An entire population of several generations of Egyptians are children in adult clothing – some in uniforms, some in designer suits, and others wearing western garb or traditional gallibaya or sebleh. Pettiness, jealousy, narcissism, misogyny, gossip, defensiveness, narrow mindedness, fearful, and talking an issue into the tea glass is not fertile common ground to solve a culture’s incessant immaturity. When I first began to research and attempt to understand what was happening in a recognized style of journalism frustration began to rear its head. I extend myself by being truthful. Gathering information is opened ended on my side of the table. I have nothing up my sleeve or inside my computer’s hard drive. I write not to negatively undress an issue rather to peel the onion and bring light to the shadows. Much of the emerging world now would desperately like to understand why Egyptians are easily led down a bloody path of civil society disorder. Too many of your brethren have taken the bait cast out by profiteering fascists who will do whatever is required to maintain their own lifestyle and are willing to do this over any need for democracy. Why? It is far easier to co-opt youth, steal resources, and make huge profits when the masses are mis-directed. Cordial Egyptians are adept at making ‘friends’ of strangers in a desire to push their own agenda. It is one of the endearing attributes of Egypt’s floundering tourism economics. Yet, conning yourself and your brother is unhealthy medicine in a revolution dying for the release from totalitarianism and willing to accept the deep state as ruler. I have been told the same story colored and lighted in fifty different ways, as the tale traveled from one mouth and brain to another, adding and subtracting rather than staying the course of the truth of what actually happen. This is so blatant at times in Egypt most independent observers stand in awe. Journos in the middle of the night hit with inspiration draw time lines or putting up investigation boards to follow the Egyptian storyline with its upside and downside as it snakes along. Over population, a systemic welfare more slavery wheat trough than fostering personal empowerment, generational innate poverty in living and thinking, crappy education or none for most, poor to shitty infrastructure, an accepted inbred elitism vs. slave mentality, a status quo childish need to emulate rather than integrate, front room temper tantrums, dualistic hypocrisy, blaming, shaming and accepting the lie in one breath while exhaling disdain is normal in Egypt. Internet porno on any night, hiring whores on Tuesday afternoon, and enjoying prayers on Friday at the mosque is a trifecta dichotomy few address let alone admit. The pallor of a cancerous country-wide depression is hundreds if not two thousand years in the making in Egypt. Subdividing factions from one another is par for the course to dissolve a revolution creating doubt and distrust from the inside out. This is the handiwork of operatives paid well to engender discontent. Finding a scapegoat (MBs) is an effective methodology to keep slave soldiers and hungry masses churned up in fear. The bogie man over there (MBs) feeds the weak and festers the hatred. You, my dear writer, are contributing to the dismissal of your country’s whimpering revolution for democracy by reiterating this message. If you think for one moment a fascist deep state, redux Mubarak, will bring prosperity and bread to your table you are so easily fooled I wonder who is paying your freight. America, the Sauds, the Russians and your own corrupt billionaires are licking their chops in anticipation of taking what they want as most Egyptians ba, ba, ba, or scream in mourning for kid martyrs. I have no viable advice as my own home country is caught in a similiar slamming screen door. Obama was touted as a savior and the game plan unfolding for al-Sisi is a carbon copy. Unless the intelligentsia, the creatives, the merchant class, the farmers, the bus drivers, the cotton weavers, the taxi owners, and the youth find enough maturity to set aside their baby emotions Egypt will be raped leaving behind another Iraq. Sometimes I sense the ancient wonders of your country and the flowing Nile heave heavy sighs for what was and today in disappointment for what was almost – freedom, justice, and bread.

    • S says:

      @bemacomber I support your assessment – all of it.

      With an unusually high per-capita prevalence of mendacity – “An infantilized society’ was how Robert Fisk had accurately described Egypt during the Jan 24 – Feb 11, 2011 events.

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