Sunday, May 16, 2010

Samir Karan – What is Behind “Despotic Tolerance” (also in Arabic)

The definition of despotism or oppression is very simple.

Despotism in the Greek language was equal to one man rule, a Greek citizen – whether he was a simple man or a member of the elite – did not make any differentiation between one man ruling in a magnanimous and open-minded way or not.

Now the word despotism is almost considered as out of use among the common public in the Western world – America and Europe – where they believe that democracy has spread and imposed its rule… and the one-man rule is out of existence in these countries.

But in spite of that we find in Europe and the United Sates, there are some who insist that despotism represents the overwhelming movement in these countries… Some writers demonstrate it with the fact that most people who live in these democracies do not contribute to democracy more than sometimes going to voting boxes to participate in elections. Other writers demonstrate the absence of actual democracy in these democracies by proving that most people – citizens in a more political expression – spend more of their time in playing cards than giving time thinking about state affairs.

Why should we go so far as to call the situation one of despotism? Isn’t it true that hundreds of thousands of citizens in these democracies organize demonstrations during certain crises to express their opposition to their democratic governments’ policies? After a few days or even weeks demonstrations stop – but the policies they demonstrated against and condemned continue to be implemented. How many hundreds of thousands march in American and European cities against waging war on Iraq before a single bullet had been fired, but the war was waged and continued during which all these tragedies were committed… and it was proved that it was not based on any legal basis even the claim of weapons of mass destruction that were never found, as well as the war that is still officially going on up till today’s date. Demonstrations could march here and there, but governments of democracies do not respond to these demonstrations protesting against their policies. On the contrary, they abide to the decisions of the orders of the chiefs of staffs of the armed forces, and those of the NATO. In spite of that, the general opinion is that these democracies execute the will of citizens who go to the ballot boxes.

The group that executed the war on Iraq and played within the press and outside it fell to an extent that made American voters who – the maximum sign of their rejection – go only as far as electing “a black man” for the first time in history for the presidency of the United States of America. George W. Bush who pushed America to wage the war on Iraq, and his successor did not come out of the neo-cons, but in spite of that, the “black man” chosen by the Americans continued with executing orders of the chiefs of staff, and decided on proceeding with the Afghanistan war, and threatens to wage a more fierce war against Iran.

Then when would the citizens of these democracies execute their own will?!

It seems that this opportunity shall never offer itself under the two party political system in existence in theUnited States. And U.S. citizens shall proceed with their ordinary social life and their private personal social affairs… while the governing elite continues with imposing their policies in disregard of the extent the citizens may show opposition to them – including opposition to wars – the expenses of which are born by citizens and not by the political elites.

Thus the difference is not enormous, it’s not even felt between these democracies and despotic regimes found outside the United States and Europe. This is what we see. But the fact is proved when you try to compare internal and external policies, then one would discover that the share of foreign policies is small, it is even almost not available, in comparison with internal policies.

American and European citizens similarly – do not see that the distance between them and the influence on the trend of foreign policy of their country is so great to an extent that they cannot be overpassed, neither through street demonstrations no matter how vast they may be, nor from the side of freedom of thought, however well expressed in the media they may be. Up till now there is no logical explanation or convincing argument for the continuity of the alliance with “Israel”, not even America’s and Europe’s interests with Arabs. There is no logical or convincing explanation for the ability of American rulers, from the extreme right to the current president, Barack Obama, who is accused of leftism and socialism by his political racist foes, to swallow the Zionist entity’s challenges not only against American interests but also against America’s strategies, and the continuation in giving its unlimited support and the means to implement this entity’s security and foreign policy… including its ownership of nuclear weapons arsenal and refusal to sign the treaty to ban them.

Foreign policy became a private privilege for the ruling elite in the ruling democracies… Tomorrow, the British could elect the conservatives (which they already did / the translator), because the Labour policy was not by any means for the labuorer, but what is certain is that the conservative government when it comes shall adopt the Labour government’s position in relation to foreign policy. And the democratic British citizens should know that their country’s participation in the Afghani war and the Zionist entity’s security, strategic and colonization options are not the matters they can alter.

And we are in no better condition in the Arab homeland.

But with one important difference, which is that these Arab despotic regimes that are in power in this homeland and who are keeping it divided are not allowing large mass demonstrations in our cities’ streets to declare their opinions concerning our rulers’ internal and foreign policies.

We in the Arab homeland are in a much worse position, though we, as citizens and masses, have no influence with regard to foreign policies (Arab policies too are similar and equal to international policies) as we, to start with, lack the privilege of having the right to approach and interfere the authority’s decisions related to both foreign and local policies.

The ability of oppression Arab governments have in relation to foreign policies greatly exceeds what Western democracies have in hand, in later years clear double standards prevailed in the policies followed by most Arab governments. Arab thinkers, public policy makers and writers in general can express their opinions with almost unlimited freedom. There is liberty of expression at the time when these Arab governments granted themselves the right of ignoring what is said… especially if what is said contains specific demands. The general rule is now that you can say whatever you want concerning conditions that you reject, and I can “do” what I want concerning conditions both you accept and you reject.

With the exception of when a thinker, writer or journalist is not threatened with imprisonment, arrest or trial as we understand them and is permitted to express himself by the ruling elites. This is while the right of free expression went to the extent to include various forms complaints that were not in the past included through demonstrations and sit ins, while authorities reserved for themselves the right of confronting protests with tear gas bombs, water cannons, overhead firing, taking some of the protesters for private investigations.

The issue of “Despotic Tolerance” – if we permit ourselves to borrow this expression from the American philosopher of German descent, Herbert Marcuse, the thinker whose name was connected with the student revolution of the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century – that was considered by some of the ruling elite a “danger” that threatens the “homeland”… which actually means a danger against the authority. And we have seen how a group of the Egyptian ruling party members had requested the “People’s Council” (The parliament) to fire with live bullets at the demonstrators because “they exceeded the allowed limits…”. From one side they don’t deserve the mercy that security forces show them, and from the other they are “communists”, “mercenaries” and “thieves”, and this demand to open fire at them with the aim of killing them is a splendid opportunity for the ruling elite to provoke their zealot children to prove their tolerance is wide enough for demonstrations, but doesn’t accept those participating in them, but just to disperse them and force them to retreat by force!

In spite of that, ruling regimes consider foreign policies a taboo domain for citizens to cross to… They can complain about the high cost of living, corruption and in general the downfall of health, human and educational services, but it shall always be a taboo to approach the conditions and the melancholies of foreign policies.

It is a taboo for Arab citizens to demonstrate against Zionist threats to wage a war against Syria, Lebanon or Gaza, it is forbidden for them to reach Zionist embassies in Cairo and/or Amman to protest against the Zionist entity’s decision to expel 75,000 Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank (the land of the anticipated Palestinian state) to Gaza (the big prisons of Palestinians in which they live under siege from all sides). They are not allowed to negatively demonstrate against the policies of Arab summit meetings and their effeteness whenever they meet in ordinary or extraordinary meetings, and their everlasting submission to the American/”Israeli” demands.

Arab authorities curbing in relation to Arab foreign policies is more dangerous than that in local affairs.

All Arab governments that concluded peace with the Zionist entities – whether they signed treaties or not yet – are interested in showing that they can pay the price internally. This is what is demanded by America before being demanded by the Zionist entity. They are asked (not to say ordered) to prove that they are able to crush any opposition to peace with “Israel”, and any support to resistance against it. And within the framework of proving this ability, meetings are taking place with the “Israeli” prime minister, his minister of defense or whoever “Israel” wishes to delegate.

How would Barack Obama’s policies in relation to “Israel” and Palestinians become bearable if they are not approved by the rulers of Egypt, Jordan and the “Palestinian Authority”. If Benjamin Netanyahu is not welcomed in Cairo (Sharm EL-Sheikh is better for weather and security wise) whenever he wishes?! Is this not alone proof that the peace process is “passing” without stopping?

We don’t hear about a demonstration against a visit by Netanyahu because this falls within the framework of the outlawed.

Arab citizens in Egypt can demonstrate against the high cost of living, corruption and even against the possibility of president Mubarak to bequest the presidency to his son… but they cannot demonstrate against a visit by Netanyahu, or the steel wall on the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip under siege, or be a supporter of Hezbollah or Hamas in confronting “Israel’s” threats with a devastating war.

This is the despotism of foreign policy during the era of “despotic tolerance” with matters of internal policies..

This could be a reflection of an involuntary perception within the Arab despotic regimes concerning Arab policies are not within the affairs of foreign “policy”…. On the contrary it is an integral part of the internal policy. But the ruling elite categorizes it as foreign to keep it outside the framework of “despotic tolerance”?!

Didn’t we say that matters were simpler during the old days of Greece while defining despotism?

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