Egypt – Is rejoicing really in order?

I had followed the events of the last one month with a keen interest – first the overthrow of Ben-Ali in Tunisia and then the “Egyptian Revolution”.

I remember reading a status on FB which read “what unfolds …is not just an egyptian revolution….but an Arabian one” and I really thought that this was to become a reality soon enough. And there were signs to believe this!

Protest started in Yemen, Algeria and Bahrian, while many others have been organized as people brace themselves to initiate the process of “change”.

Egyptian Revolution - Real Change or not?

I watched the speech of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and waited for news of his resignation to come – a deja vu of the time when President Musharraf announced his resignation in 2008.

What could only be labeled as bad advice by his ad visors, he refused to resign, only to stumble under the immense pressure that gathered after his speech, and finally giving in.

Reports came in of how people were relieved and celebrations were taking place in the Tahrir Square as people danced and celebrated freedom from a one man show of almost 30 years. Continue reading

DAWN.COM | Front Page | Is there life after democracy?

While we’re still arguing about whether there’s life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? By democracy I don’t mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: Western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are. So, is there life after democracy?

Attempts to answer this question often turn into a comparison of different systems of governance, and end with a somewhat prickly, combative defence of democracy. It’s flawed, we say. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than everything else that’s on offer. Inevitably, someone in the room will say: ‘Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia . . . is that what you would prefer?’

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit? Continue reading