“Sire, the peasants are revolting.”
“Aren’t they just – and they stink.”
I’m not sure who should be credited with the origin of those lines as they have been used everywhere from ‘Carry On Up the Khyber,’ a British Raj send up from Pinewood Studios in 1968, to The Wizard of Id of modern American cartoon syndication, but it’s still a reality. All through old Mesopotamia, from Yemen to Syria, and now again in Egypt and Tunisia, the peasants are revolting. Do we need to ask why?
Do we need to ask if these revolts are the result of oppressive regimes, of mutinous citizens, of foreign, or religious, insurgences … all of the above or does it not matter? Perhaps it does not because all of the above can be found under one,umbrella and in that place, in that sheltered place, we can see the solution which is not new. It is not anyway new.
If we step back 2,500 years to the Ancient Greek philosophers we find Socrates, who wrote little, Plato, who wrote reams, and Aristotle, a scientist, all agreed that democracy was not such a great idea. It inspired sophism in which the individual, along with relativism and the sceptic, flourished at the expense of truth and integrity and they were right. Their truths hold to the present day. Nowhere do we see deceit so purposely employed as in the congresses, parliaments, churches and temples of first world countries of the twenty-first century. All three of those Ancient Greek Philosophers endorsed the need for education – indeed Plato wrote that education was the first responsibility of government but it seem to take a poor second in many countries, and is banned, outright, in others. Education of women, the more influential sex, appears to remain an anathema to the Islamist and for good reason; once individuals are educated they become less susceptible to the dogma of the theist and the rhetoric of the sophists. Education, it seems, is the enemy of organised religion because in its progression fear of the afterlife takes a back seat to reasoned behaviour. Little wonder then that the moment religious fundamentals come to power they seek to control education and limit the media.
Happily the Internet frustrates them and the citizenry quickly take to the streets to let the despots know that bigotry, dogma, and repression are not on. Taken in good, democratic, fashion such demonstrations strengthen nations. Taken as disobedience, to be repressed by the military, a nation can quickly divide and, in the worst instances, slip into civil war.
So excited were muslin presidents Erdogan, Turkey, and Mursi, Egypt, at holding the top office in secular states they quite forgot what they were elected to do and went banging on, willy-nilly, with sectarian dogmatic changes. Erdogan has managed to avoid open conflict since the Taksim Square debacle but, according to this latest piece in the financial Times, he is digging a hole into which he must eventually disappear.
Mursi was less controlled and has paid the price but his ouster, General el-Sisi’s Army, will face a civil war now that will drive the Muslim Brotherhood underground and rob the secularists of their hard earned democracy which might not be such a bad thing. The Greek philosophers found democracy distasteful in that it opened the door to ambition and bigotry that does not serve the people. Only the most educated nations can afford democracy which, sadly, are few. For the rest of us the stink of politicians far outweighs that of the revolting peasant.