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The myth of political apathy


I won’t deny that political affiliation is the first ice-breaker I can think of when speaking with a complete stranger, and harsh judgements immediately follow. It’s not the best quality to boast, I’ll recognize that. But I think it stems from the conviction that, you can pretend like you couldn’t care less, but the fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, we’re all part of this mess called politics.

Every action you take is a statement. You might not know the names of the over-aged, ‘wise’ men of the interim government – and frankly, that’s mostly useless information – but when you buy something, or wait till later, or refuse to make the purchase altogether, you are inevitably part of the system. When you complain about a problem with urban planning, this could potentially attract a critical mass that sparks public opinion into pressuring the authorities to go against their own interests, and dedicate some time to your quality of life. Every decision you make involving other people, also involves their interests and well-being.

In Port Said I got the chance to bond with Abourgees (don’t worry, his excitement levels remained steadily low – don’t get your hopes up) and I asked him about how he lacks any sort of ‘revolutionary passion’. At first he thought it was normal, since he’s not into politics, and has no interest to debate or make a decision with regards to the authorities. But this was based on the inaccurate assumption that the authorities are at a distance, and that his lack of interest keeps them away from his daily life. So my reaction was, “so you don’t feel indignado?” And I explained to him what I wrote in this post on my blog.

I focused on humiliation, which in Egypt is almost standard with any citizen – except for maybe the ruling elite. Then the connection between the political scene and his daily life became evident. As Egyptians, we’re forced to do things we hate, deal with people we can’t stand, and be subject to treatment we don’t deserve. That’s how the state humiliates us.

Capitalism argues that politics are for politicians, economics for economists, and that ‘normal people’ should focus on working to generate profits for their employers, while consuming to reach their happiness. But as citizens, we have to use the public infrastructure, engage with the administration, shop for food and goods at rising prices, watch movies, eat out, and try to find a suitable job. That is almost exclusively political. All you need to do is to recognize that you’re already part of this game, and this recognition within itself allows you to step up to your role of bringing the power to you – to the people. Acting as if your role is non-existent is only allowing you to fall for pleasing those whose interests most probably contradict yours.

And money, theoretically representing our wealth and resources, is also a direct measure of our involvement with political economy. When you receive it, you feel you have a bit of a role to play in how you pass on this fictional empowerment to the next person via business transactions. And now might be a good chance to remind yourself of this feeling by checking out your bank balance to see that your salary has been transferred. Congratulations, you’ve just been exploited 🙂

See you on the political stage ya welad el balad.

2 comments on “The myth of political apathy

  1. Saytara

    Thank you very much for sharing the indignado post , it is interesting & informative 🙂

    Waiting for the session/blog post explaining the exploitation concept – from Revsoc perspective- more thoroughly.

    • Shalaby

      Thanks ya bent 3ammi! Glad you found it useful. I’m honored to say (and I have evidence to prove) that after Abourgees read my “indignados” post, he agreed that he’s an indignado! #win

      I’ll try to put together a blog post as soon as I get the chance. Thanks again!

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