Part of previous opposition protests against President Kais Saied/Tunisian Revolution Anniversary/Tunis/January 14, 2023 (Al Jazeera)

What makes us bet that democracy still has a future in our countries after the abort of the Arab Spring revolutions, especially as it falters and retreats in its homeland and in its oldest strongholds?

The reason is the historical law: the failure of democracy is the red carpet rolled out for the return of tyranny, and the failure of tyranny is the red carpet for the return of democracy.

In light of the impasse of counter-revolutions and the state of tyranny in all Arab countries, it is obvious that democracy still has other opportunities.

The question remains: How do we convince the younger generations, who are exposed to multiple ideological temptations, to choose the democratic solution, and especially how do we encourage them to own this solution and develop it by learning from our mistakes and from the mistakes of others.

For a deeper understanding of democracy, the dangers it is exposed to, and what must be done to preserve and develop it, I summarized my convictions derived from the experience of half a century of political work in these triads.

The Western governments of the old colonial countries do not want us to have democracy; Because it knows that it is a source of power, and that it will come to power with national forces independent of it, whether Islamic or secular, and therefore its policy has been and will remain to support dictatorships that serve its interests.

The three reasons to adhere to democracy

No one said that democracy is the magic and final solution to all society's problems, but compared to its authoritarian alternative and opposite, it provides the least harmful and costly solutions for every society for three reasons.

First: Preventing the danger of individual rule

There is nothing more dangerous or more stupid for any people than to leave their fate at the will of one person who may be foolish, crazy, incompetent, or make rash decisions that no one will dispute with him. model; What the Libyan people suffered from Gaddafi, or what the Syrian people are suffering today, and there are many examples. For us Arabs, there is another benefit, which is the possibility of establishing an Arab union similar to the European Union. Because what the nationalists did not understand is that there is no unity under individual rule, and every dictator sees in his country only a private property that he cannot neglect, unless he is appointed ruler over the rest of the other kingdoms.

Second: Maintaining real stability and sustainable internal security

All societies are in dire need of security and stability. Only democracy provides the best types. In contrast to the stability of tyranny based on state terrorism and the denial of the causes that generate violence, democracy addresses civil violence in an intelligent manner when it allows the expression of tension and the organization of periodic elections that relieve tensions within society, especially when it allows the organization of a peaceful transfer of power. It is the only measure that prevents civil war and ensures unspoiled stability.

Third: Preserving and developing collective and individual dignity

What is the taste of life for a people who live in fear and humiliation, turning a blind eye to injustice and oppression, and having a corrupt minority monopolize wealth, power, and prestige, even if they get a part of the cake as a bribe in exchange for giving up their dignity? What societal values ​​can prevail in a people deprived of their dignity, occupied by their state and ruled like a herd of livestock?

The three wrong ideas that must be eliminated

First: Democracy is an ideology that has completely fallen as a result of the double standards policy of Western democratic governments

Saying the moral and ethical fall of democracy is due to the fall of Western regimes into immoral policies, such as supporting Arab and South American dictatorships, and today covering up the crime of genocide in Palestine, such as protesting against Islam with the behavior of ISIS. Some logic please. Blame those who violate values ​​for violating them, and do not fault values ​​for the existence of their violators.

Second: Democracy is a Western cultural characteristic

What we have come to know is that council systems (of which Western democracy is historically the last and most complex version) have existed throughout history and were experienced by the cities of ancient Iraq three thousand years before Athens. Add to this that the most powerful dictatorships that the world has known in the past two centuries were European: (Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece). Do not forget that the struggle of the European peoples for democracy has never stopped, refuting the existence of a cultural basis and even democratic genes, and that this system is seriously threatened by the rise of the extreme right. Do not be surprised to see one day European countries with a long history of democracy transform into Arab or African authoritarian regimes.

Third: Democracy is a commodity that Western governments want to export as a cover for their cultural and political conquest

It is the opinion of those who advocate the theory that the Arab Spring is in fact a Hebrew Spring issued by Western intelligence. No one confronts me with this opinion without me bursting into laughter. Quite the opposite is true. The Western governments of the old colonial countries do not want us to have democracy; Because it knows that it is a source of power, and that it will come to power with national forces independent of it, whether Islamic or secular, and therefore its policy has been and will remain to support dictatorships that serve its interests. That is why I have always said and said that Arab democratization - unlike what happened in Eastern Europe - will not be with the support of Western countries, but rather against them. Note that I said states and not the Western civil societies that were and will remain with us. Because it serves values ​​and not interests, as is the case with its countries, and the best evidence is the huge number of demonstrations in Europe and America in support of the Palestinian people after the recent Israeli aggression.

One of the most important arguments for tyranny and its approaches to destroying democracy is that it does not care about the issue of social justice (Getty)

The three hijacked mechanisms that must be restored

All experiences in the world prove that political money has hijacked the most important mechanisms of democracy and adapted them to serve hidden aristocracies at the expense of the public good. This kidnapping and delegation is the cause of democracy bleeding everywhere.

Freedom of opinion has become the freedom to mislead

It has become known the enormous role played by the shameful media in destroying democratic experiments in the Arab world, where paid and corrupt media incited the people against democrats and democracy and paved the way for the return of tyranny. But what happened in the two countries is a caricature of a general phenomenon, which is the rule of minority-owned media in the minds and hearts of the people. This media in France, for example, is in the hands of nine people.

Challenges for all Democrats

Any deterrent, back-breaking laws to prevent businessmen from owning the media, or any mechanisms to monitor and expose fraud and counterfeiters? Any encouragement for investigative media aimed at exposing corrupt media? Any education for young people to protect them from misinformation? Any encouragement and protection for those raising alarms?

Freedom to organize, which has become the freedom to create political companies

After the revolution in Tunisia, nobodies came out of nowhere and founded weak parties without a democratic conference, with no experience except in mobilizing the corrupt media and playing on the ignorance and instincts of citizens. They won more seats in the 2014 elections than the parties that had struggled for decades against tyranny.

These political corporations, incorrectly called parties, are the great beneficiaries of the freedom to organize without the restrictions of a democracy without claws or fangs. Is it better in countries with deep democracy, where all political parties live on the hidden support of corrupt money? Of course not. It's just that we are facing the same phenomenon, but with a different intensity depending on the country. That is, the dependence of the political organization in democracy on anti-democratic forces.

Challenges for Democrats: How do we prevent political corporatism? How do we prevent commercial companies from controlling parties? Any laws for real parties? How can it be funded from public money so that it does not fall prey to corrupt money?

Freedom of election, which led to festivals of adventure and gambling

When you look at what happened recently in a developed country like Argentina, which elected a dangerous clown whose passage to power will cost dearly, and before him a public criminal like Duert in the Philippines, and before them Hitler in Germany...etc., and perhaps next November someone like Trump, it becomes clear to you how the mechanism has transformed. Election from blessing to curse; Because she lost her compass. We no longer have a mechanism whose mission is to select the most competent and impartial person to carry out specific jobs that require clear skills, whether the position is mayoralty or presidency.

We are facing festivals whose primary mission is to play on the narcissism of the voter by making him believe that he is a kingmaker, and the narcissism of the elected team is as if the election is a beauty pageant contest in which it is permissible to win the title for the beauty of its appearance, speech, and promises. As for the basic function of the election - that is, selecting the most honest and experienced in managing public affairs - it is left to the gambling table.

Imagine if universities and companies chose their general managers using such a technique. But the unthinkable is acceptable in politics. Managing a country and even an average city municipality is more difficult and complex than running a university or a company.

Challenges for Democrats: How do we preserve the elections in order to increase their effectiveness? What conditions should be placed on every candidacy for any political office? What safeguards against adventurers, lunatics and populists?

Even all measures and reforms - which should not stop as a result of the adaptation of corrupt money - are insufficient, as we must go deeper.

The three foundations on which we must rebuild

First: Democracy is an integral part of a complete system in which there is no separation between freedom and social justice

One of the most important arguments for tyranny and its approaches to destroying democracy is that it does not care about the issue of social justice. It is true that the priority of democracy in its Western liberal form is freedom, not social justice. Because the system was designed according to the middle class and its interests. But democracy is not only part of liberal ideology. It is also part of the ideology of human rights, and this ideology includes the set of political rights stipulated in Chapters 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What we must never forget is that this declaration has many chapters, from Chapter 22 to Chapter 27, all of which concern economic and social rights, and that there is no preference in it for one type over another, and all rights are complementary and do not exist without each other. What benefit is freedom in the absence of justice and what is justice in the absence of freedom? This means that for us to have a sustainable democracy, it must be established on the basis of the Universal Declaration, and not on the basis of Western liberal thinking, especially the brutal ones.

Second: The value system is the basis of the democratic system, not the alleged will of the people

The people are lied to when a populist tyrant claims to speak in their name, and they are lied to when a fleeting electoral majority claims to speak in their name. The reality is that no one has the ability to speak in the name of the people, and the people themselves have no will, but rather discordant wills that reflect the conflict of interests and ideas within society. In addition to this, even if an absolute majority of the population of a country expressed the will to occupy the land of another people, this will would have no sanctity or value. Because it conflicts with values. Which means that the legitimacy of the democratic system must be re-established, not on an alleged variable, incomplete will, but on constants that guarantee the interest of everyone. These constants are the values ​​specific to a given society and the values ​​common to all societies, as documented by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Third: The sacred or profane people do not exist except in the illusions of the deceived or the deceived

Those who exist politically are those who accept intellectual, political, religious and ethnic pluralism in society, accept peaceful resolution of conflicts and are satisfied only with the rule of law and institutions, do not give up their rights regardless of the oppression, and carry out their duties without any coercion. These people are what I call the people of citizens, and they are a minority in all societies.

On the other hand, there is a majority that I call the people of subjects, and they are those who search for a just tyrant and give up their rights if they face any danger and do not carry out their duties except by force. The role of democracy through education, media, role models, laws, moral incentives, and social justice, expanding the area of ​​​​the people of citizens and reducing the area of ​​​​the people of subjects, otherwise its survival will not last long. During this permanent battle, the role of the democrats is not to form as an elite whose mission is to lead the subjects, but rather as pioneers who open the way for a people, the elite of whom are overwhelmingly citizens, not subjects.

The three illusions that must be forgotten

First: When democracy is achieved in a society, it eliminates dictatorship

What the Western experience shows is that the ideology and customs of dictatorship do not disappear from any democracy, no matter how advanced and established it is, but rather withdraw behind the curtain. Because the hidden aristocracies that carry this ideology are an established part of human societies. Therefore, it does not disappear, but rather adapts and continues, mainly through corrupt money, its total or partial control over political life.

Second: Democracy is a final gain for the societies that achieved it

At best, it is like the health that a person enjoys when he is at the peak of his powers, but such health must include factors of care, protection, and prevention of diseases, otherwise its end is a matter of time. What accelerates the end is the weakness of mechanisms, the weakness of the moral spirit, the ferocity of hidden aristocracies...and sometimes bad luck if all of this coincides with major crises such as: epidemics, wars or climate change, which are conditions in which jungle mentality and legitimacy of power prevail, and in which there is no room except for a massive tyrannical wave.

Third: Democracy is the end of history and the inevitable destiny of all peoples

There is no single path that all people follow, even at different speeds. There are peoples who will never know democracy, peoples who will experience it at a historical stage only to lose it, even after centuries, and others who will restore its brilliance and carry it to its highest and most distant levels. This is because democracy is an indicator of the progress of this or that people, especially the efforts and sacrifices made to enjoy it for as long as possible.

Conclusion: After the failure of the Arab Spring revolutions and the strong return of tyranny, it is possible that the time of wandering will continue, and that we will continue to revolve in a vicious circle from tyranny to chaos, and from chaos to tyranny.

But there is a third path that we must take, with three goals in mind:

  • Building the state of law and institutions on the ruins of the state of the individual and gangs.

  • Creating a people of citizens on the ruins of a people of subjects.

  • Building a union of free Arab peoples on the ruins of dictatorial kingdoms.

Only this trilogy is capable of returning this afflicted nation to the arena of history to be among its makers, not its victims. to be or not to be.