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Where there is a will, there is a way.

 
 
 

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年过半百,经历坎坷.少年遇"文革",下乡八载,虽历经磨难,唯斗志不减,农耕间隙自学不辍,终守得云开日出,考进大学.大学毕业后先后经历了中学执教,国企管理,外企高管,最后回归重执教鞭.目前在家精心培养有志掌握英语的中小学生. 我最大的愿望就是看到孩子学有所成,桃李天下.

我新发表的文章《埃及的新斯芬克斯之谜》  

2013-07-22 19:22:04|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Egypt’s new Sphinx riddle

 

Wu Guangqiang

WHEN it comes to Egypt, many think of its mammoth pyramids standing in the desert. But another of Egypt’s great landmarks is the ancient stone Sphinx of Giza, a giant statue with the body of a lion and head of a human. Many Chinese know of it owing to a story in Greek mythology. The Sphinx posed a riddle to travelers: “What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?” Whoever failed to answer the question correctly would be eaten by the Sphinx.

The end of the story is well known. When Oedipus came up with the right answer — man, which crawls as a baby and uses a cane when old — the Sphinx was forced to destroy itself.

Egypt is now posing the world a modern version of the Sphinx riddle: Who comes to power through a democratic election after overthrowing an autocratic ruler in the morning, fails in his duty and disappoints his supporters in the afternoon and is ousted like his predecessor in the evening?

The answer, of course, is Mohammed Morsi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s just-deposed president. Accusing him of inciting violence, destroying the economy and spying, the Egyptian military has removed him from power, detained him and announced a criminal investigation against him and other Islamist figures. Though the generals have appointed Adly Mansour interim president, and Mansour has appointed a new prime minister and set a timetable for a new election in an effort to stabilize the chaotic country, the standoffs and clashes between the irreconcilable camps that either support or oppose the Muslim Brotherhood are getting increasingly intense. Some have predicted that Egypt is slipping into a civil war, similar to what has happened in Libya and Syria.

What is happening in Egypt is rather perplexing. If Morsi’s election last year was legitimate, then his dismissal without due process this year was illegal and the military’s action was a coup. If it was a coup and if the military interference violated democratic principles, then why did it win mass support? Why are traditionally conservative Islamists fighting to safeguard the “democratic fruit” while supposedly more democratic liberals are supporting the iron-handed generals?

It’s hard for outsiders to discern whom to blame for the failure of Egypt’s first democratic trial. Was it Morsi’s new dictatorship, clad in democracy, that halted the nation’s political reform, worsened its economic woes and eventually brought about his own disgrace? Or was it the opposition parties’ filibustering and confrontation that left the government to accomplish nothing? Or both? British magazine The Economist recently described Morsi’s vision of an electoral dictatorship as a “zombie democracy.” Such a democracy looks like the real thing because it has elections, but in truth is no more than a hollow shell going through the motions.

In Egypt, little has changed in its political, social, religious and economic situations since last year’s upheaval, so the pro forma democracy can’t possibly function. The new ruler, who led a popular uprising to topple a dictator, did not carry out democratic governance or distribution of power, but instead cracked down on his opponents, repeating the practices of his predecessor. Conflicts between secular liberals and Islamists are getting more fierce than ever before, with neither side ready to compromise. The economy is collapsing, which, in turn, is fueling the turbulence.

Democracy is a great seed, but it grows and flourishes only where the soil and climate are right and when its grower knows how to attend to it. Otherwise, a seemingly democratic election can end up in shambles.

When the “Arab Spring” spilled over to Egypt last year, the West hailed the change, as did liberals around the world. They believed that democracy was a universal value applicable everywhere, no matter what the conditions, and a cure-all for social illnesses. They claimed, “If you choose ballots, you will not choose bullets.”

Now that “Arab Spring” has turned to “Arab Winter,” what we have actually seen is that bullets are speaking louder than ballots.

What can we learn from the new Sphinx riddle?

 

(The author is an English tutor and a freelance writer.)

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