Thursday, 11 January 2018

Questions for Egyptian intellectuals

How can we make 2018 the beginning for an Egyptian cultural action initiating for a renaissance that puts an end to the cultural lag and submission to thought decay that are sometimes covered under the cloaks of religiosity, traditions or dogma?

How can we collect our dispersed efforts in the field of building and enriching the human culturally and intellectually so that his mind remains alert, understanding and constructively critical; his consciousness in reconciliation with the true facts in place and time; and for the whole of him to become immune against all that is uncivilized and take the initiative to stand against whatever and whoever contribute to messing with the first mission God entitled to humans when he first created them; it’s the mission of inhabiting and building land and spreading love and peace?

How can we move from well-written-on-papers theoretical projects and “talking” ceremonies limited to some intellectuals that can no longer continue in doing what they do, and so their number decreases and the enthusiasm of those who left fades away. And so those projects and ceremonies turn into lifeless events and nothing but literature kept in archives rarely to be recalled or looked at, into direct action in the place– that is all Egypt –and time– that is faster than the fastest pace we may think of –to do though small actions yet accumulating well-planned ones inseparable to what precedes and what succeeds them, so that our cultural and intellectual, and hence civilization, defense can go stronger?

Also, why are we, in the field of thought and culture, good at diagnosing and writing prescriptions alone and not good at discovering and coming up with the medication, administering its doses, noticing its positive and negative effects and convincing those who need it to take it?

Moreover, why didn’t people of science, literature and arts especially those whose scholar disciplines have to do with history, sociology, literature, critic and social psychology try to detect, analyze the course of ideas and projects of the cultural and intellectual reform suggested in Egypt at least since the eighteenth century, take lessons of their positive and negative outcomes and know what led to their total or partial failure? Also, was that failure due to their very own structure or due to its timing if they were proved to be premature or lagging behind? And what are the powers that supported and others that stood against and sought to thwart them?

And why didn’t we have well-established schools in each discipline of the academic branches to maintain the standards and disciplines of research and put an end to negligence, weakness and unprofessionalism; such things that prevailed in our educational and scholar life that being serious and committed became a trait subject to mockery and satire? If those schools of scientific disciplines, that some of them were initially launched and relatively grew until the beginning of the seventies, continued, we would have had a developed network of connection points for research and scientific communication among various branches. And as a result, we would have been able to have a concerted action regarding the comprehensive renaissance and reform.

In addition, why have popular efforts died, if one can use such expression, in this process of reviving the nation, and if it happened and they existed, one finds that some of them are just for social notability or to “launder” the reputation of some businessmen who made their fortunes out of corruption, adding that some other efforts are very limited, not to mention that all of those efforts lack a comprehensive coordination within a national plan determining the needs and how to fulfill them in a systematic and efficient way? Also, how can we revive the popular efforts, either the individual or the institutional ones of companies, communities or organizations with a suitable appreciation even if small?

And since Egypt is not a secluded area on land or a newly-born nation in history, rather it lies in the heart of land and is very steeped in history; its existence and development are connected to its dynamic relations to its surrounding environment. It was also proved that Egypt’s soft power, dating back to the ancient times, spread to the north, south, east and west, as “Hellenic” did not turn into “Hellenistic” until the Greek and Roman were influenced by Egypt’s civilization and culture rich in religious doctrines, philosophy, mathematics, arts…

Therefore, and based on those mutual relations of influence, any attempt to launch an Egyptian renaissance has to take into consideration what takes place on the level of thought and culture in that Arab, African, Islamic and international surroundings, and come up with mechanisms to deal with such surroundings. As until this moment and despite that many writings tackled the retreat of the Egyptian cultural and intellectual role and ability of certain cultural effects to penetrate through the Egyptian defense and mess with the characteristics of the Egyptian cultural identity; however, we did not devote concerted research efforts in detecting, analyzing and taking lessons from that interaction that had negative impact over Egypt.

Those are inquiring and stating questions which I believe the Egyptian intellectuals are required to deliver the answers for.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar

This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on January 11, 2018.

To see the original article, go to:

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