By virtue of its encoding power and in addition to its communicative function, language is a tool of control par excellence. The German philosopher Hegel suggests that the world can be obviously mayhem without the ability to attribute labels to different items and the possibility to encapsulate abstract concepts within the confines of lexis.
Yet, the attempt to control a diverse plethora of things and ideas soon turns into an oppressive maneuver that restrains significantly the breath of human perception and thought as suggested by Sapir and Whorf in their theory of linguistic determinism. During the course of its usage, any lexical item can become different from the notion it was initially intended to render.
Indeed, the necessity to use linguistic nomenclature is likely to frost abstract ideas in an immutable frame of reference. For instance, the term revolution is often referred to as a date in the records of history. Thus, any radical change in the modes of governance is often accredited the status of a landmark event.
Despite being essentially marked by an immediate replacement of a governing body by another, revolution remains less prompt than expected. As a matter of fact, revolutions take decades to germinate and an unpredictable number of years to end.
Sixty years ago, the Egyptian Free officers masterminded a successful military coup against king Farouk. Yet, the new Egyptian republic would return incrementally to a totalitarian rule bolstered under Mubarak regime.
The revolution that took place on January 25, 2011 was undisputedly a spectacular act of civil disobedience against Mubarak‘s oppressive regime. Yet the revolution was not that decisive and the stride towards freedom, democracy and pluralism is still polarizing Egyptians.
The Arab spring upheaval removed only one layer of complexity, but the challenges lying ahead for Egypt are numerous. The revolution that was initially supposed to establish freedom and equal distribution of wealth turned to be a multifaceted process.
Beyond the ideological divide between secularists and Islamists, lies a broad spectrum of binaries opposing the military and their acolytes to the civil government, not to mention the precarious economic situation caught between sluggish growth and high external debt.
It is noteworthy that the concerns of the common people pertained initially to social rights namely education, employment and health care. Nevertheless, there are mounting fears today about a potential religious takeover following the Iranian model.
The extent to which Sharia law can govern public life will surely be at the epicenter of the debate in many Arab countries. Any bid to establish a state totally absolved from the power of religion would be a misstep.
On the other hand, envisaging a society governed unyieldingly by the principles of Sharia without the effort of contextualization and interpretation would result in a religious orthodoxy. History has taught us that the masses abhor all forms of coercion, be they on behalf of religion or under the banner of secularism.
In his book, Islam the Radical Reform, Tarik Ramadan pinpoints that the “urgent issue here is not to conceive the existence of a link between religion and politics, for it has always existed, but rather to identify the kind of relationship that we can consider and promote.”
In the Arab context, the political revolutions require also a revolution of ideologies especially in the way we perceive plurality in modern Arab countries, a plurality not only in terms of faith, but also in terms of ideological leanings. This introspection bid cannot possibly be revealing without a sustainable contribution of intellectuals.
To sum up, the term revolution does not denote only a punctual event that marks distinctively the rupture with a mode of governance and the establishment of another. Revolutions emerge in continuum and thrive in continuum. Until decision-makers and their electorate can identify the new “change” as a permanent reality, the revolution must go on.
—Written By Loubna Flah
(Loubna Flah is correspondent of Morocco World News.
(Published in The Laaltain – Issue 6)