The radical opposition that was brought up in the 1952 era, with its “religious” and “secular” segments, begins from the perception that the people are an inanimate object with homogenous interests and orientations.
Therefore, it considered, or almost considered, all citizens who did not vote in elections, in this case the “peaceful” majority, to necessarily and certainly be against the regime and against Al-Sisi.
From the Brotherhood’s point of view, as well as that of most political Islam groups, they are citizens who dream of the return of Morsi and the Brotherhood’s state. Their return is imminent, bearing in mind the reluctance of people to participate in the elections.
On the other hand, the “secular” or “civil” opposition thinks this reluctance demonstrates that the revolution is on the doorstep and that it is a socialist revolution for the radical socialists, a liberal one for the radical liberals and a nationalist one for the radical nationalists.
Apart from these differences, we can say that all radical opposition currents have concluded that the regime and Al-Sisi have lost their popularity and legitimacy, their rule based only on repression.
This opposition believes the regime and its supporters are spies, the traitors and the thieves. Its vision of the regime and its supporters matches the 1952 regime’s vision of the radical and moderate opposition.
We should also note that the radical opposition sanctifies and worships the people; the people are always right. Why?
As for the political Islam current with its different segments: “Islam is an instinctual religion.” Therefore, everyone is “good” and dreams of the application of the law of God and of building an Islamic state, except, of course, for the “infidels” and those who follow the devil, who are very few.
From the point of view of the civil current, the people want to either build a liberal state, or the eternal-end-of-history state, as imagined by liberals. This is not only in Egypt, but also in the rest of the world. They also believe people want to build a socialist state seeking to liberate them from exploitation and slavery…
This is among a long list of different models for a desirable state, whose advocates suppose that everyone hopes for this, except for the spies, traitors and those who steal from the people. This is how Sami Sharaf, one of the most important men behind Abdel Nasser, described the opponents of the immortal leader.
That radical opposition never perceives the reality as it actually appears or materialises, but perceives it as it imagines it to be. In this case, the reality becomes similar to its perception about reality, not because it actually is, but because the reality it sees is exactly a virtual or fake reality that emerged within the mind of that opposition and its imagination, and was projected onto the actual reality, obscuring all its features and drawing features of a false reality.
For instance, when the majority of the people are against this or that radical opposition group, that “group” denies the reality, in spite of its extreme clarity. It insists that all the people – except the spies, traitors, and of course those who steal from the people – are against the regime, and with the “group”. That opposition becomes completely isolated, and imprisoned in its false perceptions of reality. It chews the cud of its illusions about its fake popularity through stories and tales, and perhaps pictures and films produced specifically to prove that false reality, thus proving its own false perceptions to itself more than to the public.
The Muslim Brotherhood, for example, followed and still follows that approach, very rigidly and arrogantly. All of us saw how their satellite channels presented an entirely false world, in which Egypt appeared for long months as a field for uprisings and protests demanding the return of Morsi and the Brotherhood’s rule. This happened while a different reality was clearly visible: that its popularity was being eroded day after day, for several reasons, perhaps including that falsehood itself.
In this regard, the Brotherhood is like some revolutionary groups that believe that a revolution will happen so long as its date is announced and calls are made for the event to take place. They demonstrate this perspective by telling various exaggerated stories about scattered protests that are in fact only calling for some humble economic demands.
In extremely exceptional cases, when these realities are recognised – the Brotherhood’s isolation on one hand and the system’s popularity on the other – such groups become more isolated, but not for the purposes of self-worship regarding their false illusions their popularity. This time, the isolation is for the purposes of self-flagellation, because the people were right when they rejected them after they deviated from the right path.
In the worst case, the helpless people were misled because of the group’s delinquency, their mistakes or their crimes. In both cases, the people remain sacred all the time.
For the forces of political Islam, Islam is a religion of instinct, but the people have not yet heard “the call”. And it stands to reason that if someone got the call and they did not obey, this affirms that they are disobedient, apostates, or else they are part of the investigations and security operations of other political forces.
In short, people are good but they are misguided until they get the call. Therefore, the reason is the group’s delinquency or inability to pass on the call, which leads us to the back door of self-flagellation and recriminations.
The regime’s critics – those who are called moderate forces, particularly supporters or descendants of the family of 52, those who benefit from this family and used to think the same way, even if they disagree with it – are trying to take advantage of what happened.
In our case, it is represented by a reluctance to participate in the parliamentary elections, in order to change circumstances and develop them in the right direction, according to their point of view. These people seek to support their analysis by saying that the people are smart, conscientious and “understanding”.
This category wanted, through its reluctance to participate, to send a protest message to the regime – and not a general and obscure protest that cannot be understood.
The analyst affirms that the people delivering this message are taking part in a protest against particular circumstances. They also make a number of specific demands. The circumstances that the people are protesting against differ from one analyst to another, just as their demands vary from one analyst to another. Meanwhile, the circumstances that the analyst imagines people to be protesting against match the circumstances that the analyst himself is protesting against, as with the demands.
In brief, the analyst’s vision matches his idea of the people’s vision, as with the president himself.
When Louis XI said: “I am France”, that did not push all the members of the French elite to say: “I am France.” However, the period of 1952 succeeded in moulding the awareness of the elite who moved in its orbit – even its opponents – prompting almost everyone to declare: “I am Egypt” or “I am the people”.
In conclusion, we have discussed in this article the radical and moderate opposition in light of the reign of the family of 52, and we will try in a further article to present the perceptions of the supporters of that family.
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party