Opium of the IntellectualsPosted: March 26, 2012
This is of course the title of a seminal work by Raymond Aron, decrying the western intellectuals infatuation with Communism, their weak excuses for its excesses, their fondness for its utopianism in spite of its obvious horrors, and general irresponsibility as to the consequences of their words.
Today many of the academic experts are mocking the walk out of the Liberals & Secular forces from Egypt’s Constitutional Assembly. These men and women refuse to be “useful idiots” or a window-dressing for a crude power grab by the forces of Political Islam. The western intellectuals want, from the safety of their offices, to see how this experiment will turn out, and are enamored of their fine-tuned understanding of the Islamist forces. They make distinctions without meaning between “moderate” and “hard-line” fundamentalists, pretend there are difference between the MB and the Salafis, and generally engage in reading tea leaves. But if you are an open-minded Muslim or a Copt in Egypt today, such talk is a luxury. There is a burden of responsibility. One can not afford to be soft-headed. In Khairat El-Shater, the MB found its Lenin. A responsible course of action is to see how to thwart the efforts of these people before the number of their victims pile up. Empty talk about “this is how politics is played”, “elections matter” or “that was the people’s choice” is fundamentally irresponsible. We need to see and identify the forces of coercion for what they are. There are no good options at the moment. And those of us comfortably in western countries need to rally to the support of the beleaguered Egyptians. We may have to swallow some bitter pills in the interim, admit our errors, live with less than ideal choices, for the sake of decent Egyptians who will be ground up by the Islamist terror to come.