Dreaming of the third current
Polarisation appears often to be the fate of democratic countries, to the cost of the middle ground, writes Abdel-Moneim Said
The Egyptians are divided, and in a way they have always been divided, at least since the inception of the modern state. A new crop of issues has brought these divisions into sharper focus, over the presidential elections, the parliament, the constituent assembly, and even the protests in Tahrir Square.
Sometimes one side of the argument won; sometimes it was a draw. Now this is nothing new to revolutions. There are always people who would be disaffected, those who would get tired of the constant wrangling, and those who are willing to form a third current.
Supporters of the third current feel entitled to lead, for they see themselves as safer, as closer to the middle ground. Their dreams -- which I shared for a while -- have not materialised in the past and are unlikely to materialise in the near future.
Polarisation seems to be the fate of many democratic countries, where leftists battle the rightwing, liberals lock horns with conservatives, and socialists challenge the rules of the marketplace.
Some of these divisions turn bloody at first, but with time everyone knows that they have to settle their differences through peaceful means. The polarisation is not always societal. It can be individual, in the sense that people may feel equally attracted by two opposing arguments at once.
As events proceed at a breakneck speed in this country, we have to accept the fact that we are turning into a polarised society. Great nations have gone through this before, not least America during the civil war. What started in America as a dispute over slavery morphed into arguments over private freedom, market regulations, and ethics in our times.
The same phenomenon occurred in England in the early 19th century, when workers started seeking a more equitable share of wealth, leading to the current division between Labour and Conservatives.
In France, Germany, Australia, and Israel, conservatives and liberals are still at loggerheads, and there is no third current to claim the middle ground. Or, the third current exists but is too tiny to make much difference.