Frequent cabinet reshuffles have aimed at prompting Egyptians to hope that the newly appointed cabinet members will prove to be better qualified than their predecessors were. In fact, the cabinet has been playing only a minor role in driving our country’s progress, which is determined by the overall mindset of the ruling regime.
Egypt’s chronic challenges have emerged and, given the narrow mindset with which the state is tackling them, they are very likely to remain unresolved. Cabinet executives and their respective policies are a byproduct of the state—which is more concerned with controlling Egyptians than it is with promoting the country’s progress.
Egypt is a nation founded on the philosophy of grasping and releasing knowledge. Knowledge is acquired to be eventually released in exams, for the sake of obtaining an academic degree. The vast majority of Egyptians aren’t really concerned with the type of knowledge that they are gaining, the reason for studying, or when and how the acquired knowledge may be applied. Earning a degree is the objective of many Egyptians; it gives them access to socially recognised titles, distinguishes them from their peers and opens possibilities for advancing their careers. Nevertheless, academic degrees per se don’t proffer overall life progression, increased intelligence, success, or wisdom.
By leading them to believe that they know more than their peers do, knowledge sometimes works to block people’s minds. Besides, knowing more doesn’t mean being right! A substantially knowledgeable, but narrow-minded, person will often reject “potentially successful ideas” that may be proposed by people who are considered less knowledgeable. Thus, people who are known to be broad-minded tend to be more valuable to their organisations and more sensible in their decision-making than those who have simply soaked up knowledge like sponges. While narrow-minded people lean to abide with their tight perspective, not willing to challenge themselves further.
Culturally, Egyptian society is a controlling society. Being permanently in control often comes at the expense of progress. Accommodating the desire to know everything that takes place in each entity requires tightening control over people to enable the regulator to better monitor entities and make decisions accordingly. As a result, many potentially useful ideas have been abandoned, unwisely wasted in the prevalent unhealthy, manipulative environment that has, over time, deliberately weakened the thinking processes of the entire society.
Being at the head of any given organisation, working for long hours and enjoying a degree of international exposure doesn’t translate into being a broadminded person. The current structure and environment in Egypt have privileged people who know how to regulate society—and who therefore tend to head most of the state’s entities—at the expense of people who know how to make the country progress. This state of affairs has led these regulators to act on their intuition rather than on the basis of any scientific rationale and, eventually, to rationalise their recurrent mistakes. Even when they heed new ideas, their intention is to acknowledge inferior alternatives that endorse their original schemes.
The failure of the government’s projects to catch the interest of investors should have hinted at their infeasibility. Furthermore, insisting on keeping in place the same executives who were the principal cause behind Egypt’s chronic problems, or replacing them with other executives who come from the same school of thought and whose mindset is seconded by the state’s narrow outlook is evidence of the restricted course of action that the state insists upon following. Government executives, unfortunately, tend to propose ideas or devise policies that reflect their mental capacities – which have proven to be dormant.
Personality drives knowledge. Executives who tend to make decisions hastily, who don’t have the capacity to listen to others with open minds and who are not willing to be engaged in any sort of critical thinking process can be easily described as narrow-minded personalities, unfit for executive positions! Egypt’s dilemma isn’t about changing executives or acquiring more knowledge (information can be Googled easily). Our challenge lies in our capacity to digest and implement new ideas that can better serve our country in this continuously evolving world.
Mohammed Nosseir is an Egyptian Liberal Politician working on reforming Egypt on true liberal values, proper application of democracy and free market economy. Mohammed was member of the Higher Committee, and headed the International Relations of the Democratic Front Party from 2008 to 2012.