The foundations of human renaissance in the Arab world

Nader Fergani , Thursday 4 Aug 2011

Individual freedom is supported by, and perhaps only possible within, a context of national sovereignty and independence, particularly from foreign interference and occupation

The Arab world is at a decisive stage of its history, one which could, for the first time in seven long centuries of despair and submissiveness, present a unique opportunity for a human renaissance that would propel the region to the forefront once again among world blocs if this opportunity is invested well.

One of the best ways to capitalise on this opportunity is through rational thinking about the requirements of achieving this aspiration, and ways of clearing the path for human revival in the Arab world. Also, caution from going off track and its repercussions, as intellectual ammunition for the active forces of renaissance in Arab societies.

As ruling regimes fall in other Arab states they will pave the way for this historic evolution in the Arab world based on a foundation that extends from the ocean in the West to the Gulf in the East and Red Sea in the South. This will occur through synthesis on the open stage of the march of “human prosperity”, according to the third Arab Human Development Report, which would result in establishing the legal and institutional foundation necessary to launch prudent democratic rule as a means for human development.

It is necessary to ensure that revolts against authoritarian regimes spread to all corners of the Arab world. Popular protests in any country are inspired and morally supported by the spread of the liberation tide across the region, and gains momentum through the victory of liberation forces in some parts.

The forms of victory over authoritarian rule will differ from one Arab country to another depending on local factors; in some it will result in a parliamentary republic, while others will end up with a constitutional monarchy. Meanwhile, we see some authoritarian regimes racing to propose reforms to various degrees as popular protests expand, or to pre-empt escalation, such as in Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Bahrain. But in all these cases, the decision lies with the people who revolted and rebelled against submission.

Reaching liberation maturity in the aspired “cradle region” which is geographically connected and extends from East to West beyond geographic connectivity, still faces critical dangers, especially in Libya where foreign interference has further complicated the situation. This is also the case in Yemen, located at the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, where tribal loyalties and the ties of Saleh’s regime to the “anti-terrorism” camp make matters fraught. These threats could steer the path far away from the road to renaissance, if only for a while, or elevate its cost.

What is needed first is continuous revolutionary vigilance in Arab states that have toppled tyrants but have not yet overthrown their institutions and replaced them with worthy alternatives that champion freedom, justice and human dignity for all.

Second, to guarantee a comprehensive look at alternatives for the future of the Arab world, one must look at alternative tracks other than the shortest and easiest path to launch a human renaissance across the Arab region and crown the ongoing popular uprising and what might follow. A better provision to promote revival in the Arab world is to focus on outlining the most efficient path to human renaissance.

The path to formulating a human renaissance in the Arab world —which I suggest should be the main strategy for the future, and a reference for “research” —may be sought through the following:

1. Guaranteeing freedom, virtuous democratic rule and national liberation: safeguarding freedom in its comprehensive sense. Starting with protecting individual freedoms and extending to the freedom of the homeland; also establishing proper democratic rule that guarantees freedom and its exercise across the Arab world. This is the primary necessity to creating a human renaissance in the region. Freedom, especially, on the individual level, guarantees meeting the people’s needs graciously while safeguarding justice and human dignity at the same time. But the freedom of the individual is not complete without complete liberation of the homeland.

2. Liberation of the land and self-determination are especially important in the Arab world as Palestine endures under an occupation that is racist and barbaric and has been for more than six decades. Many Arab states sport a vast foreign military presence, while foreign influence is gaining ground in one form or another in other Arab states. Accordingly, individual freedoms, and national sovereignty itself, are incomplete as long as foreign influence remains extensive, let alone in the presence of foreign military bases and flagrant occupation.

3. As well as guaranteeing comprehensive freedoms, correct democratic rule also safeguards the complete rights of citizenship for everyone and respects everyone’s human rights without discrimination based on gender, creed, belief or social status. It would especially guarantee the right to question the ruler and the peaceful rotation of power.

The smooth combination of these three components will help forge the path to human renaissance in the Arab world, and if all three are achieved the road will be wide open for human revival.

If this is not possible, then achieving one component could be conducive to reaching the next, but the complete absence of any one would prevent the establishment of the other two.

This means that national liberation and self-determination as an expression of independent national will is a fundamental requirement for exercising freedom and prudent democratic rule, as well as the other elements of the human renaissance project. It is impossible to exercise freedom and judicious democratic rule across the Arab world, or achieve comprehensive Arab revival in the shadow of a racist entity that has usurped Palestine, that exists as a thorn in the heart of the Arab nation and an obstacle for all reform efforts in the region.

In scientific and rational terms, guaranteeing freedom and democratic rule is a fundamental provision, but is not enough to achieve human renaissance, since other factors are also requisites for creating the necessary conditions for human renaissance.

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