Last week, I was invited to Vienna to talk about the Egyptian Revolution. Although the visit was too short and very condensed I got the chance of knowing some of the Austrian people who, I dare to say, became my friends by now. And as it was my first time to be to Europe and as learning is what drives me most, I went there with my mind wide open to learn as much as I can from the experience. Before going any further, I’d like to thank all the people I met there and were a source of inspiration to me: Magda, Helmut, Martina, Klaudia, Ramin, Andre, Katrin, Reza, Sara, Nadia, Ines, Nadja, and Patrizia.
What was very inspiring for me is the fact that however different our societies are, deep down we are the same human beings; we share the same pains and fears, and same hopes and aspirations. For example, I enjoyed the quietness of the city which we lack in a crowded city like Cairo and while I was thinking that every human being would love to live in a quiet place like this my friends there was bored of this quietness and seeing it as a sign of lack of liveliness. Another astonishing example for me was that while I was discussing with some of my friends how weak the Egyptian state were to the extent that it was controlled by the interest groups, they responded that it’s the same with the Austrian state – but maybe with a nicer interface – to the extent that they told me that in Egypt it’s much better that the people started to realize and mobilize; I became more appreciative of what is happening in Egypt but I became more aware of how similar we are in our deep human nature, and I became more aware of a theoretical fact I learned before but I’ve seen it manifested before my eyes; that identities are socially constructed illusions not humanly embedded nature, and the sad fact is that they are constructed upon what differentiates us rather than what unites us, which distracts our consciousness and thus our struggles to be between peoples instead of being against the minorities who control our resources in each and every country, a distraction that benefits nobody but those minorities and false battles which have inevitable outcome of further consolidation of the authorities in the hands of those minorities.
An interesting lesson I learned also was that I became more appreciative of the genius of Karl Marx, the guy who invented the concept of Dialectical Materialism; that each and every historical epoch carries within its own contradictions which gives the people the opportunity to push for a higher degree of emancipation. I’ve seen it in the revolution of the means of the communication which in one hand allowed the authorities to extend their hegemony over us, and on the other hand made it easier for us to get together, understand each other and unite against the authorities. Another example of the Dialectical Materialism was extremely manifested in the English language which is from one hand considered as a sign of the United States hegemony and on the other hand made it easier for us to damn this hegemony in the same language and think how we can encounter it.
In one final word, they are not “they” .. they are just another group of “we”; the big human family.
Bassem Zakaria Al-Samragy
P.S.: don't count that much on Austrian friends to show you around the place .. they are just as tourist as you are :P