Algeria’s collective amnesia and lost dignity


Collective amnesia is a known behaviour of populations at groups, cities, countries, or even the world levels . It’s this state that helps the politicians when they promise something during an election campaign, get elected and forget about their promises (sometimes they do the opposite), then go on a campaign for a second mandate with those same promises and win.
It’s a paradoxical state because the people in the group usually show no signs of amnesia and have actually a fair memory and sometimes they can even be vindictive.

Two days ago I saw a video on YouTube which showed Ali Benhadj giving a talk inside a mosque about the Egypt/Algeria crisis , and the people around him laughing at his jokes and apparently happy to listen to him. I thought ok these people might suffer of personal amnesia, or they are among those who shared (and still share) this man’s ideals and were happy seeing the 90s’ bloodshed in Algeria. They might have had an active role in that bloodshed.
The Algerian authorities watch this guy’s movements and don’t let him make (official) preaches in mosques nor talk to the press. But he apparently gives talks in the mosque without being on the minbar. He also is usually interviewed by Algerian and foreign journalists, without being warned or punished. I say fair enough.

Then yesterday, I watched another video showing Abassi Madani talking to the Algerian youths about various topics. He obviously tries to get some benefit of the ephemeral union and patriotism of the Algerian people. He’s not supposed to have the right to make public talks but I saw no public. I read comments on forums and found this one. This guy is probably like the fans of Benhadj so again I say fair enough, .

But today, I read an article in ElKhabar where a letter sent by Benhadj to El Azhar is published. ElKhabar has always criticized this guy but they published the letter without any comment. I felt like the journalists thought: I Algerian, I have a problem with Egypt, El Azhar is Egyptian, Benhadj is Algerian, Benhadj criticises El Azhar, Benhadj is my friend.

Here I thought it is not fair any more. This is one of the collective amnesia symptoms.

I am unable today to study the causes of this collective amnesia, but want to check its effect on the population’s collective dignity.
Personal dignity still exists in Algeria, no doubt about it. But I have doubts about the collective dignity. I think the government should protect and strengthen this feeling. Instead all it did with the terrorists starting from the early 90s through “the civil concord” and arriving to “the national amnesty” just weakened this feeling. And I don’t even mention the other aspects of our daily life which cannot but bring the collective dignity down.

A friend of mine told me once that the Algerian people lost their collective dignity in the 80s when they were forced to queue for hours in order to buy bread, milk, oil or the latest Adidas Nastase. In which case there is no collective dignity left to worry about. I should be reassured.

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3 thoughts on “Algeria’s collective amnesia and lost dignity

  1. Interesting post. Me too I sometimes ask myself the same questions when am confronted with such scenes in Algerian society. I ask myself, how can we get out of this mess? I mean, if even a whole decade of bloodshed and atrocities hasn’t managed to convince people that that was not the way to go and nothing remotely similar ever will work (meaning founding politics on religion), one has to wonder what will?

    Sometimes I ask myself, are we doomed to go eternally through this process of elimination of the endless variants of how (medieval) Islam could be made to work in the context of modern politics? What would it take for us to get the message?

    It is a gloomy picture, because we completely lack the individual talent and dare I say intellect to consider this problem objectively. The fact that we hate everyone complicates matters greatly. I think we do suffer from a pathological psychological condition.

    There is no way out I fear. What Algerians need is a massive replacement by an entirely new and fresh people. It sounds awful I know, but I think it would be the fastest way. Maybe climate change would help and also the exhaustion of our hydrocarbons resources when it happens.

    I think that then, people will be reduced to absolute beasts, lots of them will probably kill each other and die. We might even go extinct. And then, there will come hope.

  2. Back in Lycee times, our Arabic teacher used to say that we Algerians have diversified looks (physical) which could be found all around the globe, and in order to save Algeria, it was mandatory for us, all of us, to leave it. Each one would go to the country which has the same physical features.

    Then Algeria would rest while some low level creatures take their time to evolve and turn into humans…

  3. Ha Ha Ha! This teacher is a legend! What a visionnary man (am sure it was a man, I can’t imagine an Algerian woman talking like this).

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