Do we believe change is possible?

This is one of those moments when I question my own beliefs and try to understand not only what is behind them but also their consequences. I usually do this alone but I thought I’d share it here this time. Do not expect much though; I am not a big fan of answering consecutive questions on the same topic so, very often, I get bored very quickly and think of something else.

In 1984, George Orwell wrote: “There is no way in which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the starting point of your thoughts”. And I thought do I (but I’ll use “we” from now on) believe change is possible in Algeria? I mean do we really believe it? I readily answered YES WE CAN!… I mean yes of course we do!
I’ll elaborate in a moment.

Orwell (yes again) wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past“. So as often on this blog, a little tour in the past won’t hurt.

France has occupied Algeria during 132 years, and during a big part of this period many Algerians believed the colonial power was invulnerable. And with this belief carved in their minds and hearts, it was simply impossible for subversive ideas such as resisting or waging a war to occur to them.
Every time the colonial army attempted to conquer an Algerian region it always faced courageous and ferocious resistance movements, and the armed resistance “stopped” only after the Algerian Sahara was completely conquered around the second decade of the 20th century. But then France displayed its might and power, its science and technology, its art and literature… It was one of the world’s biggest empires after all. On the other hand, the Algerian people were poor, they were hungry, they were unemployed, they were illiterate, they depended in everything on the French. They couldn’t but believe in their enemy’s invulnerability and in their helplessness. Just like Orwell said, they had the idea that France couldn’t be defeated as a starting point of any of their thoughts. With this hypothesis, it is normal that they hadn’t attempted anything. I remember in many Algerian historical movies, you would see the Harki trying to convince his village to surrender, explaining that resisting was not worth it, because it had no chance to succeed, because they were too weak and France too strong…

Then things changed. France lost its own independence during WWII and needed the West’s and its colonies’ help to recover it. France lost in Dien Bien Phu. Some colonies of other super powers recovered their independence. Some Algerians got to school and questioned the French invulnerability dogma. They set their minds free and lost their colonisability complex. It was a long process where doubts, hesitations, courage and fear were mixed; wonderfully depicted by Mohamed Dib in his famous trilogy. But at the end they believed in change, that it was possible, that they could bring it, that they must bring it. So they moved from awareness to action and they spoke and fought. My aunt  used to say: “Silence is not good. Had we kept silent France would be still in Algeria. So we spoke out, we killed and we got killed, but we succeeded“. This is what these brave men and women thought so they launched the war and eventually won it.

Back to the present. I think everyone agrees that most Algerians want a change, but do they believe it is possible?

We have plenty of reasons to think change is impossible. The Algerian people’s voice has been silenced for 49 years now and things are getting worse. The pouvoir won’t spare any means to stay in power. The few occurrences when the population has moved to make a change were failures and some of them brought, directly or indirectly, more issues and bloodshed. The education system is brought down every year a little further or deeper. Benbouzid declared yesterday that the great BAC’s results were not fortuitous but the result of the great ministry’s reforms during the past 10 years corresponding to Bouteflika’s reign. He was right on one thing, they’re no miracle but they are not great nor are they the result of just 10 years but many more. So the list is long and anyone who believes change is impossible can justify it easily.

On the other hand, and as I showed it above, we have in our history a wonderful example of the possibility of change even when nothing can reasonably make you think so. And this is why I had answered without the slightest hesitation yes and I guess many Algerians share my opinion.

But here comes the real question. What does it mean to believe change is possible? Imam Shafi3i says in a beautiful poem:

تعصي الإله و أنت تظهر حبه ….. هذا محال في القياس بديع
لو كان حبك صادقـاً لأطعتـه ….. إن المحب لمن يحب مطيـع

The same thing goes for belief. If one wants something and believes it is possible then he or she should do something to get it, or am I wrong? What are we doing today to bring change intro reality? Let me be positive here and say that probably many (“many” is because I am trying to be positive) men and women are working on it in their families, at work or with their children. Some even do it at a little larger scale. But what are we doing at the country’s scale? I am talking of something really effective. I am afraid that, even if I am very positive, my answer will be nothing. The only thing we’re doing well at the country’s scale is showing our unhappiness and criticizing our situation, our rulers and our people; which is a typical reaction of the helpless and the weak, of those who think change is not possible, unless a miracle happens that is.

So I ask my question again: Do we believe change is possible? Can we prove it?


24 thoughts on “Do we believe change is possible?

  1. Corruption is an opportunistic crime( gang up on anyone who is jumping the line and who wants a kick back)
    read the jungle by Sinclair it will broaden your horizons(america was really more corrupt before)
    I think it is a world spring instead of just an arab spring there is corruption everywhere in every country
    to me the economy is bad because people are having too much children(and their not looking after them tarbeia al shara3)
    I think algeria should stop subsidizing bread(which is unhealthy and fatty and is hurting the economy because we cannot make enough of it)
    no free housing(cheap housing(with a token price) maybe, no one is appreciating their house by maintaining it)
    no “free” higher education because people are not working hard for their diplomas and when they get them they do not come back and help the schools and mujtamaa service learning after you get your diploma (encourage allumni to give back to the University)
    I propose If you fail any class you pay for it (no 10 year diploma) and that the food services are not paid directly to the contractor unless he serves good food

    and last thing we should count our blessings we willl never progress if other stronger nations manhandle us(how’s Iraq right now all those american companies profited enormously from it no one has your best interrests at heart except yourself

    corruption can be destroyed by exposes(that is how roosevelt acted and passed the pure food and drug act)

    • llfdinar I am not sure I agree with all what you said, but regardless, all what you have suggested are “reforms” to be applied by the government. And the fact is that our government is part of a pouvoir (all the ruling clique and their friends) which doesn’t want any reform that would cause the anger of the people because anger could threaten their position. Plus reforms, and I am talking of real ones and not what the government applies every now and then, are such a headache and our government doesn’t like headaches.

      • no government in general likes headaches (just as a question who in general would you like to see in charge(no generalities no anybody but them please))
        I think we all here want what it is best for our country I believe no one here is a pyromaniac (I am just trying to whisk your heads from the clouds)
        the fastest way to a “revolution/ revolt was when the government had the option to use live rounds like in tunisia.
        Now we can have a french style revolution but that will take a lot of time time we do not have (read your history books of what happened right after the french and american revolutions(took the americans at least 5 years to return to a normacy read about the whiskey used as currency)

        what we need is stability
        too many investors are scared of algeria and we need those investments because this juncture is a critical junction (Wifi investments, GPS, credit cards smart phones)
        did you guys see the non reforms of the moroccan king

        every country has a pouvoir of sorts in america a part of them are called the military industrial complex

  2. Well MnarviDz, anything, absolutely anything at all is ‘possible’ I guess and history shows it to be so. But the question is more one of timing, I believe that it is highly improbable that change will come from inside in the next decade at least. Your example shows that in current conditions, a change from the outside is needed to make people become conscious of the possibility of change. Has that outside change occurred? Not yet, but it might with this latest financial melt-down.

    Right now, I think Algerians are all Harkis in the sense very very few believe change is possible, many do not want change because a lot of Algerians are benefitting from the current situation (too many).

    I am afraid there is nothing to prove, as we have managed to prove that we’re even worse (to ourselevs and each other) than our much dreaded former colonizers. This is a huge psychological blow that is even greater than the one you mention in your example. Now the enemy is within – it is a terrible situation to be in. In fact, having thought about it a bit more, I think your example even though it is well intentioned, the analogy within does not work here.

    • algerianna the example I gave was not there for the sake of analogy but rather to show that people act when they truly believe a change is possible. And you kinda confirmed it in your comment since you say it is highly improbable which explains perhaps why nobody’s acting. This is added to the fact you also stated that too many Algerians are benefiting from the current situation.

      I don’t know which outside change would make us move as a people. A collapse of the US and the West so we wouldn’t find customers for our $106/barrel worth oil, or an agricultural collapse of France so we wouldn’t find a supplier for wheat. But I don’t think such an outside change would lead to an “intelligent” inside side. The people would revolt, make a change and that would be it. Without having prepared the change internally, I can bet 100% chances of getting a result worse than the starting point.

  3. the algerian system is clearly exhausted and no longer working, the economy is suffering , the unemployment rates is at its pic , some structural changes are needed to address the causes of crisis , and we can not progress unless we challenges this horrible dying system, yes we can and the primary objective is to develop an economic system which suit the algerian society at the whole nine yards , timing is now or never due to the readiness of masses in algeria , enough is enough , and changes should come from within , it starts with an idea and turn to an act , let’s work something together instead of imposing some made somewhere by some irresponsible outsiders and that’s the problem in algeria , before borrowing any kind of plan you have to look in your stock and then decide , don’t have it, borrow it , after all the fixes they attempted the system has to die and the nation has to live , if it was up to me i start to dismantle the FLN and make of it a work of art and display it at the museum of ( Les beaux arts ) then create a triangle parties , not a party in every corner and two – term presidency , and then you take control , you control your present , you control your future , the past you have to learn from it , so you don’t endlessly repeating it, yes we can , just believe in yourself , it’s a matter of faith , salaam and thanks for wondering.

    • You’re welcome Dahmane. I love wondering 🙂

      Do you really think the masses are ready? I don’t think so. All we’re seeing right now are successive strikes from every professional category (the medical interns and air algerie just suspended theirs and the veterinarians are going to start, promising to make Ramadhan a month without meat) in order to get more money (without providing more or better work) and the government is accepting everything. The unemployed with university degrees are given les emplois-jeunes so they are happily silenced, and the rest are rioting and they face the police which gives them a good triha. So I fail to see this readiness.

      • that is the problem
        if they worked hard and kept their nose clean and did the right thing then I would not mind an increase in pay
        pay raises are only going to increase inflation and will not help anybody

        Everybody is lousy at their jobs and they think their brilliant

  4. akhi, Mnarvidz , what the GOV is doing now is quick fix , and like you mentioned the many strikes we’ve seen here and there is nothing but a starter of a very huge fire where the gov has nothing to put it out and the only way out is let their house burn to the ground and leave , the people are fed up with them and they are a time bomb waiting to explode , I hope you get my is very interesting , I love to see changes peacefully without bloodshed , we’ve paid dearly before and let’s make this one like a surgical procedures since we knew where the dormant disease is , sallam and shukran.

    • Dahmane, I believe it is giving them too much credit when you say they’re doing a quick fix. They are doing nothing at best and destroying things even more at worst.

      I said it in my previous post, the pouvoir would have been well advised to take the whole thing as a warning and react. But instead, Bouteflika appointed Bensalah and el mokh for the political aspect, and withdrew money from the bank for all the other aspects in order to buy time. This won’t take us anywhere good.

  5. Le changement est possible parce qu’il est inévitable. Il devra y avoir changement un jour ou l’autre, que nous le voulions ou non, que nous le programmions ou non. Mais dans ce cas, ce sera plutôt un bouleversement.
    Mais la question que tu poses toi concerne elle le changement que l’on devrait nous-mêmes programmer, n’est-ce pas? Ce changement-là n’est possible que si nous acceptons de TOUT changer. Le changement n’est pas le changement d’hommes ou de tetes, mais le changement d’esprit, de systeme… Et se préparer à passer de durs moments, parce que le changement s’il devait s’opérer serait une RUPTURE, avec tout ce qui est actuellement en cours. Il n’y à qu’à voir ce qui risque de se produire comme catastrophe mondiale à cause d’un système bancaire mondial usurier… crois-tu qu’un changement est possible en suivant cette même politique économique? Impossible!
    Le même système politique? ONU, pressions extérieures, etc… Impossible!
    Le changement viendra lorsque la rupture s’opérera. Cette rupture aura de dures conséquences, surtout économiques et donc forcément sociales aussi. Il faudra s’y préparer, et avoir de fins stratèges pour diriger et pouvoir réussir le changement. Comme Sayidna Youssef (3alayahi assalam) qui a su gérer une crise à force de conviction et d’intégrité.

    • Je parlais bien entendu de ce changement qu’on programmerait, qu’on provoquerait. Mais que ce soit l’un ou l’autre, sommes-nous entrain de nous y preparer ou allons-nous juste le subir comme nous subissons l’etat actuel des choses? Vois-tu chez-nous des strateges ou des strategies? Quant a la conviction et l’integrite je crois que je vais m’abstenir de commenter.

  6. C’est pour cette raison que j’ai dit : “ce changement-là n’est possible que SI”. Il y a des conditions à remplir sinon il n’y aura pas le changement espéré. A ta question posée : “croyons-nous qu’un changement est possible?” Sans la rupture totale dont j’ai parlé dans mon précédent commentaire, non, je ne crois pas… qui pourra opérer la rupture?

  7. @ ilfdinar,
    Do you not think you’re pushing it a little when you compare the Algerian pouvoir to its American counterpart? The latter is certainly not a model but my friend the Algerian pouvoir is not only mediocre but it also doesn’t give a monkey on Algeria and its people.

    Oh and you seem to think investments will solve everything in Algeria. And let’s say you are right. Sure stability is needed, but it is definitely not enough for the investors to come. We already buy food, wifi, gps, smart phones, big cars, small cars. What do you want them to invest for? I only wish we could buy our rulers (outsourcing the government)…

  8. google skyscrapper city algeria
    could you please look at this site it has information on a lot of developments and projects in algeria(so the government is not totaly useless it is just goth 🙂 (they just don’t care)
    My comparison was not intended to be valid but it was supposed to show how every country has its own problems(the us may forclose because it cannot let go of its military(a lot of military companies benifited from Iraq) you can narrow or widen the definition of what is happening right now
    I like to believe that what is happening right now is the World spring a time to reflect after the global economic crises and what we are and where are we going
    you don’t get it bhuying has nothing to do with it we already have money from oil
    instead we should focus on building stuff and creating factories(which right now algeria is opening up its business enviroment

    P.S who do you think can lead algeria what other political figures do you have in mind

    • Quand j’étais petite, je pensais que mon père pouvait être président. Qu’on lui avait proposé mais qu’il n’avait pas voulu. Je croyais sincèrement qu’il pouvait l’être parce que mon père était le plus intelligent, le plus fort, le plus loyal, le plus intègre, etc…
      Mon père est mort, Allah yer’hamou, je ne vois pas personnellement, qui pourrait diriger le pays à part lui, mais je suis sure que chacun pense en ce moment à son père, n’est-ce pas? 🙂

      • google skyscrapper city algeria

        Thanks I know the site.

        My comparison was not intended to be valid but it was supposed to show how every country has its own problems

        No doubt about that. But talking of the US government’s imperfections when we talk of the uselessness of our rulers was a little too much and that’s just what I wanted to point out.

        you don’t get it bhuying has nothing to do with it we already have money from oil instead we should focus on building stuff and creating factories(which right now algeria is opening up its business enviroment

        No, I got it quite well. What I was trying to say is that the investments issues in DZ are not related to stability as much as they are to the society’s mindset developed in the past decade. The Algerian economic model, if there is one, is 100% based on consumption and the import/import business. So you can have the biggest stability in the world, investments’ level won’t differ much unless you change the real structural issues blocking them.

        P.S who do you think can lead algeria what other political figures do you have in mind

        Unlike Oumelkheir, I didn’t think of this topic when I was a child. But this question crossed my mind during my late teenage years, and a few years later, I happened to know some brilliant Algerian minds. So I thought I (I can hear some of you saying ya latif!) or one of those friends could be the president. I could even tell who my ministers would be. I knew I could rely on their competence and integrity.
        But then I met some Algerian politicians and I discovered their world. I decided it wasn’t for me (here you’re saying thanks God), and I wouldn’t sacrifice my akhira for it 🙂 But I can think of a few names who, I am convinced, would do wonderfully well.

        But back to reality. Regardless of the leader’s quality, a good president is somebody the people have elected. Of course we need a good leader but we need this leader to get the people to work with him. And this won’t happen so long as this leader is never elected by these people. Plus, how would you want this leader to face his enemies in the system, because they will always exist, if he’s not backed by the people? So it is more complex than just finding the right leader…

  9. MnarviDZ, I’m not giving them no credit , that’s what they’re doing a quick fix which makes you think they’re doing some , we do not need a face lift , we need a change , a sweep clean house just like I said dismantle the FLN and put it to rest , and draw the do not cross line for the military institution , we need new and young blood who revive this ummah and give the people back what it’s been taken from them , which is the pride of algerianism, the truth in the authority and the love of one an other . what I meant by quick fix is when you patching things for a time being and not doing it to last , so no credit has been given to them and I hope we are on the same page now , the only way I want the change to take place is the Gandy’s Way , we have no more appetite for bloodshed , not even one algerian life to spare . be informed , be aware and one drop at a time and this is the effectiveness of the ( fikra) unless you’re rushing to get there very fast in this case you’re on your own otherwise you are hereby charged to keep the fire lit so wanderers find their ways to shores salam alaikum and take care.

    • Of course nobody wants violence. It’s a miracle that our society and country is still alive after the 90s decade, even though we can see the dramatic changes these bloody years have caused. But this doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, because the new generation hasn’t really felt the 90s and is less patient than we are, so violence could erupt again… Change will come at some point, the method depends on our rotten system. They should yefahmou rwahhoum and ysamhouna instead of thinking the people are morons…

  10. Oum El Kheir,, they call it intuition or insight , we call it fitra , you were thinking at a very young age that in order to be a president you have to embody the wholeness of integrity , honesty and consistency in actions and that’s what your father Allah yerhamu was , he refuse to be a president in your mind because he knew it would have been a burden to a body of a strong men, now look around you and you’ll see that to be a president you have to be the jerkiest ever no integrity , no morality, Allah yerham your father , my father , every father in this world. ans sallam .

  11. “So I thought I (I can hear some of you saying ya latif!) or one of those friends could be the president. I could even tell who my ministers would be. I knew I could rely on their competence and integrity.
    But then I met some Algerian politicians and I discovered their world. I decided it wasn’t for me (here you’re saying thanks God), and I wouldn’t sacrifice my akhira for it :)”

    Au contraire, je crois bien que tu pourrais être (ou l’un de tes amis) l’homme de la situation, parce que justement : “الولاية لا تعطى لمن يطلبها”.
    Elle n’est accordée qu’à celui qui est conscient de son risque, comme le Prophète (salla Allahou 3alayhi wa sallam) a dit : “إنها أمانة ، وإنها يوم القيامة خزي وندامة إلا من أخذها بحقها وأدى الذي عليه فيها”

    “Plus, how would you want this leader to face his enemies in the system, because they will always exist, if he’s not backed by the people? So it is more complex than just finding the right leader…”

    En effet, il, faut aussi trouver le “bon peuple”. Et cette idée m’a remémorée quelque chose que j’avais entendu au sujet de Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, qui, (radiya Allahou 3anh) a fait face à une grande sédition en son temps.
    قال عبيدة السلماني لعلي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه: يا أمير المؤمنين ما بال أبي بكر وعمر انطاع الناس لهما، والدنيا عليهما أضيق من شبر فاتسعت عليهما ووليت أنت وعثمان الخلافة ولم ينطاعوا لكما، وقد اتسعت فصارت عليكما أضيق من شبر؟ فقال: لأن رعية أبي بكر وعمر كانوا مثلي ومثل عثمان، ورعيتي أنا اليوم مثلك وشبهك.

    • J’avais beaucoup aime l’histoire de Ali quand je l’avais lue pour la premiere fois. Ali raa ne pouvait etre plus clair!

      Et petite histoire pour une autre, j’aime egalement ce petit passage soufi.
      “Un homme se leva et demanda permission d’appeler les fidèles à la prière. Permission lui fût donnée:
      – Vous pouvez les appeler, tant que vous les appelez à Dieu et non à vous-même.
      – Mais comment saurais-je la différence?
      – Si ça vous dérange que quelqu’un d’autre les appelle à Dieu, c’est que vous les appelez à vous-même.”

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