Are there any connections between two seemingly disconnected events? At the moment, the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt are filled with protestors: those for Mubarak and those against. It looks at least likely that a dictatorship will fall, and we see once again the shimmying and posturing that such people will undertake to maintain their grip on power and, by implication, wealth, position and a place in history, however blemished. There is much in what is happening now that reminds us of Saddam Hussein’s final days. Half way across the world, on our own streets, the students campaign long and hard against the proposed hikes in tuition fees for universities and colleges. Young people of goodwill are nevertheless characterised as rioters and looters, and the silly actions of the few are highlighted over against the serious point of the many. Everywhere, when the people take to the streets in numbers for a cause, and that cause is in direct opposition to the will of the ruling party, then ordinary men and women like you and me become looters and thugs to the media and the powerful.
The people of Egypt have lived under an iron grip for a generation, unable to speak freely and unable to share fully in the common wealth of the nation. A ruling elite has enforced its will be force and military might. Here, a government of millionaires (which succeeds the governments of a very short period in our nation’s history when those of limited financial means might rise to importance and influence) applies a policy which means that the poorer in our society will fight shy of a higher education, and their strength and ability will be denied to us, and their own future will be limited. In addition, those who now pay mega-bucks for their education will no doubt expect, as of right, a degree at the end of it. After all, they’ve paid for it whether they are worthy of it or not. Inexorably, the country will return to the Edwardian days when a patrician elite with wealth alone ruled our land and inhabited the positions of power, position and influence.
There’s not an obvious link between the protestors of Egypt and the students of England. Or is there?