So back to Facebook. So other than “moderate” and “apathetic” the most common viewpoint put down is “liberal.”
In fact, many nidoers opt for “very liberal”, just to make the point that much clearer. So apparently nido is a liberal, sometimes very liberal. As usual, let us take a closer look at this, since things aren’t always what they seem.
How did this liberalism come along? Did he learn it at school? Did he adopt it in his eight and a half years in the U.S. trying to finish his undergraduate degree? Did he sit around reading J. S. Mill, Isaiah Berlin or Rawls? Maybe it’s from watching all those liberal hollywood movies and shows? Maybe he inherited it from his parents? Did he sit at home one day and deduce that he is one? Maybe from Facebook itself? No matter. It is not our concern here how he became a liberal. We are more interested in what this liberalism means.
Now what is usually meant by liberal? Obviously there are as many definitions as there are nidoers, and I’m not going to sit around here now defining stuff. I’ll pick, however, two features that are usually attached with liberalism. One is that a liberal believes that people can do whatever they want, as long as what they do does not cause direct harm to others. In more pedantic terms, each person has the liberty to do as he pleases as long as he does not infringe on the rights of others. Be and let be. You want to walk around in a bikini. Fine. It doesn’t hurt anyone directly (unless you want to argue in a convuluted way that it hurts the morality of society, but that doesn’t count for a liberal). It doesn’t violate anyone’s rights. Wear a wzar. Go naked. Go nuts. I’m a liberal and it doesn’t bother me. Actually, it might bother me, but I’m a liberal, and a liberal knows enough to let people do what they want.
This is usually associated with being “socially” liberal. People can say whatever they want, they can sleep with who(what)ever they want, they can do whatever they want. Just don’t violate my rights. More substantially, it would mean defending and advocating for the rights of those marginalized or oppressed in society. Expat labourers, minorities, women etc. They should at least have the same rights as others in society.
Then we have the “economic” or “welfare” side associated with liberalism. Liberal here means being pro the free market, private property, free competition, etc. This is not all however. There is another side. Let’s call it side B. Liberalism nowadays has come to stand for being pro the government having an active role in the welfare of people in society. The government should actively fund the “basics” or the most important things. They should spend on education, on health, on housing, and should try to have some sort of help for the poor. It isn’t enough to let people just do whatever the hell they want economically. You need to help those that are worse off. It isn’t fair that the rich get the best education, the best health system, the best roads. How are the poor going to get anywhere (and how is it fair to compare them to the rich) if they never have an education, a health system, decent places to live in? Aren’t these their basic rights? Wouldn’t it be a violation of their rights (and thus be very illiberal) if they couldn’t even have these basic things?
Of course this doesn’t mean that everything should be equalized, or that the state should subsidize caviar and champagne for the poor. Like what was mentioned previously, free market and competition is at the core of liberalism. All it means is that the state has a duty to provide its citizens with the basics for a decent life.
Now it is obvious that nido is not a liberal in the “B part” of the economic sense. Nido has no interest whatsoever in funding the poor. As argued before (so I won’t repeat the arguments here), nido sees the poor as lazy, uneducated, dumb individuals who breed like rats and deserve all the misery they are in. They don’t deserve to be funded. And who exactly is going to fund them? That would mean taxes, and nido, being the richest in society, obviously has nothing but to lose with taxes. Thank god the country here has oil, or else nido would be asked to fund this stuff. Imagine the gall! Nido having to give up some of his hard earned income to fund these poor fellas! If you want to see nido get really excited about something, mention something like this to him: “How about we tax anyone with income above 1500 dinars at, lets, say, 20% (pretty low by world standards)?” I recommend that you duck, because you are in serious danger of being punched or spat at by nido.
Alright, so nido is not liberal in the egalitarian economic sense (what we called the B side). How about the A side, that of free competition and private property? Surely nido is liberal in this sense. After all, nido loves the idea of private property. He owns a considerable chunk of the island. Surely nido is for liberalism in this sense? Nido owns most of the companies in Bahrain, so surely he loves everything that capitalism has to offer?
Again, things aren’t always what they seem. The fact that nido owns most of the companies shows how much nido likes to pick and choose what he likes in liberalism. For nido, or more precisely nido’s family, has a monopoly over pretty much anything worthwhile in Bahrain. Car dealerships, equipments, sale of alcohol, land, you name it. Nido’s fortune has been built on the ability to monopolize certain parts of the market and exploit it to the maximum. This has nothing to do with free competition. In fact it is the complete opposite! Just watch how nido and his family fight tooth and nail to keep and mantain the monopolies (or as they are more fondly called, “dealerships”) that rake in so much money for him. Once again, if you want to give nido a heart attack just casually mention that monopolies are to be abolished in bahrain and see his reaction. The threat anti-monopolistic legal action in Bahrain and of others from Bahrain being on the same footing as him entails a serious loss of money. Even more seriously, imagine what would happen if the Bahraini market is opened up to more serious hamours from the Gulf. Can you imagine nido competing with the Al Rajihis, F6aims, and Habtours in Bahrain? Nido would suddenly be a small Hamour!
Alright, so nido, shall we say, is “eclectic” (more accurately read as hypocritical) in choosing his liberal values in the economic sense. How about in the social sphere mentioned above? The ” people have a right to do what they want as long as it does not directly harm others?” Surely there is no argument here. Nido is a liberal. He has no problem with people drinking, sleeping with whoever they want, wearing whatever they want etc?
Again, superficially this is true. Let us also give nido credit in some of the issues dealing with minorities and the marginalized in society. For example, nido is much better than some of the other forces in society (e.g. some Islamists) when dealing with women’s rights. After all, many a nidoers are female (in fact roughly half). So it is settled then. Nido is at least liberal in the social sense.
But what about other questions that “socially liberal” entails being committed to? Let us take the issue of the exploitation of expat labour and their rights in Bahrain. Here it is very hard to argue that nido is liberal. In fact nido is the antithesis of liberal. He or daddy owns companies that employ thousands of expat workers that work in appaling conditions and for awful pay. They work more than 70 hours a week, live five or more in a room, toil away in the middle of the sun under awful conditions, and in the end they are lucky if they receive 80 BD as a wage. In fact, nido here is more like a feudal lord than a liberal. Bahrainis working for nido, although better off than their expat counterparts, also suffer. Because nido is used to cheap foreign labour breaking their backs working for him for minimal pay he expects Bahrainis in one way or another to compete with them. Or else why would he ever employ a Bahrain except because the government is perstering him with “Bahranization” quotas? Thus, nido grudgingly pays the Bahrainis more but not by much.
And you expect nido to be a defender of these expats rights? Can you imagine nido actively advocating for their rights? Of course not. He is the one that benefits the most from the conditions they are in. Can you imagine nido actively encouraging the idea of labour unions to help these workers? How about regulations that guarantee these workers a minimally decent working conditions, living environment, etc? Fat chance. He’ll give you something along the excuse, ” They should be grateful. They are much better off than in their home country.” Your generosity is marvellous, nido.
It is apparent that nido’s social liberalism is of the superficial kind. It is of the kind of “I have every right to wear my bikini, to drink, to sleep with who I want, to watch and dance to Nancy Ajram.” More seriously than that, it is a selective, contradictory liberalism. Nido chooses what he likes in liberalism and discards the rest. Instead of liberalism standing for “the right for everyone to do what they like as long as it does not directly hurt others”, it stands for “the right for nido to do whatever he likes even if it hurts others, and the right for the rest to do what they like as long as it does not hurt nido,” even if nido in the process is hurting others. He is for private property because it protects his land and businesses. He is for capitalism because it gives him the money that sponsors his lifestyle. He is for the right to do what you want when it allows him to copulate, drink, and go clubbing with other nidoers. He is against rights for expat workers becaues it could seriously harm him. Similarly, the idea of discarding monopolies does not appeal to him because daddy’s company stands to lose from this. This is “nido liberalilsm” for you.
This contradictory, selective nature of nido liberalism makes much more sense when we realize the underlying theme behind it: selfishness. Nido is a liberal as long as this liberalism benefits him, and he discards what other traits in liberalism he does not like. It is self-centered. It is all about me and what is to nido’s benefits.
Let us take one final example, one where you find many a nidoers nowadays ranting about: democracy (which is obviously a core element of most definitions of liberalism). You hear many a nidoers paying homage and glorifying democracy, and talking about how “backwards” our region is because of a lack of democracy. Lo and behold, however, you find many a nidoers actually glad that democracy doesn’t exist in Bahrain. “Those Islamists. Those shias, those muslim brotherhoods (notice, as mentioned before, it could be anything, Nasserists, socialists, whatever poses a danger to nido). Thank god they don’t have more say in the country. We’d be screwed! This country does not deserve democracy.” It is a democracy of flagrant self-interest. If the country was populated with nice “nido liberals” that do nido’s bidding, then all hail democracy. If it is anything else, even if the majority of the country wants it, then no thank you.
Indeed, the only time nido deviates from his self-interest to do something that benefits groups other than him is when he comes under serious social pressure and risks losing even more by not giving in to some of these demands. Thus, let them have their fake democracy if this will quiet social unrest and stave off more serious revolts. Let them have their watered down unions in government companies if that will deflect them from proper restructuring. Even here, whatever social reform nido gives into is because he thinks it is in his own benefit, since it will stave off further opposition and losses of interest.
Even more blatant, a nidoer would often use the term “liberal” in order to score brownie points and court the other “liberals” in the west. After, all, “liberalism” as a commodity sells pretty well nowadays in the western media and world. And if one looks superficially at nido, as mentioned before, he will appear to westerners as “liberal”. A nidoer is drinking johnny walker, wearing a low cut cleavage dress, and talking about the dangers of Islamists. Indeed, the nidoer would strike one from the west as being “quite like us.” They are like us in looks, in mentality, and even in talking about “liberalism” and “moderate”ness. Indeed if one does not dig further he would fall into the trap of thinking nido is actually liberal.
There is a running theme here. Whether nido describes himself as moderate, apathetic, or liberal. In “moderateness” we saw it means a commitment to the status quo, a commitment to keeping things as they are since they are to nido’s benefits. In liberal it means selectively choosing from “liberalism” whatever benefits nido and violating the rest. There is a common thread here: self-centered selfishness. Nido cares only about what benefits him and actively goes against everything that does not benefit him. It does not matter who gets hurt or the amount of harm created, as long as the harm does not involve nido. Even the term “liberal” and “moderate” are often cynically abused for self-interest in order to look good in the eyes of the west.
Still not convinced? Find yourself a nidoer (it might be you). Ask him what his stand is on any political issue of relevance to him. Expat workers, Islamists, sale of alcohol, the status of monopolies in Bahrain, labour unions. etc. Watch his answers. He will either be “apathetic” and won’t care, or they will be those which maximizes his self interest, regardless of others. Sure, he might give you other excuses for why he supports these issues, but the pattern of selfishness in his answers will be unmistakeable.
If we want to be honest with ourselves we should admit that this is the main trait, characteristic, or in facebook speak, “political views” of nido: nido-centered selfishness.
Nido, there is not much that is liberal about you, your johnnywalker, bikini accessories and clubbing hangouts not with-standing. There is not much here other than egoistic selfishness.