Who would have thought that New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman would give a glowing endorsement of the commons? Writing about the severe political and economic gridlock plaguing Egypt, Friedman lavishes great praise on the country’s “impressive but small group of environmental activists, many of whom were also involved in the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak.”
This leads Friedman to ponder the virtues of the commons as a solution to some of Egypt’s most intractable problems. He writes:
…the truth is that any faction here – the youth, the army, the Muslim Brotherhood – that thinks it can rule Egypt alone and make the others disappear is fooling itself. (Ditto in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya.) Because Egypt is in such a deep hole, and the reforms needed so painful, they can be accomplished only if everyone shares in the responsibility and ownership of the transition through a national unity coalition. In that sense Egyptians today desperately need a ‘peace process’ – not with Israel, but with one another.
Everyone has to take responsibility for the commons, rather than just grabbing their own. That is the real cultural revolution that has to happen for Egypt to revive. And that’s where the environmentalists here have such an advantage over the politicians, because all they think about is the commons – resources that have to be shared. Egypt’s commons – its bridges, roads, parks, coral reefs – are crumbling.