The Jordanians’ Concept of State

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Sun 10 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

The moment the tribal statement warning against interfering with a certain minister circulated the internet, debate over the concept and functionality of tribalism exploded.

Even though the tribe announced they had nothing to do with the statement, Jordanians took to argue anyway, between advocates of tribalism and others opposing.

Soon enough, the debate spread like wildfire.

As usual, the debate online was sunk in notions we should have long overcome, decades ago, relating to the concept of the state itself.

Is it a civil, constitutional state of law? Does the state derive its legitimacy from the political process itself? Or are we going backwards instead, from instilling and reinforcing the values of state, citizenship, and the rule of law, to empowering more primitive associations and affiliations at the expense of the lawfulness?!

The public debate stands at a stalemate; an impasse.

One could easily see that society is in a state of deterioration, just by keeping an eye out for the public’s expressed attitudes and thoughts via social media.

Theoretically speaking, Jordan’s phenomenal political stability, despite the regional turmoil, should have significantly reflected on the predominant political culture; with progression.

More so since we’ve come safely across numerous existentially decisive phases through the decades, by virtue of the state and its political leadership.

In theory too, these achievements should’ve also reflected positively on the nature of the relationship governing the political components of the Jordanian society and its values. This includes the state-citizen dynamic.

Obviously though, this is not the case.

It is evident that the Jordanians’ concept of the state is as myopic as it is misguided and deformed.

Naturally, some would claim that we’re jumping to conclusions based on a single, supposedly isolated event, i.e. the tribal statement and the debate surrounding it.

Are there other indices to confirm this conclusion?

Unfortunately, yes; there is an abundance of proof, in all aspects of the virtual and real-life social dynamic, indicating regression, instead of progress, socio-politically speaking.

Contrary to what we need at this precise moment in time, political sub-identities are surfacing, from football riots all the way to societal and group violence, notwithstanding.

The constant debate on the citizen’s relationship to the state and public institutions is proof enough if this deterioration, which has taken toll —mind you— on our national identity.

Mindful of the fact that this isn’t exclusive to our society, as we can see this trend on the rise all around the world, including Europe, this doesn’t make it any less alarming.

The fact that certain social components feel strongly that they are above the law becomes a real, valid concern.

Just a few days ago, I read an angry letter by one of the citizens, sent to an official.

Nothing about the letter was irrational, politically speaking; it was an expression of opposition, clearly, and this isn’t the first of its kind.

We’ve had opposition figures speak openly before, like Laith Shubeilat.

However, the tone of this letter I read was different; terrifying even.

If anything, it exposes the growing scale of public distrust in the state. And make no mistake, this particular letter speaks for a vast segment of our society.

It addressed a mixture of social, economic, and political issues related to the compound crisis and gap between the capital, Amman, and the governorates.

That aside, the more important thing, again, was the tone; the letter was racist, and it landed a bundle of shameful, dangerous accusations.

Here, my dear readers, lies the heart of the matter.

Under such difficult economic circumstances, instead of shifting sides and roles, the state should play the leading part in society; its statements should light up the dark with hope.

Public policies should be a part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.

This is where we get lost; this is our great divide.

Instead of including the public in dialogue, in order to arrive at feasible, promising policies for all, the government insists on being a part of the problem itself; by making it more difficult for the citizen, who’s had it with needless, myopic financial excisions.

Naturally, the result of this is even faster, greater deteriorations in the state-citizen relation.

Not long ago, if you compare the tone of the opposition, be it Shubeilat, the Islamises, or the Pan-Arab Nationalist, and the tone of rising populists, you’ll easily tell the difference.

This isn’t a joke; populism is rising, and it is reflecting terribly on the cultural and political aspects of society, in ways even more disturbing than anything you can imagine!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.