Many people I know stutter pathetically when asked to tell the difference between what’s “good” and what’s “right”, what’s “bad” and what’s “wrong”. Music fans would argue that blues is good but rock is right. Heavy metal is bad and thrash metal is wrong.
In Arabic music terms ‘Fairouz’ is good and ‘Om Kolthoum’ is right, ‘Shaabolla’ is bad and ‘Tamoura’ is wrong. Some people would argue differently, It’s ‘Fairouz’ that deserves to be “right” while ‘Thouma’ is barely good. It doesn’t matter, after all there is nothing really good, right, bad or wrong in music. Yet, in politics what’s good vs. what’s right is a fundamental argument and being able to tell distinctive differences is mandatory to every society on the verge of writing a new social contract. nevertheless, Tamoura is wrong!
In modern philosophy, Good refers to the moral quality of a human act, while right is a function of the conformity of a given human act to a moral principle. In simpler English: Good refers to moral quality say justice, while right is the measure of conforming to justice, i.e. Applying the law.
John Rawls, an American philosopher wrote a legendary book in the early 70s called “A Theory of Justice” in which he derived two principles of justice: the liberty principle and the difference principle. The liberty principal states that “each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.”. Basic liberties include the right for expression, political liberty (voting and running for office), freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience, freedom of personal property; and freedom from arbitrary arrest. The liberty principal in Rawls’s opinion should never be violated or compromised even for the sake of his second principal, the difference principal which states that Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that:
- they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).
- offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity
If humans were aware of their status, position, wealth or health in their societies then justice will never be served. It’s our ignorance of where we typically fit within our societies that urges us to develop a scheme of justice that treats all people within a specific society fairly.
Mubarak, against Rawls’s sociopolitical theory, thought wrongly he knew where he fits in his society, so did his sons, his advisers, his ministers and his party. Mubarak, thought he will continue being a president until death or until he willingly steps down giving way to his son to rule. If you are so sure of where you are, of your destiny and of your future, you will never seek a fair and just scheme in which all people fit. Justice became “Mubarak’s” idea of justice, fairness became “Mubarak’s” idea of fairness and his conceptions of the good and his psychological propensities were the governing factors in the Egyptian sociopolitical scene.
Also, Mubarak constructed a huge device that had two main pillars: A very corrupt, very misleading media and a very brutal, very devoted security organization. Those, deprived Egyptians from their basic rights. All of them except the right for personal property which by definition was experienced on a much wider scale by the rich and possibly the corrupt rather than the rest of the nation.
But, Egyptians revolted and Mubarak discovered that his false knowledge of his status within his society has come to an end. yet, the men who are still controlling the Egyptian political scene are not yet aware of this fact, the counter revolutionary forces are simply those who refuse to believe that the principals of justice are devised from behind a veil: a veil of ignorance. Ignorance to what the future may hold for them, the rest of the nation, though not well informed on modern political theories demand to be governed by those principals thus seeking equality, liberty and full grants to their basic rights.
If John Rawls was still alive , he would have seen his theories uttered, proven and demanded by a large mass of illiterate Egyptians. He would have been very proud. In any case, Egypt requires, demands and insists on a social contract which may lead to a balanced constitution and a free nation. No one is aware of the ultimate good, but everyone should do their best to pursue being right.
I hope I am.