The Role of a Lively Society in Public Affairs
One of the major features and characteristics of lively and advanced
communities is the extent of their participation in public affairs.
By ‘public affairs’ we refer to those matters which go beyond individual
interests. This includes any public concern shared by the people,
whether it is a political matter or any other matter of public interest.
Some states do not wish to see their peoples involved in public
affairs. These are mostly authoritarian states, whose dominance
begins with keeping their communities away from political affairs,
and then extend their hegemony to other fields, such as social,
cultural, sporting and charitable activities. Under these conditions,
collective popular action cannot materialize, which in turn leads
to the fragmentation of the popular will and to its failure to agree
on any single subject, irrespective of how positive it is, even
That is why we see in these countries that civil society dies
or find it hard to even take shape. Authoritarian regimes do not
allow the formation of the institutions needed both by the community
and the state, as long as it involves popular participation in decision-making,
at any level.
In these dictatorial states, parliamentary institutions, if any,
become little more than empty structures among other weak institutions,
with popular control virtually non-existent, except such control
which the authoritarian regime creates to protect itself.
Thankfully, and contrary to what is prevalent in the region,
the Bahraini society is a truly lively society. It has not been
stifled by the political authority, which allowed and encouraged
the creation of civil society institutions and allowed the popular
will to be expressed politically through parliamentary elections,
and service-wise through municipal elections.
For this and other reasons, we believe that the Bahraini society
is by far livelier than neighbouring peoples, in terms of participating
in public affairs.
The political system for its part recognizes the value and importance
of people’s participation in public affairs, in respect of the help
it could provide in fulfilling aspirations and the role it could
play in public accountability and in assisting the state in carrying
out its duties. Popular participation plays a fundamental part in
launching and directing public energies towards construction. The
political system is also aware of the importance of all this in
achieving political stability and security, and enhancing the legitimacy
of the political system.
However, there is a problem in managing such a lively community
which may often become a source of disturbance and confusion to
the authorities themselves. But I suppose that this problem is ’purely
administrative’. You cannot manage a lively and educated society,
with a long-established legacy in civil and public service, using
the same tools used to manage a people who do not enjoy these attributes.
The state has banked on the lively Bahraini community’s role
in construction and development, and opened the way for launching
its energies in regulatory channels; it should thus bank again on
the community’s ability to reach adulthood. This society will inevitably
reach political and social maturity, because it has an accumulated
awareness that, enhanced by its experience, would allow it to reach
that stage and to rectify some of its behaviours that transgress
against the law.
Hence, it is necessary to help the Bahraini society to achieve
this level of maturity, through more guidance and through involving
it further in public activity; and not by restricting or restraining
it, as such an approach could be detrimental to the state and the