The recent political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East have caused many to speculate on what the next generation of governance will look like in the region.
Will news governance structures emerge or will new leaders simply fill the voids in an unchanged political system? And how will the new leadership balance this transition while maintaining sufficient stability and cohesiveness to ensure economies and cultures are kept sufficiently in tact?
In one of the most reflective pieces I have read on the topic, Cambridge historian Marc Michael discusses how the searches for truth and justice can be balanced in a post-Mubarak Egypt. Does immunity for some in exchange for information necessarily imply that others will be scapegoated as a result?
The author above argues for a model adapted from the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) set up in post-Apartheid South Africa and Rwanda in order to give culpable Egyptians the chance “to participate in the rebuilding of their nation rather than undermining reform for the sake of their personal safety or privileges.”
The need for compromise in political decisions is not unique to transitional governments. Governments face these decisions on a daily basis: growth vs. stability, secularism vs. self-expression, liberty vs. order, tradition vs. progress and, yes, truth vs. justice. (Read the work of Ronan McCrea of Reading University if you’re interested in this from a religious perspective in the EU.)
Striking the right compromise between these competing objectives can often be as much of a challenge as the original struggle which gives people the power to make them.