Pragmatist individuals or groups are the ones that win the real life battles, despite consistently losing the battle of words.
I was surprised to find that many Egyptian political activists and revolutionaries who participated in the 25th of January revolution do not know what pragmatism means; thus overlooking one of the most significant political theories and terminologies of the 20th century. In the corridors of politics, an action or behavior is said to be pragmatic if it involves exploitation, or if its protagonist is primarily pursuing his or her own personal interest or even the interest of his country. It is said, for example, that purely pragmatic interests motivate the behavior of Israeli politicians on the Palestine issue, because their actions are directly self-serving. Nonetheless, the discourse of a pragmatist, whose actions are always consistent with his or her interests and objectives, is loose, broad, and utopian, and often does not reflect his beliefs, orientation or actions.
pragmatism is not concerned articulating how success should appropriately be achieved, rather, it is focused on achieving success in whatever manner and making that can be experienced and recognized by others
Hence, pragmatism is a practical theory that is concerned with actions and their practical consequences, regardless of the concepts, values and ideals that underlie these actions. A pragmatist is someone who is always working to realize his interests and might be forced sometimes to harm others in order to achieve only his selfish or narrow interest.
In most cases, pragmatist individuals or group are the ones that win the real life battles, despite consistently losing the battle of words that is fought out on talk shows or TV programs. As previously explained, pragmatism is not concerned articulating how success should appropriately be achieved, rather, it is focused on achieving success in whatever manner and making that can be experienced and recognized by others.
The political championing of centrist Islam by the Muslim Brotherhood is a purely pragmatic way to get closer to and win over the ordinary Egyptian in the street
Arguably, the most successful group in the aftermath of the January 25 revolution is the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). In elections for both chambers of Parliament, the People's Assembly and Shura Council, the FJP managed in a short period of time to gather nearly 50% of the cast votes for its party-lists. The actions of the group can with certainty be defined as pragmatic. Their success was achieved within a short period of time and without reliance on grand values or ideals, unlike the revolutionaries of Tahrir Square and the other political parties - with the exception of the Salafi Al-Nour party - with their ideological principles like liberalism and communism. It can even certainly be argued that the Al-Nour party achieved the second largest number of votes in the parliamentary elections because voters made the pragmatic assumption that the party’s candidates are less corrupt than those of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) that had monopolized the riches of Egypt and subsisted on the livelihood of ordinary citizens.
The FJP’s pragmatism was manifested in several elements, including the following:
1) The FJP never advocated a specific ideology or a particular political program; instead, it called on Egyptian people to unite against the remnants of the defunct NDP. The FJP’s party-list included candidates with Islamist, liberal and socialist political leanings and philosophies. This is purely pragmatic behavior.
2) The FJP has successfully relied on and used its sixty-year history of persecution by the army/police state to garner people’s sympathy and their votes; resulting in their dominance of the two most prominent legislative bodies of the state.
3) Decision makers in the FJP noticed that as much as people have benefited from the January 25th revolution, they have also been harmed by it. Economic problems were a critical factor that drove many of the voters to choose the Muslim Brotherhood as the FJP had promised voters to achieve rapid economic prosperity. Another factor that made voters favor the FJP were the many statements made by the new revolutionary parties that clashed with the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), creating fear in people’s minds that voting for those parties would lead to further economic decline.
The FJP never advocated a specific ideology or a particular political program; instead, it called on Egyptian people to unite against the remnants of the defunct NDP
4) The political championing of centrist Islam by the Muslim Brotherhood is a purely pragmatic way to get closer to and win over the ordinary Egyptian in the street. The centrist message tends to let people go about their ways, doesn't involve much preaching at them or requesting them to change, and yet it makes people feel good about themselves as righteous Muslims who work for the sake of their Afterlife by voting for the Brotherhood in the elections. It must be noted that this is a purely pragmatic religious outlook; many people worship God in order to be admitted to Paradise, not out of true belief in the religion itself.
All the above demonstrates that pragmatism, despite its numerous critics among theorists, thinkers and orators , continues to be the most successful approach that can be taken by political individuals or groups in order to achieve their objectives. It will remain successful and instrumental, whether it is used by good people or by bad - until we discover a more successful way to achieve our life’s objectives